Situated in Aintree, Merseyside near Liverpool this racecourse holds race events in October, November and December then April, May and June. It is best known for the world famous Grand National Steeplechase.
Official Dress Code
Officially there is no dress code but smart is preferable and often adopted.
Hats are optional too but are frequently worn.
Sports clothes and fancy dress are NOT permitted for the Randox Health Grand National Festival.
For the autumn/winter race days, most racegoers dress more for the weather rather than fashion, opting for traditional Jump racing style including tweeds, woollen overcoats, boots and maybe felt hats.
In the summer, again racegoers dress according to the weather and bring warmer layers for the evening as the day cools off.
The exception is the Grand National where the ladies (and gents) really go to town on their outfits – but don’t be caught out: different types of racegoers wear different types of outfits at this three-day meeting, so follow our tips below to make sure you make the most of the occasion.
What to Wear to the Grand National
The Grand National Festival takes place in April over three days:
Day 1 for Liverpool’s Day, a tribute to to the city and the people who make it what it is today. The Fox Hunters Chase usually takes place on this day, popular with more traditional racegoers, so expect to see more smart Jumps outfits (similar to Cheltenham Festival) as well as the summer wear of the fashionistas.
Day 2 Ladies Day (also called #FabulousFriday) when all things style and fashion are in the spotlight – the Style Awards are as competitive as the racing, so pull out all the stops with your outfit.
Day 3 Grand National Day for the ultimate challenge in Jumps racing – the glamour continues from Ladies Day.
Official Dress Code – Again there is no official dress code, but it is encouraged to dress smart.
Sports clothes and fancy dress are NOT permitted for the Randox Health Grand National Festival.
Grand National Style Tips
Below is a guide for fabulous fashionistas (men and women) – racegoers who are out to see and be seen, and who probably might enter the Style Awards.
If you are attending as an owner or connection of a horse running in one of the races on any of the three days, follow the style tips for the Cheltenham Festival instead – from a racing point of view, this is a top level Jumps meeting and summer wear could look out of place in the Owners & Trainers enclosure.
For all other racegoers – choose between traditional Jump racing style or fashionista summer wear, but whatever you wear, make sure it is whip smart and fully finished off with accessories, as this is a unique occasion where the best of all styles are on show!
For Ladies – What to Wear
For the Grand National ladies, this it the start of summer – warm winter clothes are out and sizzling summer outfits are in come rain or shine.
Aintree may encourage smart but the Grand National lady is in charge here and is more concerned with what’s in fashion and will interpret the ‘smart’ word accordingly. They continue to ‘Dress to Impress’ as they have made this event famous for its glamour and high fashion. Here the ladies are not afraid of the cold (who wants to cover up that gorgeous dress underneath a coat?) and are always optimistic that the sun will shine. However she may be persuaded to wear a jacket if it is a ‘must have’ for the summer.
She bravely stamps out the pain of wearing high heels to ensure her look isn’t compromised – practicality is not the point here.
Many ladies move on to after-racing parties in Liverpool as well, so outfits need to look as good in a nightclub or busy bar as they do on course.
A Grand National outfit is not expected to enter in to the fashion race next year. Wear it all summer and to other events, but the name of the Grand National fashion game is to wear something new – and preferably unique or Limited Edition – each time.
Although the hat is an important accessory, the GN lady focuses more on her dress than her headpiece so you will find small fascinators are just as popular as hats.
Although the weather is still unpredictable at this time of year, it is all about the glamour so the GN hat/fascinator will be adorned with feathers and blooms.
Don’t forget to style your hair perfectly as well – this is as much a part of your look as the headwear.
The handbag does not have to be functional, just on trend and preferably designer. Depending on the trend for that year, the handbag style can range from the micro handbag that can only fit in a lipstick to the macro handbag that can accommodate all the racing essentials.
The GN lady does not wear tights – she prefers her smooth bare legs to be on display to show off her fake or real tan.
