The Royal Ascot and Dresses for Races
We’ve talked about race day style in one of our earlier posts and gave you some ideas of the dresses for races. Now we would like to focus on Royal Ascot, the most glamorous of all races. Ascot Racecourse has a heritage not so many other ones can boast about. With over 300 years of history, Ascot is now one of the main racecourses in the country, and Royal Ascot is one of the main events in the British social calendar. Ascot occupies a distinctive place in popular culture as well (remember Audrey Hepburn‘s character in “My Fair Lady”, who was unveiled as a fully paid-up member of the upper classes at Royal Ascot?).
It all started back in 1711 when Queen Anne (hence the tradition of opening Royal Ascot with the Queen Anne Stakes) came upon the area whilst enjoying her ride in the carriage around Windsor Castle area. Later same year the first races took place at Ascot, with seven runners all being English Hunters. Unfortunately, there is no record of the winner.
The first permanent building at the Ascot racecourse could hold 1,650 people and was used for almost 50 years. Even though Ascot is located on Crown property, it is administered on behalf of the Crown by a representative, and Lord Churchill used to be one of them.
Her Majesty The Queen takes a great interest in the races, and had success with her own horses over the years. The Queen traditionally presents the Gold Cup and The Diamond Jubilee Stakes, with new trophies made each year.
There are three enclosures for guests: the Grandstand Admission, the most casual of the three enclosures, the Silver Ring, and the most prestigious one – the Royal Enclosure, the one that is visited by the Queen and members of the Royal Family, and the one with a strict dress code.
Access to the Royal Enclosure is restricted, first-time applicants must apply to the Royal Enclosure Office and gain membership from someone who has attended the enclosure for at least four years. For existing members, an invitation is sent out by Her Majesty’s Representative. The member’s name is written onto the badge and can be used only by that person.
Among all the dresses for races out there, finding the one that will let you stand out yet follow the strict dress code of the Royal Enclosure (if you are lucky enough to have an access to it) is not an easy task. Lucky for you, we have a range of perfect dresses for races!
Let’s take a brief look at the history of Royal Ascot fashion trends.
The dress of choice in the very first days of Ascot Racecourse would have been a highly structured one with 3/4 length sleeves and a small train at the back. Later World War Two led to lots of new hat styles evolving, since the materials became a scarce.
In the 1920s hemlines were shorter and hats were smaller, reflecting a post-war generation’s rebellion against old traditions. Pearls and furs were the accessories of the day.
In 1950s Christian Dior’s new look, a small waist and full skirt, was proving popular, however it was when the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth and her stylish sister Princess Margaret wore the style at Royal Ascot that it became a real fashion.
Sharp lines and bright colours took centre stage during the 1980s. Today’s fashion has seen a rise in vintage glamour, as well as simple dresses making way for statement hats.