The 2023 Cheltenham Festival is now just around the corner and the excitement for the greatest show on turf once again reaches fever pitch. Those preparing to attend the biggest jumps meeting of the year, will not only be looking forward to seeing some high-quality racing, but will be excited to get on their gladrags.
Here we take a look at the Cheltenham dress code. What do people usually wear for the festival? What is typical Cheltenham men’s fashion? What is typical Cheltenham women’s fashion?
Cheltenham Dress Code
The Cheltenham Festival is just about as prestigious a horse racing meeting as there is, so the dress code is unsurprisingly smart. Men typically wear suits, while some wear hats too. It’s also a chance for women to get their fanciest dresses out, while there are always some stunning female headwear on show too.
What you should wear to Cheltenham
The big question is, what exactly do you wear to Cheltenham? For men, although a suit or a tie is the easy choice, there are many options within that category. What sort of suit should you wear? What sort of tie? For women, what sort of dress? What type of headwear? Which accessories are festival necessities?
The men probably have it a bit simpler than the women at Cheltenham. If you’re a man and you’re attending, you’re going to be wearing a suit, that’s a given.
With suits for the festival, you of course have different options. You can go simplistic by opting for a neutral colour, wearing just a tie, or you can go down the more snazzy route and pick something a bit brighter, maybe something with a pattern, and style it up with a waistcoat and hat.
In partnership with the Jockey Club, Frankie Foster says that first time festival goers should keep it simple and go with a suit or trousers and jackets that they already have, though the Betfred ambassador says that “my favourite investment is a new tie”, and also adds that “a new tie can make and old suit feel like a new one”.
If you really want to fit in with the National Hunt crowd, then consider a hat. Maybe a flat cap or even a classic trilby. To complete the look, consider a jumper over a shirt and tie, which will certainly help stave off the cold, and a longer coat.
As the photo below shows, ladies and gents who are new to Cheltenham or perhaps don’t know what to go with can take some inspiration from Mike Tindall and Zara Phillips, both of whom are seen at the festival each year.
Cheltenham is a great opportunity for ladies to get glammed up. Every year we see thousands of female attendees looking great in a plethora of fancy dresses, coats, hats and accessories.
However, don’t forget to be practical. In partnership with the Jockey Club, fashion designer Jade Holland Cooper, a regular Cheltenham goer, advises that ladies don’t need to forego style to be practical. Gloves are key according to Jade, who says that “it’s always so much colder than you think”. According to the fashion designer, “Another accessory that really finishes off a look for me is a silk scarf”.
Just as is necessary for men, comfortable shoes are a must too. Looking the part is one thing, but at Cheltenham, you’re likely to be on your feet a lot, and for long periods at a time, possibly all day, so you need to be wearing suitable footwear, otherwise, your feet certainly won’t thank you as the long day rolls on.
Don’t neglect the elements
It’s always worth remembering, for both men and women, that the Cheltenham Festival, though a grand and high-class affair, takes place during early March in Britain. This means typical British weather. You’ll be outside plenty, and it’s unlikely that the wind and the rain will stay away all week.
Be prepared for adverse weather conditions. It could be cold, it will probably be windy, and at some point, the rain is almost certain to fall. Layer up, wear something that is sure to keep you warm outside, which is where you are likely to be for a good portion of the day. Go equipped with a coat, and take an umbrella too. If it rains early on in proceedings and you’re caught outside, you don’t want to be soaked through for the remainder of the day.