Racecourses have dress codes. Even buying the most expensive ticket does not entitle a racegoer to turn up wearing just anything. Cartmel is a delightful little National Hunt track in an equally delightful little heritage town in Cumbria, and only stages meetings four times a year – on Bank Holidays. There is a fairground and entertainment, but the racecourse still requires “smart casual” wear in the Paddock Enclosure, which is where the grandstand, prize ring and restaurants are. There is also the Course Enclosure, where things are a little more relaxed; the course says that, while they always aim for an informal atmosphere, shirts must be worn by men, whichever enclosure they are in. However, in hot weather the shirt can be a T-shirt – and shorts are allowed. There are very few British racecourses that allow shorts!
Racecourses like Aintree take a very different line when it comes to what you can wear. Aintree actually says that there is no official dress code, though smart is preferable and “often adopted,” but turn up there in something they don’t like and you won’t be admitted. At the Grand National on Ladies Day, female racegoers will vie with each other to wear the most outstanding outfit – but never forget that this is “outstanding” as Liverpool sees that quality and others may not share that definition. Fancy dress is never permitted and what might be termed “sporting attire” is frowned on.
Ascot Racecourse sets different dress codes for different events and – as for Cartmel – in different parts of the course. There is a Royal Enclosure for Royal Ascot Races, and both men and women have to be formally dressed. Ladies should bear in mind that anyone wearing strapless, halterneck, off the shoulder, and spaghetti strap styles will not be allowed in and that midriffs must be covered.