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Fashion Police Up Attire Stakes On Ladies Day At Royal Ascot

posted 20 Jun 2013, 11:25 by Mpelembe   [ updated 20 Jun 2013, 11:26 ]

New rules for one of the highlights of the horseracing and social calendars, Ladies Day at Royal Ascot, mean visitors have to pay if they fall foul of strict attire guidelines for the first time, racketing up the pressure of the sum 60,000 people attending even more than usual, as the Queen's horse win's the Gold Cup -- the first time a reigning monarch's horse has won in the race's 207-year history.

ASCOT, BERKSHIRE, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (JUNE 20, 2013) (ITN) -  Big hats and fancy frocks are an integral part of Royal Ascot and organisers of Britain's glamorous racehorse meeting want to keep it that way by charging for fashion failures this year, as around 60,00 gathered for this year's Ladies Day.

Royal Ascot, a 300-year-old highlight of Britain's social calendar attended by the Queen and other royals, has taken a stand against shrinking skirts and novelty outfits, issuing strict guidelines about what to wear to the five-day event.

In the Grandstand, where tickets start from 43 pounds, the rules stipulate no strapless dresses or bare midriffs for women and no branded clothing or fancy dress while skirts must be a "modest" length and men need a shirt and tie.

Turn left into the exclusive Royal Enclosure and women must wear hats, with headpiece-style fascinators banned, and men have to be attired in top hats, morning dress and black shoes.

Anyone breaking the rules can expect a tap on the shoulder by one of 20 dress-code assistants standing at the entrance with a not-to-be-refused offer to buy a tie or pashmina for five pounds or rent a hat or waistcoat for 50 pounds.

Royal Ascot has said organisers had previously taken a passive attitude towards fashion but last year decided to set clear guidelines as women in next-to-nothing or men in bacon-and-eggs hats misrepresented Ascot.

That however didn't stop many women -- and a few animals -- from expressing themselves, with everything from a three kilogram hat celebrating the royal baby to a guide-dog wearing a multi-coloured fascinator.

A few hats even bordered on dangerous, as Ladies Day attendee Sharon said she'd come close to poking an eye out.

"I've poked a few out already today. I can't turn quick," she joked.

Some come for the racing, some others for the fashion, but nearly all enjoy the socialising, despite the grey clouds, said Louise Hepworth.

"It's just like a chance for us to get together and have a good day."

Argentinian Paula made an extra effort, with a little help from her husband, to create a ceremonial hat celebrating the impending birth of the son or daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

"I did the hat in the honour of the royal baby, as you can see up there, to wish him happiness. The baby girl, baby boy. This is the theme of the hat, and I'm enjoying very much to come to Ascot since some years, and I did my hat by myself, helped by my husband also," she said.

Fashion blogger Sasha Wilkins said that, while the actual fashion police had upped the stakes this year, people had clearly not been intimated by the idea that what they wear might mean they don't get in.

"Well they've banned all promotional and branded outfits so you haven't got people coming up with kind of bananas on their heads like they used to for the banana board like they used to, which was a problem in times past, but this year I've seen people with practically entire horticultural exhibitions on their head," she said.

"I don't know how they're getting through the doors," she added.

As well as being a race meeting it is a social event, founded by Queen Anne in 1711 and attended every year by the Queen who arrives in a horse-drawn carriage at the racecourse in Ascot, 10 kms from Windsor Castle.

On Gold Cup Day on Thursday, known as Ladies' Day, the Queen arrived in a lilac outfit, adding to a sea of colour, feathers, and eye-wateringly high shoes brightening the cloudy day.

Last year various items of clothing were given free to racegoers who inadvertently broke the dress code but this year is the first time of paying for errors.

Most racegoers welcomed the rules which were sent out with tickets last year and publicised online.

With the stricter dress rules, Smith said some people did not make the cut and a handful were turned away this year. Most of those refused entry were women whose skirts failed to meet the rule of being of "modest length falling just above the knee".

The Queen enjoyed a special reason to celebrate on Thursday when her horse Estimate won the Royal Ascot Gold Cup.

It was the first time a reigning monarch's horse had claimed victory in the race's 207-year history.

Estimate, a four-year-old filly trained by Michael Stoute, held off a challenge by Simenon in the final furlong to win by a neck.

The 7-2 favourite also won at Royal Ascot last year when landing the Queen's Vase.