Ascot Race Day & Special Occasion Dresses, Outfits & Hats
Ascot Racecourse is one of the leading racecourses in the UK. It holds 26 race days throughout the year. The winter months are reserved for the jump racing. There are 18 flat race held between May and October, the highlight of the flat season is the famous Royal Ascot meeting. Royal Ascot is one of the world’s most prestigious race meetings that takes place over five days in June.
Six races take place on each of the five Royal Ascot race days. The centrepiece of the races is the Gold Cup which takes place on Thursday, the third day of racing. This is traditionally one of the most popular days at Royal Ascot and is also known as Ladies Day where you can see some spectacular Ladies Day Dresses. The day of the historic Gold Cup is as much a celebration of fashion as it is of racing.
Royal Ascot is the height of the social calendar for many, including the Royal Family. Last year Meghan Markle made her race debut at Ascot wearing a white Givenchy dress. Her Majesty The Queen describes Royal Ascot as her favourite sporting event of the year, she wore an Angela Kelly-designed aquamarine and grey Special Occasion Outfit on the fifth and final day last year.
Racegoers can choose from four enclosures: Royal Enclosure, Queen Anne Enclosure, Village Enclosure and Windsor Enclosure. The Royal Enclosure is renowned for its sartorial splendour, where Ladies are reminded to dress in formal daywear and Gentlemen are expected to wear a full morning suit. For more inspiration on what to wear according to the enclosure, take a look at each of the style guides below.
29346 – Ronald Joyce
What Should I Wear To Ascot Races
All racegoers are encouraged to dress for the occasion so whichever enclosure guests have tickets for, it’s best to make every effort to impress, especially when it comes to hats which are strongly advised throughout. Below are some general guidelines to follow to help make sure that you keep in line with the Royal Ascot dress code including Race Day Dresses.
Dresses & Outfits and skirts
It’s best to err on the side of caution, avoid such things as miniskirts and crop tops or dresses that shows a little too much skin, including shoulders and the midriff. Skirts and dresses should fall below or just above the knee, off the shoulder or strapless dresses are a definite no-no.
Hats and fascinators
Fascinators are no longer allowed in the Royal Enclosure, members must wear a suitable Ascot Hat with a solid base of 4 inches or more. Fascinators are allowed in the other enclosures and there is no requirement for the size of headwear, only that whatever you wear on your head must be worn at all times.
How to choose your dress for Ascot
Each of our designers Condici, John Charles, Ian Stuart, Inspirato, Paule Vasseur, Ronald Joyce and Ann Balon have outfits to suit the different look and feel of each of the Ascot Enclosures.
It is preferable to visit us so that you can try on various Special Occasion Outfits and chose the one that is absolutely right for you. If you are unable to visit the shop we can take your measurements over the phone or by email. Our experienced team will be able to advise you on the most appropriate fit and whether any alterations will be required.
Royal Ascot Dress Code
Since its very beginnings, Ascot has been synonymous with high fashion. The races are renowned for racegoers extravagant and flamboyant Ascot Dresses. Each of the enclosures has its own unique character and has dress codes to match.
The Royal Enclosure was created exclusively for the guests of King George III in the early 1800s. Today racegoers can expect to mix with see owners of horses, socialites and celebrities. The standards of dress are the highest in the Royal Enclosure. For women, this means formal full-length outfits with straps of at least an inch wide. To make a real fashion statement your outfit needs to be topped with headgear appropriate for the Royal Enclosure. Men must attend wearing a classic top hat, tails and waistcoat that should all match.
Queen Anne Enclosure
The dress code is slightly more relaxed in the Queen Anne Enclosure, which is named after the founding Monarch of Ascot. The Queen Anne Enclosure puts racegoers at the heart of the Meeting, they are able to watch the Royal Procession, spend time in Champagne bars and eat food created by Michelin star chefs. As with the Royal Enclosure, women must wear correct Dresses for the Races and a hat at all times, the outfit can come with thinner straps and a less strict hemline. Men can also go with a slightly more relaxed look with matching suits shirt and tie rather than a morning suit.
