What you wear to Royal Ascot is as important as what you win at this world-famous race meet. This key social event in the British sporting calendar is not only a show-ground for some of the most brilliant racehorses in the world but also a fashion parade for racegoers.
Royal Ascot demands race dresses and dressy day-wear – whatever type of ticket you may have purchased be warned that dress codes must be strictly adhered to. The racecourse does have a right to refuse entry if people are not suitably attired. And for 2018, Royal Ascot is getting more strict.
So – what should you wear? As usual, for men, it's easy. A smart suit and tie is the norm but top hat and tails ( black or grey morning dress) is required if you’re in the Royal Enclosure. It is also now a stipulation that men must wear a tie. No cravats are allowed. Black shoes are also stipulated and this year the on-trend look of going without socks is not permitted in any enclosure. Bow ties and cravats are also not permitted in the other enclosures. The Windsor Enclosure is the only area where men do not need to wear a tie.
For ladies – it's a whole different matter. For ladies entering the Royal Enclosure – there’s rules as to how much flesh is exposed. Not a bad thing as the flat landscape of Ascot often allows a chilly wind to whip up across the course!
Bear in mind that dresses that are off-the-shoulder, bardot neckline, halter-neck or have spaghetti straps or straps thinner than one inch are not considered suitable. Plastic or see-through type straps are also a no. Miniskirts are also frowned on as is exposing your midriff! Shorts are a definite no-no.
The answer is a formal outfit – dress and bolero jacket ideally. It is advisable to go to a special occasion boutique to find such outfits. If you buy from the high street, you run the risk of seeing lots of other women in the same dress as you. Nightmare!
Check out modern special occasion designers such as John Charles, Condici, Cabotine, Zeila, Linea Raffaelli and Dress Code. Veromia Occasions are also doing some stunning standalone dresses which tick all the boxes for the Royal Ascot dress code. Spanish designer Carla Ruiz offers some fabulous fashionable yet formal looks with some great frock coats and dresses ideal for Royal Ascot. And new to the UK for 2018 is Sara Ruiz, a stunning Spanish label which offers some gorgeous standalone dresses with sleeves.
For brilliant value for money (dress and jacket from £225) take a look at designers Michaela Louisa Tina Taylor and Libra Designs. Smart, stand-alone dresses with sleeves by Frank Lyman and Dress Code will also work well and means you don't have to wear a jacket with them. Think about the cape style dresses by designers such as Dressed Up and Frank Lyman that are really in too. These cover your arms elegantly but are cool and easy to wear and do away with the need for a jacket.
Not only will these outfits tick all the dress regulation boxes but will also look fantastic with a hat or headpiece – another essential part of the Ascot attire. Note that a hat or "substantial" fascinator with a solid base of at least four inches across must be worn in the Royal Enclosure. Just a few feathers on your head will not do so consider hatinators – a hybrid between a hat and a fascinator. Designers such as Vivien Sheriff (the Duchess of Cambridge wears a lot of her headpieces ) and Snoxell Gwyther make some amazing head-wear and these are often colour-co-ordinated to special occasion outfits. This year there is a stipulation that hats and fascinators must be worn at all times in The Queen Anne Enclosure and The Village Enclosure.
If you're not in the Royal Enclosure, dress codes still apply. Smart day-wear is a must for the Queen Anne Enclosure and the Village Enclosure with the advice to "dress in a manner that befits a formal occasion" and don a hat or fascinator at all times. In the Windsor Enclosure, no formal dress code applies but racegoers are encouraged to wear smart clothes. Overseas visitors are welcome to wear the formal national dress of their country or service dress but fancy dress is not allowed during Royal Ascot week and nor are replica sports shorts. And finally, don't forget – a big handbag to take home all your winnings!
For younger Ascot racegoers, girls aged 10 to 16 should also dress for a formal occasion. Smart summer dresses are suggested. Hats, headpieces and fascinators may be worn but aren’t compulsory. Take a look at dresses by designers such as Smashed Lemon for funky print dresses with prices from just £65.
Royal Ascot runs from Tuesday 19th to Saturday 23rd June 2018
We have a great selection in our boutique here in Bournemouth but if you can't come and see us then you can shop online and try your dress in the comfort of your home. Here is a just a small selection of the styles available. To see more just visit our dedicated page to buy your Ascot dress online.
Follow these guidelines and you can bet on a winning look for Royal Ascot this year.
For more information and ideas on dressing for Royal Ascot and other special occasions , also visit our fashion blog