By Angelina Kali
Royal Ascot is a quintessential British social event that signals the arrival of summer. What makes Royal Ascot so unique is the British ability to mix pomp and pageantry with a bit of frivolity, even when millions of pounds are being exchanged and fortunes won and lost. If horse racing is your forte, then this is the pinnacle of the sport of kings (and queens) with plenty of royalty, sheikhs and dignitaries in attendance. But to those who are uninitiated to racing, Royal Ascot is a paradise for fashionistas. Fashion is as, if not even more, important than the actual horse racing especially on ladies day. Most leading fashion publications, tabloids and broadsheets cover Royal Ascot.
Although there is much attention on what the royals wear, the real stars of the fashion scene are the ordinary racegoers. With a strict dress code for both men and women, not a ruffian is anywhere to be seen. Men in morning suits and top hats are aplenty. But this is the moment every fashion conscious woman has been waiting for. As one of the few social occasions where hats for women are obligatory, it is the perfect opportunity to show off one’s fashion sense in how one matches the hat with one’s outfit. For those who succeed, they may well end up printed as one of the best dressed. Whilst those who end up doing a faux pas, it may lead to the ignominy of being printed as amongst the worst dressed. It is all done in a light hearted spirit as the onus is to have fun.
This is exemplified by the weird and wonderful hats on show. Royal Ascot lends itself as the perfect opportunity for milliners to show off their creativity and skills. Some opt for more conservative headdresses whilst those who want to be noticed tend to go for the larger and more flamboyant creations. It is worth checking the weather forecast though before going. As most action occurs outside, wearing a sombrero style hat on a windy day may well end up you doing more running after your hat than the horses do trying to win a race.
Before deciding on the dress to match the hat, you have to bear in mind that it has to be at least knee length and cannot be strapless. This is probably to guarantee that a woman’s modesty is never endangered as you may well rub shoulders (literally!) with the Queen as you watch the horses parade before a race.
Strong colours are popular whilst white remains the perfect colour for a summer dress. As a neutral colour, it makes it easier to match as essentially any colour hat will complement a white dress. The one dress colour that is rarely seen is black. After all, the event celebrates the summer.
Even if you are uninterested in horses, there is so much to see at Royal Ascot. You can always occupy yourself with a bit of celebrity spotting to viewing all the amazing (and some not so amazing) fashion on offer. And if you are single, perhaps meeting a real prince charming. It all adds up to a fantastic uniquely experience of British joie de vivre.