What to wear at Royal Ascot: the 2019 outfit rules

Danielle Fowler
Freelance Writer
Royal Ascot 2019 starts tomorrow. Pictured: the Duchess of Cambridge at Ascot in 2016 [Photo: Getty]

Tomorrow, thousands of race-goers from across the nation will flock to Windsor for Royal Ascot 2019 (18 to 22 June).

Recognised as one of the most prestigious events in sport, the annual event is attended by the British royal family with A-list faces also sure to be on the guest list.

But its rich history and traditional fanfare makes for a complicated dress code, as the rule book changes every year.

So what can you wear to the 2019 Royal Ascot?

How has the Royal Ascot dress code changed?

Back in 1807, Beau Brummell, a close friend of King George IV, introduced the Royal Ascot’s first dress code - waisted black coats with white cravats for men.

But it was following the King’s death in 1910 that royal sartorial influence was really felt, as attendees wore all-black out of respect at what became known as ‘Black Ascot’.

Female race-goers photographed at the annual event in 1921 [Photo: Getty]

After World War One, the annual event gained fashion momentum soon garnering a spot in the trendsetter’s calendar. During the 1920s, short hemlines and furs were popular while A-line skirts inspired by Christian Dior’s ‘New Look’ dominated the 1950s.

But it wasn’t until 2012 that an official dress code was introduced outlining specific sartorial requirements for the Royal and Queen Anne Enclosures.

The Queen at the Royal Ascot in 1958 [Photo: Getty]

Ever since, the Royal Ascot fashion rules have remained notoriously strict with the now-popular Bardot neckline famously banned in 2018.

In recent years, the organisation has relaxed its dress code ever so slightly with jumpsuits and tailored suits for women now permitted.

What can women wear to Royal Ascot 2019?

The Royal Enclosure

For those of you who have bagged a golden ticket to the Royal Enclosure (say hello to the Queen for us), there’s a strict list of fashion rules you must adhere to.

This year, the website recommends guests try out the monochrome trend - sure to have been influenced by the Duchess of Sussex’s 2018 Givenchy ensemble - while statement bows and tailored suits are also sure to be commonplace this season.

Trouser suits are welcome

In recent years, Royal Ascot has relaxed its traditional dress code making room for the tailored co-ord. So if you wish to eschew a race-day frock then a trouser suit is more than welcome.

However, guests must ensure that the look is ankle-length and of matching material and colour. Thankfully, that’s bang on trend.

Jumpsuits are now commonplace

Last year, the Royal Ascot finally introduced jumpsuits to its dress code with Sophie, Countess of Wessex becoming the first royal to trial the trend in Emilia Wickstead.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex wore an Emilia Wickstead jumpsuit last year [Photo: Getty]

Just remember that the ensemble must fall below the knee, as playsuits have yet to make the cut.

Dresses should be of modest length

All dresses and skirts must fall just above the knee or below. No midriffs allowed.

Dresses should bear one-inch straps

Even if you decide to wear a jacket or pashmina, don’t be fooled.

For her Royal Ascot debut on June 19, the Duchess of Sussex wore a Givenchy shirt dress [Photo: Getty]

Guests still need to ensure that their dress straps are at least one-inch wide while spaghetti straps, halter-necks and strapless dresses are not permitted.

No fascinators allowed

Hats should be worn at all times throughout the day. Headpieces are permitted as an alternative if have a solid base of 4 inches (10cm) or more. Fascinators are not allowed.

READ MORE: Royal Ascot style from Princess Diana to the Duchess of Cambridge

The Queen Anne and Village Enclosures

Women in the Queen Anne Enclosure are also required to don formal dress although the rules are slightly more relaxed.

A hat, headpiece or fascinator must be worn at all times

Unlike the Royal Enclosure, fascinators are welcome.

Look to the likes of the Duchess of Cambridge or sisters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, for last-minute inspiration.

Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie are the royals to look to when on the hunt for fascinator inspiration [Photo: Getty]

Strapless and/or sheer dresses or tops are not permitted

Bardot necklines and off-the-shoulder dresses are not allowed in the Queen Anne enclosure.

Trousers suits and jumpsuits are allowed

Similar to the Royal Enclosure, all trouser suits must be full length while jumpsuits should fall below the knee.

Both must also adhere to the strict neckline regulations listed above. No shorts or midriffs are permitted.

No fancy dress or promotional clothing is permitted

Whether it’s a hen party or not, there’s a strict no fancy dress policy in place.

The Windsor Enclosure

There is no official dress code in place for the Windsor Enclosure though guests are encouraged to dress in smart daywear.

This could include a dress or suit teamed with a hat or fascinator.

What can men wear to Royal Ascot 2019?

Regardless of the enclosure, men are required to wear either black or grey morning dress to the Royal Ascot.

What is the traditional morning suit?

The traditional morning suit must include a waistcoat and tie, black or grey top hat and black shoes worn with socks.

No cravats or bow ties are permitted while novelty accessories are also forbidden.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge photographed at the 2017 Royal Ascot [Photo: Getty]

When should top hats be removed at the Royal Ascot?

During the day, male attendees must remove their top hat within a restaurant, private box, private club, balcony or garden.

Hats must also be removed within any enclosed external seating area within the Royal Enclosure Garden.

Hats are not allowed to be customised.

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