Connect with us


How I dress for five days of Royal Ascot



How I dress for five days of Royal Ascot

I learned early on not to wear a linen dress to Royal Ascot. Joining the queue for the loo at Costa Coffee on Ascot High Street, wearing jeans, a T-shirt and an extraordinary Philip Treacy hat, I realised how many others were committing to the same last-minute fashion metamorphosis as me. Whether you’re travelling by car, coach or train, there is no way to arrive for one of the most important days in the fashion calendar without your linen dress creasing.

Royal Ascot is one of the highlights of my year – I’m lucky enough to have attended many times, and often go to several days each year. I’ve hopefully managed to master the art of dressing for the occasion and in how to pace one’s outfits across multiple days, rising to the fashion challenge to bring something a little different each time, as well as to the nuances that each day of the meeting will bring.

The world feels increasingly casual and the chance to properly dress up seems more cherished than ever. The Ascot dress code represents more than decorum – it also reflects an enormous fashion business for both designers and milliners; this is their Met Gala to showcase their finest work. 

“Royal Ascot is the most important event in the calendar,” says the milliner Rachel Trevor-Morgan, “all our endeavours throughout the year lead to this single week. In an era when people are dressing down it serves as a reminder of how joyful dressing up can be.”

Tackling the meticulous dress code (especially every day of the week) needn’t be a task, according to Daniel Fletcher, the designer and creative director for Royal Ascot. “I think people are intimidated by the dress codes but once you break them down, they’re actually quite simple,” he says. “You might find a lot of pieces in your wardrobe that fit into the dress code already.” I’ve become quite accustomed to reinventing and reworking outfits I’ve worn in previous years.

These days, I would hope I’m more prepared than the girl in the Costa loos, but I am still prone to a last-minute outfit panic. Planning for Ascot can seem overwhelming, particularly if you’re attending on multiple days. My starting point is usually to find one piece that appeals to me – whether it be a dress or a hat – and I build the outfit from there. “Find a shape that works for you and work around that,” advises the couturier Fiona Clare who regularly designs outfits for the Queen. “Aim to wear something beautifully cut that fits you and is flattering for your body. Tonal colours are great so that you can mix and match.”

Many attendees, including the royals – and of course, this was famously true of Elizabeth II – are known for their dedication in attending all five days, often with a different, stunning ensemble for each occasion. This ability to mix and match, as Clare calls it, is essential if you want to get more wear out of a piece. Assess what you already have, before buying anything new, and build your colour palettes accordingly.

No look is too extraordinary at Ascot, although for me, this year, it is about dressing in what makes me feel confident and comfortable. A practical pair of shoes is my biggest must-have as you’re guaranteed a solid step count by the end of the day. A few Ascots ago, an American lady saved my raw feet: “Here’s some band-aids!”

Block heels or espadrilles are a safe option. ITV Racing’s Francesca Cumani once advised me to put talcum powder in my shoes to help with blisters, and I’ve never looked back.   

My Ascot wardrobe: Day by day 

This year I’ve decided to be a bit more adventurous with my personal style and have opted to wear a jumpsuit for the first time and more statement hats.  

Opening Day

Continue Reading