Today sees the start of this year’s Royal Ascot meet, Britain’s most valuable race meeting with a prize fund of £5.5 million. Across the five days that it runs it attracts an estimated 300,000 visitors and is viewed in over 200 countries. In terms of fashion, Thursday is the most important day; the day of the historic Gold Cup and Ladies Day. Ladies Day has long been associated with elegance and for providing designers a platform to show off their latest designs. Hats and other millinery masterpieces are a key feature of this celebrated event, where fashion is considered just as important as the races themselves.
Choosing the right outfit for Ladies Day can be a nightmare, as there are so many factors to consider. First and foremost, there is a strict dress code and failure to stick to it could see you refused entry. Secondly, of course you want to stand out and be noticed, but you also need to make sure you are noticed for the right reasons. Photographers will be everywhere, keen to snap pictures of ladies in all their finery. The key thing is to make sure you’ll be one of the one’s appearing on the ‘best dressed’ pages and not on the ‘what were they thinking?‘ pages.
The Royal Ascot dress code was first established in the 19th century, when Bea Brummell, who was considered one of Britain’s first fashion icons and who was a friend of the Prince Regent, instructed what men could and could not wear in the Royal Enclosure. Although, the dress code has changed since then, it is worth remembering these three key words: formal, sophisticated, and elegant.
These are the current dress codes that Royal Ascot specify for each area:
The Royal Enclosure
- Dresses and skirts should end just above the knee or longer.
- Dresses and tops should have straps that are one inch or greater in width. This should still be the case, even if a jacket or pashmina is worn over the top
- Trouser suits should be of full length, but must be of matching material and colour.
- Hats should be worn, however a headpiece with a base of 4 inches/10cm or more in diameter is also considered acceptable.
Ladies must not wear:
- Strapless, off the shoulder, halter neck or spaghetti straps.
- Fascinators or headpieces that do not have a base covering of 4 inches/10cm in diameter.
- Crop tops or cut out styles that expose the midriff.
Men must wear either black or grey morning dress, which must also include the following:
- A waistcoat and tie. Cravats are not acceptable.
- A black or grey top hat. It is strictly forbidden to wear customised hats e.g. ones that have been adorned with coloured ribbons or bands.
- Black shoes
Although he must wear this within the Royal Enclosure, he may remove his top hat within a restaurant, a private box, a private club, terrace, balcony, garden or within any enclosed seating area within the Royal Enclosure Garden.
- A hat, headpiece or fascinator must be worn at all times.
- Dresses and tops with no straps or sheer straps must not be worn.
- Trousers must be full length.
- Midriffs must be covered.
- Wear a suit with a collared shirt and tie.
- Not wear trainers.
- Not wear branded items.
The Silver Ring
Here, in the ‘cheap seats’, pretty much anything goes, although race goers are still encouraged to dress smartly. Definite no no’s include, sportswear, promotional clothing, bare chests, shorts, fancy dress or novelty clothing.
If you look like an extra from ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’, then we’d suggest you may want to change your outfit!
And finally, just for the fun of it, here’s some figures taken from last year’s Royal Ascot.
- 51,000 bottles of Champagne
- 160,000 glasses of Pimm’s
- 131,000 pints of beer
- 42,000 bottles of wine
- 2,900 lobsters
- 35,000 spears of English asparagus
- 7,000 punnets of berries
- 30,000 chocolate éclairs.
So, if you’re planning on going to Ladies Day this Thursday, remember that although you can have fun with your outfit, you must also be classy and sophisticated and in line with the dress code. Your mantra? Dress to impress.
Send us a photo of your winning race day outfit and if you see some fashion disasters whilst you’re there, then why not sneakily send us them too!