Womenswear for race day
Along with weddings and festivals, race days are a characteristically British summertime occasion… but what to wear? As every in-store Personal Stylist knows, a day at the races is one of those occasions where there are some useful rules to stick to in order to feel great and avoid any fashion mishaps.
Whilst there is a lot of emphasis on fashion at the big race meetings such as Royal Ascot, The Epsom Derby or The Grand National, dress codes are generally more relaxed at other venues.
Premier or Members Enclosures will often require smart casual attire - if you’re unsure of the dress code on a particular day, it is best to check with the racecourse. Officials can be strict about entry to anyone unsuitably dressed.
This is especially true at Royal Ascot where the rules are very stringent. Strapless, halter or spaghetti-strap dresses are banned, as are obvious midriffs. Straps must be wider than an inch; dresses and skirts must be at least knee-length.
Hats are necessary in the Royal Enclosure and Grandstand. Fascinators are forbidden, as is any headpiece with a base of less than 4inches (10cm). Trousers must be full-length and suits must match in colour and fabric.
Dresses are a popular choice for race-goers but don’t forget to consider pairing chic separates for a polished look. Dress options are numerous and the choice can be overwhelming, so stick to silhouettes that suit your shape and can be comfortably worn all day. Shift cuts are simple and practical, offering a style for most shapes and heights. Adding boleros or cropped jackets can cover upper arms and provide layers on cooler days.
If your event is more laidback, make a statement in a stunning maxi dress. Paired with metallic sandals and elegant jewellery, the maxi is an effortless way to get dressed up. Add a clutch and sunglasses and you’ve nailed low-key sophistication.
If the weather is warm, opt for natural, lightweight fabrics such as silk-blends, linen or cotton to keep you cool and comfortable.
Accessories can lift an outfit from acceptable to sensational and the races are a good time to experiment with different styles. Even if you’re not required to wear a hat, they can add grace and poise to a look, so why not try on some shapes to see what suits? From ultramodern fascinators to traditional pillbox styles, there’s a huge range of structured styles perfect for Ladies' Day.
Shoes can make a statement all by themselves. If you’re keeping your look simple, go all out with some statement heels to make an impact - block heels are a practical solution to day-long wear. Alternatively, don’t rule out flats - a super-cute or embellished style can be as pretty as a sky-high stiletto. If you're unsure, light greay and neutral shades are endlessly versatile and will see you through the summer and beyond.
For further advice and guidance you can book a free appointment with one of my fellow Personal Stylists in our shops for some friendly help and inspiration to find your perfect racing colours.