Dressing For The Races

January 19, 2014

Dressing for the races can be a daunting affair, no more so than if you’re a ‘race newbie’.  A sport steeped in tradition as well as written and unwritten customs, can make dressing for the races feel more like choosing what outfit to wear to the six form prom to impress the girl you secretly had a crush on.

Fear not however, as long as you follow a few simple rules, you should be fine.  Racing is supposed to be about having fun, so don’t be afraid to let some of your inner you shine through. (At this point I should add a little caveat, if you’re inner you is somewhat wild, it might be best not to go overboard)

Below are a number of points to consider, ensuring you come out a winner, in the style stakes if nothing else:

  • Racetracks often have different rules and dress codes, it’s advisable to find out an individual tracks requirements before going.
  • They say you can judge a man by his shoes, racing is no exception.  Trainers should be reserved for the gym, in no circumstances should such footwear be worn to the races, it’s a fail-safe way of not getting in. Instead why not opt for a nice pair of Cheaney Brogues, or Sowerby Dealer Boots, both available at the Cotswold Tailor shops. It’s not ‘brain surgery’ but please make sure the shoes are polished before leaving the house. A leather protector might be a good idea if race conditions are less than ideal.              
  • Keep it tied.  The races are a great chance to wear a nice tie(other than the one you wear to the office). Ties are a great way of adding some interest to a garment, so don’t be afraid to try something a little different.  Van Buck hand make a fab range of ties, and also offer a range of limited edition, 1 of 100 ties to help avoid any unintentional awkward matching. A nice small Half Windsor knot or similar looks smart, no ‘footballers knots’ at the races please, the tie must sit snuggly within the collar.
  • Three piece, two piece or separates. Although some racetracks are slightly more relaxed with dress code and as such would be happy for you to attend in a smart pair of trousers and a sports jacket, if new to a track, a suit is always a safe place to start. Do remember however, you aren’t at the office and thus your pinstripe work suit is not the optimum companion for the races. Instead why not opt for an elegant classic look with a contemporary twist. Checked suits are very much ‘back in vogue’, and thanks to a certain well-dressed x-factor judge three piece suits are also popular once more.  

A classic cut three piece British Tweed number is always a winner; however, to ensure ultimate style refinement, I always think it’s best to get such garments tailored. There is nothing worse than an ill-fitting tweed suit tailored in a cheap polyester blended Chinese imported fabric.

A well-chosen pocket square is always a nice way of accessorising your suit.

  • Hats. You probably thought that hat etiquette was something that just the ladies had to worry about. However, a poorly selected hat can make you stand out from the crowd for all of the wrong reasons. Baseball caps are a big no, a better idea is a nice fedora or a classic panama. These look particularly elegant when worn with a lightweight linen or linen blend suit. 
  • Accessories – Given the unpredictable nature of the British Weather it’s probably best that you invest in a nice umbrella.  A quality umbrella will not only last longer but will help to add a suave finishing touch to your ensemble. Elegant pocket squares, chic cufflinks and classic tie bars are also nice ways to add subtle details to a refined look.