Top Tips and Top Hats For a Day at Royal Ascot

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Royal Ascot; image source:

Royal Ascot is the crown jewel in the racing season. It is a time to dress in your finery, have a punt on the horses and spend time with friends in the beautiful surroundings of the Ascot racecourse. If you have never been to Ascot before, the trick is getting the dress code just right. In recent years the dress code has been relaxed and with changes in trends women have been allowed to wear jumpsuits in place of dresses, and a more casual attire has been accepted. However, Ascot is still the most formal of occasions in the horse racing world, with the most important part of the attire being the hat. However, there might be some occasions when donning a top hat might not be necessary.

If you’re attending for the Royal Ascot this July and you wish to sit in the Royal Enclosure, men will be expected to wear morning dress, including a top hat and tie. Women are not expected to wear anything which is off the shoulder, and hemlines should fall just above the knee or longer. Of course, you can wear the newly permitted jumpsuit which makes for an on trend alternative. And whilst we’re on tips, Le Brivido is the favourite to win at Royal Ascot this season, with odds of 3/1 after sitting out Cheltenham horse racing events on account of an injury.

However, there are smaller racing meets at the Ascot ground which happen at other points in the year. A little like the Cheltenham Festival, attire changes from the brighter and more eccentric themes of the summer. However, this doesn’t mean that racegoers forget how to dress. During Jumps Season, which runs during the colder months of the year, attendees are expected to dress for a formal occasion. Whilst there are no hard and fast rules, you might be comforted to know that top hats are not usually worn, with people choosing to dress for the weather in which large winter coats are often a must. 

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Flat Season runs May to October, during the warmer months of the year. Whilst the dress code is more relaxed than it is for the Royal Ascot, all are encouraged to dress for a formal occasion, and ladies are encouraged to wear hats. Whilst morning dress isn’t a requirement for gentlemen, a jacket is compulsory, along with a collard shirt and tie. There might not be any top hats in sight, but there will still be an air of elegance reminding those who remember of Ascot meets gone by.

With this information in mind, it is up to you to curate an outfit for a raceday at Ascot which reflects your personal style. Of course, the style guidelines are there to maintain standards of dress (at this point it might be useful to note that fancy dress is never allowed at Ascot) and to ensure that all racegoers have a comfortable day. Once you have managed to get your head around the guidelines, you are free to shop for whatever you wish. The only hard and fast rule is that you express your own style. And if you’re visiting during Royal Ascot, don’t forget your top hat!

royal ascot style guide