Royal Ascot is perhaps the most exhilarating festival of the flat season in horse racing – yet there are as many people watching each other and there are those keeping an eye on the horses.
Style is everything at Royal Ascot. It’s where those who wish to be seen dress up for the occasion, and those wanting to focus on horse racing betting are perhaps unfairly overlooked.
And every year someone falls pray to the Ascot dress codes that seem to litter this festival. While seasoned Ascot goers know the disgrace to decorum for wearing trouser suits above the ankle in the Queen Anne Enclosure, for anyone new to Royal Ascot this could come as a surprise.
Sadly, that suit you’ve still got from your mate’s wedding four years ago might not cut it here. Likewise, the new strapless dress you’ve bought for a day in the sun could be frowned upon in your enclosure.
With so many Royal Ascot dress code stipulations, here at Paddy Power we thought we’d give you a run-down of the dos and don’ts ahead of this year’s festival. Sadly, it appears there are more don’ts than dos!
Royal Ascot Dress Code
There are four enclosures at Royal Ascot: the Royal Enclosure, Queen Anne Enclosure, Village Enclosure and Windsor Enclosure. It’s unlikely any of us will be in the Royal Enclosure any time soon… but let’s see what restrictions those poor souls have to deal with nevertheless!
Most of us will never actually get a chance to step into the Royal Enclosure at Ascot – and perhaps that’s for the best. After all, the stipulations for both men and women are pretty stringent.
For women, they can wear:
Dresses, skirts and tops – so long as dresses are a “modest length” and any shoulder straps are one inch or wider. “Strapless, off-the-shoulder, halter neck and spaghetti straps are not permitted. Dresses and tops with sheer straps and sleeves are also not permitted.”
Women are also able to wear jackets and pashminas – although midriffs must be covered. Trouser suits and jumpsuits are acceptable but only full-length ones that are of matching colour or pattern throughout.
Hats or headpieces with a 10cm diameter must be worn, apparently. Fascinators are not permitted.
For men, the rules are just as stringent:
Men must wear navy, black or grey morning dress which includes:
- A waistcoat and tie (no cravats or bow ties)
- A black or grey top hat
- Black shoes worn with socks
That’s right, socks must be worn. Top hats cannot be customised and may only be removed “within a restaurant, a Private Box, a private club or a facility’s terrace, balcony or garden”.
Guess what? Novelty waistcoats are also banned. Only “discreet” patterns are acceptable. If in doubt, wear a wedding mourning suit with all the bland trimmings.
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Queen Anne Enclosure
The formalities are slightly more relaxed in the Queen Anne Enclosure but there are still rules to abide to.
For women, they’re permitted:
To wear clothes that “befits a formal occasion”. This means wearing a “hat, headpiece or fascinator” to be worn at all times, no strapless or sheer dresses and tops, no midriffs showing, and no shorts. There are neckline regulations, with no strapless, off-the-shoulder, Bardot or one shoulder necklines.
Trouser suites and jumpsuits are permitted but must also adhere to those pesky neckline regulations.
For men, they’re permitted:
To wear a “full-length suit with a collared shirt and tie”. Men must also ensure jackets are of matching colour and pattern, and ties and socks worn at all times. The Queen Anne Enclosure bans jeans, chinos and trainers, as well as bow ties and cravats.
The dress code for women in the Village Enclosure is much the same as the Queen Anne Enclosure. However, as this area is on grass, it is advised that women wear wedges or block heels instead of stilettos. Sensible.
As for the chaps, this is where they can be more expressive. The full suit isn’t required, but men must wear “a full-length trousers and jacket with a collared shirt and tie”. Again, there is a ban on ties and cravats, socks must be worn, and jeans and trainers aren’t permitted.
There is no official dress code in the Windsor Enclosure. However, ladies are “encouraged to dress in smart daywear” and wear a hat or fascinator. As for the men, it’s recommended they wear “a jacket, collared shirt and full-length trousers”.
What about stag and hen dos?
Of course, it wouldn’t be Ascot without at least one stag or hen party. But if you’re planning on bringing inflatables, L plates and naughty drinks straws then think again.
The official line from Royal Ascot is: We do not allow any items relating to stag and hen parties for Royal Ascot as this would be considered novelty clothing. So that means no sashes, badges or tiaras. And lads, remember to wear socks!
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