Category: Style

Get Fashion-Forward at the Steeplechase

Since the origins of horse racing in 12th century Britain, decadent couture has gone hand-in-hand with the rumbling of hooves. In an effort to attract attention and demonstrate their high-society credentials, women wore extravagant fashions, beginning on their heads. The more ostentatious the hat, the better. Men also dressed to the nines, though with a bit less grandiosity.

That tradition carries on nearly a Millennium later, as the scene of major races like the Kentucky Derby attests. There you might find men in plaid or checkered jackets and pants, a bowtie or equine-themed belt and a fedora or racing beret. Women in flowing dresses and even more flowing hats abound, the better to shade themselves and those around them from the Southern sun.

If you want to fit in among the horsey set during the Steeplechase of Charleston, you need to know the finer points of horse racing fashion. So here is a primer:

Men: You have many options

Men are encouraged to express their individuality, whether that means raucous or modest in fashion. Because horse races occur on tracks, men often start with boots or rubber-soled shoes best positioned to withstand mud. Others prefer the preppy look of loafers or boat shoes. The specialty men’s shop Jordan Lash on King Street has everything you might need, from an Onward Reserve Highland Chelsea Boot to a slip-on Charleston Hornback Alligator Grain Bit Driver.

Jackets are also critical to the male fashion statement at the steeplechase. Many men opt to reflect the themes of race day on their jackets, featuring horseshoes, roses or an eye-catching pattern. Orange is a popular autumn color.

Hats are de rigueur with the cognoscenti in Hollywood – Hollywood, SC, site of the steeplechase. For men, that means a flat cap, classic fedora or straw Panama hat. This is horse racing, so everyone needs a hat.

Jordan Lash can outfit men with all the fashion necessities for the race, including accessories like ties, belts, pocket squares and socks, all of which may flash nearly any color and depict nearly any scene imaginable. You want a ficus-themed sock? Jordan’s got two!

Women: Go big or go home!

While men may recede into the scenery, women attend the races to be noticed, with clothing and accessories that mix fashion and art. When it comes to distaff dress, keep three concepts in mind: color, patterns and sensible shoes.

Women who know how to dress for the races sport polka dots, rainbows, florals and stripes of every stripe, but they never skimp on comfort. Their dresses may be showy, but they are weather appropriate because shivering and sweating are never a good fashion statement.

Visit Hampden Clothing on King Street for all the latest race-appropriate clothing and accessories, including matching handbags. A Dim Popoche Clutch from Jerome Dreyfuss beautifully complements autumnal tones like a Forte Forte wool tartan coat.

Smart shoes and brilliant hats

Race fashions start with shoes and climax with hats. Flats, wedges and low-heeled tall boots are the footwear du jour because you will be walking and walking – on a variety of surfaces and in whatever weather Mother Nature throws the horses’ way. Gwynn’s of Mt. Pleasant carries a wide shoe selection to match that smashing outfit.

Ultimately, women in attendance are measured by their hats at the steeplechase. There is but one rule, whether they don a church hat, fascinator or Mirabel: draw attention. Ornamental, eye-catching and color-coordinated will make any hat wearer the queen of the ball but all styles are welcome, as long as you cheer for a horse.

Race Day Hat Guide

Everyone knows that in order to look the part for race day, you’ve got to top it off with an extravagant hat. But if you’re not keen on a small masterpiece teetering on the top of your head, don’t worry– we’ve laid out the different types of race day hats for you to find the perfect one that works for you.


Church Hat

The church hat is the typical style of the elaborate race day hats we’ve come to know and love. You can take this extravagance to any degree with this design. Flat-topped church hats are oftentimes ornamented with ribbons and bows, and can be built up with increasing details and accessories. You don’t have to go over the top though; these stiff hats feature a wide brim and bright colors and feature just a simple ribbon.


Light, stylish, colorful– the fascinator is the perfect option for someone who doesn’t want to carry the heavy ordeal. Oftentimes supported by a mere headband, a fascinator is an intricate sinamay ornamentation made of a natural straw fabric that will give you an expressive pop for race day. Ribbons, feathers, and beads can all spice up your add-on. 

Lampshade Hat

Stylish and practical– the traditional lampshade hat will give you that Derby glow while simultaneously keeping you shielded from any stray rays. With a bold sash to top it all off, you’ll fit in perfectly for race day.

Rancher Hat

Got a little dirt on your boots? A rancher hat is the perfect way to get in touch with the race day style while still keeping your country roots close. Experiment with some neutral, warmer tones to complete the look.

