Your guide to Royal Ascot dress codes

Lynnette Peck / 09 June 2016 ( 23 June 2016 )

If you are going to Royal Ascot next summer (June 20-24, 2017) then your first thought should be your outfit. The Racecourse has rules. Lots of them…



Ascot hosts 26 days of racing throughout the year, but the Royal Meeting held in June is arguably the most famous. It is when smartly attired racegoers and fashion lovers descend to have a flutter on the horses and put their best dressed feet forward.

Royal Ascot's dress code

The Royal Enclosure was originally established for the running of the Gold Cup in 1807 and was a space exclusively for King George III’s family, guests and members of his household. It is still by invite only and you need to be nominated by an original member and pay a fee. The dress code in the Royal Enclosure is very strict. See the guidelines below.

  • Straps on dresses and tops should be one inch or greater on the shoulder
  • No strapless, off the shoulder, halter neck or spaghetti straps
  • Dresses and skirts should be of a modest length – defined as falling just above the knee or longer
  • Shoulders and arms should be covered - jackets and pashminas are allowed
  • Trouser suits are welcome – they should be full length and of matching material and colour
  • Hats must be worn at all times
  • Head pieces must have a solid base of four inches (10cm) or more in diameter as an acceptable alternative to hats
  • No fascinators are allowed – however wide-brimmed hats are acceptable
  • No shorts
  • Midriffs must be covered

Queen Anne Enclosure (previously known as the Grandstand Enclosure) also has dress code rules but they are less strict than the Royal Enclosure.

  • Shoulders straps must follow the regulations, in which case a jacket is not necessary
  • No strapless or sheer strap dresses and tops
  • Same trouser suit regulations as above
  • Your hat, headpieces or fascinator must be worn at all times
  • No shorts
  • Midriffs must be covered

Windsor Enclosure (previously known as the Silver Ring) has no formal dress code, but no sport shorts or shirts, no novelty, branded or promotional clothing and no fancy dress is allowed. Ascot says: “Whilst we encourage racegoers to wear smart clothes, no formal dress code applies in the Windsor Enclosure.”

Fortunately, even though there are strict rules, it doesn’t mean that quirky style is outlawed. You can still experiment with colours and prints and of course when it comes to hats then let your creativity run free. Plus, you can now wear jumpsuits too… a step into 2016 for Royal Ascot!

How to look good at any age

Where to buy your Ascot outfit

The High Street: Ted Baker; Coast; Monsoon; Karen Millen

Mid-Range: Ganni; LK Bennett; Whistles; Tory Burch

Designer: Suzannah; Erdem; Stella McCartney; Marni 

The history of Ascot

Ascot Racecourse was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne. The first race, 'Her Majesty's Plate', with a purse of 100 guineas, was held on August 11, 1711. Seven horses competed, each carrying a weight of 12 stones (76 kg). In 1813 Parliament passed an act to ensure that the grounds would remain a public racecourse. A new grandstand was opened in 1839 at a cost of £10,000. In 1913 Parliament passed an act creating the Ascot Authority, an entity that manages the racecourse to this day. From its creation until 1945 the only racing that took place at Ascot was the Royal Meeting, a four-day event. Since that date, more fixtures have been introduced to the grounds, notably the steeplechase and hurdles in 1965.

Address: Ascot Racecourse, Ascot, Berkshire, SL5 7JX

Phone: 0844 346 3000

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