Hold your horses, jumpsuits are now permitted in the Royal Enclosure! As of summer 2017, jumpsuits are being allowed into the most elite pocket of British fashion. Steeped in a 304 year history, Royal Ascot upholds a notoriously stringent dress code.
Whilst the Windsor and Queen Anne enclosures are not as strict, guests of the Royal Enclosure are expected to comply with extremely conservative and traditional attire rules. Whilst gentlemen must don waistcoats and a top hat, ladies must sport dresses below the knee in length. Likewise straps and hats must comply with measured standards.
The last significant amendment to be made to the dress code was in 1971 when the trouser suit was introduced, perhaps following its increased popularity owing to the Yves St Laurent tuxedo which first appeared in 1966. The monument of this cannot be overlooked; it was a significant fashion liberation for women – even if many racegoers did not fully utilise their new found right.
Given the extensive research that was compiled in order to lead to this decision, it must be addressed that Ascot did not take this decision lightly. It was a case harshly fought. As always, this new found fashion idea was met with controversy, but March 8th saw the day that Ascot finally agreed to adopt the jumpsuit.
However, don’t be mistaken. Now that they’re in, it does not give the royals free reign! There are, of course, standards to be upheld. Short jumpsuits – playsuits or rompers, if you will – are obviously out of the question. The example jumpsuit provided is an Emilia Wickstead floral number in pale pink with bellowing wide legs.
Racegoers believe that their dress code is a prized and adorned aspect of the experience. So why then have they weakened and made room for this modern ensemble? Well, due to the evidence from the fashion industry, it is clear that the jumpsuit has a place in high fashion, not merely street fashion. With Ascot being a sunny parade of high fashion, it really does fit that it must open up its dress code to allow for the beloved garment.
It’s been estimated that racegoers spend a stupendous £34 million on race day outfits a year. Maybe with this new introduction of the jumpsuit, that figure will be jumping up with women opting to buy a more risqué option as well as their traditional dresses. This amended dress code will only bring an even greater buzz of excitement around racing fashion, which seems hard to even comprehend. Will the jumpsuit now embody the daring and feisty fashionista? Or will it evidence the comfortable and relaxed modern woman?
Only time will tell. But perhaps the biggest question is whether Kate Middleton will be wearing one? Or even more importantly, where can we get it from?
Words: Steph Ryan
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