What The Stylish Will Wear

Spring 2015

By Contributor

January 23, 2015

Raleigh, NC (USA) – Each and every year, the spring horse racing season brings about some of the wildest and most inspiring fashion looks around. It’s difficult to trace the moment in history when horse racing became so closely tied to fashion, but over the years the connection has intensified. These days, fashion at the races has almost taken on the feel of a public pageant.

Often, the best outfits one can find at a marquee horse race are not ones that many would wear at other events. Rather, they tend to be uniquely suited to the occasion. They’re nevertheless very intriguing from a style perspective, and sometimes they show off pretty incredible pieces from various designers. With that in mind, here’s a look at several of the looks you can expect to see throughout the upcoming spring horse racing season.

Ladies In Tweed

This is something that’s often seen earlier in the season with some of the year’s first major races. Dailymail covered last year’s Cheltenham Festival from a fashion standpoint and noted (albeit somewhat critically) the abundance of tweed. In looking through some images from the occasion, it’s clear that tweed, wool, and other heavier fabrics for outer garments (including various fur accessories) were in high demand. This is in large part because Cheltenham occurs earlier in the year, when temperatures can still be quite cool.

Big, Dramatic Hats

If there’s one defining feature of horse racing fashion that is a constant at every significant event, it’s oversized hats. Associated most closely with the Kentucky Derby, this trend has become a type of uniform for ladies attending big races, and the various selections and inspirations cover a vast range of creativity. The hats are big, bold, colorful, and inventively designed with ribbons, feathers, lace, and whatever else anyone might come up with. There are even specific stores that exist only to sell derby hats, which is actually rather convenient when you consider how out-there some of the popular styles may otherwise seem.

It’s also worth noting that the trend of fancy hats extends to men attending the races as well. And that’s even indicative when it comes to the men involved in the races. As seen in this Betfair preview of the 2015 Cheltenham Festival, it’s clearly shown that the trend reaches some of the trainers! The article displays renowned Irish trainer Willie Mullins (who led Hurricane Fly to Champion Hurdle titles at Cheltenham in 2011 and 2013) at the tracks wearing a tasteful brown fedora. Mullins will have a favorite runner in this year’s festival as well, and perhaps he’ll continue to demonstrate the most crucial of all horse racing fashion elements!

Heels, No Matter What

For those who have seen pictures of horse racing events, or who have attended smaller races, the idea of making high heels part of a race day outfit may not seem particularly appealing. After all, the grounds can be rugged, the seating areas can involve a lot of stairs, and spectators are on their feet quite a bit in between races and other events. Nevertheless, heels are nearly as prevalent as race day hats, particularly in the warmer-weather races in the early summer when most of the ladies will be in sundresses. Looking through Fashion At The Races showcases of past outfits at the Belmont Stakes—another of the major U.S. races—it’s clear that many find a way around the awkwardness of heels at racing venues. For some it means just wearing a very shallow heel, and for others platforms appear to be the answer. And still others just opt for stilettos and get by!


We mentioned this previously in connection to the heels trend, but sundresses, weather permitting, are a must for ladies at the races. Simply Dresses has a whole section devoted to Kentucky Derby dresses and while there are obviously plenty of alternatives for actually purchasing a dress, this selection gives you a good feel for the style and variety expected at racecourses. Basically, you can and should be as creative as you want when choosing your dress! Straps or no straps, solid colors or patterns, etc.—it’s all in play for the Derby and other major races.