Off to the races: what to wear to Royal Ascot


Royal Ascot, that excuse for wearing marvelous hats and very smart clothes, starts on Tuesday and we will be looking forward to seeing pictures of the fashion on show. Doubtless those that are going to this very British of institutions (it has been going since 1768) have already bought or rented their hats from Joan Pressley.

The nice people from the British Horseracing Authority thought we might like to see what people used to wear to Ascot through the ages, since 1910 in fact (which is when the Countess Wedell and the Earl of Portarlington attended, above). There’s a worry that we’re not going racing as much as we used to, so Racing for Change, an initiative to encourage people to go racing has been launched and has unearthed some lovely images celebrating 100 Years of Ascot Fashion.

We’ve never been to Ascot, although it looks fun, judging by the clothes. We’re taken with the designer Joe Dayland, (below) who in 1971 wore cheeky hot pants in the year they had been banned for women (but not for men).

The Queen goes every day next week (a woman who knows how to work a hat-and-coat combo well), and you can attend with her for as little as £17 for tickets to the Silver Ring on Tuesday or perhaps go to the Grandstand (recommended by our horse racing contacts) from £56 to £66. Ladies Day is Thursday and tickets for Saturday are already sold out.

You no longer need to wear full length dresses as in these selected shots from the Ascot archives, although maxi dresses would work a treat, just avoid hot pants, what ever your sex. Apparently there are horses to watch too.

Royal Ascot starts Tuesday June 15th and runs until Saturday June 19th. check out the Royal Ascot website for details

1933 silk organza dress and crochet gloves, but we’d swap the dress for that lovely car you can just see

1948-11948, Miss Elizabeth Shelley’s Ascot outfit – do we think she might have made this herself?

1971 Mr Joe Dayland and his model Delia Whittaker (note the slight metallic sheen to Joe’s Jesus sandals…)


1972 Jenny Wren and Sandy Bosher showing us the 70s has a lot to answer for in terms of style

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