by: Mary Callahan, a freelance writer and fashion enthusiast. She studied English and Marketing and hopes to start a high-volume style blog.
The height of horse racing season will be underway soon, and in my mind this always represents one of the most overlooked sources of fashion intrigue in the world. Many are familiar with the basic idea of racecourse fashion, or simply the concept of dressing up for derbies. But until you recognize some of the specific trends and tendencies that permeate the sport (or at least spread among its spectators), it’s difficult to fully appreciate the fashion of horse racing culture. So here are my 10 things to know about horse racing fashion!
1. Pink Is Important
Pink isn’t necessarily a must, but it’s certainly the most prominent color in the blur of brightness that is horse racing fashion. Racing style blog Fashion At The Races has a number of useful tips for men and women alike, and among them are several great ideas for how to put some pink in your outfit.
2. So Are Oversized Hats
If pink is important, oversized hats are absolutely vital. It doesn’t matter which prestigious race you’re at—be it in the U.S. or UK, in Melbourne or Paris—because oversized hats stand as the key unifying features between the fashion trends at different tracks and events. If you’re attending a race this season, make sure you have one picked out!
3. … And Their Accessories
Furthermore, if you’re picking out an oversized hat, you may as well find one equipped with its own accessories! That’s right—a big, beautiful hat isn’t quite enough for the festive quality of race day fashion. The best hats are those adorned with decorative pieces. Look for inspiration (or a specific hat) at Etsy, where there are numerous gorgeous examples.
4. Heels Aren’t Mandatory
Hats are all but mandatory, but high heels, despite being common at the tracks, are not. Yes, a pair of stilettos may be the best complement to the average race day outfit, particularly at bright, summer races where sundresses rule the day. But many experienced racegoers will tell you that with all the walking around (and soft ground), they can also be a pain! Flats and boots are perfectly suitable options as well.
5. Men Dress Up Too!
That’s right! Look back at the Fashion At The Races blog I mentioned in my first point and you’ll find plenty of style tips for men as well. Tailored suits, often of a sort of vintage British style, are essential, and many men enjoy having fun with accessories like hats and pocket squares.
6. … Even The Trainers
Yep, even some of the male trainers get in on the fashion. While you won’t find them in sharp, tailored suits, most make an effort to fit in through various accessories. Analysis site Betfair proves the point with an early preview of the Grand National, one of the UK’s biggest races. In the preview, well-known trainer Willie Mullins is depicted in a very stylish hat!
7. Matching Is Cute, But Not Necessary
When an occasion calls for dressing up, there’s a temptation for couples to dress alike. Perhaps a man will match a woman’s dress by displaying a tie and pocket square of the same color, for example. At races, this is a fine idea, but not a necessary one, as the real goal is personal expression.
8. Layering Is A Good Idea
At least, at some races. Take the upcoming Cheltenham Festival as an example. Held in the UK in early March, it’s one of the world’s first significant races each year—and also one of the coldest! Furlong Fashion discusses the importance of layering at an event like this, where you’ll want to be stylish without forfeiting your comfort!
9. Sometimes There’s A Dress Code
This is just something to be aware of. Depending on which track or event you’re visiting, there may actually be a specific dress code. The UK’s Royal Ascot comes to mind as one such event.
10. Accessories Win The Day
Finally, it has to be noted that accessories are the most important aspects to any great race day outfit. Yes, bright colors can go a long way and the hat is the most important piece, but the jewelry, handbags, footwear, etc. are what can help to set one look apart from another. Look through any slideshow of ladies at the tracks and the ones you’ll notice are those who have accessorized effectively. Have fun with it!