We never think you need a reason to wear a fancy hat, but at some events it’s quite literally required. Our pursuer of pageantry Jonathan Spindel welcomes you to the most exciting fashion events of the year, which also happen to feature the world’s fastest horses

Every May, crowds of well-dressed spectators jet to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby, the first event in the American horse racing season. It’s a thrill a minute if you haven’t ever attended. Across the pond, Britons don their best attire for the Royal Ascot, the world’s epitome of summer equestrian elegance. As harlequin jockeys rush their mounts toward the finish line, well heeled fans place bets and mingle in the stands. The thoroughbreds’ performance is wondrous thing to witness; but the greatest spectacle of all is the audience itself: exquisite fashions draped upon the spectators and perched atop their heads. Naturally, it’s morning coats, and all that entails, for gentlemen race fans.

The competition on the track is fierce, but some might say the spectators’ sartorial show is the better contest. Fans of the races pay homage to the race’s traditionally elegant dress code, yet every year the fashions get more ambitious, and in some cases outrageously extravagant. Ladies always take the opportunity to express themselves with incredible dresses and accessories, and no expense is spared. Perhaps most important of all, the hat is the crown of the outfit, with many wide-brimmed pieces custom-made for the occasion.

“Royal Ascot is synonymous with sartorial elegance,” the event’s organizers proclaim. “This is upheld by our dress code, which invites guests to contribute to an occasion heralded as a major fashion event in its own right.” Indeed, the dress code is strict, and those who violate the rules will be pulled aside by the Ascot’s own fashion police. Think we’re kidding? Just try to wear a hem that doesn’t fall too far above your knee – you may look fabulous, but the heads you turn will wear a look of disapproval. But don’t worry; you can still look great while abiding by the rules. In fact, Britain’s most stylish royalty and upper crust have been strutting their finest stuff at the Ascot for centuries.

Want to experience the ultimate girl’s day out? Fly with your friends to England this June 14-18 (make sure to get your Ascot tickets in advance) and enjoy the festivities. The Ascot takes place from Tuesday to Saturday, but make sure to attend on Thursday – which is traditionally set aside as Ladies’ Day, the foremost day for women to go all out to impress themselves and others. So don your finest fascinator and mingle with your fellow spectators. You never know – you might befriend an aristocrat or ten. Then imagine what could happen.

For an unforgettable experience, we recommend pooling a set amount of money with your friends and place some bets. It’s a traditional part of the race, and the thrill of a win adds an inimitable rush of adrenaline to the exciting races. Raise a glass of bubbly in a toast to the horses, the lovely summer weather, and the elegant tradition. At the end of the day, does it really matter who wins the race? The joy of the experience is what counts. So cast aside your betting slips and savor the moment as the sun sets over the English countryside.

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