Royal Ascot Dress Code Guide

Royal Ascot Dress Code Guide

Every June, thousands of racegoers from across the globe flock to Berkshire as the razzle dazzle of Royal Ascot begins to set in motion.

All who gather towards this enthralling racing extravaganza, step up their fashion game and present themselves in their most elegant and stylish form. It is well known that Royal Ascot is just as prominent for high fashion as it is for horseracing. Being in the presence of royalty demands that all who attend, are adorned in sophisticated attire. Our detailed guide will give you the facts and the frills behind the famous Royal Ascot dress code.

What to Wear at Royal Ascot?

We’re aware of the significance of fashion within Royal Ascot but what exactly are the rules of each enclosure? What are you actually permitted to wear and what is an absolute no-no? Worry not, as we will break down the rules of each enclosure right here. Before we begin, it is important to note that all enclosures welcome formal national dress for overseas visitors and military personnel are welcome to wear Service dress. Here is what you need to know for everything else:

Royal Ascot Royal Enclosure Dress Code

Initially reserved as a space solely for guests of the King George III, membership to the Royal Enclosure is on an invitation only basis. As you can imagine, this is the enclosure with the firmest rules.

Ascot Royal Enclosure Dress Code for Ladies

Ladies are asked to adorn formal daywear in the Royal Enclosure, with the following requirements:

  • Dresses and skirts should fall just above the knee or longer.
  • Dresses and tops should have straps of one inch or greater. Strapless, off the shoulder, halter neck and spaghetti straps are not permitted. Jackets and pashminas may be worn.
  • Tops and dresses underneath pashminas should still comply with the Royal Enclosure Dress Code. Midriffs must not be on show.
  • Trouser suits are welcome but should be of full-length to the ankle and of matching material and colour.
  • Jumpsuits are also welcome and should fall below the knee, with the same regulations as dresses.
  • Hats should always be worn, however, a headpiece which has a solid base of 4 inches (10cm) or more in diameter is also a suitable alternative. Fascinators are not permitted.
Royal Ascot Dress Code Guide

Ascot Royal Enclosure Dress Code for Men

Gentlemen are asked to wear either black or grey morning dress which must include the following:

  • A waistcoat and tie but strictly no cravats or bow ties.
  • A black or grey top hat.
  • Black shoes worn with socks.
Royal Ascot Dress Code Guide

Royal Ascot Queen Anne Enclosure Dress Code

The Queen Anne Enclosure is a fabulous way to experience Royal Ascot. With fantastic views of the Parade Ring, it is essential that one looks the part.

Ascot Queen Anne Enclosure Dress Code for Ladies

Ladies within the Queen Anne Enclosure are asked to dress formally and note the following:

  • A hat, headpiece or fascinator should be worn at all times.
  • Strapless, sheer dresses and tops are not acceptable. This includes off-the-shoulder, Bardot and one shoulder items.
  • Trouser suits must be full-length and jumpsuits should fall below the knee. Both must adhere to the same neckline regulations for dresses.
  • Midriffs must be covered.
  • Shorts are not permitted.

Ascot Queen Anne Enclosure Dress Code for Men

Gentlemen are required to wear a full-length suit with a collared shirt and tie in the Queen Anne Enclosure, and are asked to note the following:

  • Jackets and trousers should be of matching colour and pattern.
  • A tie should be worn at all times – strictly no bow ties or cravats.
  • Socks must be worn and should cover the ankle.
  • Jeans, chinos and trainers are not acceptable.

Royal Ascot Village Enclosure Dress Code

The Village Enclosure launched in 2017 and whilst less formal than the Royal and Queen Anne Enclosures, still requires racegoers to dress for the occasion.

Ascot Village Enclosure Dress Code for Ladies

Ladies within the Village Enclosure should dress in formal attire and also asked to take note of the following:

  • A hat, headpiece or fascinator should be worn at all times.
  • Strapless, sheer dresses and tops are not permitted, including off-the-shoulder, Bardot and one shoulder.
  • Trouser suits must be full-length and jumpsuits should fall below the knee. these must adhere to the neckline regulations above.
  • Midriffs are to be covered.
  • Shorts are not acceptable.