Before the racing day, she will visit the tanning salon or use a self tanning product to ensure she has the perfect tan. This can range from a light healthy glow to a deep bronze depending on her preference.
High heels or comfy flats?
For the ladies who like to hang out in the bars on the ground floor, high heels are the favourite to show off those tanned legs (designer is preferred). If anyone can wear high heels all day at the races it is the Grand National lady. Luckily Aintree is mainly concrete with no grass to get the heels stuck in or muddied.
However in order to get the best views there are a lot steps to climb up to the top of the stands so if you’re not sure if you can take the pace, bringing along a pair of foldable flats to change into would be wise.
For tips on how to choose the most comfortable high heels see our guide: Grand National Fashion: Best Foot Forward
Aintree is a big racecourse and potentially racegoers could be doing a lot of walking. On racedays other than the Grand National Festival, comfier shoes or more sturdy heels will be a better choice.
Statement jewellery adds a generous amount of bling. Necklace, earrings, bracelets and even the anklet to complement the tanned bare ankle.
The Grand National is all about the summer look, so for the ladies it’s no jacket required. A shawl or pashmina is the best way to keep the chill away and still have your gorgeous frock on display.
To keep the summery feel, go for a dreamy ethereal look and choose a light fabric and light colours.
Men – What to Wear
Aintree Grand National is synonymous with the glitz and glamour of ladies fashion, but what about the boys? Don’t be left behind in the fashion race, give the ladies a run for their money and show off your fashion flair.
Although there is no official dress code, this is the race to show off your dapper style. Most gentlemen wear suits at this event but don’t fade in to the background; swap those dull work suit colours for a more vibrant shade. See our How to Spice Up Your Suit articles for ideas!
Hang up your grey suit for a day of colour. This is definitely a bold move and confidence is one accessory you need to carry around with you. Bright blue is probably the least scary of the bold colours and the most accepted in a suit.
The Shirt and Tie
A crisp white shirt will set off your suit. But if you have decided to wear your grey or navy business suit, then maybe team with a coloured or patterned shirt to give interest and ensure you don’t look like you’ve just come from the office. Stripes can still look businesslike so opt for floral patterns for a softer relaxed look.
A tie is not required but most gents do wear one. A safe bet when wearing a patterned shirt is to wear a plain tie. If you are feeling daring then team with a patterned tie – just don’t choose the same pattern, vary the size of the print and pick out a less dominant colour from your shirt to be the dominant colour for the tie.
The Pocket Square
Whether you wear a tie or not, do not forget the pocket square. This is one accessory which always adds a dashing touch with no effort at all – the only rule to remember is that it should never exactly match the tie. When wearing a block colour pocket square with a patterned tie or shirt, don’t always choose the main colour. Choosing the least dominant colour will bring a sharper look and show that you know your style. In fact this is the only place that you could actually introduce a new colour to your outfit and get away with it.
Shoes and Socks
Ditch the trainers for the smarter leather loafer or monk shoe. These allow the wearer to go sockless for a relaxed modern but still formal style.
If you do decide to wear socks, then jazz up your style with colourful or patterned ones.
Don’t forget the sunglasses, a must have accessory to look cool on a sunny day at the races. Go for designer sunglasses in the classic styles of aviator or wayfarers. This is an easy way to update your outfit and create that designer look without robbing the bank.
See our guide to choosing the right Sunglasses for your Face Shape.
Another way to add that designer touch is with a watch. A bit more expensive than a pair of sunglasses but see it as an all year round investment. From understated chic to boldly oversized, the watch can show off your personality
A must have for the modern man, ranging from simple leather straps or metal bangles to colourful chunky beads, from the high street to designer labels. The man’s bracelet/bangle adds personality to your outfit.
Karen Grace studied Personal Styling at the London College of Fashion and is Eclipse Magazine’s Fashion & Beauty Editor.
You can read more of Karen’s fashion advice at: www.frumpytofunky.com
For personal shopping and styling services you can reach her via frumpy to funky on [email protected]