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How to Dress for the Races

Feature: Quick Read
Words by ELEANOR HIBBERD

Harbouring fantasies of a My Fair Lady moment at the races? You’ll be eager, then, for an ensemble that satiates the dress code while standing out from the crowd. Certain rules are steadfast, but this needn’t hamper your options. Read on for everything you need to know for a fashionable race day at Royal Ascot and beyond.

Decoding Dress Codes

Navigating the Royal Ascot style guide can be a daunting prospect for the uninitiated, but in fact the sartorial possibilities are plentiful once you’ve grasped the basic dos and don’ts.

Woman in green high-neck dress and hat

Royal Enclosure
Hemlines should be modest, falling just above the knee or longer. Dresses and tops must have straps with a width of one inch or greater, and midriffs must be covered. Trouser suits of matching material and colour are welcome, as are full-length jumpsuits. Hats or headpieces with a base diameter of at least four inches must be worn. Fascinators are not permitted.

Queen Anne Enclosure
As with the Royal Enclosure, dresses should fall below the knee and midriffs must be covered. Jumpsuits here may fall at least below the knee, and suits should be ankle-length. Strapless, Bardot and one-shoulder necklines are not permitted, nor are sheer materials. Hats, headpieces or fascinators are essential.

Village Enclosure
Adhere to Queen Anne Enclosure guidelines. This is a grassed area, so wedges or block heels are recommended in place of stilettos, and hat size should be considered accordingly.

Windsor Enclosure
There is no official dress code in place at the Windsor Enclosure, but attendees are encouraged to dress in smart daywear with a hat or fascinator.

Crowning Glory

Royal Ascot’s unofficial millinery show garners as much interest as the races themselves. Sculptural artistry by Vivien Sheriff, Rachel Trevor-Morgan and more will make you the talk of the town, for all the right reasons – but, if you’ve opted for a particularly head-turning outfit, traditional brimmed hats and understated pillbox styles offer demure equilibrium. Remember to take hairstyle into account once you’ve made your choice. Dramatic headwear is best complemented by natural or simply styled tresses.

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Summer Eventing

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