Royal Ascot visitors must pay for fashion faux pas

Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:01pm EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

ASCOT, England (Reuters) - Big hats and fancy frocks are an integral part of Royal Ascot and organizers of Britain's glamorous racehorse meeting want to keep it that way by charging for fashion failures this year.

Royal Ascot, a 300-year-old highlight of Britain's social calendar attended by Queen Elizabeth and other royals, has taken a stand against shrinking skirts and novelty outfits, issuing strict guidelines about what to wear to the five-day event.

In the Grandstand, where tickets start from 43 pounds ($65), the rules stipulate no strapless dresses or bare midriffs for women and no branded clothing or fancy dress while skirts must be a "modest" length and men need a shirt and tie.

Turn left into the exclusive Royal Enclosure and women must wear hats, with headpiece-style fascinators banned, and men have to be attired in top hats, morning dress and black shoes.

Although royal decorum may have been a little more exuberant than usual on Thursday after her majesty's horse Estimate galloped to win the Gold Cup, the first time a horse owned by a reigning monarch has won the showcase event in its 207-year history.

Anyone breaking the rules of dress can expect a tap on the shoulder by one of 20 dress-code assistants standing at the entrance with a not-to-be-refused offer to buy a tie or pashmina for five pounds or rent a hat or waistcoat for a refundable 50 pounds on return of the clothing.

"We are here to help people have a wonderful day," said one of the smiling dress code assistants, dressed in a chic metallic-grey suit and matching hat.

Nick Smith, a spokesman for Royal Ascot, said organizers had previously taken a passive attitude towards fashion but last year decided to set clear guidelines as women in next-to-nothing or men in bacon-and-eggs hats misrepresented Ascot.   Continued...

Racegoers pose for photographers as they arrive for Ladies' Day at the Royal Ascot horse racing festival at Ascot, southern England June 20, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville