An Ascot Expert Style Guide: What to Wear. Royal Ascot is just around the corner, which means it’s time to plan a standout race day look. Renowned as the crème de la crème of races (you could well be rubbing shoulders with royalty!), the five-day meeting takes place in June and is one countryside event where you can forget the wellies. So other than pondering whether you may catch sight of royality, it’s time to get outfit organising.
Unless you’re an avid racegoer it may take you a little time to decode the rather strict dress code. Ascot prides itself on its heritage and smart style and even has its own Fashion Police who are not afraid to hand out a pashmina where it’s due! But fear not, Team LBD has banded together with racing style expert Karen Grace, fashion editor of racing style magazine, Eclipse, to answer all your Ascot outfit queries! So if you’re in need of all the tips and tricks for Royal Ascot elegance, keep reading for Karen’s top tips…
It takes an expert to understand the different enclosures and here is our Ascot expert style guide: What to Wear! Karen explains “Royal Ascot has three enclosures you can buy tickets to, each with its own individual character and style rules, which are…
The Royal Enclosure is the most prestigious ticket type and if you’re not either a formal guest or an existing member, your only chance of entering is to book a table in a fine dining restaurant within the enclosure. This should give you access to the exclusive Champagne bars, viewing decks and restaurants.
The Grandstand is the premiere enclosure with access to the lawns, ground floor of the Grandstand and numerous bars and restaurants, as well as both parade rings. This is the most popular ticket type, starting at £67 for a day, but book with your friends to get group rates.
The Silver Ring is a bit further away but has a real party atmosphere with live music at the weekends after the races. While there aren’t any restaurants, there are food and drink outlets and racegoers may bring their own picnic, plus a bottle each! There’s also no strict dress code although you’re encouraged to dress smartly, with the only limitation being no fancy dress, branded or promotional clothing.”
So if you’ve bought your tickets then read on for Karen’s top tips for flawless Royal Ascot style:
Watch That Neckline!
“If you’re going to the Royal Enclosure, be conservative because there’s a long list of necklines to steer clear of, including halternecks, strapless gowns, off-the-shoulder styles or spaghetti straps; in fact dress straps must also be one inch wide. The Grandstand is less strict, but still be sure to avoid strapless or sheer straps unless you fancy a run-in with the fashion police. Even for both enclosures, the wearing of a jacket or matching bolero over a dress doesn’t count – the actual dress still has to follow the guidelines,” Karen explains.
What to wear:
For the Royal Enclosure: If you’re looking for a strappy dress then put your money on the Honor Gold Madison dress, £95, which just makes it past the finishing post for the neckline dress code. With a white lace overlay this dress follows the feminine lace trend, a winner last season and still a firm favourite this year.
For the Grandstand: The halterneck (and mini length) on The LBD Cheryl Dress, £85, may not be permitted to enter the Royal Enclosure fashion race, but for the Grandstand it’s sure to be in the lead: simple and chic with a dash of sparkle.
Don a Hat
“It’s not often you get the opportunity to don a hat, so take advantage of the smart Ascot dress code and play by the rules. We love hats and fascinators. “In the Royal Enclosure a hat must be worn at all times, by this we mean the actual base must be at least 10cm in diameter; fascinators aren’t allowed because although many fascinators have a flamboyant display of netting, feathers and flowers, it is the actual base without the trimmings that counts.” Karen tells us. “In the Silver Ring no hat is necessary but even in the Grandstand, a headpiece or fascinator must be worn at all times.”
What to wear:
Gina bacconi offer a variety of fascinators suitable for the Grandstand. Choose a colour to match or contrast with your outfit. Shop the collection here.
Mind Your Hem Length
For the Royal Enclosure, the dress code is no less lenient when it comes to your hem! Karen advises: “No minis or shorts are permitted to this area, and dresses should be no less than just above your knees. However there’s room to be more playful in the Grandstand, with no stipulation on length as long as the dress is fitting for a formal occasion.”
What to wear:
Royal Enclosure: Be a scarlet but stylish woman in a traffic stopping red dress. Red is a bold statement colour and a firm favourite with racegoers. Go for a safe bet and accessorize in classic black or navy. Or take a chance on an outsider and colour clash with hot pink!
Grandstand: the new collection of chiffon floral dresses with jackets are great and still fit the formal criteria. Shop our race day collection
Crop Out the Crop Top
“Cropped tops may be in Vogue for this summer but don’t be tempted to dare and bare: neither the Royal Enclosure or the Grandstand will permit bare tummies, even those covered with sheer fabric.” Karen says.
What to wear:
Instead of baring your tummy emulate the cropped top look and go for the fashionable two-in-one style dress. Find dresses with an overlay feature or go for a simple floral print.
Shop more Race Day Dresses here.
The seventies trend is huge this year, so it’s fortunate that a pair of flares may be the only type of trousers you can get away with at Ascot! Karen explains “In the Royal Enclosure, trousers need to be worn as part of a suit and they must be full length, which means shorts or cropped pants are a no-go. Even the colour and fabric of the trousers and jacket must match” – luckily for us, coordinates are still hot this season! In the Grandstand, the same rules apply, although they don’t need to be part of a matching suit.”
What to wear:
Taking the lead in the fashion stakes is the jumpsuit – a must-have for this season. The trousers of the jumpsuit can be skinny, tapered; straight or wide-legged, so there’s one to suit every shape and size. The jumpsuit ticks many à la mode boxes, from its cut-out shoulder feature to combining multiple shades of blue with its navy lace back detailing. Keep mixing those blues into your accessories.
You get the drill, keep your footwear formal: “Stilettos make a woman feel feminine and glamorous, but can be impractical on the rough racing terrain – most women won’t make it past the finishing post without kicking off their heels,” says Karen. But be warned, slipping into comfy trainers or flip-flops isn’t an option!
What to wear:
Bring along a pair of foldable flats, which can fit in a reasonably-sized handbag, and where possible wear them for short intervals throughout the day. Choose sparkly shoes with lower heels. The sparkles will add dazzling glamour while the lower heel will add comfort to tired feet. Or choose a wedge or block heel. These may still be high but they will ensure you don’t sink into the grass or mud.
Dressing up is a major part of the racing day experience. Adhere to the dress code and you’re sure to have a fun and glamorous day out. Happy fashionable racing!