5 key tips for dressing for a day at the races

tips for dressing

Heading out the races for the first time? Or just wondering if the rules have changed? Want to ensure that you don’t stand out for all the wrong reasons, or even get refused entry? Whether you are going along for a laid back fun day in the general admissions or getting dressed to the nines and heading to the members reserve it is important to know what you should and shouldn’t be wearing, particularly the things that could prevent your entry! Getting ready for a day at the races can be a bit daunting, so here are a few tips to help you get started.

Dress code

Make sure to have a quick check on their website to see what your specific racecourse recommends, but in general a rough guide is, the pricier your ticket, the fancier the dress code. A general admissions ticket would likely require a smart casual dress while a day in the members reserve would mean dressing more smartly. No jeans please!


Wear them! No matter which ticket you have, shoes are a must. At Doomben racecourse for instance visitors are requested not to wear thongs (flip-flops) no matter which ticket they have. Jogging shoes are also not permitted in some areas, so be sure to wear your dress shoes, loafers or brogues if you are not sure!


Many racecourses have different dress codes for different seasons, with summer tending to be a little more relaxed – think short sleeved shirts not tank tops! Ties and blazers may be optional, and some even allow shorts as long as the look is still ‘dignified’! In winter long sleeved shirts, tucked in and with a tie and jacket are generally required. Again though, if you have a picnic ticket, or whatever name is given at the races to general admissions, you have a less strict dress code than the members, so why not make the most of it and dress up in a seasonal costume! 

Special Events

There are certain days and events where people in every enclosure with every kind of ticket have to dress up. On lady’s days many women wear hats or fascinators, while some events at certain racecourses like Royal Ascot might call for full morning suits for those in the member’s reserve and smarter dress for other tickets. 

Dress to Enjoy Yourself!

In the general admissions at many courses there is usually a more relaxed code, where guests can dress comfortably, or even outrageously in costume! There are usually still a few suggestions, like nothing midriff baring, so it’s worth a check before leaving the house but the key is to enjoy yourself and have fun! Some courses let you take a blanket and lounge on the ground while experiencing all there is to see and do. You want to be comfortable if you wish, and are free to dress that way!

So remember, it’s a good idea to check your specific racecourse dress code for the season and enclosure you will be in. If you want to look like the Doomben races odds have swung in your favour before, you’ll be best avoiding wearing string vests, jogging bottoms and thongs, but unless there is a special event, or you are in the members enclosure, dress smart casually, avoid a bare stomach and you are ready for a great day at the races!

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