Racing season is here again. The thrill of the racetrack, the chance to back a winner, and maybe enjoy a couple of glasses of bubbly while you’re at it. What could be more fun?
But let’s be honest – racing season is really all about the fashion. Here is GQ’s guide to some of this season’s key trackside trends, to ensure you come out a winner – in the style stakes at least.
First things first. Some racecourses have strict dress-code regulations, so check ahead of time to ensure you don’t end up standing out of the pack, for the wrong reasons.
While some racing events will be fine with a smart sports jacket and trousers, it’s important to remember that this is racing season – your chance to push the boat out a little more and show some personality. After all, it’s always better to be over dressed than under dressed.
There’s a reason men wear suits so often – they just look good in them. But instead of sporting your regular office attire, consider suiting options with a pattern – a windowpane or Prince of Wales check, for example.
Colours are another way to inject some character into your look – but keep in mind we’re not talking bright pink here. Lighter shades of blue, deep browns or burgundy are all very on trend and all put in a good showing in the latest collections from Hugo Boss. Alternatively, a well-tailored three-piece suit is a nice way to take things up a notch – and keep out the autumn chill.
Here is where you can have a bit of fun. Novelty ties are out of the question, but stylish patterns and prints can add a nice pop of colour to your look. Gingham stripes and paisley are really big with super-cool London brand Thomas Pink at the moment.
Though keep mind that it should still complement the rest of your outfit – so if you’re wearing a bold or checked suit, consider going for a more understated tie, and vice versa.
Slimmer ties are still really on trend, but rather than the traditional silk number you might wear to work, woven ties are a good way to bring your look up to date. Go for a neat Windsor or double-Windsor knot, and ensure it sits at the right length – the end should fall just above your belt buckle, though it may be slightly shorter if you’re going for a knitted tie, which may have a ‘blunt’ end, rather than the traditional pointy one.
Women get to wear exotic fascinators at the races; men get to play with accessories. This is how you can push your look out of the realm of traditional business attire and into something truly stylish.
Pocket squares, cufflinks, tie bars, lapel pins – all of them add an extra touch of sophistication to your race-day outfit. But the trick here is to ensure all these elements work in harmony, rather than compete for attention.
First, learn how to correctly fold a pocket square – it should be either a flat edge, peeking above your lapel pocket, or arranged in a neat triangle. Though be sure not to commit the cardinal sin of matching it to your tie – not a good look.
Cufflinks are a chance to be a bit adventurous, and rather than an understated pair you might wear to a work meeting, go for something a bit more fun. Simon Carter has a whole range of options that pack plenty of personality.
Add a tie bar, to ensure you look sharp, all day long (it should sit between the third and fourth button on your shirt), and add a chic lapel pin for an extra stylish touch. Oh, and it’s autumn, so don’t forget to bring an umbrella.
Sneakers are out of the question. Instead, go for a sharp black or brown pair of derbies or brogues – with a bit of luck, you should already have some in your wardrobe, ready to go.
If not, there are plenty of fantastic options available this season, including some stylish pairs from the likes of UK label Ted Baker. Boots are also an option for autumn racing, though they will cost you the chance to show off a stylish pair of socks.
However, the most important thing about your race-day footwear is that it should look sharp. Rather than dragging that old battered pair of lace-ups from your closet, it’s important to show them a bit of love before you hit the races. Use a decent leather cleaner to remove signs or any wear and tear, and a good shoe brush to help them look their best.
Also, it’s a good idea to invest in a quality set of wooden shoetrees, which remove moisture, keep your shoes looking sharp and will also help them last longer. It’s the easiest way to ensure you put your best foot forward, this racing season.
Words by GQ Features Editor Jake Millar