Ascot Village Enclosure Dress Code for Men

Within the Village Enclosure, Gentlemen are asked to wear a jacket, full length trousers, collard shirt and tie as well as adhere to the following:

  • A tie should be worn at all times. Ties, bow ties or cravats are allowed within the Village Enclosure.
  • Socks must be worn and should cover the ankle.
  • Jeans and trainers are not acceptable.

Royal Ascot Windsor Enclosure

The Windsor Enclosure is the most relaxed of all the Royal Ascot enclosures, so much so, that there is no official dress code. Both ladies and gentlemen are still encouraged to wear smart attire but the hemline and headpiece measurements do not apply here. That being said, absolutely everyone tends to make the effort when it comes to Royal Ascot.

The History of the Royal Ascot Dress Code

Over the years, the fashion guidelines at Royal Ascot have greatly evolved to be in keeping with the times, whilst still maintaining its central theme of elegance. The renowned dress code was implemented by Beau Brummell, a close friend of King George IV. From 1807, it was agreed that gentlemen would wear waisted black coats, white cravats and pantaloons. However, for the ladies, the rules were initially less concrete. It was Queen Victoria during the 1830s who set the trend for headpieces but it appears that the ladies simply used their initiative when it came to dressing smartly.

It wasn’t until the 1920s when ladies started to become more daring, wearing shorter hemlines and covering themselves in pearls and furs. The 1950s then saw trends such as nipped in waistlines and A-line skirts. The 1970s saw the emergence of a more masculine style, where ladies began to wear trouser suits. However, it wasn’t until 2012 when Ascot released formal guidelines for particular enclosures, outlining what ladies could and couldn’t wear. During 2017, ladies were permitted to wear jumpsuits with trousers below the knee and 2018 saw the banning of Bardot necklines.

The organisers at Ascot have made it clear that they are always open to adapting the dress code and moving with the times, providing that it does not compromise on sophistication. Perhaps the biggest adjustment was during 2019 when it was announced that they would allow gentlemen to wear ladies clothing and vice versa, so long as the clothing was still in keeping with the guidelines. This was introduced as a way of welcoming transgender racegoers and ensuring that they feel comfortable.

Royal Ascot Dress Code Guide

Royal Ascot Dressing Tips

Whilst the rules may be rigid, this doesn’t mean that you have to make sacrifices when it comes to creativity. You can still make eccentric hat choices, select enticing pastel coloured dresses and pick flattering silhouettes. Not sure where to begin? Well, let’s take some inspiration from some of Royal Ascot 2019s celebrities.

One of our favourites was supermodel, Jodie Kidd. She wore a simple, floaty white dress teamed with a showstopping hat, which consisted of several smaller multicoloured hats. An iconic look which got her in the best dressed list across multiple magazines.

Actress Demi Moore, wore a turquoise dress with drapey sleeves and a fish tail style hem. She paired this with an oversized black hat, complete with burgundy flowers. A timeless look with just a touch of eccentricity.

Perhaps the most talked about look was that of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. She wore a long-sleeved powder blue, lace midi dress with a large pussy bow. She paired this with a large flowered hat of the same colour. Her outfit choice was highly praised by both the press and the public.

Embed from Getty Images

Based off these examples, it seems that the key for achieving that polished, elevated look, is a simple yet striking block coloured outfit, teamed with a statement hat. Our advice would be to remember that simplicity can be effective.

But let’s not forget about those all-important shoes and accessories. To maintain your level of elegance, it is suggested to keep jewellery to a minimum. When you have a striking dress and a statement outfit, there is no need to overcomplicate the look with a mountain of bling.

Be careful when it comes to your heel height. The great British summer can be extremely unpredictable weather-wise. Digging your 8-inch stilettos into boggy grass is no fun for anyone. If you love your heels, we suggest purchasing some heel stoppers. We are yet to find a high street store which sells these, so make sure you grab them online ahead of time. A site like Amazon will be your best bet.

Remember that there is always the option of hiring a hat or outfit. There are plenty of online retailers who facilitate this specifically for Royal Ascot. If you do choose to do this, give yourself plenty of time to pick and try on your outfit ahead of your race day. Some recommended retailers include:

In summary, the key is to remember that elegance is the order of the day at Royal Ascot. Make sure you adhere to the rules of your enclosure and above all, don’t feel under pressure to try too hard. You don’t want to run the risk of missing the mark by attempting to be overly fashionable. If you’ve read our guide thoroughly, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a fabulous race day!