Royal-ascot-dresses-2

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21 beautiful Ascot-appropriate dresses for a day at the races

Ascot Ladies Day dressing 101

Hollie Brotherton

Royal Ascot is as much about what you wear as it is the races. If you're lucky enough to be heading there this year, make sure you've brushed up on the rules before choosing your all-important outfit. Attended by royalty, celebrities and paparazzi, there's nowhere more important to be sartorially savvy, and after 2020, attendees will no doubt be more excited than ever to go all out.

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The strict dress code includes rules on hem lengths, shoulder straps and headpieces. Everyone is encouraged to dress up for the occasion, but each enclosure has slightly different rules.

Royal Enclosure dress code:

- Dresses and skirts should be a modest length, falling no shorter than just above the knee.

- Dresses and tops should have straps of one inch or more. 

- Strapless, off the shoulder, halter neck and spaghetti straps are not permitted. 

- Dresses and tops with sheer straps and sleeves are also not permitted.

- Jackets and pashminas may be worn, but tops and dresses underneath should still comply with the dress code. 

- Midriffs must be covered.

- Hats should be worn; however, a headpiece that has a solid base of four inches (10cm) or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat. Fascinators are not permitted.

Kate-Middleton-ascot

Kate Middleton wears Elie Saab at Ascot 2019

Queen Anne Enclosure dress code:

- A hat, headpiece or fascinator should be worn at all times.

- Strapless, off the shoulder, Bardot and one-shoulder dresses and tops are not permitted.

- Dresses and tops with sheer straps and sleeves are also not permitted.

- Midriffs must be covered.

Village Enclosure dress code:

- Ladies within the Village Enclosure are encouraged to dress appropriately for a formal outdoor occasion.

- A hat, headpiece or fascinator should be worn at all times.

- Strapless, off the shoulder, Bardot and one-shoulder dresses and tops are not permitted.

- Midriffs must be covered.

Windsor Enclosure dress code:

- Whilst attendees are encouraged to wear smart clothes, no formal dress code applies in the Windsor Enclosure except that replica sports shirts are not permitted.

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WATCH: Behind the Scenes at Ascot with Charlotte Hawkins

For Royal Ascot 2021 there's a focus on sustainability. As always guests are encouraged to look their very best, but this year they've been asked to consider looking in charity shops, boutiques, vintage emporiums and resale websites for their outfit.

Looking to find your Ascot-appropriate dress online? We've done the work for you and searched for the most stylish options available to buy now.

Shop the best dresses to wear to Ascot 2021

L-K-Bennett-pink-dress

Jolene pink taffeta beaded dress, £450, L.K.Bennett

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As the official partner of Ascot 2021, L.K.Bennet has an edit of dresses guaranteed to comply with the strict Royal Enclosure dress code. This pink taffeta number takes inspiration from vintage haute couture gowns.

Stella-McCartney-dress

Stella McCartney coral-print maxi-dress, £1,395, Farfetch

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Known for her ethical approach to fashion, Stella McCartney also creates stunning designs, like this silk coral printed dress.

karen-millen-white-dress

Button detail column maxi gown, was £250 now £187.50, Karen Millen

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This show-stopping gown from Karen Millen features a figure-skimming silhouette, statement sleeves and glossy buttons.

L-K-Bennett-spot-dress

Pierre monochrome georgette dress, £250, L.K.Bennett

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Stand out in L.K.Bennett's oversized spot print dress. Made from lightweight, floaty georgette, it's modest but will still keep you cool.

Self-Portrait-dress

Self-Portrait floral-embroidered lace maxi dress, £370, Selfridges

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This dreamy dress is by Kate Middleton favourite Self-Portrait and reminiscent of the one she wore to Ascot 2019. It's made from blue diaphanous lace and organza in their signature fairytale style.

Erdem-rose-dress

Erdem Marguerite floral-print midi dress, was £1,795 now £897.50, Net-A-Porter

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We love the red rose print of this 30s-style Erdem dress. It has a flattering wrap-effect silhouette and it's currently in the Net-A-Porter sale.

Stories-floral-dress

Puff sleeve midi wrap dress, £95, & Other Stories

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Tap into this season's puff sleeve trend with this floral midi dress from & Other Stories. It features a tied waist and a tiered skirt.

L-K-Bennet-cream-dress

Dee cream crepe shift dress, £225, L.K.Bennett

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This elegant and feminine dress is understated but still Ascot-appropriate. It's available in cream or blue and has a sweetheart neckline, cap sleeves and a fitted cut.

ASOS-embroidered-dress

ASOS EDITION floral and leaf embroidered maxi dress, £150, ASOS

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We're envious of anyone with an excuse to wear this ASOS EDITION dress with all-over embroidery and embellishments.

Erdem-floral-dress

Erdem Frederick belted floral-print, £1,020, Net-A-Porter

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From Erdem's Resort '21 collection comes this floral printed shirt dress that's perfect for a day at the races. It has puffed lantern sleeves and a flattering belted waist.

Reformation-dress

Winslow dress, £270, Reformation

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Eco-friendly brand Reformation has a whole range of gorgeous occasion dresses. This one is suitable for Ascot while also featuring a flattering high slight.

Stories-flowing-dress

Scarf tie flowy midi dress, £95, & Other Stories

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This flowing dress from & Other Stories is modest but still very stylish. Pair it with gold jewellery and nude mule sandals.

Victoria-Beckham-red-dress

Keyhole fit and flare dress in bright red, £1,150, Victoria Beckham

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Looking for a red number? We've found just the thing. It's a signature colour for VB and looks amazing in this sleek silhouette.

MS-polka-dress

Satin polka dot midaxi dress, £45, Marks & Spencer

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With its smooth cream satin fabric and all-over polka dots, this Marks & Spencer midi dress is timeless.

Needle-thread-dress

Needle and Thread Isadora embroidered tulle midi dress, £410, Selfridges

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Needle and Thread do florals so well and this embroidered tulle number is the definition of a princess dress.

Hobbs-colour-block-dress

Jilly v-neck dress, £179, Hobbs

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Hobbs' colour block v-neck dress in look-at-me raspberry red is the perfect choice for comfort and style.

reiss-scarf-print-midi-dress

Harper scarf print midi dress, £245, Reiss

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Designed in the brand's signature new season print, the Reiss Harper midi dress would look amazing with oversized sunglasses and gold jewellery.

Anthropologie-colour-block-dress

Maeve tiered maxi dress, £98, Anthropologie

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We love the tiered colour blocking on this maxi dress from Anthropologie, which also has side slant pockets - bonus.

MS-ghost-dress

M&S X Ghost ditsy floral midi tea dress, £69, Marks & Spencer

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This tea dress from the new M&S X Ghost collection gets five-star reviews for its flattering cut and fabric. There's also a matching mini-me dress if your little one will be joining you.

John-lewis-pink-dress

Phase Eight Livvy dress, £120, John Lewis

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Phase Eight's Livy dress features a classic, flattering cut and romantic antique rose colour.

Whistles-yellow-dress

Whistles camo safari midi dress, £149, ASOS

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Featuring a yellow and pink print in a satin-like fabric, try this Whistles midi dress for effortless summer style.

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