Horse racing meetings are often as much about style and fashion as they are about the actual events, with many taking the opportunity to socialise and to bring out their fanciest and most glamorous outfits for display.

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Deciding what to wear can be time-consuming, especially when there are rules and dress codes to follow. Knowing what’s allowed and what other people are likely to be wearing can help make that decision easier.

What is the dress code?

There is no real dress code at Cheltenham, which has a reputation for being more relaxed, informal and colourful than, say, Royal Ascot.

The only rules on Festival weekend involve the Club Enclosure, where no fancy dress is allowed. However, those that do arrive in fancy dress will be permitted entry to the Best Mate or Tattersalls enclosures where inoffensive fancy dress is allowed.

While management reserve the right to refuse entry, the lack of formal dress code means that the rules are fairly relaxed, although the vast majority of spectators outside of the Best Mate enclosure will choose to dress smartly.

Cheltenham Festival Racecourse spectators
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What to wear on Ladies’ Day

Ladies’ Day places a strong emphasis on fashion, with competitions running for the best dressed throughout the day. As long as outfits are fashionable and not too revealing, virtually anything goes on Ladies’ Day at Cheltenham. Outlandish and gaudy costumes stand side by side with elegant and understated.

In 2015 for the first time it was all about colour with #ColourMeMarch, judged via social media. Hats are not a must, but for many Ladies’ Day is the ultimate excuse to don that fancy headwear and get down to the track.

Feathers, frocks and fancy shoes or scarves, gloves and winter coats – the weather is not always suitable for dressing to the nines so check the forecast before you head out without sleeves. For hen party ideas, Ladies’ Day at Cheltenham is certainly a good one!

Things to remember

One of the main reasons Cheltenham chooses not to enforce a dress code is because most of the racing season runs over the winter months. Spectators are advised to dress warm and dry when necessary in order to stay comfortable and enjoy their day at the races.

Most people will choose to avoid overly casual clothing such as sports clothes, but these are still allowed. Ladies choosing to bring out the towering stilettoes might do well to remember to pack a pair of pumps or flip-flops if they plan to be standing a lot throughout the day. Other than that, anything goes.

A day at Cheltenham is all about having your own style and enjoying the social aspects of the event as well as watching some spectacular world-class racing.