Fashion Inspiration At The UK’s Horse Races

LOS ANGELES - JAN 9:  Atmosphere, Derby Fashion at the "Derby Does Hollywood" Kentucky Derby prelude party at London Hotel on January 9, 2014 in West Hollywood, CA

For those who like to pay attention to event fashion—rather than just fashion events—the spring horse racing season in the UK can be a fascinating time. Granted, at smaller races, fashion generally takes a back seat and people often dress relatively casually. However, at the major events—namely the Cheltenham Festival, the Grand National, and the Royal Ascot—fashion is emphasised almost as heavily as the competitions themselves!

This makes prestigious races great sources for fashion inspiration for the warm weather seasons that are just beginning to settle in. So here’s a look at some of the styles we’ve seen and expect to see for the remainder of the 2015 racing season.

We’ll begin with the Cheltenham Festival, which is the only one of the three major races that’s already taken place. Known to many spectators as an event that’s as much a party as a cluster of prestigious horse races, Cheltenham may just emphasise fashion more than any of its counterparts, and as such it’s always fascinating to take a look at. However, because Cheltenham happens earlier in the year, it’s actually best as a last look at cool weather styles, as opposed to a glimpse of spring fashion.

This year, the festival was essentially one long exhibition of fun, attractive outerwear. Wales Online’s recap of the festival’s Ladies Day shows the ladies of Cheltenham in fur hats, scarves, and coats, with others wearing rustic tweeds. Several women even found ways to embrace the bright colours often associated with race day fashion in the form of bright pink or shimmering blue knee-length coats. And then of course, there was a delightful range of quirky but irresistible hats, which is a common trend at races.

Next up on the UK’s slate of major races is the Grand National, soon to take place at the Aintree Racecourse just outside of Liverpool. If Cheltenham is a party, the Grand National is perhaps better known for its signature race, which dominates the attention at the event and serves as one of the most glamorous titles in racing. Betfair’s page on the Grand National competition is brimming with tips and odds listings for the competition, and there will be thousands upon thousands of racing fans taking careful note. Betting activity, live spectatorship, and viewing from abroad keep the main race of the Grand National at centre stage, so to speak.

That all being said, people still get into the fashion side of racing at Aintree. And in some cases, the excitement over the races yields an even more whimsical and inventive lineup of styles. You’ll see the same intriguing array of race day hats, but at Aintree the ladies will offer some of the first glimpses of summer dresses and warm weather outfits. This is also a great event to look to for inspiration on warm weather footwear, and you’re even likely to see a lot of options resembling selections from our Summer Sandals Makeover a year ago! High heels are probably the most popular choices at the races, but rugged terrain around the tracks inspires a lot of women to opt for platforms as well.

Finally, there’s the Royal Ascot, which has something of a reputation as the fanciest of the three major racing events. Indeed, the Royal Ascot is more exclusive from a fashion standpoint, because it is actually run with a fairly comprehensive dress code. However, if this doesn’t bother you, the event may just offer the best glimpse of high-end fashion of any of the three.

While Cheltenham and the Grand National embrace the fun side of horse racing style, the Royal Ascot tends to feature more spectators in outfits that look as if they’re fresh off of seasonal fashion runways. Vogue did a write-up of the event’s best style trends a year ago, and it’s positively overflowing with chic looks that, frankly, should be just as appropriate this year! Because of examples like those shown in Vogue, the Royal Ascot may be the best race to keep an eye on if you’re looking for high-end style inspiration.

When it’s all said and done, it’s a lot to keep straight! But for those seeking ideas for dresses, footwear, and stylish accessories for the seasons to come, these events can be as valuable as watching a fashion show, flipping through a magazine, or visiting your favourite fashion blog.

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  • Robin Rue

    I have always wanted to go to the Kentucky Derby or one of the other horse races. I would love to wear one of those big hats.

  • Sharon Erickson

    I’ve been to the horse races in Del Mar and it was fun. The atmosphere is definitely different than anything I’ve been around before.

  • Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle

    If you want to see some cutting edge hat fashion, the races are the place to go. They have some crazy cool hats.

  • Jeanine

    I have always wanted to go to a horse race. Even some sort of track I think would be super fun. Especially getting all dolled up to go! How fun!

  • michele d

    Those hats are adorable! I’ve been to some horsing in my time but never wore clothing like that. I guess it’s all where you go.

  • Liz Mays

    I didn’t realize people made such fashion statements at these races. That alone would be a good incentive to go!

