The Thread

Best suits for the races

What to Wear to the Races – Complete Men’s Guide

Racing season isn’t simply an opportunity to combine a social occasion with the potential to make a little extra money – it’s also the perfect chance to ramp up your…

Racing season isn't simply an opportunity to combine a social occasion with the potential to make a little extra money – it’s also the perfect chance to ramp up your style game, cranking things up a notch and showing your impeccable taste.

But, for some men, especially the uninitiated, dressing for the races can be a daunting affair. Different race tracks often have different rules and dress codes – some, such as Royal Ascot, are dressier, others, like Leopardstown, are more casual – so do your research before you go.

So, how to cut a dash without going overboard? The following six tips will ensure that, off the racetrack at least, you’ll be a guaranteed winner: -


If you’re intent on really looking the part, it’s hard to beat a suit. Sure, you can wear a smart pair of trousers and a blazer to most racecourses, but a fitted suit will give you a hard-to-beat polish.

Tweed may be the fabric traditionally associated with the racing set but, unless styled correctly, a tweed suit can run the risk of looking a little twee. For something more contemporary, a sharp two- or three-button suit, or even a dapper double-breasted number, will look the part.

If you’re looking for a suit that has the flattering look of a black suit as well as the vibrant look of a colourful one, then a blue or navy suit is the best answer. It's versatile shade, clean finish and bright colouring means it can be dressed up and down depending on your mood, giving you a look that’s both bold but not overpowering.

Navy and charcoal grey suits are ideal for creating sleek and uniformed outfits, but they can sometimes appear a little dark, especially for summer races. For a season-appropriate alternative, look to lighter options such as sand or beige.

If you’re intent on flashing some fashion feathers, consider a patterned suit, which will help you stand out from the crowd. A patterned suit such as a bold check has a vibrant edge, making it perfect for the formal yet fun vibe of the races.

When wearing a patterned fabric, the trick is to keep the main focus on the suit and to not detract from this with an excess of colour or clashing prints. Go with a crisp white shirt to keep things subtle, but feel free to introduce some colour with your tie or pocket square.



If the idea of a suit sounds too fussy, you can still look racecourse-appropriate with a smart blazer and tailored trousers (anything from cord and cashmere to wool and cotton).

One look that is both classic and contemporary is to team a tweed jacket with a baby blue or white shirt and pressed chinos. Throw in a slim V-neck jumper if the temperature drops and you’re good to go.


3. TIE

The right tie can really bring an outfit together and complete the look. Since it’s a social occasion, albeit a smart one, don’t be afraid to deviate from your regular workday wardrobe and go for something with a bit of personality.

A discreet print or pattern on a tie can really add a visual punch to an outfit. Alternatively, there’s nothing wrong with playing it safe with something like a timeless knitted tie.

A third option, albeit only for the more adventurous, is to go for a bow-tie in either a plain or a patterned finish.




‘Shoes maketh the man’, as the old adage goes – and that’s why you’ll be paying particular attention to your footwear.

The aim is to go for something that is smart and dressy, rather than business-y, so take your pick from classic brogues, monk straps or Oxfords in black, dark brown or deep burgundy. Too safe? You can always show some personality with a pair of tone-tone shoes, so long as the colours are complementary to the rest of your outfit.

However you decide to fit out your feet, make sure your shoes are perfectly polished; nothing detracts from an outfit like scruffy footwear.



5. HAT

If you’ve ever fancied wearing a hat, there’s no better time than at the racecourse. Our tip? A quality fedora or trilby, or even an old-fashioned flat cap, as favoured by David Beckham.

A hat might not be for everyone, but for those prepared to accessorise, a dapper head piece can add a touch of class to your outfit - and will ensure you stand out from the crowd.



Once you have the key components of your outfit organised, don’t forget the importance of the accessories: a smart watch, a pocket square and possibly a pair of cufflinks. After all, it’s all about the details.

When it comes to a gentleman’s accessories, less is invariably more, so opt for subtlety over statement-making. Racecourse style is about being noticed, sure – but for the right reasons.

If you’re wearing a plain suit, for instance, you can be more adventurous with the colour or print of your accessories, opting for an eye-catching bow-tie, pocket square or even lapel pin to add some character to your outfit. If your suit has a strong pattern already, though, then keep the accessories simple to avoid any clashes.

 While your outfit won’t, unfortunately, have any bearing on your luck at the bookies, it will ensure that you’re amongst the winners in the racecourse style stakes. So, pick it carefully and may luck be with you!


Looking for more tips and advice? Check out our other blogs, Swacket Style: Mastering the Art of Transitional Fashion and 5 Smart Casual Outfit Ideas For Men