Dressing for the races should be seen as an opportunity to take a leaf from yesteryear.
So often these days people don't make the effort to get really dressed up. In the past couple of years I've seen more jeans at weddings than I care to remember.
We should be embracing the chance to keep it ladylike, and the races are that perfect chance. We should be reaching for gloves and longer hemlines. We should be embracing the hat and shunning sequins and sparkle. (The races are not a nightclub!) And most importantly, a couple of flowers on a hairclip does not a fascinator make.
If you can't afford to go buy a suitable new dress, check out your local op-shops for more affordable vintage options. Accessorise it right and you'll be on your way.
While you're there, look for suitable hats and gloves.
Good hats can be hard to come by, so if you see one, don't hesitate. Or scout out a local milliner for a custom-made option.
This year, Royal Ascot released a great style guide for those entering the Royal Enclosure. It perfectly sums up what dressing for the races should be.
Here are their formal day wear rules for ladies so you can do what the Brits do so well:
Dresses and skirts should be of modest length defined as falling just above the knee or longer.
Dresses and tops should have straps of 3cm or greater.
Jackets and pashminas may be worn but dresses and tops underneath should still comply with the Royal Enclosure dress code.
Trouser suits are welcome.
They should be of full length and of matching material and colour.
Hats should be worn; a headpiece which has a base of 10cm or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat.
Ladies are kindly asked to note the following:
Strapless, off the shoulder, halter neck, spaghetti straps and dresses with a strap of less than 2.5cm are not permitted.
Midriffs must be covered.
Fascinators are no longer permitted in the Royal Enclosure; neither are headpieces which do not have a base covering a sufficient area of the head (10cm).