Royal Ascot has always attracted the most fashionable people since day one which was over 300 years ago. And in 1822, the glamour increased as more of the elite started to attend due to the opening of the prestigious invitation only Royal Enclosure.
How to dress for Royal Ascot.
Royal Ascot has tightened the reigns this year when it comes to the dress code in both the Royal Enclosure and the Grandstand. But don’t think of this as a restriction on your dress style but as a guide. How many times have you received an invitation to a party or a dinner and thought what do I wear, what will everyone else be wearing, how dressy is it? It can really spoil the day or evening if you are dressed up to the nines and everyone else is casual or vice versa. The style you should be aiming for is a flamboyant glamorous look which is also sophisticated and well groomed. Think along the lines of a dressy wedding outfit without the worry of upstaging the bride. Here are the dress code rules that should not be broken. If they are you may find yourself being refused entry:
Royal Enclosure dress code:
Here you’ll find all the gentlemen looking dapper in their uniform of black or grey morning suits and top hats. So the ladies definitely have a lot to compete with in the style stakes.
Neck lines: No halter necks, strapless gowns, off the shoulder or spaghetti straps. Dress straps must be at least one inch wide. And wearing a jacket or matching bolero over a dress does not count – the actual dress has to follow the guidelines.
Skirt length: No minis or shorts, dress length should be no shorter than just above the knee. With the ladylike style being on trend this season it should not be a problem to find on trend longer dresses. The 1950’s retro full skirts and the 40s long pencil skirts are the perfect ladylike styles for Royal Ascot, plus they both look great when worn with large hats.
Midriffs: Definitely no bare midriffs and that also means no midriffs just covered in sheer fabrics.
Trousers: Only trouser suits can be worn but the pants must be full length, so definitely no shorts or cropped pants. The colour and fabric of the trousers have to match the jacket, i.e. it has to be a true trouser suit. White trouser suits always look stunning especially worn with a contrasting coloured hat.
Headgear: A hat or a substantial head piece has to be worn at all times. Fascinators are no longer permitted. The base of the head piece must be 4 inches (10cm) or more in diameter
Grandstand dress code
Here the gentleman will be looking stylishly smart in suits with a shirt and tie, so the ladies will have to make sure they are pipped at the style post.
Necklines: Strapless or sheer strap dresses and tops are not permitted. Even if you wear a jacket at all times, the dress still has to comply with the dress code.
Skirt length: You can wear shorter dresses but you are encouraged to dress as befits a formal occasion.
Midriffs: Definitely no bare midriffs and again that means no midriffs revealed under sheer fabrics
Trousers: You can wear trousers, but they must be full length so no shorts or cropped pants. They do not have to be worn with a jacket and the jacket does not have to be in the same fabric or colour. Tops worn with the trousers have to adhere to the neckline rule.
Headgear: A hat, headpiece or fascinator must be worn at all times.
And definitely No fancy dress, novelty or promotional/branded clothing allowed in either the Royal Enclosure or Grandstand.
Although there is no actual dress code for footwear, it should be in keeping with your outfit so no wellies or hob nail boots please. Royal Ascot only stipulates that gentleman for the Royal Enclosure have to wear black shoes, no other colour will do.
A day at the races will take its toll on your feet so here are a few suggestions on footwear:
The classic Mary Jane is always a safe bet at the races – the style is feminine but the heel is not too high that your feet are going to be in serious pain at the end of the day. And the strap ensures your shoes don’t slip off whilst galloping across the grass to collect your winnings.
Stilettos look elegant and sexy, but that will soon disappear when you sink in the grass and lose your balance. So buy some heel stoppers or better still wear wedges instead. There are some high and thin wedges which will look equally elegant.
Always take a spare pair of flats or fold up ballet style pumps to change in to when your shoes start to hurt.
At Royal Ascot it is not just the horses the crowds will be looking at, but all the glorious outfits and hats. So put on your glad rags and don’t see the dress codes as restrictions, but as a guideline so you can fit in with the crowd and enjoy the day.
Guest Writer and Augustus Couture Stylist Karen Grace studied Personal Styling at the London College of Fashion and received her professional training in one of London’s leading Image Consultancy training centres. She is also a registered affiliate member of FIPI, the Federation of Image Professionals International.
Karen Grace is Director of Style Me Services at Augustus Couture; owner of Frumpy to Funky, an in-house personal shopper for a large department store; and a fashion writer for several online magazines.