Currently, the famous Royal Ascot horse race is currently taking place for the 300th time and as always, there are certain dress codes – especially for the Royal Enclosure.
Surprisingly, it has changed and so the organizers produced a video about How To Dress For Royal Ascot. Despite the formal dress code, the turnout at the event each year is strong, which is a testament to the fact that formal attire is is still enjoyed by many. Today, I would like to talk a little bit about one of the world’s most renowned horse races.
Ascot is a racecourse for horses in the town of Ascot in Berkshire, England. The most famous horse race that takes place there is undoubtedly Royal Ascot. Founded by Queen Anne, the inaugural Royal Ascot horse race took place on 11th August 1711. Races took place year over year without interruption,with the exception of one year. Beginning in 2004, the racecourse underwent major renovation and so the race did not take place then.
Every year, Royal Ascot is attended by the Royal family, especially by the Queen. This event is so important to
her – she’s an ardent horse lover – that when the event collided with the Swedish Royal wedding in 2010, she sent Prince Edward and his wife Sophie to Sweden, while the remaining members of the Royal Family attended Ascot. Initially, Queen Anne came to the racecourse in a horse carriage from Windsor Castle and to this day, the Royal family and other VIPs arrive in that manner.
Apart from the horse racing, fashion plays an important role at
Royal Ascot. To uphold the dress code, a group of men and women are designated to enforce the rules. This year, the enforcing women wear purple. The men make sure that male attendees wear ties, hats and are all around dressed appropriately. Men who forgot a tie will have to get one at the entrance and women in immodest attire, such as sleeveless dresses, may obtain a scarf but otherwise entrance is not admitted.
In terms of formal daywear, it is probably the event worldwide that gathers the most men in morning coats and top hats, which is owed to the strict dress code.
The Royal Ascot Dress Codes
In regards to the dress code at Royal Ascot, there are three tiers: Royal Enclosure, Grandstand Enclosure and Silver Ring. While the first two have a specific dress code, the Silver Ring attendees are simply encouraged to wear smart clothes without having a specific dress code.
The Royal Enclosure is certainly the most prestigious and exclusive affair. Although attendees will sit in the same area of the Queen and the Royal Family, the area is huge, so you certainly won’t be seated next to Prince Charles. Gaining admittance to the Royal Enclosure requires an application to the Royal Enclosure office and the endorsement of a member who has attended the Royal Enclosure for at least four years.
The dress code is strictly enforced and for gentlemen it is:
- Grey or black morning dress
- A waistcoat and tie – no cravats
- A black or grey top hat
- Black shoes
Although you mostly see morning coats, frock coats are also accepted. This year, cravats have officially been declared unacceptable. A proper ascot cravat can look quite elegant, though I assume most attendees wore the unlined and flimsy versions in bright pink, which is why they were now abandoned altogether. For the same reason, attendees are not allowed to customize their top hat with different colors, etc.
Interestingly, it the dress code only refers to ties, which includes neckties and bow ties. Back in the day, both were popular options, and while I doubt many will show up in a bow tie this year, I wonder whether it would be deemed appropriate. In any case, there will be neckties at the entrance for those who forgot to wear one.
Once in, you have to wear your top hat at all times, unless you are within a restaurant, a private box, a private club or that facility’s terrace, balcony or garden as well as within any enclosed external seating area within the Royal Enclosure Garden.
The Grandstand Enclosure is not quite as exclusive and consequently the dress code is less formal. Gentlemen are required to wear a suit and tie. Formerly, a jacket with a tie was allowed, but this year a matching suit combination is required.
The Silver Ring does not provide any access to the Parade Ring or the main Grandstand and is even less formal. No dress code is enforced here although one must wear a shirt of some kind at all times.
For more information about the clothes, you should check out their guide and watch the video below.
In the future, we will focus very thoroughly on all the individual aspects and the history of morning dress – more about that soon.