What to wear at a horse race

What Do You Wear to a Horse Race?

As a young girl, I had the fortunate experience of attending the Belmont Stakes in New York with my aunt and uncle. I remember my aunt taking me shopping to find just the perfect thing to wear, but as a child, I didn’t give it much thought. But what do you wear to a horse race when planning a fun day at the track? 

Putting together something festive and fun for a day at the races is part of the experience of going to watch a horse race. Many people view attending a horse race as a great excuse to get dressed up for the day. There is some nostalgia involved in planning just the right outfit.  Let’s take a look at some fun race-day wardrobe options for men and women. 

What Do Women Wear to the Races? 

A day at the races means a day where you can play dress up and have some fun! For women, what you wear to the races really depends on how creative you feel. Brightly colored dresses or floral and other colorful prints can take center stage, and you are free to accessorize however you like and feel a little fancy. 

Here are some great options for what women can wear when attending a horse race. 

The dress– When selecting just the right dress to wear to a horse race, no print is too wild or color too bold. The bolder the better! An A-line cocktail dress with colorful floral print is a classic choice in spring or summer, such as this beautiful vintage-style dress. A sophisticated, flattering pencil dress can also be a stylish choice. 

When choosing a dress, now is the time to go all out. It’s okay to be bold with your patterns or colors at a horse race. Jewel tones are also a great option if you are selecting something for fall. Select a cocktail dress that is above-the-knee, knee-length or calf-length since horse races are typically daytime events. 

The hat– An event such as a horse race calls for just that right hat to compliment the dress. Think wide-brim, chiffon, organza, flowers, and bold, bright colors. Select a hat that is lightweight to help shade you from the sun and keep you cool while looking fantastic. 

Another fun hat option is called a fascinator. A fascinator is a smaller headpiece that is often donned with feathers or chiffon or both, worn on the side of the head. It makes an elegant statement and is less bulky than a hat that covers the whole head. Whatever type of headwear you select, it is sure to complete your horse race look. 

Shoes– The perfect dress calls for the perfect pair of shoes. Bold, bright colors are definitely the right choice for wearing to a horse race. 

When selecting shoes, keep comfort in mind. You will likely be on your feet all day and do a fair amount of walking at a horse race. Not only will you spend time watching the races, but you may do some walking back and forth to the paddock to see the horses parade before the race as well. A low kitten heel or low wedge heel is a good option, or even a cute ballet flat that compliments your dress would look pretty. 

Accessories– Various accessories that can complete your horse race ensemble include–

 Sunglasses– Bright sunny days at the races may require a cute pair of sunglasses like this cat-eye-shaped pair.  The color you choose can complement your dress and hat as well. 

Purse– A small clutch or purse adds to your horse show look and gives you a place to keep your phone, credit cards, and ID. 

Gloves– If you really want to be fancy, add a pair of lace gloves to complete your look. 

Race Viewing Locations– Where you are planning on viewing the race can play a role in what you decide to wear to a horse race. If you are in the grandstand, a bright, colorful dress, and complimentary hat is on point. 

Another viewing location where you may watch a horse race is in the infield. You may need to adjust what you wear a bit if you are planning to watch a race from the infield. 

The infield is typically standing room only. More casual attire is often found by those watching the races from the infield. Think cute dressy shorts or a shorter skirt and a summer blouse if the weather is hot. A sundress is also a great infield option. Comfortable shoes are still a must, and of course the right hat is always on point. 

What Do Men Wear to the Races? 

Going to a horse race is not only an opportunity for women to dress their best. The same applies to men, who can wear their finest spring or summer outfits. 

Here are some great horse race options for men to wear:

Summer or lightweight suit or sportcoat

Men, if you are looking to make a statement when deciding what to wear to a horse race, a seersucker or lightweight suit is a great option. Now is the time for pinstripes, pastel colors, or even prints. 

Select a lightweight fabric if the weather is expected to be warm. A tailored, modern fit is a great option if deciding to wear a suit or sportcoat. In the fall or winter months, a more traditional suit is a fine option. 

A sport coat with a pair of nice khakis is another possibility. Pair the sport coat with a pastel or print button-down shirt for a more casual style, or opt not to wear a jacket at all. 


You can add some additional pizazz with a bold tie. While ties are not required, they are a great way to let your personality shine through or push your fashion boundaries. Choose either a bowtie or traditional tie, and look for a tie that adds some interest to what you are wearing. Add polka dots, paisley, plaid, or a floral print for a bit of fun. 


A day at the races means a day on your feet. Selecting comfortable shoes will be a must. You will find yourself walking from the paddock to the grandstand to the betting windows, and standing a lot during the races as well. Select dress shoes that have a more sneaker-like insole, and go for something lightweight in the spring and summer months. 

Hats for men?

Why not! If women can wear hats to the races, so can men! Dress to the nines with a felt or straw fedora or derby hat. Select a color that coordinates with your shirt or sport coat to really make a statement.  


There are a few items that can certainly add to your look on race day. Some fun accessories for men include:

  • Sunglasses
  • Suspenders
  • A coordinated handkerchief or pocket square
  • Cufflinks
  • Fun socks

And don’t forget your wallet or money clip with some cash for betting! 

If you are planning to view the races from the infield, it will likely be standing room only. In warmer weather in the infield, lightweight khakis and a short-sleeve button-down shirt may be a cooler option than a suit. You will still want to opt for comfortable shoes. A hat may help shield the sun, and sunglasses would be a must. 

What Not to Wear to the Races

While the races are a great time to show off your Sunday best, there are a few things you should not wear to a horse race:

Athletic wear

Save your yoga pants and running shorts for the gym. These articles of clothing don’t belong at the track. 

Flip flops

Anytime you are going to be around horses or large crowds, flip-flops are not the safest choice. Leave these in the car to change into on the way home after a long day on your feet. 

Jeans and a t-shirt

Your favorite jeans and t-shirt combination is too casual and are not appropriate for the race track.

Running shoes

Your running shoes may be comfortable, but traditional horse-race attire is fancier than your sneakers.  

Planning what you will wear to a horse race can be a fun part of planning your day! Have some fun with your selections and stretch yourself out of your fashion comfort zone.

Whether you intend to place some bets or just go to socialize and watch the beauty of the horses, going to the races is fun for the whole family.