Ascot week takes place in mid-June every year, with five races each day from Tuesday to Saturday. I was fortunate to attend this year on Thursday, Ladies’ Day, which traditionally brings out the most splendid costumes and hats.
There’s a rigid hierarchy of different types of admission, entitling the holders to access different areas within the racecourse grounds and requiring different levels of dress code. The Silver Ring is the least formal, with no official dress code, although the Ascot website helpfully advises “bare chests are not permitted at any time”.
A General Admission ticket gets the holder into parts of the grandstand and trackside lawns. Ladies are required to dress “in a manner appropriate for a smart occasion”. Many wear hats, but they are not required. Men must wear a jacket and tie. Anyone can buy tickets for General Admission or the Silver Ring.
The Royal Enclosure is the most exclusive area. The application process for the Enclosure is a bit like joining a private club. You cannot simply buy tickets, but instead must apply in advance to Her Majesty’s Representative (the Duke of Devonshire, owner of Chatsworth). As part of this application, you must be sponsored by an existing member of the Royal Enclosure who has attended for at least four years. The dress code for the Enclosure is daytime formal dress, with a hat or “substantial fascinator” (whatever that might be). Men must wear a black or grey morning coat with waistcoat, and a top hat. After a few years with some racegoers pushing the dress code to its limits, Ascot has been cracking down this season. No strapless or off-the-shoulder dresses, no spaghetti straps, and definitely no miniskirts.
Even with the strict rules, there’s plenty of scope for creativity.
This gentleman is a London milliner, and is wearing a top hat that he made himself from a length of antique silk that he bought at auction.
Here are a few more pictures from around the Royal Enclosure.
Sometimes it all gets a bit too much.
All of this excitement, and by the way, there’s lots of first class racing too.
Thanks for sharing your fun afternoon, David!