Royal Ascot Tightens Up Dress Code, Bans Fascinators

Zara Phillips' Wedding
Guests dressed their heads up in Edinburgh.
Due to a number of plebes parading around Royal Ascot dressed like hookers, organizers are issuing a much stricter dress code go forward, according to the Press Association and USA Today.  Released yesterday (January 18th), the new dress code discourages “revealing outfits” and “provocative headgear” in the Royal Enclosure where Queen Elizabeth and other royals watch the horse races.  Dresses must be worn “modestly,” while men must wear a top hat to accompany their morning suit.

The grandstand, which is open to the public, is a bit more lax on what the hoi polloi should wear.  Fascinators are allowed here, but either that or a hat must be worn at all times (they were previously just a “suggestion”).  Strapless dresses and sheer straps are not allowed.  USA Today reports  that these revisions are “designed to restore formality at Ascot rather than encourage elitism.”

We asked Susan from What Kate Wore the meaning of this update, who spelled things out quite clearly. “From everything I have read about the new dress code, Ascot had to do something; the relaxed rules put in place as they tried to appeal to a wider audience may have brought in more people, but what some of those people wore simply wasn’t respectful of the event and other attendees,” Susan explained.  “By Ascot’s own admission, they were a little lax with enforcement of the dress code and it showed; some of the attire resembled the sort of thing  you expect to see at a nightclub.

“I think Ascot is merely trying to ensure a return to event-appropriate dressing for the week known as Royal Ascot.  It’s a necessary step in light of what has been seen on racegoers the last few years. If overly fond of your fascinator, fear not, they are still allowed in General Grandstand seats.”

What exactly is a “fascinator,” you ask?  Again, we turn to the expert: “For most of us in the States a hat is a hat is a hat, but in the UK there is also a fondness for ‘fascinators,’ smaller, more decorative pieces worn to social events – think garden party, weddings, upbeat functions,” Susan explained.  “They have a very small base and are attached to the head by a clip, barrettes or headband.  They are best known not for their tiny base, but the elaborate embellishments  on top of it: feathers, shaped cording, netting, beads, you name it, almost nothing is too outré for the popular confections.”

So, go ahead and return that offensive fascinator and Bebe dress you were saving for Royal Ascot.  You’re better off heading to Talbot’s.