What to Wear to Epsom Downs Racecourse

Just a few minutes away from Epsom town centre, Epsom Downs Racecourse holds racing and music events from April (The Spring Meeting) through to September (Season Finale).

Its most famous racing event is the iconic Derby Festival, which includes The Oaks, and The Derby – known as the Greatest Flat Race in the World. It is Britain’s richest horse race and the most prestigious of the five Classics.

The Derby Festival

Held on the first Saturday of June of every year, The Derby Festival runs for two days:

First day – The Oaks (Ladies Day)

Second day – Derby Day

Derby Festival 2018: Ladies' Day Review

The Oaks or Ladies Day

Official Dress Code for Ladies’ Day

Queen’s Stand Enclosure

Male racegoers are required to wear a jacket, collar and tie.

Ladies are asked to wear a fascinator or hat.

Jeans, sports shorts, denim or trainers are not acceptable.

Children should be dressed smartly.

Fancy dress is not acceptable.

Grandstand Enclosure (including Duchess’s Stand)

Guests are encouraged to dress smartly for the Derby Festival.

No sportswear or sleeveless vests should be worn.

Smart denim is acceptable but should not be frayed, torn or ripped.

Guests must not wear sports trainers.

Children should be dressed smartly.

Fancy dress is not acceptable in the Duchess’s Stand.

Hospitality Areas (in all enclosures)

Gentlemen are required to wear a jacket and collar, and ties are encouraged.

Ladies are asked to wear a fascinator or hat.

Children should be dressed smartly.

Fancy dress is not acceptable in the Duchess’s or Queen’s Stands.

Outer Enclosures

There is no official dress code in the Lonsdale, Upper Tattenham and Hillside enclosures but guests are asked to dress appropriately.

For the Ladies, We Say…

On this day as well as the racing, the Style Awards are held – so don that gorgeous elegant dress or jump suit with a statement hat, for a chance to shine and win some great prizes!

The Hat

For the Queen’s Stand, a hat or substantial fascinator is compulsory and most ladies enjoy the opportunity to wear a properly eye-catching creation.

Although a hat is not compulsory for the Grandstand enclosure (which includes the Duchess’s Stand) you are officially required to dress up for the event and a hat will top off your outfit nicely!

Be bold and outstanding.

The Handbag

Your hat is the main attraction so choose a small to medium sized handbag in a colour to complement your outfit rather than a statement oversized bag. Clutch bags are popular and chic.

Footwear

Don’t just concentrate on the dress and hat if you want to win that Style Award – step up your fashionista game!

Your shoes or sandals should complement your outfit in colour and design. Be daring like the ladies in the above photos who have both chosen sandals with unique designs.

 

Jewellery

Most racegoers keep their jewellery subtle or to a minimum in order not to overshadow their hat and dress.

Although this elegant lady’s necklace could be considered a statement piece, choosing a matching blue to her outfit enables the necklace to blend in and enhance her outfit rather than stand out.

For the Men, We Say…

The Style Awards is not just open to the ladies, but you dapper chaps too. It seeks to find the very best dressed racegoers in the Grandstand and Queen’s Stand enclosures, so strut your peacock feathers!

This debonair gent became runner up because he stood out from the crowd by swapping his grey suit jacket for a dashing wine coloured blazer. Plus he did not forget that one accessory which always adds a suave touch to a gentleman’s attire with no effort at all – the pocket square!

The Suit

In the Queen’s Stand, a sharp suit, collar and tie is the sartorial choice for most dapper gents at this race.

Here, Chris Hughes shows off his sartorial knowledge by adding a contrasting waistcoat and selecting a pocket square that features each of the colours in his outfit.

The Blazer

In the Grandstand Enclosure, suits are still worn but a blazer with chinos or smart denims also goes down well.

The blazer can provide an opportunity to introduce a more flamboyant flourish of colour.

Bravo to this natty gent’s sense of style – pairing a contrasting waistcoat with his blazer and swapping plain brogues for tri-colour spectator shoes! Completing his look with a a pocket square and a flower lapel pin.

The Hat

Sport a trilby or fedora with your suit to add a dash of personality and maybe increase your chances of winning that coveted Style Award.

