Royal Ascot starts tomorrow and if you don’t know, it’s the premier horse race in Britain. Like the Kentucky Derby, but with royalty in attendance.
The race was founded by Queen Anne in 1711 and is attended every year by Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and other members of the Royal Family. They even open the race by entering the ground in horse drawn carriages! While the general public can buy regular tickets to the races, and almost 300,000 do, but only the crème de la crème can hob nob with the Royals in the Royal Enclosure. Royal Enclosure invitations are harder to get than Hamilton tickets- to be a Royal Enclosure member, you must be sponsored by two existing members who have been members themselves for at least 5 years (and members can only sponsor two new members each year). Members are also allowed to bring up to two guests on the Friday or Saturday of the races, but these guest passes are limited, so even if you do know someone, you might still not get in!
If you do manage to get a membership or invitation, you are going to have to follow the extremely strict dress code:
- Morning dress is required- this means a cut away coat, special pinstripe pants, a waistcoat and tie. In either black or gray.
- A black or gray top hat (again, this is REQUIRED, you will probably have to rent one)
- Plain black shoes
- Or you can wear National Dress (aka you are from another country and have a special formal wear- such as a kimono) or formal Military Dress (if applicable)
- Boys 10-17 can wear the same, or just wear a plain dark colored suit with a tie.
- You are not allowed to wear:
- A cravat instead of a tie
- A bowtie
- Any adornment to your hat
- Formal daywear. Dresses or skirts must knee length or below. Trouser suits are also appropriate.
- Dresses and tops must have straps at least one inch wide (no strapless, halter tops, spaghetti straps)
- Hats with a base of at least 4 inches (aka no fascinators) must be worn.
- Midriffs must be covered.
- Girls 10-17 must wear the same, but they can wear fascinators or other small headpieces.
Again, this strict dress code is for the Royal Enclosure only. And honestly, if you are going to be participating in that, this is probably a dress code that you are already familiar with and prepared for anyway. The Queen Anne Enclosure also has a dress code- generally- hats required for ladies, nice dresses and pants suits with no shoulders or midriffs showing, no shorts. For men, they must wear a suit and tie. The super general area doesn’t have a dress code, but from pictures it looks like people mostly make some effort to look nice. You can see more dress code info with fun pictures on their website.