There is no doubt that fashion is a huge factor in a race-day environment. For many, dressing up is the largest portion of the race experience. However, horse racing season can mean chilly at the beginning and tail-end of the season. Although racing typically ends with the final days of summer in many areas, some locations hold races well into fall. Both spring and fall weather can be very unpredictable. So if you have the unfortunate luck of attending during a bout of bad weather, here is what to wear to a horse race when it’s cold.
Despite the inconvenience of weather, hot or cold, race track style does not change. Again, the guest dress code is a major factor in the overall experience and environment. Unless at a very small and informal track, racing is a spectator event where you should dress to impress. This is specifically geared toward traditional Thoroughbred races sanctioned by the Jockey Club. Major races, such as any of the Triple Crown races, are high-fashion statement events. In fact, non-equine fashion magazines cover these events each year. Don’t let the cold fool you, it is always big derby-hat season at the track!
Most track attire resembles “Sunday best” or “smart dress”. However, some tracks will have a mandatory dress code year-round and there will be no admittance for failure to comply. For example, the Royal Enclosure is one the strictest dress codes for race tracks and is known internationally for this. Comfort does not apply here- no sneakers or casual jackets even in poor weather conditions.
Unlike other events which may require a blazer or collared shirt, they require strict dress codes for both males and females. They are so stringent; they will check males to ensure they are wearing socks! However, the color scheme does vary seasonally. Pastels are traditional, but brighter colored accents may be more suitable for late summer and fall races.
Check out Do horses Get Cold In Winter?
Differences in Attire
Men and women will have different dress requirements at the track. This is a very traditional element, and in recent years has brought about accusations of gender stereotypes and discrimination. However, at this point, tradition is the longstanding attire guideline.
Men fall under the “smart dress” guidelines for most rack tracks. This is much easier to work with during cold weather, as a smart dress typically includes a suit. A full suit means a blazer, which can actually be hot and uncomfortable during the summer months. Men can opt for heavier wool blazers during cold weather, and accessories are welcome as they can bring additional style to an ensemble. This can include scarves, top hats, and gloves. When it is cold enough to require additional layers, collared and more formal coats such as peacoats should be worn with suits. Unless you have special seating out of the way, most tracks do not allow umbrella use. This can distract animals if spotted and obstruct the view for other guests. It is best to check with a track prior to bringing an umbrella. However, sleek ponchos can be packed as a just-in-case item.
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What to Wear to a Horse Race for Women
Women have a harder time adhering to the traditional track dress code during cold weather. In fact, skirts and dresses are still preferred dress codes for women. Women wear attire similar to Sunday best or even upscale afternoon tea sessions. Although pastels are also the standard for women, brighter colors and bolder patterns and prints will be seen in summer and fall. Accessories are key to a finished track ensemble, complete with jewelry and a hat.
However, when it is cold, women are left with fewer options than men as most sundresses do not come with optional matching blazers! For these chillier days, women can utilize stockings and accessorize with hats, scarves, and gloves. Jackets, although they may be necessary, will be restricted to more for formal appearances. In some cases, this can be a business smart-dress style pea coat or heavy wool coat with pleats. This may be an opportunity to showcase vintage furs, stylish hand warmers, and high-fashion (and low-function) hand mitts!
Although it may take a little creativity, don’t let a little cold weather stop you from making the most of your race-day experience. Incorporating warm jackets and accessories can be a fun way to dress up your current ensemble and make an even bigger statement if you are creative. It is important to dress weather-appropriate so you will be comfortable during the races and can sit back and enjoy the experience. As a little pro-tip: stock up on the portable hand warmers sold with camping supplies! These are a great pack-along item for any spectator viewing an outdoor event or sport.
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