Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot: A Celebration of Fashion and Tradition

Royal Ascot, one of the most prestigious events in the British social calendar, is renowned not just for its thrilling horse races but also for its splendid display of fashion, particularly on Ladies’ Day. Held on the fourth day of the five-day event, Ladies’ Day is a highlight, attracting attention from fashion enthusiasts and media worldwide. This day is a perfect blend of tradition, elegance, and cutting-edge style, making it an unmissable spectacle.

A Historical Glimpse

Royal Ascot dates back to 1711 when Queen Anne founded the event. Since then, it has grown in stature and is now attended by members of the British Royal Family, celebrities, and high society. Ladies’ Day, in particular, has a rich history of showcasing elaborate fashion, a tradition that has evolved yet remains rooted in its original grandeur.

 

Ladies’ Day is synonymous with fashion, and attendees go to great lengths to present their best outfits. The dress code is strict but offers a canvas for creativity and elegance. Women are required to wear formal daywear, including dresses or skirts of modest length. Tops must have straps of one inch or greater, and trouser suits are welcome, provided they are full-length and of matching material and color.

 

One of the most iconic aspects of Ladies’ Day is the extravagant headwear. Millinery, or the art of hat-making, takes center stage as women don a variety of spectacular hats and fascinators. These range from classic wide-brimmed styles to avant-garde pieces adorned with feathers, flowers, and even intricate sculptures. Milliners such as Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones are household names, known for their innovative designs that grace the heads of the guests. 

 

Among beloved designers are also Vivienne Sheriff, Ian Bennett, Awon Golding, Victoria Grant and members of the Ascot Millinery Collective and British Hat Guild. At the moment these are hand picked top class milliners in the world.

 

Ladies’ Day wouldn’t be complete without the presence of key figures from the racing world and the British aristocracy. The King himself  is a regular attendee, often arriving in a horse-drawn carriage. Other notable figures include Princess Anne, Zara Tindall, and the Duchesses of Cambridge (who was not present at LD this time) each bringing their unique style to the event.

The racing itself features some of the most anticipated contests, with top jockeys and horses competing for prestigious titles. This blend of high-stakes sport and high fashion creates an atmosphere that is electric and unmatched.

 

For those planning to attend Ladies’ Day, here are a few tips to ensure you’re part of the fashion parade:

 

1. Adhere to the Dress Code: 

Ensure your outfit meets the Royal Enclosure’s strict guidelines to avoid being turned away.

 

2. Choose Your Hat Wisely:

Your headpiece should complement your outfit and reflect your personality. Don’t be afraid to make a statement.

 

3. Comfort is Key:

While looking fabulous is important, remember that you’ll be on your feet a lot. Opt for stylish but comfortable shoes.

 

4. Plan Ahead:

The event is crowded, so plan your arrival and viewing spots in advance for the best experience.

 

 

Exploring the Enclosures at Royal Ascot

 

Royal Ascot has  different enclosures at the event each offer unique experiences and atmospheres. Here’s a closer look at what each enclosure has to offer:

 

  • The Royal Enclosure

 

Historical Significance and Prestige.

 

The Royal Enclosure is the most exclusive area at Ascot, steeped in history and tradition. Established in 1807 for King George III’s guests, it remains the epitome of elegance and sophistication.

 

Dress Code:

- Ladies: Formal daywear is required, with dresses and skirts of modest length. Hats or substantial fascinators are a must.

- Gentlemen: Morning dress, including a waistcoat and tie, a black or grey top hat, and black shoes.

 

Experience:

Access to the Royal Enclosure is by invitation only, typically requiring sponsorship from an existing member. Guests enjoy the finest views of the racecourse, private gardens, and exclusive bars and dining options. It’s not uncommon to spot members of the Royal Family in this area.

 

  • The Queen Anne Enclosure

 

A Vibrant Atmosphere:

Named after Ascot’s founder, the Queen Anne Enclosure offers a lively and exciting atmosphere. It’s ideal for those who want a blend of tradition and vibrant socializing.

 

Dress Code:

 

- Ladies: 

Formal attire is encouraged, with fascinators or hats being optional but popular.

- Gentlemen:

A suit with a collared shirt and tie is required.

 

Experience:

This enclosure provides access to the parade ring and the main grandstand, offering excellent views of the track. Guests can enjoy various bars, restaurants, and live music performances, adding to the festive ambiance.

 

  • The Village Enclosure

 

Contemporary and Chic:

Introduced in 2017, the Village Enclosure brings a modern twist to the traditional Royal Ascot experience. Located in the middle of the racecourse, it provides a unique perspective and a relaxed, contemporary vibe.

 

Dress Code:

 

- Ladies:

Smart attire with a hat or fascinator.

- Gentlemen:

Jacket, collared shirt, and tie.

 

Experience:

This enclosure is perfect for those seeking a more informal yet stylish day out. With pop-up restaurants, live bands, and a range of bars, it’s a great spot for groups looking to enjoy a fun and social day at the races.

 

  • The Windsor Enclosure

 

Casual and Family-Friendly:

The Windsor Enclosure offers a more relaxed environment, making it a popular choice for families and groups looking for a casual day out.

 

Dress Code:

There is no formal dress code, but racegoers are encouraged to dress smartly.

 

Experience:

Guests in the Windsor Enclosure can enjoy close-up views of the horses in the final furlong. With food stalls, bars, and picnic areas, it’s a laid-back setting ideal for those who want to soak in the atmosphere without the formality of other enclosures.

 

  • The Heath Enclosure

 

Grassroots and Accessible:

For those looking for a cost-effective way to experience Royal Ascot, the Heath Enclosure provides a fantastic option. It offers a more down-to-earth experience, with no formal dress code.

 

Experience:

Positioned in the center of the racecourse, the Heath Enclosure allows attendees to bring their own picnics and enjoy a day at the races in a relaxed and friendly setting. It’s a great spot for those who want to be part of the action without the pomp and circumstance of the other enclosures.

 

Conclusion

 

Each enclosure at Royal Ascot offers a distinct experience, catering to different tastes and preferences. Whether you’re looking for the exclusivity of the Royal Enclosure, the lively atmosphere of the Queen Anne Enclosure, the modern flair of the Village Enclosure, the family-friendly vibe of the Windsor Enclosure, or the grassroots feel of the Heath Enclosure, there’s a perfect spot for everyone. No matter where you are, Royal Ascot promises an unforgettable blend of top-tier racing and timeless British tradition.

 

Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot is more than just a day at the races; it is a celebration of British tradition, fashion, and socializing. The fusion of historical charm and contemporary style makes it a unique event that continues to capture the imaginations of fashion aficionados and racing fans alike. Whether you’re attending in person or watching from afar, Ladies’ Day is a spectacle that embodies the elegance and excitement of Royal Ascot.

 

Tatiana is wearing a dress by Matsouri and the hat from the INSECTORUM collection.