Mirabel Hat

Similar to the lampshade hat, the mirabel is a perfect way to stay fashionable yet burn-free. Typically straw in nature, this hat stays both breezy and cute. Warm, cream colors and a decorative sash pulls the entire look together. The mirabel hat is perfect for someone seeking a feminine touch to a sleek dress.

Gambler Hat

You’ll be repping ALL of the vintage vibes with a classic gambler hat. With traces of the traditional English style, you can rock the races with a dark accent to stand apart from the crowd. A short brim and thin belt make for a simpler yet just as stylish race day option.




Herringbone Flat Cap

A classic but timeless look; for the gentlemen that want to participate in race day get-ups without going over the top, a simple herringbone cap is the perfect option. Stick to the classic gray-scale options or experiment with brown, burgundy, or houndstooth variations.

Classic Fedora Hat

A bit more statement in style, all the same class– the fedora hat is the perfect option for anyone who wants to stay simple yet stylish on race day. Take a classic style and experiment with new fabrics and colors– pastel blue, linen, or a statement sash can all elevate this traditional look and make for the perfect race day outfit.

Braid Boater Hat

You’ll look straight out of a barbershop quartet with a braid boater hat— the perfect way to stand out for race day! With an eye-catching red and navy sash, this hat will give you the preppy look you’ve been working for.

Straw Panama Hat

A little bit more country, the panama hat offers a traditional form of masculinity when approaching race day attire. Its light brown undertones complements a variety of color schemes. It can be pulled together with a coordinating belt and buttoned-down shirt.

Pork Pie Hat

Short in nature but expressive in style– but the potential for different patterns on the pork pie hats is endless. From “Jent” to “Doc Dyer” to Tokyo Braid, pork pie hats offer an opportunity for a gentleman to take on a bit more of a unique approach.

Bowler Hat

Nothing says classy like the bowler hat. The traditional round frame and curling lip at the bottom is a timeless look; usually black in color, a bowler hat can be the perfect accent with many color schemes.

Messer Straw Fedora

The Messer straw fedora hat goes acts as the bridge between the classic fedora and a little more country. Perfect for any color scheme, the leather “belt” and the shapely frame gives this hat a masculine edge. The flat brim gives adequate sun coverage.

Mannes Hat

Petite in size but bold in pattern– the Mannes hat is the perfect option for any gentleman that wants to get a bit more creative in his display. The braided pattern allows for an eye-catching look that can go with any color scheme. A short brim and form-fitting frame makes for a comfortable race day option.

A-Lines and Finish Lines: Race Day Fashion

Derby Day Fashion

Fashionable decadence has become the standard for horse races across the globe– and last week’s Kentucky Derby did not disappoint. The extravagant race day fashion that showed up for the 2021 Derby Day had us ‘ooh-ing’ and ‘ahh-ing’ in jealous admiration at our television screens. As our excitement grows for the 2021 Steeplechase of Charleston, so do our expected hat sizes.

Today’s horse race viewers show out in outfits that straddle the line between fashion and art. Colorful plumes teeter above smiling attendees and speak to creative craftsmanship and attention to detail. 

From patterned blazers to beaded masks, we rounded up our fashion inspo for Steeplechase of Charleston and left our Derby viewing parties with renewed excitement. But we’re hardly the trendsetters in these modern day styles.

Race Day Style Origins

From its beginnings in the 12th century UK, horse racing has been a sport associated with class and extravagance. Women chased a high-class status by imbuing themselves with ornamented hats at the most highly-anticipated events of the year: weddings, balls, and horse races became avenues for aesthetic and socioeconomic display.

Today’s admiration for the lavish outerwear stems from much more innocent motives, but the thrill of dressing up for race day is the same. While Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. had sought to capture the European spirits and styles on American soil, today’s viewers seek to be a part of decades of class and intrigue. 

Since then, numerous competitions for the most unique race day looks have popped up across the country, fueling the fashion craze. Fashions on the Field is the highlight of the Melbourne Cup, and the Kentucky Oaks features the Longines Fashion Contest. Celebrities, royals, and eager fans all perpetuate the longstanding traditions and add to a growing love for race day.

Our Picks

The 2020 Steeplechase of Charleston attendees understood the wardrobe assignment. Viewers showed out in their most ornate designs and lavish colors and added to the November day spectacle. We pulled together some of our favorite looks from that day to kickstart your inspiration for Steeplechase 2021!

