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Royal Ascot: What To Wear

Looking refined at the races - the dress code in full, from jumpsuits to bow ties and wedges to spaghetti straps.

Just as the Oxford English Dictionary captures the mots du jour, such as "hangry" and "mansplaining", so Royal Ascot's Annual Style Guide captures the latest fashion trends.

The Style Guide - first unveiled in 2012 to formally document Royal Ascot's strict dress code - is released three months ahead of the five-day June event each year; to give racegoers plenty of time to plan their outfit.

And the Berkshire event's organisers have become expert in spotting new trends and judging them fit (or not) for this most refined event of the Season; whilst full-length jumpsuits were recently deemed acceptable, the Bardot neckline and one-shoulder dresses are specifically banned, along with the oh-so-trendy sockless look for men.

Royal Ascot: 'Synonymous with sartorial elegance'

"Royal Ascot is synonymous with sartorial elegance," according to a comment posted by organisers alongside their style guide video. "Royal Ascot is a highlight of the summer social season and has grown to be a major fashion occasion in its own right," adds Juliet Slot, the racecourse's chief commercial officer.

That Ascot is seen as a great dress-up day is more than proven by the £33 million Ascot racegoers spend on fashion, according to Deloitte research.

The strict and traditional dress code is "woven into the very fabric" of Ascot's history, so the style guide says. Way back in the 19th Century, Regency dandy Beau Brummell, the fashion guru of his day, dictated a dress code for men in the Royal Enclosure.

He decreed that "men of elegance should wear waisted black coats and white cravats with pantaloons"; this set the tone for the dress code that is still adhered to by men in the Royal Enclosure.

The strict and traditional dress code is "woven into the very fabric" of Ascot's history, so the style guide says. Way back in the 19th Century, Regency dandy Beau Brummell, the fashion guru of his day, dictated a dress code for men in the Royal Enclosure.

He decreed that "men of elegance should wear waisted black coats and white cravats with pantaloons"; this set the tone for the dress code that is still adhered to by men in the Royal Enclosure.

Royal Ascot Style Guide - A Timeline

2012 Annual Style Guide officially launched
2014 Trouser suits permitted for ladies
2017 Jumpsuits allowed for ladies; Bardot necklines banned
2018 Men must wear socks; style guides introduced for the Village and Windsor Enclosures


The Royal Ascot Style Guide, in full

Royal Enclosure

The strictest dress code must be adhered to in this invitation-only area, where you may rub shoulders with royals; “demure” outfits are therefore required.

Ladies

Ladies are kindly reminded that formal day wear is a requirement in the Royal Enclosure, defined as follows:

• Dresses and skirts should be of modest length defined as falling just above the knee or longer.
• Dresses and tops should have straps of one inch or greater.
Jackets and pashminas may be worn but dresses and tops underneath should still comply with the Royal Enclosure dress code.
Trouser suits are welcome. They should be of full-length to the ankle and of matching material and colour.
Jumpsuits are welcome. They should be of full-length to the ankle, with regulations matching that for dresses.
Hats should be worn; however, a headpiece which has a solid base of 4 inches (10cm) or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat.

Ladies are kindly asked to note the following:

Strapless, off-the-shoulder, one-shoulder, halter neck, Bardot and spaghetti straps are not permitted.
Midriffs must be covered.
Fascinators are not permitted in the Royal Enclosure; neither are headpieces which do not have a base covering a sufficient area of the head (4 inches / 10cm).

Gentlemen

Gentlemen are kindly reminded that it is a requirement to wear either black or grey morning dress, which must include:

• A waistcoat and tie (no cravats).
• A black or grey top hat.
• Black shoes.

A gentleman may remove his top hat within a restaurant, a private box, a private club or that facility's terrace, balcony or garden.

Hats may also be removed within any enclosed external seating area within the Royal Enclosure Garden.

The customisation of top hats (with, for example, coloured ribbons or bands) is not permitted in the Royal Enclosure.

Children (admitted on Friday and Saturday only)

Girls (aged 10-17) should be dressed in accordance to the Ladies' dress code. However, they may wear a headpiece or a fascinator as an alternative to a hat, without any size restrictions.
Boys (aged 10-17) should either dress in accordance with the gentlemen's dress code or alternatively may wear a dark-coloured lounge suit with a shirt and tie.

Overseas Visitors

Overseas visitors are welcome to wear the formal National Dress of their country or Service Dress.

Serving Military Personnel

Serving military personnel are welcome to wear Service Dress or equivalent.

Queen Anne Enclosure

So named after the royal who founded the racecourse, back in 1711, the dress code is slightly more relaxed here in the Bandstand area, where racegoers will also have a front-row seat to the Royal Procession.

Ladies

Ladies within the Queen Anne Enclosure enclosure are encouraged to dress in a manner as befits a formal occasion. Ladies are kindly asked to take particular note of the following:

• A hat, headpiece or fascinator should be worn at all times.
• Strapless or sheer-strap dresses and tops are not permitted. Please note our definition of strapless includes off-the-shoulder, Bardot style and one-shoulder dresses.
• Trouser suits and jumpsuits must be full-length and worn with a top that adheres to the guidelines above (i.e. strapless or sheer strap tops are not permitted).
• Jackets and pashminas may be worn but dresses and tops underneath should still comply with the Queen Anne Enclosure admission dress code.
• Midriffs must be covered.
• Shorts are not permitted.

Gentlemen

• Gentlemen are required to wear a full-length suit with jacket and trousers of the same colour and pattern with a shirt and tie.
• Socks must also be worn and should cover the ankle.
• Gentlemen are kindly asked to wear a tie at all times and to note that bow ties and cravats are not allowed.
• Trainers are not permitted.

The Village Enclosure

A largely outdoor area, this enclosure, opened in 2017, is the first new enclosure for Royal Ascot in 100 years. jackets and trousers are acceptable attire for men, while ladies are invited to wear wedges and smaller hats.

Ladies

Ladies within the Village Enclosure are encouraged to dress in a manner as befits a formal occasion and ladies are kindly asked to take note of the following:

A hat, headpiece or fascinator should be worn at all times.
Strapless or sheer-strap dresses and tops are not permitted. Please note our definition of strapless includes off-the-shoulder, Bardot-style and one-shoulder dresses.
Trouser suits and jumpsuits must be full-length and worn with a top that adheres to the guidelines above.
Midriffs must be covered.
Shorts are not permitted.
• Please note, the Village Enclosure is largely an outdoor area and ladies should consider their hat size and choice of shoe accordingly. Smaller hats or fascinators and wedges are recommended in place of larger hats or stilettos.

Gentlemen

Gentlemen are required to wear a jacket, full-length trousers, collared shirt and tie.
Jeans and trainers are not permitted.
Bow ties and cravats are not permitted.
Socks must also be worn and should cover the ankle.

Windsor Enclosure

Formerly known as the Silver Ring, this area allows picnics and has no formal dress code.

• Ladies and gentlemen within the Windsor Enclosure are requested to dress in a manner as befits a formal occasion.
• It is recommended that ladies wear smart attire, with a hat or fascinator, and gentlemen wear a jacket, shirt and long trousers.
Fancy dress, novelty and branded/ promotional clothing are not allowed on site.

More from the Royal Ascot Style Guide:
What to wear: Flat season | What to wear: Jumps season