How to master the race day dress code in four simple steps

Woman in pink ruffle sleeveless dress
Guest Editor

Follow our four easy style tips to make sure you stand out from the crowd at this year's races

Deciding what to wear to the races doesn't need to take up all of your time. There's infinitely more important things to think about: watching the pomp and pageantry, enjoying a glass of bubbly, or wondering which horse is worth frittering away a few pounds on, for example.

So don't give the strict dress code another thought – just follow our simple guide and feel safe in the knowledge you'll get the Queen's seal of approval (or won't feel the wrath of her representative, at least).

Keep it classic

Race-day fashion is steeped in tradition, so embrace the formality and make the most of the chance to dress up. Do you want to wear a fascinator? Match your shoes and your handbag? Give head-to-toe tonal dressing a go, a la Her Majesty? Go for it. But whatever you do, make sure you opt for a classic colour palette of monochrome, cream, grey or navy to keep the effect elegant, and look for something with tasteful yet eye-catching details.

Think sustainably

Even if Ascot is the most formal event in your summer calendar, you don't want to splash out on a statement piece that you'll never wear again. Choose carefully and you can make your new outfit work at a variety of occasions over the course of the season. 

Plan for every eventuality

A cover-up doesn't need to completely alter the look of your outfit and shouldn't be an afterthought – especially for an event in England. If you pick the right piece, it can make as much of a statement as the dress underneath. Try layering a long linen coat over the top for both practicality and polish. The clean lines and subtle check of the coat will keep the look contemporary but classic enough for most enclosures.

Consider your accessories

Ladies Day is the perfect opportunity to trial a traditional look, while still tapping into the trends. Dare to match your accessories in chic navy with a delicate tulle fascinator and on-point box clutch. Remember to consider your comfort, too: nobody wants to be seen winching a sky-high stiletto out of the grass. Court shoes with a low kitten heel are a good choice for a day spent primarily on your feet.

Related Articles

Woman in dark floral dress from the Modern Rarity collection at John Lewis
How to dress for a wedding... and still look like you
Read more
how to wear boyfriend jeans
One pair of jeans, three ways: how to style summer's most versatile denim shape
Read more
Woman in denim wrap jacket
A fashion editor's guide to denim: the styling secrets we all want to know
Read more
More stories