Royal Ascot starts this Tuesday and if you thought you were sorted with your natty strapless Karen Millen dress and gladiator heels you might need to have a re-think. The bods-in-charge at Ascot have sent out sartorial guidelines to all race-goers reminding them of the dress code and laid back it ain’t. In the royal enclosure, skirts must not be more than two inches above the knee and straps must not be less than an inch wide. Is anyone else envisaging a bevvy of fashion police tooled up with measuring tapes, sternly ticking off those who flout the rules like an army of particularly strict headmistresses?
Alongside the ‘no short skirts and no thin straps’ rule are other no-nos such as strapless, halterneck and off-the-shoulder necklines. Even bare legs are frowned upon which effectively means no open-toe sandals unless you particularly favour the sight of a nylon toe-gusset on show. This is only in the VIP enclosure though. However in the riff-raff area there are other stipulations. Women must wear knickers, “but not on show, please ladies!” quip the guidelines, while streaky fake tans are “a total faux pas, and there’s no excuse.” Of course, the papers are having a field day with their ‘Ascot chucks out the chavs‘ headlines (Daily Mail) but really, aren’t these matters of common decency? These directives are no more severe than wedding-guest guidelines and quite frankly, I’m not arguing with the no naff fake-tan streaks rule. In fact, I suggest they go even further. I would also add ‘no flammable fabrics’ (purely for safety reasons you understand), ‘no chiffon skirts with pointy court shoes’ (pet hate) and ‘no novelty hats’ (no explanation required) to the list.
It’s June! Which means not only festivals of every description and in every hemisphere but features on what to wear to a festival in every publication from Vogue to Heat. At this point I hold my hand up and say I don’t actually do festivals (I’m too obsessed with washing my hair) but I reckon I know what looks good in a water-logged field.
DO: Go denim-heavy. You can practically get anything in denim these days from 80s-style cocktail mini-dresses to capes to rompers. Blue denim is easy to colour co-ordinate and of-course, any grass stains will wash out with just a dab of Vanish and a squirt of shower gel.
Layer on the stripes. Two-tone jersey stripes are forever youthful and outdoorsy so pack a couple of fitted long sleeve stripe Henleys for layering under floral tea dresses against the morning and evening chills and when the temperature hots up, you can whip them off and drape them over your shoulders or tie them round your waist.
Find an alternative to gladiator sandals. I know they’re lovely but everyone will be wearing them! The next best thing? A simple demi-wedge sandal and a pedicure.
Think outside the box. Go to your nearest camping shop and snaffle a foil blanket or two. Lovely as a scarf, obi-style wrap or to sit on. Its reflectiveness will help you tan too (but don’t forget the Factor 30).
Invest in a bum bag (fanny pack). American Apparel and Le Sportsac have the snazziest but don’t wear it round your waist tourist-style, sling it over your shoulder.
DON’T: Go down the printed wellies route. Wellies are sensible but you’re better off in comfy classics by Hunter, Aigle and Tretorn. Pack some legwarmers to go underneath them in case the weather gets really bad (translation: sub-zero temperatures).
Think practical equals boring. Load up on some cheap army surplus and style with sexy shorts and skimpy tops for all-weather eventualities.
Forget your accessories. A pair of rock star aviators, a vintage diamante necklace and a sassy silk scarf will make sure you look hot for the inevitable Facebook photo-shoot.
Be misguided by maxi dresses. Yes, they’re a big trend this season but they just have a whiff of WAG-does-festivals to them. Much better to opt for an obscure vintagy print tea dress, just above the knee.