Horse racing has always been a sport that is heavily tied to fashion. Ever since its beginnings, horse racing started as a sport reserved for the elite, and going to a horse racing event was like showcasing your power, money, and status, which is why most people took their Derby fashion seriously.

Things haven’t changed much today. Horse racing still values traditions and being well-dressed is one of them. Even some of the biggest horse racing events have dress codes and certain outfits that you are not allowed to wear.

Let’s look at some of the important tips to consider when attending the Breeders Cup 2023 in terms of fashion. The event will happen in Santa Anita Park (California) on the first weekend of November.

Understanding the Breeders’ Cup Dress Code

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of fashion choices, let’s get a handle on the event’s dress code. The race boasts a traditional yet elegant atmosphere, so besides having prior knowledge on who are the Breeders’ Cup Contenders, dressing elegant is crucial.

Now, even though the Breeders’ Cup is an event with no strict dress code, this doesn’t mean that you can turn in Hawaiian shorts and slippers.

What does this tell us?

Classic Elegance is Key: Think timeless, not trendy. The Breeders’ Cup is all about classic elegance. Opt for well-fitted, sophisticated attire that exudes style without screaming for attention. There are different styles when it comes to creating a sophisticated look. You can go either full business or business-casual.

But what is classic elegance?

Classic elegance means choosing clothing that stands the test of time, just like the past winners of the Breeders Cup. Think of Audrey Hepburn’s iconic black dress in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” It’s an outfit that would still turn heads today.

Ladies: Hats and Dresses

When it comes to ladies, the most commonly picked outfit for the Breeders’ Cup is a classic and elegant dress, without too much skin showing. On top of that hats, are a must-have.

But not any hats, but horse racing hats like Fedoras, Flat Caps, Trilbys, Panamas, or just a head accessory.

Do I have to wear a hat?

While not a strict rule, wearing a hat is encouraged. It’s not just about style; it also provides shade and can be a great conversation starter.

Gentlemen: Suits and Ties

Gentlemen, leave your casual attire at home. A sharp suit, preferably in a darker color, is the way to go. Don’t forget a well-coordinated tie and polished dress shoes. It’s a chance to channel your inner James Bond.

Can I go for a lighter suit if it’s a hot day?

Absolutely, comfort should be a priority. A light-colored suit is perfectly acceptable, just make sure it’s well-tailored and fits the classic elegance theme.

Mind the Weather

Check the weather forecast before selecting your outfit. If it’s a sunny day, consider sunglasses, and if it’s on the cooler side, bring a stylish jacket or coat. You’ll want to be comfortable throughout the event.

What if it rains?

In case of rain, opt for a trench coat or a stylish umbrella that complements your outfit. Practicality can still be fashionable.

Accessories Matter

Accessorizing can make or break your outfit. For both men and women, subtle jewelry and a quality watch can add that final touch of sophistication.

What kind of jewelry should I choose?

Less is more. Opt for simple, understated jewelry that complements your outfit rather than overwhelming it.

Dress for Comfort

Even though going for an elegant and classy outfit is important, this doesn’t mean that you should forget about comfort and turn your race day into a nightmare.

After all, you’ll be all day at the racetrack, and if you want to enjoy the experience, make sure you consider picking comfortable pieces that still look elegant. This is mostly important for the type of shoes you should pick.

So, this means that we can turn up in Nike sneakers, right?

Well, no. Remember, this is a classy event where you should value comfort but always stay elegant.

Sneakers may be comfortable, but they’re not the best fit for the Breeders’ Cup. Instead, go for comfortable dress shoes or loafers that match your attire.

Fashion Dos and Don’ts for the Breeders’ Cup 2023

Even if you are a fashionista following the latest fashion trends, if it is your first time attending a horse race, you might make a mistake by not choosing the appropriate outfit.

What’s the most important “do” at the Breeders’ Cup?


Dress in Layers: This allows you to adapt to changing weather conditions without compromising your style.

How do I layer effectively?

Start with a stylish base layer, add a shirt, and top it off with a blazer or jacket. This way, you can adjust your outfit as needed throughout the day.

Wear Sunscreen: Protect your skin from the sun’s rays, especially if you’re planning to spend a lot of time outdoors.

Can sunscreen be stylish?

Absolutely, there are many elegant sunscreen products available. Look for ones with a matte finish to avoid a greasy look.

Bring Cash: This might not be tied to fashion, but it is an important thing to remember when attending a horse race.

How much cash should I bring?

It’s a good idea to bring a range of betting denominations, from small bills for individual bets to larger ones if you’re feeling lucky.


Overdo It: While standing out is the goal, avoid going overboard with flashy accessories or overly bright colors. We all want to look fabulous at the horse racing event, but being brave sometimes leads to overdoing your outfit.

How do I stand out without going overboard?

Choose one statement piece, like a unique tie or a distinctive brooch, and let it do the talking while keeping the rest of your outfit classic.

Wear Uncomfortable Shoes: Painful blisters are never in style. Choose comfort over fashion when it comes to footwear.

Can comfortable shoes still look stylish?

Absolutely. Many stylish shoes prioritize comfort, so you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other.

Forget Etiquette: Remember your manners, be polite, and respect personal space, especially in crowded areas.

Is etiquette part of the dress code?

Indeed, it’s an unspoken part of the Breeders’ Cup culture. Being polite and considerate is always in fashion.

Permitted and Banned Items on the Breeders’ Cup Weekend

You have to understand that you are not allowed to bring whatever you like during the race that might obscure the view, harm the participants, or ruin the experience for others.

For example, these are the items you are allowed to bring:

  • Umbrella
  • Backpack
  • Stollers (only if you are carrying a child)
  • Sunscreen
  • Only Service Animals
  • Seat Cushion

Banned Items for the Breeders’ Cup

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • No outside chairs
  • Balloons
  • Duffel bags
  • Coolers
  • Music Systems

These are some of the fashion tips if you decide to attend the Breeders’ Cup 2023. Fashion is a big part of the event, so make sure you leave enough time to pick your outfit.