We can’t get enough of the colorful ornamentation on this vest! Stand out at Steeplechase of Charleston with your boldest and brightest patterns.

The bigger the better! The beautiful detail in this race day hat perfectly complements a chunky necklace and darker color scheme.

All red for race day! Stand out with a pop of color and an eye-catching accent to top it all off. Doesn’t hurt to have a bottle of champagne in your hand as well!

Make your presence known as the best-dressed couple at Steeplechase of Charleston. We can’t pick our favorite element of this gentleman’s attire– the hat? the glasses? the bowtie?

We love the coordination between this hat color and complementing accessories! This rich shade of purple is fit for a queen.

It’s never too early to start getting excited about your Steeplechase outfits. No matter where you’re getting your inspiration from, we can’t wait to see your race day get-ups at the 2021 Steeplechase of Charleston. Go bold!

Horse Racing Fashion

While the Steeplechase is a premiere sporting event in Charleston, race-day fashion is just as important as the race itself.  The Steeplechase of Charleston is THE event to show off your bold style in a creative and fun way, while enjoying the history and tradition of horse racing in Charleston.

Origins of Horse Racing Fashion

Kings were the original horse owners, so horse racing is fittingly nicknamed the Sport of Kings. Considerable wealth was required to afford horses and pay people to ride them. The prestigious sporting event of horse racing draws in a highly fashionable crowd.

The tradition of wearing hats at horse races is a tradition that comes from both British and Southern cultures. It was started by the founder of the Kentucky Derby. Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., modeled the race after European racing events.

Previously, American racetracks were associated with immorality and vices because of the drinking and gambling.  Clark wanted to change this perception and make the race more of a society event that the upper-class would not want to miss.  In order to do this, he made full-morning dress a requirement for the event.  He recruited high-class women to attract his ideal audience and they began to attend the event wearing dresses, gloves and hats.

The Hat Makes the Outfit

Hats really became noticeably associated with horse racing in the 1960s with the spread of television. The arrival of television crews prompted race-goers to up their headgear game. Women began choosing wilder and more extravagant hats in order to stand out from the crowd.

Though fashion norms began to loosen during this time, hats remained popular at horse racing events. Showing up to a horse race without a hat was considered a major fashion faux-pas, because hats are the statement pieces. Women would coordinate their dresses, shoes, handbags, and even parasols to match their hats.

Royal Style Influence

Many people find inspiration for their race-day hats from the royal family in England. Queen Elizabeth II has gained a faithful following for her race-day headgear. It is estimated that she has worn over 5,000 hats during her reign. At the Royal Ascot Races, people even bet on what color she will choose to wear to opening day.

The hat craze began to dwindle slightly in the 80s and 90s. However, the royal weddings in 2011 and 2018 caused a resurgence of interest. A new generation of Americans was exposed to the work of milliners, women’s hat makers, as well as fascinators.

Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York

Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York on their way to the royal wedding in 2011

Fascinators are headpieces ‘fastened’ to the head by a headband or clip. They have become even more favorable than hats in recent years after the young royals were seen wearing them. Though they are different from wide brim hats and offer no sun protection, fascinators allow the wearer to stand out with their creativity and are a popular choice at horse races.

Style Tips 

The hats are not just for women! Men often don fedoras and boating-style hats to the steeplechase.  In addition to hats, seer-sucker suits, braces, and bow ties remain popular fashion choices for men. If you favor a more casual look, pastel-colored polo shirts and khakis are good options.

Women typically wear brightly-colored sundresses and skirts. If you choose to wear a patterned garment, be sure it will not clash with your hat. As for footwear, wear comfortable shoes to navigate the grassy terrain.

One thing is for sure, Steeplechase of Charleston attendees will be bringing their unique, Southern style to the 2019 event.

Dressed in Dumas

Get #DressedinDumas for Steeplechase of Charleston

Steeplechase of Charleston is thrilled to have M. Dumas & Sons as our official menswear sponsor. With race day soon arriving on November 17th, M.Dumas & Sons have pulled together 5 race day looks for men that will impress. From luxury to casual comfort, this collection offers a variety of race ready ensembles.

Click here to see us discuss horse racing fashion with M. Dumas &  Sons and Lowcountry Live.

