Preparations are well underway here as the world famous Royal Ascot week approaches, a major event in the British summer social calendar. This year it runs from Tuesday 14th June to Saturday 18th June.
TTA’s office actually sits alongside the legendary racecourse and so we too get to experience some of the pageantry and see all of the beautiful (and bizarre!) outfits and hats from our office window!
Royal Ascot Horse racing
Royal Ascot dates back to 1711 when it was founded by Queen Anne. Ascot is one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events and one of Britain’s most valuable race meetings, attracting many of the world’s finest racehorses to compete for more than £6.85 million in prize money. Every day of the week, horses compete for different cups. Thursday is the day of the historic Gold Cup, Britain’s most important event for stayers (horses that run over long distances).
The Queen is a dedicated racehorse owner and has attended every Royal Meeting during her reign. Every year Elizabeth II and other members of the Royal Family arrive each day in a horse drawn carriage. The Royal Procession is always an iconic moment to herald the start of every race day.
Fashion & Social Scene
The race week is made for socialising and has long been seen as a spectacle of fashion and style. Many celebrities and famous sports stars attend and so the press coverage of the attendees and what they are wearing often overshadows coverage of the actual horse racing.
Ascot week means all the weird and wonderful hats appear. Thursday is the day of the Historic Gold Cup but it is also Ladies’ Day, the day that designer creations and millenary masterpieces take centre stage.
There are three enclosures attended by guests during Ascot Week. The Royal Enclosure is the most prestigious of the three, with recent visits from the Queen and Royal Family members.
Whilst you do see good and bad outfit choices over the week, it is worth noting that there are quite strict fashion guidelines that race goers will have had to adhere to:
Royal Enclosure (restricted access, membership by invitation only)
- Dresses and skirts should be modest in length and must fall at the very least to the knee
- Dresses and tops should have straps that are at least an inch wide. No strapless, shoulder, halter neck, or spaghetti straps are allowed
- Jackets and pashminas may be worn but dresses and tops underneath should still comply with the dress code
- Trouser suits are permitted but they should be full length and of matching material and colour
- Hats should be worn. Fascinators are not permitted, however a headpiece which has a base of four inches or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat
- Midriffs but be covered
- Black or grey morning suits must be worn, including a waistcoat and tie (not a cravat), a black or grey top hat and black shoes
- Top hats may be removed when inside a restaurant, private box, private club, balcony or garden
- The customisation of top hats is not permitted
Queen Anne Enclosure
- A hat, headpiece of fascinator should be worn at all times
- Strapless or sheer dresses and tops are not permitted
- Trousers must be full length and worn with a top that matches and adheres to the guidelines above
- Midriffs must be covered
- Shorts are not permitted
- A matching suit, with a shirt and tie must be worn
- Whilst racegoers are encouraged to wear smart clothes, no formal dress code applies in this enclosure except that replica sports shirts are not permitted.
For many, Royal Ascot means getting dressed up with friends to enjoy a day out in what will hopefully be glorious British sunshine. It is a chance to enjoy a glass of champagne, enjoy a picnic or afternoon tea, wave at the Queen and indulge in all things quintessentially British. Some will enjoy a flutter and place a few small bets- some bets based on form and the bookies odds, but others most likely just based on which horse’s name sounds the best! It really is a special occasion and should not be missed if you get the chance to attend.
Tickets are still available for some days and can be purchased online on Royal Ascot’s website.