Racing Style Guide

What do most women wear to the races? 

It can often feel quite overwhelming seeing the array of outrageously flamboyant hats and dangerously sky-high heels that decorate the main Racing event guests. However if you’re attending the fashionable events this year, catching eyes for all the wrong reasons isn’t the only way to make a lasting impression like you may fear.

The key to dressing for Racing Day is opting for a smart yet stylish outfit, to ensure you look more Royal Wedding than Big Fat Gypsy Wedding!

Regular race-goer and WAG Coleen Rooney hit the nail on the head at this year’s Aintree Races in a head-to-toe hot-pink ensemble. Although she opted for a vibrant statement palette, Ms Rooney’s bold choice of colour was balanced out by the demure and sophisticated pencil-shape of her dress and her sensibly sized high-heels.


  1. A classic structured dress like a pencil, skater or shift style dress, or a floaty maxi dress and reasonably sized stiletto combination will never go amiss. Remember the ‘one or the other’ rule, and either opt for a low neckline or shorter hem one at a time.
  2. An injection of colour will add an individual twist to your outfit but not too many at once. Either opt for one block colour a la Coleen or a neutral tone with colourful accessories, and vice versa.
  3. If you want to fully embrace Racing Day with headwear, then a simple fascinator or elegant hat will achieve an appropriately glamorous Racing Day look.


I’ve heard there are dress code rules you have to follow at the Races, is this true?

If you’re a Racing Day enthusiast you’ll know that there are different dress-code rules and regulations for each event, which if broken could land you in last place in the ‘Best Dressed’ rankings.

Most Racing Days require a smart dress-code, and leave the option of wearing a fascinator or hat down to personal preference. More relaxed styles like maxi dresses and less demure features like a strapless neckline or sheer-detailing are accepted (in moderation!) at events held at Aintree, Cheltenham and York.

If you’re one of the lucky ladies who will be attending arguably the most well-known Racing event, Ascot, there is no room for rule-breaking! Ascot prides itself as a formal Racing Day event, with its very own Fashion Police who are not afraid to hand out a pashmina where a pashmina is due. A hat or fascinator is required at all times, strapless or sheer strap dresses are not accepted, trousers must be full length and an exposed midriff is a major faux-pas.

Despite there being wardrobe restrictions at Ascot, there is no need to let fashion fade and lose your personal style in the process. Take note from sophisticated fashionista Kate Middleton who remains chic and stylish whilst epitomizing ladylike Race Day style.


  1. Make sure you look into the particular event you will be attending, to ensure you don’t break any dress-code rules.
  2. For less formal events, take inspiration from our smart yet stylish Aintree outfit ideas, which show a fascinator or hat is not always necessary to achieve an appropriate Racing Day look, and revealing dresses are not the only way to get noticed.
  3. For less lenient events, like Ascot, play it safe with an elegant piece of headwear and a demure high neckline and a knee-length dress. Extreme platforms and towering high-heels are a no-no, if not to escape a run in with the Fashion Police but to avoid any embarrassingly sinking heels into the grass.


Do I have to wear hat?

Although hats and fascinators epitomize a quintessential Race Day style, stylish headwear isn’t always a requirement at Racing events, such as Cheltenham, York and Newbury. At Race Day events such as Ascot a hat or fascinator is required for all women, and we wouldn’t advise attempting to break the rules as the Fashion Police will be patrolling!

If you have the option but want to ooze Race Day glamour, then a classic hat or pretty fascinator will finish off your look perfectly, but if you simply want comfort and to watch the races, then don’t hesitate to go headwear free.

The limits are endless when it comes to headwear, and the usual conception of a bland hat or simple black fascinator couldn’t be more wrong. Regular race-goer Katherine Jenkins never puts a foot wrong when it comes to Race Day headwear, regularly opting for flamboyant designs with height and vibrant colours. Even with bold fascinators and interesting hats, Katherine’s Race Day outfits remain elegant and sophisticated as she opts for simplistic coordinating block-coloured dresses.


  1. If you have a block-coloured dress and either neutral or correspondingly toned shoes, then don’t hesitate to wear an eye-catching statement fascinator or hat.
  2. If you have a vibrant patterned dress then opt for neutral headwear and shoes, to guarantee you look elegantly put-together.
  3. Avoid novelty headwear (including Ritz-cracker embellished pieces, circa Aintree 2014) to ensure you’re making a fashionable impression instead of a questionable one.


