The Lady’s Maid offers her advice on how to dress like a Royal at Royal Ascot this year.
In a fashion age where anything goes, the Lady’s Maid is relieved that there are still some occasions where one has to follow certain rules before getting dressed. Thankfully, Royal Ascot still adheres to strict dress codes for racegoers, at least within the Royal Enclosure. But from frequenting this most sartorial of race meetings herself, the Lady’s Maid has noticed how many young women do not know how to “dress up” for a day event. Often the dresses on display would be more suitable for a nightclub than broad daylight. There is a time and a place for body-con satin and open-toe stilettos, and it isn’t amongst horses.
The dress code for the Royal Enclosure is basically “formal daywear”, which is defined as:
Skirt/dress to be knee-length or longer
Straps on dresses should be at least one inch
Trouser suits are allowed, but they should be of matching colour and material
Hats should be worn. Head pieces are acceptable as long as the base is 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter
What NOT to wear:
Dresses of the strapless, spaghetti strap, halterneck, or off-the-shoulder variety
The strictest code is for the Royal Enclosure, which is relaxed a little for the other enclosures; e.g. strappy dresses and fascinators are permitted elsewhere.
So, with this dress code in mind, the Lady’s Maid offers some tips and looks on what to wear for Ascot this year.
Top Tips for formal daywear dressing.
Stick to two colours – one for the outfit and hat and one for accessories.
Neutral accessories are great for formal dressing – nude/tan/black will go with many colour choices.
Avoid bright colours unless you accessorise neutrally – there is a reason the Royals are mainly seen in all shades of neutral – it may seem boring, but it is hard not to look elegant in oyster or champagne.
Avoid flimsy fascinators – The Lady’s Maid would rather see a hatless head than a few feathers stuck on to an Alice band – they add nothing to the style of an outfit.
If you have chosen a statement/flamboyant hat let the hat speak for itself and stick to a simple/unfussy dress and accessories.
Packing for travel makes you realise what are the most essential items in your wardrobe. While it can be tempting to force your entire wardrobe and accessories collection into one suitcase and leave decision-making until you reach your destination, the Lady’s Maid strongly advises against this. You will weigh down your suitcase unnecessarily – half the clothes won’t be worn and you’ll just have more work to do unpacking and packing again –valuable time taken out of your holiday!
Packing for a holiday can present decision anxiety in even the most seasoned of travellers.But if you are organised and selective, you can still have plenty of outfits to wear without your suitcase bursting at the seams. Here are the Lady’s Maid’s top tips for styling your holiday wardrobe:
Lay out all of the clothes that you could potentially take with you – lay out as many as you want at this stage. It will help you to see what you have and make the styling process easier.
Select outfits according to the length of your holiday – one day outfit and one evening outfit for each day of the holiday. Avoid too many “statement one-piece outfits”; i.e. patterned/beaded dresses that it is likely you will only wear once within the holiday.
Separates are good for multiple wears, e.g. a patterned skirt or pair of trousers that can be dressed up or down with different plain tops and different accessories. Pick out one separate and see how many different looks you can create with it by dressing it up and down and mixing and matching with your other garments.
Don’t allow anything to enter your suitcase unless you have already styled it into an outfit – if you haven’t got anything to wear with it at this stage, the likelihood is you won’t wear it on holiday.
Limit your shoes to the following: one pair of flip-flops, one pair of neutral flat sandals, one pair of comfortable flats for walking, e.g. espadrilles or loafers, and one pair of gold/silver flat sandals for evening. Shoes take up a lot of space in your suitcase, so it’s really important to be selective here. If you want to take heels, heeled wedges are a better choice for sunny destinations. The Lady’s Maid loves shoes, but buys mostly neutral colours for summer (white/beige/tan/metallic) – they will go with all your outfits.
Select a couple of neutral bags – e.g. white/tan/metallic that match the shoes you’ve selected.
The Lady’s Maid has an imaginary holiday to Abu Dhabi coming up (lucky her). She has picked out these cool and elegant grey/white patterned Harem trousers from East and selected some other pieces to mix and match with these trousers to create both a day look and an evening one:
In the day look, the trousers are teamed with a simple round-neck tank top, white espadrille flats, and a white linen cardigan. These pieces are all very versatile and could be matched with lots of other garments for multiple wears.
In the evening look, the same trousers can be worn with a silver shift top. For another evening look, the silver top could be worn again with the silver wedges and a pair of white trousers. The silver wedges and clutch will go with any coloured outfits, too. Try and get at least two wears out of each piece that you pack.
Top tips for travel:
Toiletries can really add to the weight of your suitcase so avoid taking big bottles and buy miniatures where possible instead. If you can’t find your favourite products in a miniature version, try buying empty miniature bottles to decant your products in to. Muji has a good range of squeezable, sprayable and pumpable mini bottles.
If you find it difficult to travel light consider purchasing an extra light suitcase which will save you pounds in weight and in excess baggage fees. Samsonite Curv suitcases are made of a very light material whilst still being strong and durable.