Hats, Heels and Horses – What to Wear for a Day at the Races

Royal Ascot Race Day Dresses

Knowing what to wear any time can be tricky, let alone planning for an event like the Royal Ascot. This timeless event is one of the highlights of the British racing season, and over 5 days, 300,000 people flock to this event, consuming over 170,000 bottles of champagne!  It’s the perfect mix of fashion and racing, and epitomises British culture.  But there’s no reason why you can’t apply the rules and regulations of their glamourous dress code to your next formal event or garden party.  If you’re not sure just how ‘formal’ to go, we’ve put together a short guide to dressing for the Royal Ascot, and a few helpful tips to keep you beautifully dressed and excellently prepared for your next summer event.

So, first you need to pick your stand!

The Royal Enclosure: This is where you’ll find the A-listers.  Men have to wear top hats and tails, a tie (no bowties!), and even their shoe colour is limited to black or navy.  Women have to wear dresses that fall to the knee or longer and must have their shoulders covered.  Hats are a must, no fascinators – and the hat itself must have a base of at least 4 inches.

The Grandstand:  This is the next level down, so the dress code is a little more relaxed, but not by a lot! Women must wear dresses with straps that measure at least an inch in width, and are encouraged to keep their shoulders covered.  They must also wear either a fascinator or hat, and the length of their dress must be to the knee or longer.  Men must wear suits, again with ties, and not bowties.  And they must wear jackets at all times, even if the weather is scorching hot!

The Silver Ring: No dress code applies here, but smart dress is encouraged.  Typically people still dress to impress, just as they would do in the Royal Enclosure and Grandstand.

So now you know where you’ll be standing (hypothetically), it’s time to think about the smaller details.  June can be particularly tricky as our British weather is notoriously unpredictable, so we’ve got a little advice to ensure a seamless day from start to finish.

  • Wear wedges or a chunky heel to make it easier to walk on the grass. Stilettos and grass can result in a complete nightmare. 
  • Don’t underestimate the power of a cooler bag – not only can you keep your champagne chilled to perfection, but it’s a great place to carry your umbrella, a pair of flat shoes and some cheeky nibbles. 
  • Umbrellas are a must – take one and it probably won’t rain.  Leave it at home and it’s almost guaranteed to tip it down.
  • Take a picnic rug.  Don’t risk grass stains on your new dress, or be forced to sit on what might be a slightly damp field. You can always store it in your nifty cooler bag en route – genius!
  • Flat shoes. You’ll thank us the next day when the balls of your feet aren’t burning.

So now you’ve got the basics covered, it’s time to think about the actual dress.  We put together a few selections that would be perfect for any outdoor summer event, keeping the Royal Ascot dress code close to heart. Cerise and electric blue are popular colour this season, with our Queen opting for dresses in both of these colours this year.  There have also been many lighter summery hues and creams this year at Ascot, so perhaps that style would suit you best?  We have a great variety of colours and styles here at Frocks, and we’d love to help you look your best at your next event.

Above there are three dresses from our store, matched with some of this year’s dress choices at Ascot to show you how you can create the look.  And as a final piece of advice – wherever you are, just have a great time!