The tradition of dressing up for major horse races is steeped in history. If you’re familiar with the idea, you probably have a certain image in mind regarding what people tend to wear: extravagant hats, gaudy accessories, and fun-but-formal attire. Generally speaking, this is an accurate image. Yet you’ll find that from race to race and in different parts of the world, the traditions have evolved to suit different occasions. So here we’re looking at some of the big ones that demonstrate the delightfully fun scope of horse racing fashion.
A Stately Affair at The Royal Ascot
There’s a certain fanciness to horse racing culture, and the Royal Ascot takes it to another level. The spectacular Ascot Racecourse, with its beautiful grandstand and flat tracks, is actually open to races throughout the season, from May to October. But it’s in June that the Royal Ascot event takes place, attracting some of the most impressive horses in Europe and an audience that typically includes members of the British royal family (among other celebrities and fashion icons).
To match the general grandeur of the event, the Royal Ascot has a formal dress code that is strictly enforced, with requirements and rules that mean turning people away if they don’t comply. This dress code varies somewhat from one seating area to the next, but generally, women are required to wear day dresses and hats (without showing bare shoulders or the midsection). The men have to have top hats and morning dress suits – which for those who aren’t familiar means three-piece ensembles complete with tails. People still tend to be very creative within these rules, and as you can imagine this produces sensational looks year in and year out.
A Rousing Good Time at The Cheltenham Festival
The Cheltenham Festival offers a bit more of a casual atmosphere, and with it some different twists on fashion. From can atmospheric perspective, the event really earns the name “festival.” Each day has a theme, there’s a Guinness-sponsored drinking pavilion on site, and many will take multiple days off of work to enjoy the four days of races. Additionally, while the UK’s free online betting options have made horse race wagering in general more accessible than ever before, Cheltenham seems to place a particular emphasis on the activity. This only adds to the general buzz of festivity, with spectators not just interested, but often invested in the races.
As you might imagine, all of this leads to a slightly less formal take on horse race fashion. There isn’t a formal dress code, and some of the outfits you see wouldn’t be allowed at the Ascot. That’s not to say fashion isn’t an important component of the Cheltenham Festival though. The event’s “Ladies Day” is designated specifically for people to dress up a bit more, and above all else you’ll see some outerwear twists on general traditions. Given that these races take place every March in England, the weather can be a bit cold and wet, … Read More..