Michael 84

What To Wear To The Races – A Men’s Style Guide

Tuesday, 13th March, 2018

What To Wear To The Races Men

And they’re off!

Gentleman, having a day at the races is not just about putting a few bets on the horses anymore, well, has it ever been? Fashion at the races is almost more important than the horse racing itself, and has been known to take centre stage.

There’s always been a lot of emphasis on what the ladies are wearing, and who’ll have the best or most outlandish hat, but men’s style is just as important. Knowing what to wear to the races is important, and you should be as stylish as your female counterpart. Let the ladies bring the glamour, and the gents bring the style.

It’s time to get suited and booted!

Men's Suits For The Races
Suits from Hugo Boss

The Dress Code At Horse Racing Festivals

I’m not talking about the fashion rules just yet, I’m talking about the actual dress code or guidelines different festivals and events have in place. They will differ, they can even differ on the day you go, or even the enclosure you are looking to enjoy your day at. Some are a bit dressier, some a bit more casual, so to get the anxiety out of the way it’s best to check their own fashion advice on what is and isn’t allowed.

Going to the races has always been a bit of a fashion event in it’s own right. There’s ladies day for the girls, with the best dresses, outfits and of course hats of fascinators. When it comes to men, it’s time to suit up and dress to impress.

Men's Suits - Racing Attire For Gents

Royal Ascot

One of the most important horse racing meetings in the calendar, and has a dress code to match. This very much depends on which enclosure you will be going to, with some having more strict and traditional dress codes than others.

If you’re going to the Royal enclosure, gentlemen are required to wear a black or grey morning suit which includes a waistcoat and tie (no cravat), a black or grey top hat, black shoes with socks. The Queen Anne enclosure dress code requires a suit with tie, shoes and socks, with the village enclosure requiring a smart jacket, collared shirt and tie. The Windsor enclosure is the least formal but still requires you to be smart, with a jacket, shirt and trousers, but there’s no formal dress code.

It goes without saying that sportswear such as football shirts are not allowed anywhere, along with fancy dress. You can read more on the Royal Ascot dress code here.

Suits For The Races

When it comes to horse racing attire, the most obvious thing to wear is a suit. A day at the races should be fun, and you don’t want to look like the same as you do every day in the office, so you can wear something which is a little more bolder or brighter than your usual black suit you may wear at work. It’s the perfect opportunity to show off your own personality and add a bit of style and colour to an outfit, and a great excuse to get dressed up.

You can try different colours such as plum, light or dark blues, cream or beige colours will also work well in the summer and give you more of a lighter look. You can look at something patterned, rather than a plain grey colour, try a modern check pattern in a mid grey colour.

Separates - Mix And Match Suits For The Races

Mix And Match Jacket And Trousers Colour Combinations

Separating the colour combinations is something which is really exciting and could very well set you apart from the rest of the crowd. It means exactly what you think it does, simply wearing a different colour bottom to top; So that’s a different colour jacket to the trousers. This type of tailoring and fashion has become increasingly popular and is a trend I personally love, especially for the summer seasons. For this to work you have to make sure that you find trousers, a shirt and a jacket which compliment each other well, which is not always an easy task.

Using core colours is a good way to make sure everything matches up well; Dark blue or navy trousers should work with a grey jacket, to finish off with a light blue shirt. On the flip side, some light beige trousers with a navy jacket and a classic white shirt will work well too.

Oxford And Derby Shoes to Wear To The Races
Smart Shoes from Kurt Geiger

Footwear – Keep It Smart

Your footwear should be smart, so we’re talking shoes, not trainers, not even smart ones. That said, it doesn’t mean they have to be boring. In terms of colour and style they should be fitting with the rest of your outfit. If you’re wearing a suit you may want to keep it smart with a pair of plain black or brown Oxford’s or Derbies which will keep the tone of the outfit smart and slick. If you’re going for a more colourful look with separate jacket and trousers or chinos, you could try a pair of brogues which can still be smart but inject some colour into your footwear, or a pair of smart suede shoes.

Smart Shirts To Wear To The Races

Shirts – Stick To Timeless Colours

If you’re going to inject some colour into your look with the suit/jacket/trousers, you’ll want to calm down the colour palette and neutralise your look with a shirt in a timeless colour which will keep you looking distinctive but not like you’re over doing it. Timeless colours include white, greys and blues, match these up with the rest of your outfit. A bright white shirt will go with almost anything, if you have any doubts, and it will set it up nicely for a tie.

Ties And Pocket Squares To Wear To The Races
Ties & Pocket Squares From TM Lewin

Don’t Forget A Tie And Pocket Square

Being smart is all in the little details, so you should not neglect them. You’ll want a tie to go with your shirt and jacket combination, so make it a good one. Again, just because it’s quite a formal piece that doesn’t mean it has to be plain and boring. Go for something with a colour which compliments the shirt and jacket, inoffensive patterns and stripes are a really good idea and add more of an edge than a plain tie would. You’ll want a pocket square too, depending on the rest of the outfit you can go for the simple but classic square fold, which is as easy to do as it sounds.

Sunglasses And Watches To Wear At The Races
Watches from Uniform Wares, Daniel Wellington, BOSS and Armani. Sunglasses from Ray Ban.

Accessories – A Watch And Sunglasses

Watches are for men what a diamond ring or expensive handbag is to a woman. It’s one of the only pieces of jewellery or accessories we wear, and I think some investment should be made in getting a really good, man’s watch. Perhaps a lesser expense is a good pair of sunglasses, I personally like aviators and wayfarers. Both styles are timeless and so they can be considered an investment. I advise going with a classic brand such as Ray Ban.

