audience at the royal ascot

If you are thinking of going for a day at the races at Royal Ascot, then you have to look the part.

It doesn’t really matter which enclosure you are going to be in; the expectation of you is to be smartly attired. This is more than just a big festival of equine sport, it’s a major social occasion, and there are dos and don’ts.

Knowing what to wear for the Royal Ascot meeting is vital, because entry may be denied to you if you aren’t attired correctly for the relevant enclosure. Fancy dress of any kind is not allowed, and the same goes for any branded or promotional clothing.

The dress code does differ slightly depending on which part of Ascot Racecourse you have access to from your tickets. This is first and foremost a formal occasion in the presence of royalty, so what men should wear is pretty simple.

Morning dress, namely a matching full suit in black, grey or navy, with a waistcoat, necktie (not a cravat or bowtie), top hat and tails, and black shoes, is mandatory for the Royal Enclosure. Your socks have to cover the ankle. Unless you are dining or entering a private hospitality box, then you must keep your top hat on at all times.

In the Queen Anne Enclosure, you don’t need a morning dress, but the jacket and trousers of your suit must match. Again, a collared shirt and necktie is the expectation. As for the Village Enclosure, the only difference in dress code is that bowties and cravats are allowed.

It is more complicated for ladies, however. A dress or skirt of what Ascot calls modest length and clarifies as falling just above the knee (or longer) is required for the Royal Enclosure. All dresses and tops must have straps of at least one inch in width. Sheer straps and sleeves aren’t allowed, and anything strapless, with spaghetti straps, off the shoulder and a halter neck are not permitted either.

Your midriff must be covered at all times, and you can wear jackets and pashminas. Trouser suits and jumpsuits can also be worn. The former should be full-length down to the ankles and of matching material and in colour. Jumpsuits should follow the same guidelines as dresses.

royal ascot

Crucially, a hat or headpiece with a solid base of four inches in diameter should be worn in the Royal Enclosure. You are not allowed to wear a fascinator here but may do so in the Queen Anne or Village Enclosures. Whatever ladies’ headgear you go for, you must wear it at all times.

Visitors to Royal Ascot from overseas are welcome to come attired in the formal National Dress of their country. Any actively serving members of the military may also attend in full-Service Dress.

It is always worthwhile checking your outfit against the guidelines well in advance of attending Royal Ascot. That gives you plenty of time to change it accordingly if you don’t think it measures you to what you are expected to wear.

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