The spring racing season has already kicked off but when it comes to occasion dressing, it can be one of the most challenging events to prepare for. While fashion and style are undoubtedly an important part of the races, it’s worth researching if your event has a specific dress code before you hit the shops.
For Royal Ascot, remember that exposed midriffs, shoulders and short hemlines are banned in the Royal Enclosure, with knee length dresses and of course a hat all mandatory. That being said, official guidelines have accepted the jumpsuit this time round – just make sure it’s full length and has straps that measure one inch or greater.
For guests elsewhere, rules are a little more relaxed, with fascinators given the green light but strapless styles, sheer options and plunging necklines are still off limits.
The race is on to find the perfect ensemble, so to make sure you don’t fall foul of the fashion police we’ve put together an edit of everything you’ll need to look stylish and elegant in equal measure.
1. Zara Floral Print Flowing Dress: £59.99
A time to embrace the best of spring, this dress is an idyllic mix of florals and colour. With a mid-length finish, the floaty floral print sees seasonal shades of green, red, lilac and pink come together on top of a sheer overlay. Take note Ascot goers – the sheer overlay may mean it might not pass the strict dress code in the Royal Enclosure. We love the distinct seventies vibe the stretch waist and cuffs bring to this spring-worthy number and the fact it will see you through many a formal occasion.
2. Mango Masculine Structured Coat: £59.99
While the temperature is still low, having a classic jacket to hand is certainly a good idea. Plus, if you invest in a neutral tone like this white number from Mango, it guarantees to see you through an entire calendar of events. With a structured, borrowed-from-the-boys fit, this is a beautifully tailored jacket complete with lapels and welt pockets. Wear yours draped over a dress or paired with wide-leg trousers.
3. Diane Von Furstenberg Melita Pleated Silk Skirt: £310
While dresses are a popular choice for race-goers, don’t completely rule out the power of chic separates. Great for anyone wanting to draw attention away from their top half, we love this pleated skirt from Diane Von Furstenberg that reveals flashes of teal and ivory panels as you walk. Made from a fluid silk-blend, the colourful design sits on the waist and finishes at knee-length for a flattering silhouette. Pair yours with a tucked in crisp white shirt.
4. Temperley London Amity Neck Tie Dress: £995
Cover your shoulders in style by wearing this stunning dress with bracelet-length sleeves from British designer Alice Temperely. Adhering to strict dress codes and shielding you from spring breezes, you’ll be as thankful for this gown’s practicality as you will its free-spirited design. A summer-worthy print, this mid-length piece has a vibrant, bohemian feel with an A-line silhouette, flared sleeves and romantic satin motifs in red and pink. While this might be on the pricey side, the quality and trans-seasonal power of this piece make it a great investment.
5. Anthropologie Odette Floral Comb: £26
While certain races have specific requirements when it comes to head wear – your hat must be at least four inches in diameter in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot – others are less strict. So, if you want to opt for something less outré, try adding a decorative hair barrette instead. We love this brass option from Anthropologie that’s finished with delicate glass crystals and acrylic pearls. Wear yours with a chic updo or to keep loose barrel curls in place.
6. Phase Eight Cortine Lace Jumpsuit: £159
With jumpsuits officially being given the green light at Ascot, it might just be time to ditch the dress. The ideal alternative for any special occasion, this girlish option ticks all the boxes for those who still want to look feminine. Designed with straight legs, short sleeves and a delicate lace overlay in blush pink, this will work in the most formal of settings without looking too prissy.
7. & Other Stories Silver Snake Embossed Leather Sandalette: £65
Accessories have the ability to elevate an outfit and shoes can make a statement all by themselves. When it comes to footwear at the races, you’re going to want to opt for something practical; pin-thin stilettos might look great but you’ll regret your choice after a day on your feet on the grass. Instead, opt for a block heel like this comfortable silver snakeskin pair that will make an impact to any outfit. Finished with a squared buckle and 6cm heel, they’re an ideal solution to day-long wear without having to skimp on style.
8. Reiss Alice Lace Fit And Flare Dress: £190
Sticking to a classic colour palette always looks super-chic and there’s a place in every spring wardrobe for a floaty white dress. A shade that’s off the agenda for weddings, the races are the perfect opportunity to wear white and this lacy number from Reiss ticks all the boxes. Designed with a fit and flare finish, it skims favourably over the hips and is finished with a graphic lace overlay. Style yours with block-heel sandals.
9. Whistles Matte Croc Rivington Clutch: £89
A bag might be an essential but that doesn’t mean it needs to be boring. Instead, opt for something understated, stylish and practical. Enter the Whistles Croc Rivington Clutch. The perfect size for all your necessities, this bag is made from matte, embossed leather with a croc finish. There’s a chunky gold zipper and chain strap too, which means you can easily fling it over your shoulder while you’re cheering on your horse. We love this soft lilac colour but it also comes in black, white and bright pink.
The Verdict: Race day outfits
For a dress that makes a serious impact without breaking the bank, we recommend Zara’s floaty floral number that guarantees to be an enduring favourite in your spring/summer wardrobe. Otherwise, if your budget allows it, Temperley London’s dress is a seriously stunning alternative.
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