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Page last updated at 20:05 GMT, Tuesday, 1 June 2010 21:05 UK
Enjoy Royal Ascot

by Jenny Minard
BBC Berkshire Reporter

hat at Royal Ascot
It's all about the hats at Royal Ascot but there are strict rules on what to wear

Royal Ascot! It's one of the biggest events in the fashion calendar - and you thought it was just about the horses.

But there are a whole host of rules which men and women must adhere to and ensure they are among the fashion elite and not those making the faux pas.

Traditionally Ladies Day, or Gold Cup day, is the busiest of the year.

It's also the day when some of the most extraordinary and bizzare hats are worn anywhere in the world.

But for 2010 ladies beware - hats are not everything, says personal stylist Lisa Talbot.

Bold prints, candy floss colours and classic dresses will be the order of the day for ladies attending the races between 15 and 20 June, Lisa says.

Rules of dress

Debbie McGee
BBC Radio Berkshire's Debbie McGee at Royal Ascot 2009

And there are rules of dress which have been set ranging from not baring your midriff to wearing the right width of strap on your dress.

"We have to be very conscious of what they are allowed to wear from a suitability point of view," Lisa says.

"For Ascot there will be no off the shoulder dresses, no halter necks, no spaghetti straps, obviously no mini-skirts, no midriffs.

"One of the key things will be the trouser suits because there are so many fabulous ones out in the stores.

"They are going to be fabulous but again if ladies wear trouser suits they have to be in full length with the same colour and preferably the same material.

"A beautiful, ivory trouser suit will look absolutely stunning. Obviously they can dress it up to be more feminine, or obviously they can take if from a masculine side and put a fascinator with it.

"They could do a real tone on a trouser suit with the black and white trend.

"For ladies moving into dresses, the colours this season are very bold or candy floss colours.


From a fashion point of view you're going to see the beautiful dresses, what I call, old English.
Stylist, Lisa Talbot

"From a fashion point of view you're going to see the beautiful dresses, what I call, old English. They are very structured but very plain and simple.

"But they are in bold, block colours. They are in tangerine out at the moment, turquoises, lots of beautiful reds.

"What you'll find is that ladies who do more of a block colour can then go a bit more extrovert with the hats coz they can bring more detail into the hats and then it doesn't look top heavy.

"I think you'll an awful lot of ice-cream colours. More of the baby pinks, icy blues because they are a massive trend this season so you might see the dreamy-ness, the soft, its very chic at the moment. So it's quite trendy.

"What you want with Ascot is you want trend but it has to be worn in a very classic way.

"From a men's point of view it's quite easy because obviously they wear the black or grey morning dress and obviously the waistcoat is included with the top hat for a man.

"We want them to wear the morning dress, but you might even find the Chanel-type suits.

"I kind of agree with the etiquette. It's one of the reasons people absolutely love going - dressing up. It makes people make an effort. I personally think it's a wonderful thing to do.

Faux pas

Flake hat
Some hats at Royal Ascot can be too big says stylist Lisa

"With Ascot, the hats and people try to go bigger and better, and more outrageous.

"If you go too big on the hats it will out balance the body. What happens with the body line is that it needs to look balanced. And we want everything to look very stylish and very chic.

"Sometimes they are too big or ostentatious - it detracts away from what someone is wearing and can make the outfit look completely different and much worse.

"I still think what you'll see is showing too much flesh - there will be the odd few who will try to sneak in a bit of non-etiquette dress and they are definitely faux pas - they are not what Ascot wants it to be.

"A beautiful bold print or colour and just make sure the fascinator is beautiful with that size, keep it simple and keep it chic and it will look absolutely stunning.

Local retailers

One local retailer says it is hotting up in the area with people already looking for bag the perfect outfit - but they are leaving it later this year.

"I don't know if that is because of the weather. If people are hanging fire until the weather is forecast," Annie Cottman, owner of Isabella in Ascot, says.

Isabella in Ascot
Isabella in Ascot is gearing up for the racing

"Business last year was ok. It's ok this year but I also think people have got outfits and want accessories to update them.

"Last year, people were going all out and getting all new outfits. But, this year I think people are a bit unsettled.

Annie says she gets quite a good view of Ascot Racecourse from the High Street where the shop is based.

"All the flowers are out and the signs. There have been lorries delivering tables and chairs," Annie says.

For the event she says women are now going for neutral colours - gold, silver and bronzes.

"Black and white is still a good Ascot look. Or then people are going for splashes of colour in their hats or shoes.

"We get a few funny stories where people have left hats behind or their heels have broken and they have come into the shop.

"If the weather changes ladies can come in for pashminas to wrap up."


Royal Enclosure

Women: Only formal day dress with hat or substantial fascinator will be acceptable for ladies.

Off the shoulder, halter neck, spaghetti straps and dresses with a strap of less than one inch and/or miniskirts are considered unsuitable.

Midriffs must be covered and trouser suits must be full length and of matching material and colour.


man in suit
There are rules and regulations on what men can wear too

Gentlemen must wear either black or grey morning dress, including waistcoat, with top hat.

A gentleman may remove his top hat within a restaurant, a private box, a private club or that facility's terrace, balcony or garden.

Hats may also be removed within any enclosed external seating area within the Royal Enclosure Garden.

Overseas visitors are welcome to wear the formal national dress of their country or Service Dress.

Public enclosure

Women: Ladies with a Grandstand Admission ticket are required to dress in a manner appropriate to a smart occasion. Many wear hats although this is not compulsory.

Men: Gentlemen in the Grandstand Admission area must wear a shirt and tie, preferably with a suit or jacket. Sports attire, jeans and shorts are strictly forbidden.

Silver Ring: Whilst it is encouraged to wear smart clothing in the Silver Ring, no formal dress code applies.

Dos and don'ts

Moss Bros - the official partners of Ascot have given us a list of dos and don'ts at Ascot.

Dos and don'ts

Avoid stuffing hankies into breast pockets, they should be neatly folded and pressed.

Always opt for silk rather than cotton.

Socks should be grey or black.

Coloured socks are no longer considered eccentric and lack good taste.

Opt for lace up shoes rather than slip-ons.


Cravats really stand out as the wrong choice at Royal Ascot. Wear a tightly knotted tie instead.

Keep ties simple and smart - a splash of colour or bold stripes or patterns will complement your suit and lift the entire look.

Ties are an opportunity to display individuality and personality.


Keep it simple. A white shirt will work with any tie and waistcoat combination. Equally subtle shades are just as appropriate.

Show at least half an inch of shirt cuff below the coat sleeve as it balances out the crispness of the shirt at the neckline and contrasts with the dark morning suit for a fabulously smart combination.

Avoid untucked shirts visible beneath waistcoats.


Although the traditional choice for waistcoats is dove grey, or biscuit brown, coloured waistcoats are still more acceptable than brazen patterns.

When doing up the buttons on your waistcoat, remember to always leave the bottom button undone.


Wear a Top Hat - a must in the Royal Enclosure and befitting any area of the racecourse during Royal Ascot.

Don't wear it at a jaunty angle. Resist the temptation to rest it on your ears.


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