Royal Ascot sets new dress codes, aims to enforce them

A Dress Code Assistant keeps a watchful eye at main entrance to Royal Ascot horse race in England.
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
A Dress Code Assistant keeps a watchful eye at main entrance to Royal Ascot horse race in England.

While a stunning number of Americans roll into the office wearing jeans and sneakers, it’s comforting to know that somewhere dress codes are still being enforced. Indeed, strict new guidelines have been set for this year’s Royal Ascot horse race in the small English town of Ascot, and a team of ladies in purple suits is patrolling the entryways to ensure the fashion dos and don’ts are strictly followed.

Prior to the event (one of the biggest of the British summer season, it continues through Saturday), the official Ascot Racecourse website released two 16-page style guidebooks specific to either Royal Enclosure — which is members only — or grandstand event attendees. Both dress codes are new for 2012.

Among the banished styles in the Royal Enclosure: above-the-knee frocks and spaghetti-strap tops for women, and top hats for gents in any color other than black or gray. Notably, formal hats for women are required within the Royal Enclosure. Turns out that fancy fascinators, the small but elaborate headpieces worn in place of a traditional hat and favored by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, are not allowed.


And those in the swanky grandstand seats? Men must wear a suit with a shirt and tie, and ladies are required to wear a hat at all times — though fascinators are permitted. And don’t even think about wearing a strapless dress.

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For those who do make a minor fashion faux pas, the Royal Ascot Dress Code Assistants are on hand, renting out proper hats, ascots, and shawls to cover bare shoulders at the gates.

It makes one wonder: What if dress codes were enforced at Boston sporting events? No more flip-flops at Fenway? Top hats at the Garden? To be honest, some of us would be pleased if cranky attendees would just check their hostile attitudes at the door.

Rachel Raczka can be reached at