If you've never been to the races before, you've likely poured over friends' pictures on your Instagram feed, silently separating the glamorous from the gauche and planning what you might wear if you had the opportunity to attend the next ladies' day. There are plenty of reasons why you've never been, but at the top of your list is the fact that you haven't got the first idea of what to wear. You've finally committed to attending this year and even though you're excited, you're still clueless about what to wear. You may have browsed the mall but you always come home empty handed and feeling defeated. The trick is to break it all down into steps in order to decide what you should be wearing to the races.

Frock or not?
The smart or casual conundrum is often the biggest faced by first-time racegoers. If you've poured over the dress code for your enclosure, you should have a better idea. If you're attending on ladies day, you'll likely be heading there in your most glamorous attire, whereas other race meets or enclosures might allow for more relaxed attire, in which case you'll likely want to leave your frock at home. On the other hand, you can get away with anything if you look like you know what you're doing. Oddschecker has tips for horse racing events and if you're heading to the Melbourne Cup, you'll be able to cheer on favourite Yucatan from the sidelines. This might be the event for your best dress after all, especially since you may have the wallet to match at the end of the day.

A day at the races will mean that you are standing for long periods of time, and you may well find that you don't sit down all day. For this reason, you may want to consider your footwear choices very carefully. Most people will insist that you wear heels, especially if you are attending on ladies day, however it must be said that comfort reigns over style anytime, and if you want to follow in the footsteps of a style queen, Meghan Markle recently dropped her heels for a very affordable pair of flats whilst on holiday to Australia. Try a ballet flat for simple elegance, or if you're feeling a bolder look, you could try a strong brogue. Those who are resilient and can wear the highest heels all day should do so, but beware of envious looks from the rest of the crowd.

Hat or Nah
The question of whether to wear a hat elicits great angst in first-time racegoers which much like the smart versus casual conundrum is easily fixed by asking yourself a few questions. Firstly, check the race track's website, here you'll find lots of the answers you're looking for and organisers will often give a detailed breakdown of racegoer dress code according to the enclosure you have picked to spend the day within. If a hat is compulsory for your enclosure and occasion, then it is time to start shopping.
Hats have had a huge resurgence in popularity recently, due to modern designs by Phillip Treacy being worn by young royals and fashionable stars. Opt for something which matches your outfit, yet says something about your character, and don't be afraid of outlandish design, after all, this is the one day a year that you can get away with it!

The Handbag 
You'll want to take something big enough to carry your make up and purse, but small enough that you don't feel as though you're dragging it around all day. You could opt for a small fashionable jewelled clutch for some glamour, or you might want to be a little more practical with a small strapped bag. It all comes down to how much you think you're going to win and whether there will be enough room in your purse. If you're not much of a bag carrier, boyfriends with suit pockets make excellent purses, just remember to find somewhere to keep your winnings for yourself.

Drink Responsibly
This might not be the most fashionable tip, but it is a very useful tip if you want to spend the day looking your best and having a great time. The early start for the races can make it tempting to begin drinking early in the day, and big wins early in the day can prompt free-flowing champagne and an early case of the giggles. The last thing you want is to spend your race day face down in the grass and miss out on all the fun. Alternate drinks with water or opt for weaker drinks which will ensure that you pace yourself for a long day. If you are attending a summer race, ensure that you keep hydrated and take breaks from drinking too much champagne until later in the day.
Remember Your Sun Lotion

People often forget that they're going to spend the large majority of their day outside when they head to the races, and during a hot summer's day this can be a big problem for sunburn. Check the weather forecast before you leave, and if it is promising a hot summers day, you'll want to put some factor 30 on your skin and make sure that you have a bottle in your handbag so you can keep topping up during the day. If you're likely to forget to top up because you're having so much fun, set yourself a reminder on your phone at half-hour intervals to ensure that you're not going to ruin any evening plans with your lax daytime skin care.

The races really are a fun day out, and you shouldn't be intimidated by fashion choices. There are rare days to suit everyone, so if a day of dressing up isn't your thing, there will be other chances to head to the races and have a great day. On the other hand, if you want exclusive glamour, there are plenty of days for this, you'll just have to ensure that you have enough outfits and hats to match.
The most important parts of dressing for the races are the comfort and staying true to your own style. You're never going to have a good day if you've picked an outfit that just doesn't do you justice. It is a misconception that race day glamour costs a fortune. Find a friend who can do your hair and makeup to save a few bucks. Spend the morning getting ready together before you spend the day on the race track with the rest of your pals. Once you've found your look, the hard bit is over, you've just got to get out on to the track and enjoy your day!