Classic menswear mixes it up for fall outdoor events

From tailgates and horse races to outdoor weddings and oyster roasts, your fall calendar can fill up quickly. And what better reason to add some new pieces to your wardrobe. To give you some inspiration, here are all the best men’s style essentials for your upcoming fall outdoor events:

For occasions when you’ll need to look a little more polished, a nice textured sport coat will elevate a fall wardrobe dramatically. Since fall weather in the South can be unpredictable, coats in heavier fabrics like Donegal wool and tweed will help keep you warm. This on-trend take on traditional styles will look the part whether you’re at the racetrack or afternoon reception.

Take it up an extra notch by drawing inspiration from European style. Don’t be afraid to mix and match not just colors and patterns, but also fabrics and textures with carefully executed combinations of wool, cotton, suede and silk. You’ll never be ridiculed for being overdressed.

Tailored/Luxury Gentleman 

-Ring Jacket, Donegal Wool Sport Coat

-Boglioli Crewneck Sweater

-Eton Pocket Square

-Pantalonio Torino Wool Plaid Trouser

-W. Kleinberg Matte Alligator Belt

-Magnanni Burnished Suede Cap Toe

With so many events, you may consider investing in high-quality classic apparel that can be dressed up or dressed down depending on the occasion rather than trendier pieces. A layered look like this Quilted Lowerdale Vest from Barbour over a crisp, cotton sport shirt is the perfect silhouette for this season.

While you may think fall and winter call for more muted color palettes, it’s a great time of year to get creative with your color scheme. Incorporate autumn-hued pieces like these Pantaloni Torino Cotton 5-Pocket Pants in hunter green. Other colors to consider include rust, burnt orange, mustard, and olive. Complete the look with a durable leather boot in a timeless design for all-day comfort.

Classic Charleston Gentleman 

-Barbour Quilted Lowerdale Vest

-Hagen Tattersall Sport Shirt

-Pantalonio Torino Cotton 5-Pocket Pant

-W. Kleinberg Glazed Anaconda Belt

-Alden Indy Boot

day 2

Although events like the Steeplechase of Charleston are built on tradition and heritage, they’re the perfect opportunity to show off your own personality and add a bit of style with a contemporary new look.

A black on black ensemble like this belted wax cotton jacket paired with wax cotton denim offers just the right amount of edginess without straying far from tradition. The zippered detailing on the pant pocket and glazed alligator belt are subtle, unexpected touches while the ribbed crewneck sweater adds just a splash of color.

Modern Gentleman 

-Barbour Icon International Polar Quilt

-John Varvatos Ribbed Crewneck Sweater

-John Varvatos Zip Pocket Chelsea Jean

-W. Kleinberg Glazed Alligator Belt

-Tod's Leather Ankle Boot

If fashion and luxury style aren’t really your thing, stay true to your personal style with simple fall basics. A comfortable corduroy work shirt layered over a Henley packs some old school sporting style. Pair it with denim in a tailored slim or classic straight fit.

When it comes to footwear, go for something durable that can hold up to anything the fall weather can throw at it. Classic duck boots can be worn all season long for work and play.

Whether you’re shuckin’ oysters at a bonfire or tossing back beers at a tailgate, you’ll find yourself repeating this casual low-maintenance look throughout the fall.

Casual Gentleman 

-Filson Corduroy Work Shirt

-Faherty Henley

-Citizens of Humanity Denim

-W. Kleinberg American Bison Belt

-Wolverine Duck Boot

day 4

It doesn’t matter if it’s the first time you’re going to an event or if it’s an annual tradition for you and your friends, you’re going to want to look the part. If there were ever a classic fall outdoor look for men in the south, this is it.

A colored 5-pocket pant paired with a classic plaid vest is layered together with a complementary sport shirt. Boots in a tasteful desert suede walk the fine line between sport and luxury, while a two-tone glazed alligator belt adds a hint of polish and sophistication.

When dressing for any event, consider not just your personal style and preference but what you’re doing and where you’re going. And most importantly, be confident. No matter what you wear, it’s how you wear it.

Need help dressing for an upcoming event? Head to the corner of King and Society streets in historic downtown Charleston. An iconic men’s specialty retailer, M. Dumas & Sons offers an expansive array of classic outdoor apparel and high-end luxury fashion. For more outfit inspiration, stop into the store or visit

Classic Steeplechase Gentleman 

-Madison Creek Glen Plaid Vest

-Barbour Sport Shirt

-Duckhead Baseball Hat

-34 Heritage Cotton 5-Pocket Pants

-W. Kleinberg Two-Tone Glazed Alligator Belt

-Alden Suede Desert Boot

day 5