top of page

What Do People Wear To Horse Racing Events

by Gabrielė Meliūnaitė

Horse racing events are a great excuse to get dressed up and show off your fashion sense.

But with so many different types of races and events, it can be difficult to know what to wear. Some of the events have strict dress codes, while others are more casual and allow their guests to dress as they like.

Horse racing has always been heavily tied with fashion, even from the beginning of such events. That is why horse racing is considered a sport reserved for the elite (or at least for those that dress like the elite), which means that fashion is really important.

So, if you are new to the horse racing industry and you are planning your first visit to an actual horse race, here is a fashion guide that will help you pick the right outfit.


Dress for the Occasion.

The first thing to consider when choosing an outfit for a horse racing event is the occasion. Is it a formal event, like the Kentucky Derby or Royal Ascot? Or is it a more casual affair, like a local horse racing track?

There are no strict rules that can generalize the fashion of horse racing. After all, it all comes down to the event and the magnitude of its popularity.

For example, even if the Kentucky Derby didn’t have strict rules about what people can wear at the event, everyone will still turn out in their fanciest outfits just to be seen by other people.

Dress accordingly, but remember, it's always better to overdress than underdress. It's like playing dress-up but with a bigger budget and more champagne.

Hats, hats, hats!

If you are someone that is not used to wearing a hat, make sure you buy one and get used to it at home before going to a horse racing event.

One of the most iconic accessories at horse racing events is the hat. From wide-brimmed sun hats to elaborate fascinators, the hat is a must-have accessory for any horse racing event. People go above and beyond when it comes to their hat design for the derby, especially women.

If you are designing your own hat, make sure that is not big enough to obscure someone’s view of the action, since you’ll run into some trouble.

Formal Events.

Formal events or events like the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, or other popular horse races are reserved for the highest formal fashion. These events take fashion very seriously which is why it is important to follow their rules.

For formal events, dresses and suits are the way to go. Ladies opt for a chic cocktail dress or a flowy maxi dress with some eye-catching accessories.

Gents, go for a tailored suit or a blazer paired with some sharp trousers. It's like attending a high-end wedding but with horses as the backdrop.

Comfortable Shoes.

Most people often make the same mistake when attending a horse racing of getting a shoe that looks amazing, but they quickly regret that decision 1 hour into the event.

Horse racing is an event where there isn’t much sitting down. In fact, you’ll spend most of your day on your feet from watching the race, attending the carnival, or the after-party. This means that you’ll need to choose comfort over style!

It's important to wear comfortable shoes to horse racing events, especially if you're going to be walking around or standing for long periods.

Ladies, go for wedges or block heels instead of stilettos, and gents, stick to dress shoes that won't hurt your feet. It's like a marathon, but instead of running, you're walking and hobnobbing with the elite.


Accessories are one of the best ways to highlight your outfit that will let you stand out. Over the years, people have been using bags, scarves, hats, jewelry, and other types of accessories just to make their outfits even better.

Accessories are the finishing touch to any outfit, and at horse racing events, they can make all the difference.

Ladies, add some bling with statement earrings or a bold necklace. Gents, add a pocket square or a tie clip to elevate your look.

It's like playing dress-up but with more options and less mess.

Layers are Your Friend.

Even in the thick of summer, the weather may be unpredictable. That is why wearing layers to horse racing events is an excellent idea.

Throw a lightweight shawl or cardigan over your dress, ladies. Bring a jacket or sport coat that you can remove if it gets too hot. It's the same as dressing for any other occasion but with the extra bonus of being ready for any weather.

Related articles: How to Organize a Closet

Related articles: List of All Fashion Styles

Stay True to Your Personal Style.

You don't have to lose your particular style just because you're attending a horse racing event. If you're renowned for your bright, colorful ensembles, embrace them and add some flair with statement jewelry or a colorful hat.

Keep it basic and classy with a classic dress or suit if you like a more minimalist style. It's similar to showcasing your personal brand but with a glamorous twist.

The Preakness Stakes is happening next weekend, May 20, and it’s the perfect timing to put into practice what we mentioned so far.

You can check the current odds for the event here:

Follow the Dress Code.

It is really important to check out whether or not the event has a strict dress code that you’ll need to follow. You wouldn’t want to get embarrassed at the front gate when the officials don’t grant you access due to your fashion choices.

What Do Ladies Wear to Horse Racing Events? Well, there are plenty of choices and it all comes down to the theme of the event and your style. Here are the most common fashion pieces that ladies choose for horse racing events:

  • Dresses or skirts that are knee-length or longer

  • Blouses or tops that are conservative and not too revealing

  • Hats or fascinators that complement the outfit

  • High heels or dressy flats

  • Clutch or small handbag

  • Statement jewelry or accessories, such as a necklace or earrings

  • Light jacket or cardigan in case it gets chilly

  • Pantyhose or tights if wearing a skirt or dress

  • Sunglasses if the event is outdoors during the day

What Do Men Wear to Horse Racing Events?

For men, there isn’t that much of a choice. You can either go full formal, or casual formal with a blazer or a suit. Common outfit for men at horse racing events:

  • Suits or sport coats with dress pants

  • Dress shirts that are tucked in and have a collar

  • Ties or bow ties

  • Dress shoes that are polished and in good condition

  • Hats, such as fedoras or Panama hats, complete the outfit

  • Belts that match the shoes

  • Pocket squares or cufflinks for added style

  • Light jacket or blazer in case it gets chilly

  • Sunglasses if the event is outdoors during the day


Horse racing can often inspire people to make bold fashion choices that sometimes go over the limits. Therefore, we decided to talk about what NOT to wear at horse racing events.

Don't wear anything too casual.

We get it, you're a laid-back kind of person. But horse racing events are not the place to channel your inner beach bum. Leave the flip-flops, shorts, and tank tops at home. Instead, opt for something more sophisticated and polished.

Don't wear anything too revealing.

You may be proud of that new crop top or mini skirt, but save it for a night out with the girls. Horse racing events are elegant affairs, and it's important to dress accordingly.

Don't wear anything too distracting.

It may be tempting to put on your neon green pantsuit or your sequin-covered dress that shines bright like a star, but at a horse racing event, it's important to remember that the focus should be on the horses, not your outfit.

Final Words

Horse racing events are great for fashion lovers. They tend to experiment with their outfits, try out something new, and bring the entire horse racing vibe.

It is not that difficult to choose the right outfit for horse racing. You just need to dress for the occasion and always stay true to yourself with keeping a close eye on the fashion rules.


bottom of page