What to Wear at the Cheltenham Festival

Planning a visit to the Cheltenham Festival and not sure what to wear? Our style-guru has all the answers for you right here.

Cheltenham What to Wear

Whilst Cheltenham Festival is, of course, predominantly about the crème de la crème of equine athletes competing for the most prestigious of prizes in the jump racing calendar, it is also a minefield of opportunity for the fashionista. It’s time to dress to impress.

With the 2022 Cheltenham Festival kicking off on Tuesday the 15th of March, it’s never to early to start planning your outfit(s) if you have not done so already…

Throughout the week, racegoers will enjoy top class racing, palpable energy and plenty of glamour. Steeped in history and tradition, Cheltenham Festival is worth dressing up for – the fashion stakes are high.

The sun may well have his hat on, but be warned, the wind can be bitterly cold. Ask many a frequent racegoer for advice on what to wear to the Festival and I’m sure you’ll get a similar reply – “wrap up warm”.

Historically, earthy tweeds would be the order of the day but it’s not unusual to spot bursts of colour, especially on the much-anticipated Ladies Day which takes place on Wednesday 16th March.

Ladies’ Fashion at Cheltenham

Ladies! Avoid the last-minute frenzy of what to/not to wear at the Cheltenham races by following these practical but stylish fashion tips:

  • Choose a closed toe shoe with a block heel or pair of stylish boots – although largely tarmacked, there are still large areas of grass, including the carparks, and you’ll be on your feet a lot, so comfort is key
  • Avoid heavy handbags and opt for an across body/clutch bag
  • Layer up! The aim of the game is to look stylish whilst preventing frost bite – polo necks are a great option
  • Gloves and hand warmers can be life savers
  • Hats! Although hats are optional, they are becoming increasingly popular, especially on Ladies Day and Gold Cup Day. Cheltenham and its surrounding counties boast an array of hat hire and fine millinery outlets. An element of netting ties in nicely with the equestrian theme and felt would be our base material of choice.
  • Finally, have fun with accessories! Add that je ne sais quoi with a chunky necklace or a faux fur stole and a pair of oversized sunglasses

Throughout the Festival, ladies are likely to don a variety of combinations, be it a super stylish trouser suit, a smart dress under a long coat or a more modern-day Chanel-esque skirt suit. For the more classic look opt for navy, greens or monochrome and incorporate a flash of cerise or burst of citrus into your headwear (remember, hats are optional) or perhaps just a bold red lip if you want to be that little bit daring. Alternatively, if you consider yourself to have a more modern taste and style, you may wish to wear vibrant tweeds which are becoming increasingly popular and are available in many high street stores.

Gents’ Fashion for Cheltenham

Gents! It’s time to strut your stuff! Here’s our go-to style guide for the perfect Festival get-up, from head to toe…

  • A classic brown or navy felt trilby
  • A well-fitting tweed or dark suit. A well-fitting blazer and smart pair of trousers is also a perfectly acceptable option. Alternatively, pump up the volume with a dapper three-piece suit, but, make sure your waistcoat is as well fitted as your suit – it needs to be long enough to cover your waist and remember, you should always leave the bottom button undone
  • A smart shirt – blues/pinks/white (avoid dark colours) and don’t forget, you’ll be amongst racing royalty so it might not be a bad time to whack out those ‘special occasion’ cufflinks!
  • Tie, pocket square and pair of braces – they come in an array of colours and can really add pizazz (and a sense of fun) to an outfit
  • A smart overcoat can finish your outfit nicely as well as fending off sharp icy winds – fawn, navy or tweed are best with a Chesterfield or Covert being the most popular style of choice
  • It’s always fun to add a pop of colour with a jazzy pair of socks (that “shoes with no socks” trend is so last year, and anyway, no one likes cold ankles!)
  • Black, polished or dark brown suede shoes

Move over Brad Pitt!

Cheltenham Festival’s shopping village offers fantastic go-to pieces, so par de panic if you can’t find your lucky tie in time for the first on Tuesday, or pair of pants for that matter.

Fancy dress is not permitted in the Club Enclosure.

Get ready for the upcoming meeting with our Cheltenham Festival tips.

Tess Champion, a lifelong horseracing fan who dabbled at point to pointing and spent a short while living in Lambourn, is now London based and works in the sports PR industry for JSC Communications.
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