A royal occasion! After the coronavirus pandemic kept crowds away from Royal Ascot in 2020, the event returned with a bang in 2021 at the Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, England.
The festivities kicked off on Tuesday, June 15, with Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla in attendance, wearing their finest spring looks. Fashion is as much a part of Royal Ascot as the horse racing, and the dress code is in fact so complicated that there’s an entire section of the Royal Ascot website dedicated to it.
In the Royal Enclosure, men must wear black, gray or navy morning dress, which has to include a black or gray top hat, black shoes with socks and a waist coat and tie. Cravats or bow ties are not allowed.
For ladies, the requirements are even more complex. Dresses and skirts must be of “modest length,” meaning the hem falls just above the knee or lower, and straps must be at least one inch wide — strapless and halter necks are strictly verboten. Jumpsuits have been acceptable since 2017, but like dresses, they must be knee-length or longer.
As for hats, fascinators are not allowed and all toppers need to have a base that’s at least four inches wide. Things are slightly more relaxed in the Queen Anne Enclosure, where fascinators are permitted, but some sort of hat must be worn “at all times.”
The dress code is just one aspect of the storied tradition of Royal Ascot, which traces its beginnings to the first four-day race held at the course in 1768. The racecourse itself was established by Queen Anne in 1711, and until 1939, Royal Ascot was the only race meeting held there.
The queen, 95, is such a big fan of the meeting that she has attended every Royal Ascot since 1945, except for last year’s, which was held behind closed doors. Though her busy schedule kept her away from day one of the 2021 Royal Ascot, the monarch has several horses running in the stakes.
This year, the crowd will also be smaller — 12,000 people each day instead 300,000 over the course of five days — but the event’s signature elegance will still be on display.
Keep scrolling to see what the royals and other celebrities wore to Royal Ascot in 2021: