Horseracing season can be a bit of a minefield. Even before you’ve negotiated the stand’s steps after you’ve had a few too many, you’ve been judged by your outfit. Does it meet the dress code? Have you tied your tie properly? Is your suit a bit ‘too much’? On the one hand, you need to meet traditions, but on the other hand, you want to get some of your own style across. Tricky.
If you’ve bagged yourself a ticket to Ascot, Newmarket or Cheltenham, you’re also probably hedging your bets about the weather. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re physically melting in a heavy suit, or revealing yourself when the heavens open and you’ve opted for white linen trousers.
So what should you wear?
Lightweight suits are crafted with half or partial linings. We say crafted because a lot of work goes into making the internal seams look polished enough to be on show. These suits keep the layers to a minimum to help with airflow so they’re breathable and light, while lining on the sleeves and (usually) the shoulders helps the jacket slide on easily over your shirt. Some lightweight suits even do away with the shoulder pads, making them even lighter. Wear your shirt open-necked for more ventilation and finish things off with a summery pastel pocket square.
The other option for hot days at the races is a linen suit, as this material is famously airy. Our linen-blend suits come with a slight stretch to help them bounce back from creasing, and they come in versatile hues of blue and stone. Khaki tones and double-breasted styles are also in the mix, offering bolder, on-trend alternatives that still look and feel smart. By contrasting with indigo or stone chinos, you’ll get more wearing options from your race day outfit.
There’s no reason why you can’t look race-day appropriate in the rain when you wear a performance suit. Their wool-rich fabric makes these suits breathable but they have a secret superpower – an invisible Teflon coating that repels water and stains (even handier when a drink is always within a metre-radius). It means water will run off your suit in droplets, rather than soaking through. Go for one in a bright shade like aqua to stand out or choose something more understated with a milled grey or royal blue version.
You should also be able to get away with a smart raincoat at the races, especially if it’s tailored. It’s a lightweight layer that keeps your suit in fine form, and you can easily carry it if the sun comes out later. And why not take a smart umbrella? It will save your suit and you can easily fold it up if the weather turns around.
Suits in heavier fabrics like herringbone, Donegal and tweeds will help keep you warm and they’ll look the part with their on-trend take on traditional styles. You can find tweeds in pastel shades that will still feel summery even when the event falls on one of those unseasonably chilly days.
Choosing a three-piece suit will give you the extra layer of warmth you need at your core. Wearing it over a flannel or thick cotton shirt and warm socks can also make a huge difference to your body temperature. There should be no reason why you can’t wear a suitably smart overcoat, especially if it’s tailored to be worn over a formal suit and in a classic colour like black or navy. Leather gloves won’t go amiss if it’s particularly cold (and they’ll make it easier to hold your betting slips when you can barely feel your fingers).
Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to wear a football shirt or scarf, undo your top button while you’re wearing your tie or get too drunk. Trust us on these ones.