70929 – Condici
26633 – John Charles
The Village Enclosure has a unique character inspired by the communal nature of a village green with entertainment from Bands and DJs throughout the day alongside the racing, pop-up restaurants and cocktail bars. It is suggested that you dress for the outdoors. That means keeping an eye out for the weather and dressing accordingly.
However, this does give ladies that opportunity to be a bit more experimental with their Ascot Dresses but strapless dresses, shorts and bare midriffs are still not permitted. Comfortable wedge shoes and sandals are recommended to negotiate the grassy areas.
The Windsor Enclosure has a picnic feel with guests situated close to the rails and all of the action. Guests enjoy the atmosphere with Champagne and Pimms bars and artisan food stalls.
There are not as many dress rules to follow here but the idea is still to dress to impress. Racegoers have more freedom with necklines and off the shoulder outfits, Perfect Ascot Hats and flamboyant fascinators are recommended.
991404 – Ronald Joyce
ISL865 – Ian Stuart
Henley Royal Regatta Dresses
Henley Royal Regatta is world famous for its rowing races, it is to rowing what Royal Ascot is to horse racing. Crews from across the world come to compete in five days of racing, held from the first Wednesday to the first Sunday of July each year. The highlight of the racing is the Grand Challenge Cup, involving men’s eight’s, which has taken place every year since the Regatta began in 1839.
Henley Regatta Dress Code
There is a dress code for Henley but it’s not quite as strict as for Ascot. The dress code applies to the Steward’s enclosure, situated on the Berkshire Bank opposite the Finish Line and reserved only for members and their guests.
Ladies must wear Special Occasion dresses or skirts with a hemline that sits below the knee, officials will refuse entry to anyone that doesn’t comply. Unlike Ascot, trouser suits, culottes and divided skirts are not permitted. Hats aren’t obligatory but it is customary to wear one. Gentlemen should wear lounge suits or a club blazer if they belong to a club with chinos or flannels and a tie or cravat. Shorts and jeans are an absolute no-no.
Beyond the Steward’s enclosure is the Regatta enclosure. There is no official dress code, however, it is customary for ladies to wear a summer party dress with shoes suitable for walking on grass. Men traditionally dress in club blazers or a plain blazer or linen suit, boaters or Panama hats are encouraged.
Queen’s Garden Party Dresses
The Queen’s Garden Parties are held by the Queen and other members of the Royal Family to welcome people to Buckingham Palace and the Palace Holyroodhouse in recognition for their service to their communities. Three Buckingham Palace Garden Parties take place each summer, one takes places in Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. The parties were introduced by Queen Victoria in the 1860s, allowing the Queen and other senior Royals to speak to a wide range of people from different backgrounds.
Queen’s Garden Party Dress code
The Garden Party is a once in lifetime opportunity for guests so it calls for formal dress. Ladies are requested to wear Special Occasion day dresses with hats and fascinators, while gentlemen wear morning dress or lounge suits. As with Henley and Ascot, high heels aren’t recommended as they get stuck in the Buckingham Palace lawn.
A pretty tea style dress with floral print would work well, as would an off the shoulder fun and bright print tea dress. With the unpredictable British summer in mind, it’s best to keep an eye on the weather. So an umbrella and lightweight jacket are an excellent investment so that you can cover up in style.
The etiquette for the parties is to be discreet but have fun. This means switching off your phone and refraining from taking pictures, standing still while the national anthem is played (it’s played when the Queen arrives and when she leaves the party) and not being too nosey about why other guests are there.
The parties last for three hours in which everyone has an equal chance of speaking to Her Majesty. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh circulate among the guests before arriving at the Royal Tea Tent. Guests are encouraged to sample the sandwiches, drink tea served in white and gold cups marked with the monarch’s initials and to stroll around the Palace gardens.