Horse racing is a sport that has a long history with records indicating its presence in the ancient Greek Olympics in 648 BC. In the Roman Empire, chariot and mounted horse racing were major industries. “The Sport of Kings” gained its name after being so popular with both royalty and aristocrats. As expected, with such a sociable preoccupation became grounds for fashion to become an extremely important part of the day out. Clothes, to this day, indicate social status whether we like it or not, and with going racing there is a uniform to be worn.
Whether you are off to The Derby or Royal Ascot it is worth visiting the meeting website to determine the dress code. There is nothing more embarrassing than getting it wrong!
The Investec Derby at Epsom
For men attending the Ladies’ Day and the Queen’s Stand, the official line states that gentlemen must attend wearing a jacket, collar and tie. Jeans, shorts, denim or trainers are not acceptable. For the Derby Day the Queen’s stand requires you to be dressed in full morning dress – this can either be black or grey. The other necessity is that of a top hat. Indeed, this is obligatory, so you won’t be fully dressed without it.
If such functions are becoming a regular occurrence for you, you might consider purchasing a morning suit. If not then you can always go down the hiring route where you can buy into a short term lease. With regard to the bowler hat, again you can hire, or pay a visit to the best hatters in London, James Locke & Co. There is no better place.
If you are spending your day in the Duchess’ Stands a suit will be required. Certainly if your destination is to the hospitality area you should be wearing a shirt, tie and jacket.
With general admission to the Grandstand for both days, gents are encouraged to dress smartly so you won’t get far if you appear in sportswear, sleeveless vests and shorts.
Pronounced, “Ascut” by those who know.
Again, fashion at such an event tends to be reported on just as much as the racing, so it’s important to understand what is required. Instructions for The Royal Enclosure state the following:
Gentlemen are kindly reminded that it is a requirement to wear either black or grey morning dress which must include:
- A waistcoat and tie (no cravats)
- A black or grey top hat
- Black shoes
A gentleman may remove his top hat within a restaurant, a private box, a private club or that facility’s terrace, balcony or garden. Hats may also be removed within any enclosed external seating area within the Royal Enclosure Garden.
The customisation of top hats (with, for example, coloured ribbons or bands) is not permitted in the Royal Enclosure.
For the Grandstand you will be required to wear a suit. With a less formal atmosphere, the Silver Ring at Royal Ascot is a separate admission area that does not provide access to the Parade Ring or the main Grandstand. The Silver Ring still provides an excellent position to watch the Royal Procession and the racing action. Whilst they encourage race goers to wear smart clothes, no formal dress code applies except that bare chests are not allowed… You have been warned!
For more information on the dresscode for Royal Ascot, visit: https://www.ascot.co.uk/royal-ascot-style-guide-2015
A day at the races is a huge amount of fun, but please note the importance of being dressed appropriately. There are also other racing events such as Cheltenham, Chepstow, Sandown, Lingfield, and Goodwood, and the advice is to check with the meeting’s website to insure you are aware of the dress code that is required.