Royal Ascot Dress Code

Royal Ascot is one of the most popular events of the sporting and social calendar, with an annual attendance of nearly 300,000 people, all wanting to ensure they adhere to the Royal Ascot Dress Code.

Both the Grandstand Enclosure and the Royal Enclosure have their benefits. If you are looking for a young, fun and often raucous afternoon then consider the former perfect. With big crowds, big drinkers and even bigger heels it will not disappoint. This is the area in which I frequented for the first few years of attending and I didn’t even manage to watch any racing; there was far too much entertainment going on around the bandstand, and, coupled with the 30 minute queue for the loos, the afternoon passed by before I could say ‘on the nose please’.

The Grandstand Enclosure at Royal Ascot

Fast forward a few years and I was lucky enough to be invited into The Royal Enclosure; the icing on the cake is that as long as you ‘behave yourself’ you will automatically gain membership from the next year onwards.

The Royal Enclosure is what you would imagine an elegant day at the races to be. Beautiful pavilions in which to sip a Pimms, perfectly mown lawns to parade with your partner and pre-bookable restaurants. As it happens I did manage to behave myself all those years ago and so have been enjoying this enclosure ever since, although I do often wonder which enclosure is having more fun….

The Champagne Lawn within The Royal Enclosure at Royal Ascot

Both enclosures have strict Dress Codes which must be adhered to as, in theory, you can be refused entrance.

Ladies, a invaluable piece of advice - keep your heels sensible whatever enclosure you are in. This is for three reasons:

  • You will do an awful lot of walking. Royal Ascot is vast
  • There are many grass areas and so high stiletto heels will sink in making it very difficult to walk elegantly
  • Seeing an otherwise beautifully dressed woman staggering along carrying her shoes is not a pretty sight

Grandstand Enclosure Dress Code

Ladies within the main Grandstand Admission area are encouraged to dress in a manner as befits a formal occasion:

  • A hat, headpiece or fascinator should be worn at all times
  • Strapless or sheer strap dresses and tops are not permitted
  • Trousers must be full length and worn with a top that adheres to the guidelines above
  • Midriffs must be covered

  • Shorts are not permitted

Men are required to wear a suit with a shirt and tie (often men will wear Morning Dress in this enclosure which looks lovely).

A gentleman wearing Morning Dress

Royal Enclosure Dress Code

  • Ladies’ dresses and skirts should be of modest length. This is defined as just falling above the knee or longer
  • Ladies’ trouser suits are acceptable and they should be of full length and of matching material and colour
  • Dresses and tops should have straps of one inch or greater.
  • Jackets and pashminas may be worn but dresses and tops underneath should still comply with the Royal Enclosure dress code.
  • Hats should be worn; however a headpiece which has a base of 4 inches (10cm) or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat. Ladies are kindly asked to note the following:
  • Strapless, off the shoulder, halter neck and spaghetti straps are not permitted.
  • Midriffs must be covered.
  • Fascinators are not permitted; neither are headpieces which do not have a base covering a sufficient area of the head (4 inches/10cm).


  • Gentlemen are required to wear either black or grey morning dress (grey is deemed as de rigueur) which must include:
  • A waistcoat and tie (no cravats) 
  • Black shoes 
  • A black or grey top hat 
  • A gentleman may remove his top hat within a restaurant, a private box, a private club or that facility’s terrace, balcony or garden. Hats may also be removed within any enclosed external seating area within the Royal Enclosure Garden. The customisation of top hats (with, for example, coloured ribbons or bands) is not permitted in the Royal Enclosure. 

A stunning outfit for Royal Ascot

Other Dress Code Etiquette on this site:

Black Tie Dress Code

Cocktail Dress Code Etiquette

Funeral Dress Etiquette

Dress Code for an Interview

Diamonds for Different Occasions

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The Author, Emma Dupont, runs various courses in London during the year.

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