What is a Concours d’Elegance Car Show, and More Importantly, What Should I Wear?

Attending a fancy car show like the Concours d'Elegance demands plenty of style. Here's what to know, with a few fit check tips to see and be seen

Concours D'Elegance
The people are as chic as the cars at the Concours d'Elegance.

The Fanciest Car Show, Concours d’Elegance, Earns Its Name for a Reason

Ever been to a fancy car show? It’s a great place to dress up, browse classic and exotic cars and do a bit of people watching.

It is certainly exciting to walk onto the grounds of any grand car event, such as ModaMiami, which took place at the end of February. There were lots of beautiful cars to look at, and there was plenty of commotion between the auctions and people buzzing around. And no matter which section you explored, there were people excited about all of the vehicles. 

As events like this one, The Amelia Concours d`Elegance, and Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance grow in popularity, more people are bound to attend. What once seemed like a high-end boys-only club has evolved into a fun, leisurely-paced social foused around cars. And with that, there is plenty of fashion to be seen. You’ll want to be seen but not stand out – if that makes sense. 

Related: Going to the Car Show? Here;s What You Need to Know – and What to Wear

Concours D'Elegance

The people are as chic as the cars at the Concours d’Elegance. Photo: Amelia Concours

What Will You See at a Car Show Like This?

A Concours event such as Amelia Island, the Greenwich Concours or Pebble Beach is hosted to showcase cars of all types, usually at a high-end hotel like the Ritz Carlton or other golf-focused establishments. At these events, you’ll see historically significant cars, expensive sports cars, and other awe-inspiring vehicles that you might not see anywhere else. 

Like any event, people want to dress up for the occasion. There are always a few people dressed to the nines in stilettos on various golf courses, but there are many more people in upscale outfits with more comfortable shoes. If you’ve ever worn stilettos on a golf course, you know that isn’t the move. 

Related: The Other Must-Sees at the Car Show: Style from Veronica Beard, Vince Camuto and More

Two Critical Things to Know Before You Go

Please learn from my mistakes. There are two things you can’t forget, no matter which event you plan to attend: suntan lotion and comfortable shoes. The sun is hot, and there often isn’t much protection since you are on the golf course. Hit the store before you go and grab a few cans or bottles of your favorite SPF. And we all know that if your feet hurt, you won’t want to walk the whole show. 

Related: 13 of the Best Women’s Sneakers for a Summer Road Trip 

Chic Choices Across the Board at the Concours d’Elegance

For women, you’ll see many sundresses with fashion-forward flats or sneakers. You’ll also see plenty of flowy two-piece outfits and cute suits made from lightweight materials. Tailored shorts and designer flip-flops are always in, even if they aren’t worn together.

For the men, you’ll see a lot of very fancy suits and shoes. These are not the heavy-weight suits you’d wear to a meeting, but more of a suit you’d wear to a summer wedding. There are plenty of Dior and Versace shoes with a bit of flair and many cool hats (again, the sun!).  

It also depends on what you are doing at the event. Those who are simply spectating are usually more casual in dress. Shorts, tank tops, and sundresses are acceptable. Those with a vehicle in the show vying for a trophy will likely be more dressed up. Similarly, if you are involved in an auction, you will probably need a little more elegance for your Concours experience. 

 Concours D'Elegance.

Pastel sundresses are always in fashion at the Concours d’Elegance. Photo: Amazon

The Cars Are a Fortune, But Your Outfit Needn’t Be

On the more budget-friendly side of things, Amazon has some great sundress options that work well for such events. This Ribbed Knit Maxi dress by ARTFREE comes in 15 different colors and is only $49.99. It’s made of a stretchy and breathable fabric that can work for day or night. Full disclosure: I bought this and washed it to get the wrinkles out before wearing it. It came a little crumpled in the package.

Similarly, this Crew Neck Sleeveless High-Waisted dress from Pink Queen is only $39 and comes in 10 colors. It was long enough to keep my legs out of the sun, and the crew neck made it modest enough for day or night. I also washed it right out of the package to remove some of the wrinkles, and it looked much more expensive than it was.

Concours D'Elegance

A Concours look is a tailored look; here, Alice + Olivia and Anthropologie. Photo: Amazon

Stylish Cars Call for Stylish Tailoring 

Alice + Olivia is a popular midrange brand with matching sets seen on hotel lawns all over the country. The Alice + Olivia Donald High-Rise Linen-Blend Shorts look great and the matching Macey Linen Blend Blazer makes for a nice tailored outfit. You don’t need a blazer, though. A crisp, white tank top might work as well. Pair that with some clean white sneakers, and you will have a comfortable but fashionable outfit for a nice day walking around looking at cars.

Anthropologie is another great source for clothing, like this Tommie Cap-Sleeve Smocked Front-Zip Shirt Dress. At $170, it comes in four colors and is made of light cotton. It’s also machine washable for versatility. I prefer a midi dress to a mini for events like this because the wind can kick up on the golf course without much notice.

Concours D'Elegance

Celine, Birkenstock, Anthropologie, or this Amazon shoe selection would be lovely for the Concours d’Elegance. Photo: Amazon

Emphasizing the Significance of Footwear: Shoes

I logged about 10,000 steps each day, walking around and checking out the cars during ModaMiami. One thing that can’t be understated is having comfortable shoes. This isn’t the time to wear a fresh pair of sneakers or uncomfortable flats. You can wear them at night if you can’t live without them. Otherwise, I would highly suggest your most comfortable or favorite shoes. I wore my favorite Celine trainers, the low-lace up version because they are comfortable and go with everything.

If you already have some, a pair of Birkenstock Arizona EVA Sandals might also work. These come in cute colors and are comfortable. These yellow Guilhermina Slingback Flats from Anthropologie have good reviews and are reportedly easy to walk in. The strap on the back is always appreciated to keep them on while walking around. If you are looking for a bit of height, these Soda Topic Open Toe Buckle Ankle Strap Espadrilles are only $34 from Amazon and would match many outfits.

Luxury Car Shows Are Fun For all the Reasons

I really enjoyed seeing older cars that you don’t see many of these days, such as classic Porsche and Mercedes-Benz models. And there is no shortage of new supercars on the lawns of these events; they tend to draw a crowd.

People-watching is good, too; it’s the perfect way to take a break from walking around. It’s always intriguing to see how people interpret fashion for an event like this. Some even match their cars in the show.

And if you are looking for a specific vehicle, that is on the menu, too. Many of these events allow all attendees to bid on the cars and not all are over the top; some are very affordable. You can usually scope out the attendance list ahead of time

There are more Concours events than ever, thanks to companies like classic car insurance seller Hagerty investing in them, and the popularity of Pebble Beach. These events take place throughout the year, so find one near you, plan time to shop and make an event of it!

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Amanda Cline is an automotive enthusiast from Southwest Florida. She has cultivated her love for cars from a young... More about Amanda Cline