OFF of her head!

Edicts were levied for this year’s Ascot by Buckingham Palace that define formal attire acceptable for wear at the race within the Grandstand and the Royal Enclosure.

When Royal Decrees go wrong... shoe buckles and side hoops were decreed in England to be worn at court after they had fallen from fashion in the 1790s. The resulting fashions looked silly with high waists and wide skirts held out by pannier as seen in this Feb 1, 1797 fashion plate by Heideloff

Charles Barnett, who is the face of these royal decrees for Ascot, has said: “We have worked extensively with experts in the world of fashion to define better what formal dress means, with the overarching intention of being as helpful as possible to our visitors and assisting everyone in understanding what is expected and, we believe, cherished about the dress code at Royal Ascot… It isn’t a question of elitism and not being modern in a world where there is less and less requirement to dress smartly – far from it. We want to see modern and stylish dress at Royal Ascot, just within the parameters of formal wear, and the feedback we have received from our customers overwhelmingly supports that.”

The new rules define that miniskirts and fascinators are out. All skirts within the Royal Enclosure must be at the top of the knee or lower and a hat must have a minimum 4 inch width. Men within the Royal Enclosure must appear in morning dress with vest, black or grey top hat, black shoes, and a tie, not, ironically, an ascot (cravat). Within the larger Grandstand Enclosure, the rules are a more relaxed where fascinators and cravats are allowed, although strapless dresses and bare midriffs are sensibly not permitted.

Ascot's rules for 2012 define a fascinator as a headpiece with a base of less than 4 inches. This example is borderline...

On the one hand people need rules for how to dress because without them you end up with theatre patrons in tube tops and flip flops, Marc Jacobs in a lace dashiki, and desperately ambitious starlets in micro-mini evening gowns with side boobs and no undies.

However, some of the rules defined by Buckingham Palace for Ascot seem peculiarly specific and rigid. In fact the ‘No Fascinators’ rule seems directly aimed at the Duchess of Cambridge who made the fashion popular in the year or so before her marriage to Prince William. I also can’t fathom why there would be a problem with an ascot cravat, especially considering the tie was named after the race!