What To Wear To The Races When It’s Cold

There’s plenty going on in the horse racing world in both the Spring and Winter, and these months can get a bit chilly to say the least. It could be raining, windy or just freezing cold.  For example the Cheltenham festival takes place in March, which can have unpredictable and variable weather conditions. With that said, the dress code is more relaxed, and you’ll be able to wear something more appropriate, if the weather conditions are a bit on the cold side.

To maintain a smart look, you can go for an overcoat. This will keep your look smart while also keeping you warm. Go for an overcoat which compliments your suit colour, you could follow the camel overcoat trend, or choose something a bit darker such as black, grey or navy blue.

For footwear, it could be preferable to go for a pair of Chelsea boots. These are the smartest boots you’ll find, and are almost like shoes, but are ankle length.

You can keep yourself warm by wearing a scarf along with the suit, which will add some detail to your overall look, and will not look out of place in the Winter.


Whether you choose to play it safe and elegant with a nice fitting blue suit, or you go down a more colourful look with separates, remember you’re there to have fun. Think about the outfit as a whole rather than single pieces, making sure the colours of different pieces work well with each other.

Men’s Race Day Outfit Ideas And Inspiration

Outift Ideas And Attire For The Races This Season

Above – A selection of suits from Hugo Boss

Colourful Suits Which Are Perfect In The Summer At The Horse Racing

Neutral Colour Suits To Wear At The Horse Races

Above – A selection of suits from Gucci

Lightweight Blazers To Wear

Above – Blazers from Reiss

Stylish Blazers Which You Can Wear

The featured blazers above are from Tommy Hilfiger

What To Wear To The Races Mens Quick Style Tips

  • Fix up look sharp – Wear a suit
  • Make sure you’re grooming is on point
  • Make sure you’re smelling good with your best scent
  • Winter racing event? Wear a smart jacket or overcoat
  • Get the details & accessories right: Watch, cufflinks, tie, sunglasses
  • Summer Horse Racing Event? Wear a lighter colour suit, or wear “separates”, different colour trousers & jacket.

The Major Horse Racing Events 2018

Now you know what to wear, here’s a rundown of the biggest horse racing events for 2018. Remember that different festivals, meetings and events may have different dress codes, so it’s better to check up before you go.

March 2018

Tuesday 13th March – Friday 16th March: The Cheltenham Festival. dress code

Friday 30th March – AW Championship Finals Day, Lingfield


Thursday 12th – Saturday 14th – Grand National, Aintree. dress code

Friday 20th  – Saturday 21st April – Scottish National, Ayr

Friday 27th – Saturday 28th April – Bet365 Jump Finale, Sandown Park


Saturday 5th – Sunday 6th May, QIPCO Guineas Festival, Newmarket

Wednesday 9th May – Friday 11th May – May Festival, Chester

Saturday 19th May – Lockinge Stakes Day, Newbury

Friday 25th May – Temple Stakes Day, Haydock Park


Friday 1st June – Saturday 2nd June – Investec Derby Festival, Epsom Downs. dress code

Tuesday 19th June – Saturday 23rd June – Royal Ascot, Ascot. dress code

Thursday 28th – Saturday 30th June – Northumberland Plate Festival, Newcastle. dress code


Friday 6th – Saturday 7th July – Coral Eclipse, Sandown Park

Thursday 12th July – Saturday 14th July – July Festival, Newmarket

Friday 27th – Saturday 28th July – King George Weekend, Ascot

Tuesday 31st July – The Start of the Goodwood Festival


31st July – Saturday 4th August – Goodwood Festival, Goodwood dress code

Wednesday 22nd August – Saturday 25th August – Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival, York


Thursday 6th – Saturday 8th September – Sprint Cup Festival, Haydock Park

Wednesday 12th September – Saturday 15th September – St. Leger Festival, Doncaster. dress code

Thursday 20th – Saturday 22nd September – Ayr Gold Cup, Ayr

Thursday 27th – Saturday 29th September – Cambridgeshire Meeting, Newmarket


Friday 12th October – Dubai Future Champions Day, Newmarket

Saturday 20th October – British Champions Day, Ascot – Dress Code

Friday 26th – Saturday 27th October – Autumn Afternoon Meeting, Doncaster


Friday 16th November – Sunday 18th November – The Open, Cheltenham

Friday 30th – Saturday 1st December – Winter Carnival, Newbury


Friday 7th – Saturday 8th December – Tingle Creek Christmas Festival, Sandown Park

Wednesday 26th – Thursday 27th December – Christmas Festival, Kempton Park

Thursday 27th December – Welsh Grand National, Chepstow

Michael Adams

About Michael

Michael Adams is the founder and editor of Michael 84, blogger and T-shirt designer from Newcastle, UK. Sharing men's fashion tips, style advice and lifestyle information for all guys.

  1. Nelson Said,

    Do you know where i can find the grey blazer in the right hand photo under the heading ‘Wearing a suit at the races’?


    posted on Thursday 14th July, 2016 at 12:55
  2. Michael Said,

    Hi Nelson,

    I am afraid I do not have information on that particular image, the other suit inspiration looks have their brands written under them.


    posted on Thursday 14th July, 2016 at 15:08
  3. Harrison C Said,

    Every occasion has their unique dress codes so people who love Ascot and horse festivals are good to go for these fashion tips. Thanks Michael; Good job!!

    posted on Saturday 6th October, 2018 at 18:43
  4. Michael Said,

    Glad you like the tips, it’s always good to arrive stylish at Ascot 🙂

    posted on Monday 8th October, 2018 at 11:47