Plus, on the practical side, it will keep the sun off your face.

Derby Day

Official Dress Code for Derby Day

Queen’s Stand Enclosure

On Derby Day, the Queen’s Stand becomes a celebration of traditional tailoring.

Male racegoers are required to wear either black or grey morning dress which should include a top hat, service dress or full national costume.

For ladies, formal day wear is required, which can include a formal day dress or a tailored trouser suit, with a hat or fascinator.

Children should be dressed smartly.

Fancy dress is not acceptable.

Grandstand Enclosure (including Duchess’s Stand)

Guests are encouraged to dress smartly for the Derby Festival.

No sportswear or sleeveless vests should be worn.

Smart denim is acceptable but should not be frayed, torn or ripped.

Guests must not wear sports trainers.

Children should be dressed smartly.

Fancy dress is not acceptable in the Duchess’s Stand.

Hospitality Areas (in all enclosures)

Gentlemen are required to wear a jacket and collar, and ties are encouraged.

Ladies are asked to wear a fascinator or hat.

Children should be dressed smartly.

Fancy dress is not acceptable in the Duchess’s or Queen’s Stands.

Outer Enclosures

There is no official dress code in the Lonsdale, Upper Tattenham and Hillside enclosures but guests are asked to dress appropriately.

For the Ladies, We Say…

Her Majesty, The Queen has attended The Derby Festival for nearly 70 years so this is an ideal place to dress up and show off your superb style. Don’t be afraid to wear something a little dramatic and aim for luxurious fabrics and polished finishes.

The Hat

For the Queen’s Stand, a hat or substantial fascinator is compulsory and most ladies enjoy the opportunity to wear a properly eye-catching creation.

For the Grandstand (which includes the Duchess’s Stand) racegoers are not asked to wear a hat or fascinator (except for the hospitality areas). Although it is not compulsory,  you are officially required to dress up for the event and a hat will top off your outfit nicely! Be bold and outstanding.

The Handbag

Your hat is the main attraction so choose a small to medium sized handbag in a colour to complement your outfit rather than a statement oversized bag. Compact top handle bags add polish and style. The above handbag in classic black is lifted with just a touch of  embellishment.

Footwear

A simple court shoe in a summery colour can complete your style, keeping  the look fresh and elegant from head to toe.  

Take a leaf out of this lady’s book: she is wearing transparent high heel protectors to ensure her beautiful red patent heels don’t get stuck in the cracks or sink into the grass.

Jewellery

Most racegoers keep their jewellery subtle or to a minimum in order not to overshadow their hat and dress.

A string of pearls is chic and the colour is neutral allowing the colours from the hat and outfit to take centre stage.

For the Men in the Queen’s Stand, We Say…

Derby Day for the gentlemen is about uniformity, elegance and tradition, rather than standing out from the crowd. However you can make subtle touches to ensure your suave style glistens a little brighter.

For morning dress there is a choice of black or grey morning coat.

Black morning coat is worn with striped or houndstooth trousers whilst the trousers for the grey morning coat should match the coat in colour and fabric, like a suit.

History Snippet: The morning coat was originally tailored to suit the needs of the nineteenth century equestrian gentleman who leisurely spent his mornings riding, hence the name of the coat. The curved front edges were designed to ensure the rider’s knees would be free from any flapping fabric and the two buttons at the back enabled him to fasten the coat tails up out of the way.

The Waistcoat

The grey morning coat is worn like a suit so the  trousers and waistcoat have to be of the same shade and fabric.

With the black morning coat, you have a choice of colour for the waistcoat but  keep to soft subtle hues.

Plain wool or linen are best although silk or satin are also acceptable. But keep the bright colours and patterns for weddings.

The cut can be either single breasted with or without lapels or double breasted with a U or V shaped lapel (both shown in the above photo)

With the single breasted waistcoat keep the bottom button undone. This is more of a sartorial rule with many theories on how it originated. The most popular is that it was accidentally started by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) when he left his undone and everyone followed suit. We favour the horse riding theory: to prevent the waistcoat from creasing and rising up, the gentleman kept the bottom button open.

