What to wear to horse races in summer

A day at the races is considered to be a very special occasion, especially when it comes to the big calendar meetings. Knowing what to wear and when can be tricky, and although dressing up isn’t always required, you will need to follow a dress code for certain enclosures.

If you are thinking of attending a race this summer, here are some ideas of what to wear to ensure you have all the essentials covered.

The things you need to consider

Before you decide on an outfit, there are a few key factors that you should consider, especially if you are going to a venue in the UK or somewhere that has changeable weather.

  • The weather (especially in the UK) is always a big consideration. You will want to be comfortable and stylish, but also able to deal with whatever the weather might throw at you. This will necessitate having a contingency plan in place should the weather change dramatically.
  • Although some venues on the horse racing calendar won’t have a dress code, if you are going to one of the major meetings, you can expect them to impose a strict dress code. It is always a good idea to check with the racecourse website prior to choosing your outfit, so that you can ensure your clothing will be appropriate.
  • Different enclosures at one racecourse may have different dress codes. So, those who watch from one area of the racecourse may not be subject to the same dress code as those who watch from another enclosure. There will usually be advice on specific dress codes on the given racecourse’s website.
  • Although most race meetings occur in the daytime, there are some that take place in the evenings, especially during the summer. This is something to remember as the evening will be generally cooler than the daytime.

How women should dress for summer horse races

Summer meetings, especially if the weather is sunny, mean you will probably want to dress up and look glamorous. However, if you are in the UK, you will know that a sunny day doesn’t always stay that way.

Most women who want to dress up at the races choose to wear a light and flowy dress in the summer. Doing so yourself will stop you from getting too hot – and you’ll also look elegant.  

Of course, you may also want to stand out from the crowd, which is another consideration. While many racecourses don’t have a specific outfit colour requirement, you should be sure to check just in case.

As for comfort, black or dark colour dresses might make you feel too hot on a summer day, so it’s probably a good idea to go for something lighter.

Shoes will be a big consideration, too, as you will likely be on your feet for most of the day. High heels are not always a good option, especially if you are going to be walking on uneven surfaces.

Wedge shoes with open toes will look elegant and be practical enough to walk in all day.

Some events will require a hat or fascinator. These can sometimes be large and make a real statement. The important thing is that it fits with your outfit and is something you feel comfortable wearing.

As for accessories, sunglasses are a must on a sunny day, along with a small bag to carry all of your essentials.

So, what should men wear to horse races in the summer?

A popular choice for men is to wear a suit, but you need to consider the weather as well. On a hot day, a standard suit will quickly become uncomfortable, so you should probably try to find a light summer suit instead.

Outside of a specific dress code, you may want to add some colour to your outfit. Although most men will go for a white shirt, you might be tempted to try something different, such as a light-coloured shirt with a matching tie. This will add some summer colour, without drawing too much attention your way.

For some race meetings, a top hat may be required, but if not, then the choice is yours. As for footwear, you will likely want to wear something stylish but practical, because of all the standing and walking.

On a hot day, you could go for something like loafers, which don’t need to be worn with socks. This will keep your feet cooler and will still be stylish.


Going to the races can be a wonderful experience that will be something to remember for a long time. If you are going to one of the events on the major calendar, you should remember to check the relevant racecourse’s website for any specific dress code and other requirements, before dressing according to the weather and your personal comfort.