Men’s Racetrack Fashion: The Dos and Don’ts

Events / Travel
A few simple tips can go a long way in selecting great racetrack fashion. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Even the most dapper of gentlemen can have some questions when dressing for the races. Here are some dos and don'ts to help take the pain out of deciding what to wear to the track. 

The Dos

1. Get creative with your color scheme. Since the racetrack is a fun and exciting place, incorporating fun and exciting colors into your “day-at-the-races” outfit makes perfect sense. Save the all-black look for another time (perhaps a Las Vegas Raiders game) and don’t be afraid to break out the pastels. Tropical colors will work well at seaside racetracks, such as Del Mar or Gulfstream Park, while more traditional colors (such as navy blue and hunter green) work best at tracks such as Keeneland Race Course or Belmont Park.

2. Wear a jacket. By no means is a jacket a requirement, but it never hurts to wear a sports coat to the racetrack. The sports coat adds an element of sophistication, and as you roam the racetrack grounds in your jacket, those you cross paths with might assume you are an affluent owner of one of the Thoroughbreds competing that day. You will never be ridiculed for being overdressed, so you might as well bring your favorite sports coat along with you on your next visit to the track. After all, sports coats were made for watching sports … particularly the Sport of Kings!

3. Accessorize. Have a pair of colorful socks you are a little too scared to wear to the office? Wear them to the races. Have that fedora or bowler hat that you like, but you never seem to have anywhere to wear it? Wear it to the races. Fancy belt, pocket square or designer watch? Wear them to the races.

4. Bring sunglasses. Even if you are planning on spending most of the day inside, bring sunglasses. Important places at the racetrack, such as the paddock — where the Thoroughbreds are saddled prior to their races — and the apron — the ground level area between the grandstand and the racetrack, where you can get an “up close” view of a race — are located outside, and you inevitably will take a trip to these locations at some point during your day at the track. Don’t miss seeing your longshot take the lead right before the finish line just because of an inopportune glare!


5. Be yourself. Everyone has their own unique sense of fashion, and the same is true for those who frequent the racetrack. Just because all of your buddies are splurging on new seersucker suits for their upcoming outing at the track doesn’t mean you have to. Be confident in yourself and in your outfit, and you will be in good shape come race day.

The Don’ts

1. Don’t wear clothes that don’t fit. There is no place for skinny jeans at the racetrack, and there is no place for XXXXL “long-tees” at the racetrack either. You know what size clothes you fit you best. Wear that size.

2. Don’t wear tacky T-shirts. Your “I’m With Stupid” shirt is better-suited for other occasions, such as a tractor pull or a trip to the local carnival. Keep it classy.

3. Don’t forget your belt. Expect to do a little walking — to the betting windows, to the paddock, etc. —on your trip to the races, and you’re not going to want to be hanging on to your pants the entire time.

4. Don’t wear socks with sandals. Don’t wear mismatched socks. Don’t wear clothes with stains and/or holes in them. All of these rules should be adhered to both on and off racetrack property, yet all men, including myself, need to be reminded from time to time.

5. Don’t ridicule the fashion of others while you are at the track. All of the fashion tips written here are simply that … tips. There is no right or wrong way to dress in any situation, and that holds true at the racetrack as well. Sure, feeling fresh in a sharp outfit can certainly add to your experience at the racetrack, but it should be remembered that most of us visit the racetrack to make a few bets and have a good time with our friends, not to make a fashion statement.

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