Planning to attend the races for the first time in your life? Did you know that there is strict dress code to comply with? If you didn’t, it’s time to find out what to wear at the races – a men’s style guide.

A suit is mandatory

When it comes to horse racing attire, it is expected that all gentlemen wear suits. The specific type of suit may or may not be specified into the event’s dress code – The Royal Ascot, for instance, requires men to wear a black or grey morning suit including a waistcoat and tie, an assorted black or grey top hat and black shoes and socks. The Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National races have no strict rules, but you are still expected to wear a suit.

Oxford’s or Derbies 

Whilst black shoes and socks may sound a bit broad, the truth is that most horse racing events expect men to wear dress suits. Nope, sneakers and loafers won’t do, even if they look smart and the latest trends see dress trousers paired with white trainers. The best thing is to pair your formal suit with a pair of equally formal Oxford’s or Derbies, preferably the finest kind made of Italian leather.

Neutral colour shirt

Are you a fan of bright pink shirts? They’re surely on the trend, but let it in your wardrobe and put on something less bright for the races. No dress code says what colour shirt you should or shouldn’t wear, but your best bets include white, grey, black, or even light blue and navy shirts. You can either pick a shade that contrasts with your suit or one that complements it.

Tie and pocket square

If your suit and shirt must be formal, you can go wild with the tie and pocket square – without exaggerating, of course. There are two options. You could either go for a matching or contrasting solid colour or opt for original patterns – some of your options can include fine dots and lines, delicate flowers, and even discreet geometric patterns. The only rule to keep in mind is that the tie and pocket square should match.

Don’t forget the accessories

Accessories are important if you really want to look classy. Some of the most useful things to have with you are a wristwatch and sunglasses. None of these accessories can be cheap, or, if they are cheap, make sure they look expensive. Sunglasses should have traditional lines – steer clear from fancy, mirror-effect lenses. As for the watch, it should have a classic, analogue display and leather band. Other acceptable accessories include a scarf and leather gloves if you’re attending an event in early spring or autumn, and an umbrella if it rains.