Which fashion trends are going to be big at the Races this year?

Trends that pop up at the Races are more often than not reflected from the Spring/Summer catwalks and fashion shows. 2014’s Spring/Summer catwalks debuted trends that can easily be adapted for glamorous Race Day outfits, as they ooze femininity and create an instant summery vibe.

Pretty floral prints scattered the Spring/Summer 2014 catwalks, varying from graphic patterns to twee vintage-style prints. Oscar de la Renta’s collection featured ornate florals, which exuded opulence and ladylike charm. For a sophisticated Race Day worthy on-trend floral dress, try the Kate Fearnley Lily Floral Dress in Blue and White, for £195.

Renowned fashion house Burberry’s catwalk featured an array of sorbet shades including lilac, mint green, sky blue and lemon yellow. Pastels are the go-to palette for a feminine style, and understated shades are just the trend for a daytime appropriate look, like Racing Day. Try the Darling Abbie Dress, for £76, to achieve an on-trend formal daytime look.

Bright eye-catching colours over-flowed on this year’s Spring/Summer catwalks, leaving a bold impression behind them. Ralph Lauren’s collection featured neon galore, spicing up simple shift dresses or a conservative two-piece with electric green or fluorescent orange. For your own head turning vivacious dress, try the Forever Unique Cassia Dress in Lime Green, for £300.


  1. Embrace one trend at a time to keep your look appropriately sophisticated and ladylike.
  2. When opting for florals, choose either a colour from your dress or a neutral tone for your accessories, for a chic and sleek put together look.
  3. If you want to try the pastel or bright trend, be sure to stick to one block-coloured shade for a simplistic yet nonetheless impressive take on the trend.


Do I follow the same beauty regime as a night-out?

Although Race Days are daytime events, they require a formal and polished style similar to a nightwear look. However, do not fall into the trap of many race-goers and over indulge with the fake-tan, lipstick and smoky eyes!

When carrying out your beauty regime for Race day events think garden-party chic rather than red-carpet glamour, and remember that less is more.


  1. If you don’t want to embrace your pale skin, try to keep your fake tan to a minimum and avoid questionable streaking via application or the unpredictable English rain!
  2. Co-ordinate your nail colour with your dress and either paint them on the day or the night before to escape the dreaded nail-chip and don’t forget your toenails.
  3. Keep your face make-up natural with neutral eye-shadow and a subtle lip-gloss, for a demure ladylike finish to your Race Day look.


Do I have to dress up more for Ladies Day?

Essentially no, as the same rules apply to Ladies Day as any main Race event; smart yet stylish and obey the event specific rules.

However, Ladies Day does feature a ‘Best Dressed’ competition, which gives any fashionista the chance to win the title by flaunting their fabulous style. So if you want to be in with a chance of winning the ‘Best Dressed’ title, then dressing to the nines is a necessity and saving your most impressive dress is essential, to ensure you stand out against the hundreds of other stylish race-goers.


  1. Step up your game and opt for an on-trend dress to show your style credentials.
  2. A summer appropriate eye-catching colour or print are sure to get you noticed and help your chances. Leave black and grey to the winter months!
  3. Don’t forget to polish off your look with immaculate nails and toenails, sleek hair and daytime appropriate make-up.


How do I win the ‘Best Dressed’ award?

Although the main event at Race Days is primarily horse racing, unbeknownst to many racegoers there are fabulous style competitions open to racegoers, with jaw-dropping prizes as well as a fashionable title up for grabs.

For those fashionistas who fancy winning the ‘Best Dressed’ title at the races, there is more to a fashionable victory than just a good dress. We spoke to lovely fashion blogger Naomi, from Two Shoes One Pair, who helped judge the ‘Best Dressed’ guest at this year’s Grand National. She gave us her top tips on how to achieve a trophy-worthy look, to help you bag your own Racing Day title.


  1. Make sure that your personality shines through in your outfit, and opt for something individual. Think classy and chic like Victoria Beckham who wears structured cuts and styles of dresses, perfect for the formal event.
  2. Head to toe styling where the whole outfit has been considered and colour balanced, like matching the colours in your dress to your hat and accessories, create an easy-on-the-eye statement ensemble.
  3. Avoid bodycon dresses, too much skin on show and mega high-heels! These are all the things that The Grand National Ladies Day guests are famous for doing so badly.