Odds on, if you are a serious participant of the UK’s annual ladies’ day race meets best-dressed competitions, you will have had your outfit planned, bought and accessorised to perfection several months ago.
However, that’s not to say you will win, as there are examples every year of race-goers grabbing something from the High Street, or from the back of their wardrobe, and stealing the best-dressed crown, a rank outsider beating all the favourites.
The Yorkshire best-dressed race-goer season starts on Wednesday, May 24, with the evening ladies’ day meet at Wetherby, the first of nine heats across the county, after which the winners go forward to the grand final in October at Doncaster.
Meanwhile, Royal Ascot Gold Cup Ladies’ Day takes place next month, on Thursday, June 16. Its dress codes set the standard for the rest of the UK. Ladies expecting to be admitted to the Royal Enclosure are “kindly reminded” that formal daywear is required, with dresses and skirts falling above the knee or longer, with straps of one inch or wider, so no strapless, off-the-shoulder or spaghetti straps allowed. Hats, not fascinators, should be worn, with a solid base and a diameter of more than four inches. Midriffs should be covered, but trouser suits are “welcome”, as long as they are full length and matching.
So that’s a big no to this summer’s cold shoulder and cropped trouser trends. Men have to wear black or grey morning dress with waistcoat, a black or grey top hat (no coloured bands, please), and plain black shoes.
Rules relax a little for Grandstand admission, in that fascinators are acceptable, and men can wear a suit with shirt and tie. There’s a helpful style guide with modelled examples on the Ascot website.
Many men also enjoy the excuse to dress up, and this year, keen race-goer Calum Best is modelling formal suiting for Burton, and has come up with his own style guide.
“Race Day is one of my favourites,” he says. “It’s great to be outdoors having fun with your mates, suited and booted. This year I’m going for a blue slim-fit texture three-piece from Burton. I’ll wear it with some light coloured accessories such as a pale pink tie.
“A tuxedo isn’t the sort of thing you will wear very often. But if a really smart occasion does crop up I hate being unprepared. Burton’s three-piece tuxedo comes in navy and has a luxurious dobby texture. It’s a great change from black and is really affordable.”
Calum’s top five summer occasion tips are as follows: “Never wear a winter suit for a summer event. Not only will you fry but the colour won’t be right. Lightness is key – in colour and fabric.
“Be prepared. Get one or two suits at the beginning of the season so that you’re armed and ready.
“Don’t forget about accessories. Summer is a good time to go for something a little more adventurous. Consider paler shades or splashes of colour, like a bright red tie.
“Tan shoes work better with lighter suits or navy. A brogue is always my favourite option.
“Attention to detail … if you’re wearing a three-piece, never fasten the bottom button of the waistcoat. And remember that the sleeves of your shirt should be slightly longer than the sleeves of your jacket.”
* Go Racing in Yorkshire Ladies’ Days: Thursday, May 24 (Eve) – Wetherby; Thursday, June 16 – Ripon; Saturday, June 18 – Redcar; Wednesday, August 3 - Pontefract; Wednesday, August 10 – Beverley; Friday, August 12 (Eve) - Catterick; Thursday, August 18 – York; Saturday, September 3 – Thirsk; Thursday, September 8 – Doncaster. The Final will be held at Doncaster on Saturday, October 22. For more details, go to www.goracing.co.uk