There are few occasions on the British social calendar more sartorially daunting than Royal Ascot. The Queen herself is in the habit of attending this legendary thoroughbred racing meet, and the bold and the beautiful have been flocking here for the big event for more than 300 years. (Well, not the same people, mind you, although a few attendees appear so well-preserved that you might wonder).
Rocking up in the proper attire is essential. In fact, Ascot has devoted an entire section on its website to the dress code, which varies according to where you sit.
For the coveted Royal Enclosure, men must wear a top hat, and everything from the size of a lady’s headpiece to the width of her dress straps is specified down to the inch.
Exposed midriffs are verboten in the Royal, Queen Anne and Village Enclosures.
“Fancy dress” (as in costumes, not “fancy dresses”) are forbidden everywhere…and Daisy Duke cut-offs are, presumably, right out.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a bit of fun and stand out in the crowd.
If your feathered fascinator needs refreshing and last year’s dress is looking bedraggled, Danish-born designer Isabell Kristensen, whose clients include Nicole Kidman, Kate Winslet, Katy Perry and Monaco’s Princess Charlene, has the couture cure for what ails you.
Here are a few of Kristensen’s “racy” Royal Ascot fashions from seasons past.
Get geared up: For more information on Isabell Kristensen’s boutiques in London and Monaco, click here.
Getting there: From London’s Waterloo Station, the train to Ascot takes less than an hour. For rail tickets, visit http://www.nationalrail.co.uk.
Getting in: Royal Ascot tickets range from £37 ($48 USD) to £88 ($113.50 USD). Tickets are selling faster than a racehorse on crack, so it’s not too soon to start planning. You can buy your tickets here.
Get tucked in: 11 Cadogan Gardens—an iconic boutique hotel in London’s Chelsea neighbourhood—is offering a Royal Ascot Glam Up package with Richard Ward Hair & Metrospa. Ward is the celebrity hairstylist who ensures Kate Middleton’s royal ‘do is never a “don’t,” so if you’ve ever longed for luxurious locks like the Duchess of Cambridge, this is your chance. The package, available from June 20-24, includes:
· Richard Ward Glam Up (Kérastase conditioning treatment, blow out, head piece fitting, manicure, full make-up application)
· Overnight stay (from Superior Queen)
· Breakfast for two
· Champagne in the room upon arrival
Rates from $580 USD.
Coworth Park, a five-star country house hotel and a member of the Dorchester Collection, is conveniently located within the town of Ascot on the borders of Windsor Great Park. The hotel is sold out during Royal Ascot this year, but it’s worth planning ahead for next June. Amenities include two restaurants, a spa, tennis, and croquet. If Royal Ascot has awoken your inner equestrian, you can also go horseback riding or take polo lessons at one of Coworth Park’s two professional polo fields. Rates from £345 ($445 USD).