The 2014 horse racing calendar is underway in the UK and for many of us, that means that some of the most exciting fashion events of the year are just around the corner. Horse racing events and festivals offer plenty to spectators beyond the races themselves, and in the UK, the coming Grand National event in early April is no exception.

Before we move on to the culture and fashion of the event, it’s worth noting that the Grand National is also one of the marquee racing events on the calendar. It offers an incredible main event in the form of a challenging steeplechase that runs over three miles. This year’s race in particular looks to be closely contested, with a number of horses poised to contend. There are various odds listed across the internet; but fans interested in tracking the competition can make use of Betfair’s Grand National page to stay up-to-date on not only the listed odd; but the latest news and tips regarding which contenders to watch. Currently, Teaforthree is listed as the favourite for the race, with Long Run and Tidal Bay following. However, as trainers discuss their confidence in the horses and the event creeps closer, news and odds can shift at a moment’s noice.

However, off the tracks is where the real action will take place for fashion lovers. As is traditional of major horse races, fashion plays a major role at the Grand National, and specifically it’s the Aintree Ladies Day on Friday 4th April, one day before the race, that gives fashionistas the chance to strut their stuff. There’s action taking place on the race track, as well as live music throughout Ladies’s Day. However, more than anything, it’s a day that’s designated for fashion. So if you’re looking to attend the Grand National, you may want to start planning an outfit for that Friday!

To help get you started with planning your Ladies Day attire, there’s no better resource to look at than an account of some of the 2013 event’s best looks. Mirror UK has a nice roundup of the most memorable looks from last year; touching on both the classier, more fashionable side of the event; and the gaudier, somewhat costume-like side that many spectators also choose to experiment with. Going off of this recap from last year, here are a few tips for 2014 Ladies Day fashion (as race day trends tend to operate at least somewhat independently of general fashion trends).

1) Wear a big hat! This is rule #1 for race day fashion at any event and will help you to make your boldest statement at Ladies Day. Generally speaking, the bigger and more ornate, the better.

2) Wear bright colours. If a big hat is rule #1, then this is rule #2 for horse racing fashion in general. It’s all about making a bright and cheerful statement, so break out the hot pink and crimson.

3) Dress for Spring. Early April in Liverpool is by no means a guarantee of warm, sunny weather, even if spring fashions will be creeping in. Nevertheless, this is no time for pants, jeans, or bulky outerwear. Stick to dresses, skirts, light tops and blouses.

4) Embellish and accessorize. Racing fashion tends to support excess, so don’t be afraid to pack on the accessories, throw a bow in your hair, or even put on a bit more makeup than usual. High heels are also a common touch.

5) Bring a blazer. Yes, it’s good to dress for spring, and you’ll want to avoid bulky outerwear; but a classic ladies’ blazer sets just the right tone for your look in the event that it’s a chilly day.

Beyond these basic tips, it’s all about expressing yourself how you see fit. There may be a lot of tradition at the Grand National, and in horse racing fashion in general; but the bottom line is that fashion at these events differs wildly from person to person. Take these tips into account, but have fun picking out your own race day style and enjoy the races themselves.

By Laura Pearson-Smith

This is a sponsored post; but opinions are my own.