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Whether you like the sport or simply enjoy the festivities, a day at the Races is a must during an Irish summer. Not only is it an excuse to get friends together for something a little different, but the high race day fashion stakes make it a great opportunity for Irish gents to show some serious style.

While most racing events don’t have a formal dress code, you are expected to dress smartly for the day. This means:

  • No jeans
  • No t-shirts
  • No trainers/runners
  • No frayed hems
  • No holes, rips or tears
  • Nothing with a hood

You don’t need a top hat and morning dress (unless you’re popping over to Royal Ascot), but you should look well put-together and like the dapper gentleman you are.

Mr Jenks’ Guide to Race Day Fashion

If you settle on a suit

Many men will opt for a suit, seeing it as the safe option when a formal look is required. While it’s nice to have a special suit (or three) for fancier occasions, wearing one of your work suits is fine, once it’s a good fit and has been cleaned and pressed.

Two-piece and three-piece suits are both acceptable, but there’s something incredibly dapper about a man who embraces the waistcoat.

When it comes to colour, don’t wear black; it’s not a good look for the daytime. Greys and navy are perfectly acceptable, but if you’re feeling adventurous blues, plums and beiges are real winners on Race Day.

If you’re looking for something that says ‘classic country gent,’ tweed or check suits are for you. Quite a few fashion-forward men turned up in them last year, so they’re bound to be an emerging trend this summer.

When you’re set on separates

While suits are the obvious choice, more and more men are embracing separates as it gives them far more freedom when it comes to expressing personal style.

The trick is ensuring your jacket, trousers and shirts all complement each other instead of just clashing. The simplest way to do this is to choose a bold colour for your jacket or trousers and then select more neutral colours for the rest. For example, you could pair vibrant red trousers with a navy jacket and white shirt or a royal blue jacket with cream chinos and a pale blue shirt.

Choosing a shirt

This is going to depend on the suit/separates you decide on. If you’ve gone for bold colours, it’s best to keep your shirt neutral or risk blinding people. However, if your suit is a timeless grey, you can use a block or patterned shirt to inject some colour.

If you’re feeling unsure, it’s hard to go wrong with a timeless white choice. This is an especially good decision if you’ve settled on a stand-out tie or bowtie.

Which shoes to step out in

A Derby or Oxford shoe is a safe bet with any suit, so if you have a pair of either at home, buff them until they shine and put them to good use at the racecourse. If you’ve gone for a ‘country gent’ look with tweed or check, a wing-tip or Oxford shoe will look best, while a boat shoe will help maintain that casual ‘chinos and blazer’ look.

Figuring out accessories

Pocket squares

This is a must for any man who wants to be a gentleman at the Races, as pocket squares add an unmistakable air of sophistication to an outfit. In general, your handkerchief should complement your tie or bowtie. This doesn’t mean they have to match exactly, but if your tie is blue then your pocket square should also have a blue theme. As for how to wear it, check out our folds guide to find the right flair for you.


If you have the opportunity to wear a dress shirt with your outfit, do it. Gentlemen wear cufflinks.


A good hat will ensure you stand out when it comes to any Best Dressed competitions that day. Top hats are for morning dress, so opt instead opt for a Fedora or Panama hat, both of which enjoyed a boost in popularity last year and will put you on-trend this summer.


As obvious as this is, many men will forget to bring sunglasses with them. But remember, this is not a time for Penney’s best – pick a pair of shades that will complement your outfit, not drag it down.

So there you have it! If you’re interested in seeing more top style advice for the Irish gentleman, keep an eye on our blog or follow us on Facebook.

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