Culture: Races étiquette matters, and not just because your grandma said so…



The Races. For the LOVE TWAIN fashion tragic, they provide a ‘legitimate’ excuse to invest in yet another dress destined for its 15 minutes of fame flowed by a life of slow rotation in a wardrobe bursting at the seams. I mean you can’t be caught in last season’s Zimmermann piece at an event where the city’s finest are putting their best foot forward after all! Next to fashion week, the desire to look the part and place a feminine headpiece in your otherwise dry shampoo filled hair is so very real. When it comes to the races – all bets are off. But ahead of attending Derby Day last week, we got to thinking, there must be more to it than putting your Sunday best on. When it comes to the races, there are some very real traditions to follow.

Because we’re not ones to research, we would much rather go straight to the source so we asked The Races SA Brand Manager Danni Sparkes to share some race day etiquette tips and the 5 things you should definitely avoid – unless the plan is to gain your 15 minutes of Daily Mail fame as the shoeless damsel in distress.



Planning ahead is most definitely in fashion…

If you haven’t been spontaneous-sally again and booked your tickets the day before, it would help to get your ducks in a row. Think about ticketing – what area do you want to be in? do you need a members pass?, transport – book an Uber, check to see if there is free public transport available, dining –  it’s always smart to pre-purchase food so that your body can keep up with the festivities, especially because it may involve alcohol! No need to get hangry and ruin the day and finally, tips – racing rookie? That doesn’t matter. You can always have a fun bet but know your limits and set yourself a budget.

Style, it’s not your ordinary day out… 

What makes racing different to other events it that you are certainly not dressing for a nightclub, you must look like a fancy version of yourself! Be mindful of the dress code standards at every track – things like midriff are not for the races. Don’t be scared to have a little fun with your outfit, of course you can incorporate trends but don’t let them overshadow your own style. Shoes need to be sturdy, comfortable and able to go “cross-country” (you may be walking on a mix of grass, dirt and other random surfaces). Millinery also doesn’t have to be a fascinator – hats are more than acceptable and you’ll get to wear it again.

Weather, be mindful of the elements…

Incorporate an SPF into your beauty routine, don a hat instead of a fascinator, and keep your fluids up. Your body will thank you for it the next day.

Beauty, prep and set your skin for the day…

Unless you’ve booked a spot in a marquee or an indoor dining option, you’ll be out in the elements for the day which means prepping and setting is key. This means using a primer and setting with a powder. Also a cheeky tip – you could pack two lipsticks in your clutch if you want to switch up your look for any after race antics.

Clutch, pack it like an emergency kit…

The ultimate raceday clutch looks something like this – phone (with enough storage to take more snaps), portable phone charger, band aids, ID, bank card, cash, perfume, mints (not chewing gum), lipsticks (x2), blotting paper or compact and if you can if it, a pair of fold-up ballet flats.  Colour coordinating your clutch to other accessories and your clothing is a must and will ensure your outfit comes together as a complete look.



Don’t be a fashion victim… 

It might seem over the top to abide by the dress code standards, but don’t risk a double-denim faux pas and get turned around at the gate. In particular, respect hemline rules.

Do consider a jacket… 

Bring your own neat blazer if the forecast is looking grim. It might be a cute look at a wedding to grab your mans’ tux but that is not a good look for the races.

Shoes are made for wearing, not holding….

Party Feet are your best friend! To avoid this situation all together be smart when picking footwear and opt for a block heel or a mid-heal. Be sure to give them a test run before the day also. It’s important that you feel confident that you can last a whole day wearing them.

Don’t be disruptive around horses….

Be respective of the industry and read up on the best etiquette around horses. This means things like avoiding yelling, squealing, touching, standing too close and always be calm.

Don’t be the person who knows nothing about racing…

You don’t have to be a racing guru, but it might help to get interested in the sport by way of horse names, form, jockey identities, prize money, trainers etc. No idea where to start? Grab an official racebook and ask a friend to help you navigate it.