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Off to the races

Don’t fall foul of Royal Ascot’s dress code with this stylish summer formalwear, says Emma Akbareian

There aren’t too many occasions in life that require the degree of dress-code formality demanded by Royal Ascot and so the reputation of this yearly event has become almost as much about the style as it is the horses.

Following a few problematic years where standards were deemed to have dropped well below the levels of decency required for this kind of formal event, organisers had no option but to introduce a dress code. 

For those lucky enough to hold a pass to the Royal Enclosure, the rules are formidable. Pack away those miniskirts because hem lengths of dresses and skirts must fall to just above the knee or longer. Dresses and tops must have straps of at least one inch or thicker, meaning strapless styles, halter-necks and spaghetti styles are a big  no-no. Mismatch might be on trend but if you opt for a trouser suit in this enclosure, it must be of matching material.

Attendees in the main grandstand have a slight reprieve in that the rules on hem length are relaxed, but strapless necklines are still not permitted. Fascinators will pass as acceptable headwear in this area but in the Royal Enclosure they are banned. There, headpieces must be worn with a base of at least four inches.

Whether your budget allows for splurge purchases or dictates a more restrained approach for this event, there’s a plethora of options available. High-street stores including Debenhams, Marks and Spencer and Accessorize all feature an impressive range of headpieces that don’t carry the hefty prices of their bespoke counterparts. Footwear is worth careful consideration; most of the grounds are grass so block heels and wedges are sensible to prevent sinking, and also give you a more comfortable and enjoyable day.

Royal Ascot takes place from 18  to 22 June. To purchase tickets visit ascot.co.uk/go/royalascot