Horse racing has been a popular pastime and spectator sport since the days of the Romans. However, few people from Ancient Rome would find anything in common between their experiences of the races and the extravagant events of today.
These days, everyone enjoys horse races, a fact perhaps best evidenced by the hundreds of millions of dollars the public wagers on the most popular horse races. Alongside the vastly larger sums of money involved, one obvious way that horse racing has evolved over the years is the attire worn by attendees and jockeys. Let’s take a closer look at exactly how horse racing fashion has evolved over the years.
Ostentation reigns supreme
For most of the history of horse racing, straight-laced and decidedly formal attire has been the order of the day, with muted looks and dark colors often being required from male and female attendees. However, you only need to look at the biggest horse racing event – the Grand National at Aintree, to see just how much things have changed. This year, platforms offering the best 2022 Grand National Betting odds will be flooded with vast sums of cash, as people around the world wager on this most extravagant of all races. What’s more, the millions of viewers who tune in to this race will glimpse the race-day fashion for themselves.
In keeping with the huge sums of cash at stake, the dress of this prestigious event has also evolved to the point where ostentation and excess are the point – a far cry from the muted looks of yesterday. If you’re heading to the Grand National, know that higher hats, taller heels, and more expensive clutches are the essential fashion must-haves for this three-day racing festival.
Etiquette has always played a defining role in horse racing fashion. While you might expect fashion etiquette for prestige racing events to remain unchanged over the decades, it is actually its malleability that sets it apart from the dress code of any other cultural tradition.
The dress codes of major racing events such as Ascot or the Kentucky Derby are constantly being updated to reflect changing tastes, with one expert from the etiquette bible, Debrett’s, explaining that this dynamic approach to fashion rules is exactly what makes these events so much fun.
Enter the jumpsuit
Until recently, the mere thought of a female racegoer wearing trousers at a race day would have been taboo. The Royal Ascot event did not permit suit trousers at all until the 1970s. However, the biggest shift has come even more recently, with the addition of the jumpsuit into the repertoire of acceptable race day fashion.
Ascot first allowed attendees to wear jumpsuits in 2017. Only a few short years later, other major race events such as Cheltenham did the same. Since then, the jumpsuit has rapidly emerged to become a mainstay of horse racing fashion, one that is now a definitive look for many attendees.
Race day fashion might be guided by tradition, but it is always open to change. As we have seen, it is the willingness to change and adapt that makes horse racing fashion so fascinating and fun.