For more than 200 years, a day at the races was the perfect opportunity for spectators to show off their finest attire.
Now however, elaborate fascinators, top hats and three-piece suits could disappear from view at British racecourses after the Jockey Club announced it was scrapping formal dress codes at all its venues.
The organisation, which runs 15 racecourses, including Cheltenham and Aintree, said it had made the decision as part of an effort to make racing “more accessible and inclusive”.
Racing’s rules have required men to wear suit jackets in certain enclosures, even during heatwaves, with jeans and shorts frowned upon. But now, the Jockey Club says, they want people to wear whatever makes them feel “comfortable and confident”.
Racegoers will be allowed to wear whatever they like at the events – including trainers, jogging bottoms and ripped jeans – as long as it is not “offensive fancy dress” or football kits.
“We’re all unique, and no more so than in our sense of style and comfort. For some, wearing a nice sweatshirt, pair of jeans and clean trainers is what makes them feel confident and at-ease,” the Jockey Club said.
Racegoers looking for an opportunity to air their finery need not despair though, as Royal Ascot will not be dropping its formal dress code. The Berkshire racecourse is not among those run by the Jockey Club.
A spokesman for Ascot said dressing up for the events was a “fundamental and much-loved part of attending for many”.
They added: “We review our dress codes regularly, including making changes to reflect fashion developments at Royal Ascot, and will continue to do so.”
The rule change is being made after an incident at Sandown Park last year caused uproar when two “well-dressed” women were told they could not enter the premier enclosure because they were wearing white trainers.
Nick Boyd, a former director at Lingfield Park racecourse and a regular racegoer, said that the decision represented a “relentless drive to mediocrity” and sent the message that a day at the races was unimportant.
“I just find it madness,” he said.
Telegraph Media Group Limited