I think only true Brits can really understand the essence of British Summer... even for long-standing residents like me, there are some elements that completely escape understanding (rain that chills you to the bone in the middle of July is one of them). However, you have to admit that the Brits do celeberate their Summer like few other nations. There is Pimm's, strawberries and cream, picnics in the parks and festivals, bank holidays, Wimbledon, and of course, Royal Ascot.
Although I have never attended myself, I like following it from afar, especially the outfits and hat designs, which never fail to impress me each year. Sadly, it has to be said that standards seem to have slipped a bit in the last few years, with skirt hems moving higher every year and male visitors turning up in anything from beige linen suits to slacks and shirts, not to mention adorned top hats. If, like me, you expect more from something that comes with a "Royal" prefix, you'll be happy to hear that it has all been brought to a firm stop with the organisers publishing a new dress code which clarifies the rules that visitors must respect when attending...
- Dresses and skirts should fall just above or just under the knee, no mini-skirts ladies!
- Dresses and tops should have straps at least one inch wide, even when covered with a pashmina;
- Hats and headpieces must be worn and should have a base of at least 4 inches;
- Fascinators are forbidden in the Royal Enclosure;
- Ladies may wear trouser suits but the jacket and trousers should match;
- Midrifs must be covered (I would have thought this one was obvious, but apparently not);
- Gentlemen must wear full morning dress in the Royal Enclosure, with tie and black shoes;
- Gentlemen attending the Grandstand Enclosure have to wear a suit and tie.
There are even rules to be followed for children, which you can read all about on the Royal Ascot's website: read the full announcement on dress code changes for Royal Ascot here and for the full dress code details click here. If you ask me, these rules are very helpful: I personally hate going to an event without knowing exactly what to wear, and I find that it helps keep the standard of an event as sophisticated as it needs to be. Let's face it, without the morning dress and hats Royal Ascot would be little more than just another horse racing event...
Of course, if you know me, you know that I'm planning on writing a few suggestions for those of you planning to attend this year's Royal Ascot, so watch this space!