  • songbirdsandbuttons

    Cute looks! Love the hats – and yes, I’ve heard this is a fashion spot each year!

  • Bonnie G

    Wow! I had no idea that fashion and horse racing went hand in hand like that. What beautiful clothing!

  • Lisa @Bitesforbabies

    I had heard of this while living in England….so I assumed fashion was a big part of horse racing! I love how the Brits wear exquisite hats ;-)

  • John Lopez

    All these gals looks really pretty on their outfit! They’re really love the fashion.

  • ronley

    For sure fashion enthusiasts would love to attend these events. Sounds like a haven for them.

  • CiaSays

    I would love to attend one of these events if only to see the fashions in person.

  • R U S S

    This is going to be a huge hit amongst fashionistas. The girls in the photos all look like they attended an event at the Hamptons ( from Revenge ) …

  • Rebecca Swenor

    These are awesome events and it is true about all the fashion finds at them. I didn’t even think of them as being fashion shows but they actually are just like them. Thanks for sharing.

  • touristmeetstraveler

    Sounds like an amazing time, I hope you really enjoyed it!

  • Fi Ni Neachtain

    The fashion at horse races is such a big thing isn’t it? I love seeing the outfits and hats on ladies day :)

  • Alli Smith

    I love seeing all the different styles of hats! We have a local racetrack and it has a couple of big events a year where everyone gets all dressed up in hats, etc. It’s so much fun to watch.

  • chubskulit

    Who wouldn’t want to go to a horse racing events if these fashionable ladies are around. Hats always fascinates me!

  • Aisha Kristine Chong

    I wish I could nail those hats as well. Looks awesome.

  • Michelle

    I’ve always loved those style of hats! Not sure if I could pull it off as a look for me though. I find I always look funny in hats for some reason! lol

  • mail4rosey

    I’d be interested in reading the Vogue write up you mentioned. I think the high end feel goes with horse racing, for sure.

  • breanna

    It is on my bucket list to attend a horse race where I have the opportunity to where a big hat and sundress. I love it!

  • Angie Kanellopoulos

    I have never attended a horse before but it really is on my to do list! I love all the fashion people wear to those races, it would fascinating to see it in person!

  • Chrystal M.

    I have been to the races. Can be fun for some. The pretty dresses and big hats can be entertaining to check out.

  • Liz Leiro (CaliforniaPretty)

    I love the beautiful outfits that they put together for the races. I don’t know if I could pull off one of those hates, but they sure are cute!

  • Krystal

    I love big fun hats. They are so fun with bright colors. I am loving the entire look!

  • Coach Donna

    Wow – Eileen – I have been to one horse race – but I would also love the opportunity to go gaain and where a big hat and sundress – you all look fabulous

  • Jackie

    This is so sweet :) I love when women can get together for a fun day out! You all look beautiful! I’ve never been to a real horse race.

  • Roselynn787

    For the longest time I had no idea there was such a thing as fashion at the horse races. It’s actually such a cute event and I get a lot of inspiration for nail art from it.

  • Debi@The Spring Mount 6 Pack

    I have never been to a horse race or even watched one before I never knew there was a fashion involved.

  • Ricci

    I love a good derby day!! There is nothing better than dressing up and putting on a big hat and having out with your girlfriends!!

  • Miranda (Myrabev)

    It’s amazing how or the last few years the majority of the big horse races here in the UK is about what people are wearing and less about the races themselves. Granted I do love watching the races but more the different hats being worn

  • Ourfamilyworld

    It looks like you had a blast. I love fashion shows. I have never been but watching some on TV

  • Lynn Dee

    I haven’t been to a race. I’ve only seen them on TV and yes, I love watching those women wearing hats. They look fab!

  • Alyssa C

    I’ve never been to a race but I would love to attend one just to wear a dress and hat! I’ve always been in love with the style and just think everyone looks amazing!

  • Cherri Littleton Megasko

    Oh my goodness I just love those hats! My favorite is the black one in the middle. I’ve always wished I looked good in hats, because they definitely make a statement!

  • Ann Bacciaglia

    I love the dresses and hats. I love watching the award shows so i can see all the beautiful gowns. I am excited to go summer clothes shopping so i can buy some new dresses.

  • Gabriel Bregg

    My wife got to go to the Kentucky Derby one year, it’s not quite the pageant as these races look to be, but she said it was still a spectacle.

  • Life as a Convert

    I think I like the hats the best. They really set the whole outfits off.