What to wear at the races or a formal event
- It’s usually best to leave your t-shirts, jeans and trainers at home. Trousers and suits can be worn but denim is best avoided in favour of structured suit trousers or a floaty wide leg trouser or jumpsuit.
- Many formal events like the races will have a guideline on the length of dresses or sleeves. Generally it’s best to avoid strappy dresses and halter necks.
- Although it is acceptable to wear black to the races or a formal event these are also your times to show your personality and really shine, choose a coordinated colourful outfit for the best combination of style and wow factor.
What to consider when choosing an outfit for the races or a formal event
Weather/Time of year
Time of day
Smart-casual or formal dress code
If it’s a truly formal event then ladies will be able to put their best foot forward in a dress or smart suit. You can’t go wrong with a classic like the Hepburn dress with its timeless shape and sophisticated bateau neckline, or perhaps the Marilyn with a flattering v-neckline, either of these dresses are a versatile addition to any wardrobe and can be worn again and again to any formal event. Smart suits are also a great option for the races, a tailored pair of cigarette trousers and matching jacket are a chic alternative to the standard race day outfit.
If you already have a dress you love but need to ramp it up or add a layer for warmth then a tailored coat is a perfect addition to your wardrobe. A midi-length coat like the Lyra is ideal for wearing over a shift dress, with its feminine curved collar and knee length design it complements any midi dress perfectly and can add a touch of luxury to your outfit. If you like to make a real statement go for a longer coat like the Devi, layered over a simple dress or coordinated top and trousers this coat brings the drama to any outfit!
When going to the races the enclosure you are in can make a big difference to your outfit choice as different rules apply in different areas. As a rule of thumb the more expensive the enclosure, the more formal the dress code.
If you’ve ever seen pictures of the crowds at the races you will know that accessories are a key part of the equation. Finding the perfect hat to match your outfit is part of the fun of choosing a race day outfit and often headpieces or hats are part of the dress code for races. Take a look at our Friends of Shibumi page for some of our favourite milliners, jewellers and shoe businesses. One key thing to consider with accessories is the type of shoe, if you are spending a day at the races remember that you are likely to spend a lot of time on your feet and may have to work on grass so avoid stilettos and kitten heels and opt for a smart block heel, comfy wedge or chic flat.
Outfit ideas for the races
Still not sure what to wear? Here are a few outfit combinations perfect for a day at the races.
A colourful suit is a great option for any occasion, this flattering combination of cigarette trouser in Mineral and matching Nina jacket are a great pairing to have in your wardrobe, wear with any plain top for a low-effort high-impact outfit.
Whether it's a day at the races, a wedding, the coronation or something personal to you we hope our tips on dressing for a formal event have inspired you to choose an outfit that helps you feel beautiful and showcase your personal style.