It’s post time! That’s right ladies and gents, on Saturday, we ventured to Arlington Park horse race track for my family’s annual Father’s Day event. In a sense, this event allows me to pay a small tribute to Royal Ascot, the famous British horse race, which takes place around this time each year.
As some of you know from my coverage of last year’s Father’s Day outing, the fancy hats were few and far between at Arlington. But this year, the fancies were out in droves – yours truly included!
I love to get into the spirit of the races by wearing my own fancy hat. This year, it was a pure white hat with a large (but not obnoxiously large) brim from Nordstrom. I have not worn a hat this big since last year and forgot how everything echoes when you wear it! Despite nearly losing my hat several times to the gusty wind, I was able to maintain control of it all day and even kept it clean, which is a huge accomplishment when I have two kids with sticky hands.
Aside from the hat, I don’t normally “dress up” too much for the event. We sit in the lower grandstand which allows us to be close to the finish line and to the horses. But this also means that we are in direct sun for most of the day, sitting on hot, hard benches. As a result, I try to dress comfortably, but still classy, whenever possible. Most women on this level were dressed in a similar fashion, choosing to stay cool rather than wear heels and dresses.
However, when gazing up into the upper grandstand and box seat area, I saw that many of the women were in dresses. This made me wonder about the dress code for the Ascot, Arlington, and horse tracks in general. Like Ascot, horse tracks often encourage smart dress (business casual) and the women to wear hats. But I think US tracks are a little more lenient when it comes to dress code. From what I could tell on Arlington Park’s site, there was no specific dress code for the track overall, but there was a dress code for one of the restaurants. Compare this to the extensive dress code at Royal Ascot which could, no doubt, be mistaken for a deliberate class-dividing strategy….
- Royal Enclosure – Women must wear formal dress with a matching hat or other “fascinator” on their head. Off the shoulder, halter neck, spaghetti straps and dresses with a strap of less than one inch and miniskirts are considered unsuitable. Midriffs must be covered and trouser suits must be full length and of matching material and color. Men must wear either black or grey morning dress, including a waistcoat, with a top hat.
- Grandstand Admission – Ladies with a Grandstand Admission ticket are required to dress in a manner appropriate to a smart occasion. Many wear hats although this is not compulsory. Gentlemen in the Grandstand Admission area must wear a shirt and tie, preferably with a suit or jacket. Sports attire, jeans and shorts are strictly forbidden.
- Silver Ring – Whilst we encourage racegoers to wear smart clothing, no formal dress code applies except that bare tops are not permitted at any time.
I am fascinated by this dress code (not to be mistaken with fascinator – which is a headpiece), particularly about the men having to wear top hats. When was the last time you saw a man wear a top hat? Obviously, if you do choose to go to the horse races in your area, check the Web site to see if there’s a mandatory or suggested dress code. But, even if there’s no dress code, it appears that fancy hats are universally acceptable no matter the horse racing venue.