Royal Ascot’s famously inflexible dress code loosened up back in 2017, when jumpsuits were permitted in the Royal Enclosure for the first time. This was no small matter. The last time Ascot bent the rules, it was regarding trouser suits, which were finally permitted for ladies in 1971. Still, there are fashion flash points to look out for: the current rules stipulate that skirt hems must be just above the knee or longer; shoulder straps should be minimum one inch wide; and head pieces must have a solid base of four inches or more (ruling out hair bands and fascinators).
The Vogue editors’ advice? Make hay with this summer’s raffia trend when it comes to accessories; look to the new season’s relaxed suiting in neutral hues for a refined alternative to look-at-me dressing; and swap your heels for flats – hobbling about as you attempt to avoid sinking into freshly cut grass is never chic. Here’s what the Vogue editors will be wearing to Royal Ascot 2019 – and we’ve provided two outfit options each, for rain or shine.
“One word: hemline. For an event like Ascot, too short doesn’t feel special enough (plus, according to the dress code, it needs to hit the knee) and too long is just impractical; a midi length dress is the perfect option. I also think it’s always better to go the simple route when it comes to the dress at least – in a plain neutral you’re guaranteed to stand out in a crowd of colour and print. Have fun with accessories: Valentino’s feathered flat packs more punch than any heel out there (and feels so much more modern than a heel of any height); Jessica McCormack’s emerald earring adds a flash of colour; while the veiled hat is pure drama.”
From left to right: Jil Sander linen dress, £1,400, available at Luisaviaroma.com, Federica Moretti organza-trimmed straw hat, £380, available at Matchesfashion.com, Jessica McCormack emerald earring, £POA, Jessicamccormack.com, Valentino Garavani feather embellished suede sandals, £815, available at Net-a-porter.com
“Having never been to Ascot, I have studied the dress code regulations intensely to ensure that, if I were to get involved, I wouldn’t be turned away at the door (I have also been advised from our resident racing guru that stilettos are out on account of the grass). Luckily, hats have made a resurgence within the fashion sphere and Gucci’s wide-brimmed number is fabulous enough to inspire a full Michelle Pfeiffer moment. Meanwhile, The Row’s white two-piece (separates are, apparently, off the cards) and tinted shades (I can’t find any restrictions on those) make for suitably Eighties-inspired impact. I’ve been dying for a reason to invest in one of Alaïa’s laser cut bucket bags – if nothing else, perhaps this is it. And, in the hopes that I’ll win big, I can just about justify going for the croc.”
From left to right: Felt wide-brim hat, £615, available at Gucci.com, Alaïa alligator bucket bag,£8,500, available at Net-a-porter.com, The Row longline linen blazer, £2,180, available at Matchesfashion.com, Bottega Veneta leather slingback pumps, £540, available at Net-a-porter.com, The Row canvas trousers, £1,320, available at Matchesfashion.com, Tom Ford tortoiseshell acetate sunglasses, £230, available at Net-a-porter.com, Alighieri silver and gold necklace, £640, available at Alghieri.co.
“Then, having been deeply enthusiastic about the dramatic eleganza of the veils that appeared on Simone Rocha’s SS19 runway, Miss Havisham is my secondary muse. While the catwalk versions aren’t available to purchase, Rocha does offer a wonderful wealth of black lace and tulle frills, and Hedi Slimane’s Bibi hat is a fabulous alternative (I have double-checked: it’s not a fascinator, it’s a hat, and so it is permitted). If there’s ever a place to pull out a look, surely Ascot is it. Go big or go home.”
From left to right: Acne studios round-frame acetate sunglasses, £240, available at Net-a-porter.com, Erdem embellished silk-moire shoulder bag, £590, available at Net-a-porter.com, Simone Rocha lace and tulle midi dress, £1,575, available at Net-a-porter.com, Alinka black diamond slider earring, £2,014, available at Farfetch.com, Celine silk hat, £1,500, available at Celine.com, Prada bow embellished satin slides, £440, available at Net-a-porter.com
“Having never truly got along with a form-fitting dress, I have often opted for a “sack-like” silhouette. That’s no bad thing, as Cecilie Bahnsen proves: this dress offers the perfect amount of flounce without being fussy. If you must go for a heel, kitten height will stop you sinking. And Maison Michel’s polka dot hat gives a nod, natch, to the big bow trend of SS19.”
From left to right: Maison Michel polka-dot print turban hat, £580, available at Matchesfashion.com, Cecilie Bahnsen puff-sleeve cotton dress, £978, available at Matchesfashion.com, Agmes gold hoops, £198, available at Agmesnyc.com, Cos strappy leather kitten-heel sandals, £99, available at