The Dress Shirt and Tie

A double cuff white shirt is the most popular and gives a crisp look to whole outfit.

However you don’t have to stick to plain white if you prefer to add more colour. A pale or soft shade (plain or striped) is also acceptable but the collar and cuffs should still be white.

A woven silk tie is the most popular choice – leave the cravats and Ascot ties for weddings. You can choose any colour, but do keep to the softer hues. Textures such as brocades add richness to a mono colour. Patterns (stripes, dots, paisley) can be worn but usually are subtle using a monochrome palette rather than bold clashing colours. 

The elegant gent in the above photo shows how to mix colours – with a blue shirt, lilac tie and golden  beige waistcoat whilst accessorising with a tie pin and boutonniere. 

Accessories – The Cufflinks, Tie Pin,  Boutonniere  and Pocket Square

A pair of cufflinks is a must for the double cuff shirt and here is where you can flash your  individual style: sophisticated elegance in gold and silver simple designs; decadence with pearls or gemstones; or a fun playful twist with novelty designs. We love the equestrian themed cufflinks many brands are creating.

A tie pin can add sparkle to your attire.

Pocket square is optional but should be made of silk or linen and neatly folded in the pocket rather than flamboyantly pushed in. 

In the image above (centre) this gentleman is wearing a tie pin and pocket square.

Another way to introduce colour or extra flourish is to wear a boutonniere.

The Top Hat

Both black or grey top hats are acceptable for black morning coats, but grey top hats partner well with grey morning suits.

History Snippet: It’s surprising to know that Top Hats got off to a shaky start when the hat maker John Heatherington wore the first one to be seen in public on the streets of London in January 1797. At the sight of this unusually tall hat, women screamed and fainted, children cried, so the poor man was arrested and fined for ‘frightening timid people’.

Proving it had stamina, the top hat ran the distance and secured its place in high fashion when Prince Albert started wearing one in 1850.

But what about the fainting women? Well we are more apt to swoon at the sight of the hat now.

Originally made out of fur felt (beaver being the most expensive), silk came to gain the lead in the fashionable stakes. Silk is still out there in front but they are no longer manufactured, making vintage models a rarity and highly coveted.

Shoes and Socks:

When wearing a morning coat, the shoes should be black with laces, plain and highly polished (although not patent).

The best shoe style to wear is the formal plain Oxford shoe. For smartness and comfort go for soft calf leather on the upper, full leather lining, leather insoles and Goodyear welted soles.

Socks: Don’t try to jazz up your ensemble with coloured or patterned socks, opt for just plain black or grey.

For the Men in the Grandstand, We Say…

Sharp suits are a popular choice although not compulsory (unless you are in the hospitality areas where a jacket and collar are required, with a tie encouraged).

However you are asked to dress smartly.

The gentleman in the above photo spices up his grey suit with a bow tie.

The Blazer

The blazer allows the wearer to dress smart casual, teamed with a pair of chinos or smart denims, as demonstrated by the racegoer in the photo (above right). 

It also can give an opportunity to introduce a more flamboyant flourish of colour – as this gentlemen in the photo (above left) proves with his checked jacket. 

Sunglasses

June is the month to wear sunglasses and is a popular accessory in all of the enclosures. 

Look cool in a pair of classic aviators or wayfarers. 

Or choose more of a statement style with colourful frames like the gentleman on the left – although we do recommend wearing them over the eyes!

Official Dress Code on all racedays EXCEPT The Derby Festival

All race meetings and music nights (except the Derby Festival) have the Queen’s Stand and Duchess’s Stand open as one area that racegoers can freely move between.

The Stands

The racecourse advises guests to dress for the weather.

Smart shorts, denim jeans and trainers are acceptable.

Sports shorts, sleeveless vests or bare tops are not permitted.

A hat or fascinator is not required.

Music Nights

An early evening of racing followed by live music

The dress code is the same as a usual raceday. However it is encouraged to dress in the theme of the entertainment after the racing.

Restaurants and Private Boxes

Smart dress code is required.

Jackets, trousers and a collared shirt are encouraged.

Smart denim jeans are acceptable but should not have tears or rips.

A hat or fascinator is not required.

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