The ultimate guide to Ascot at home... from makeshift enclosures to lockdown looks

Katie Storey


30 Aug



Royal Ascot is taking place behind closed doors for the first time in its 300-plus year history - we're pretty seasoned racing folk here at Press Box and we've never seen anything like it.

As much as the nail-biting excitement on course with the world's best flat horses all on show, Ascot is as much about the sense of social occasion - and for one year only, there will be no 'dresses of a modest length', no ban on strapless dresses or fascinators, no insistence on top hat and tails, no directives on what you can and cannot wear.

It got us thinking - how can you replicate the social pomp and circumstance but from the comfort of your living room or garden? When is a better time to rip up the famously strict fashion rule book as we watch the excitement with a home-made G&T?

So we enlisted the help of fashion expert Karen Grace of social racing magazine Eclipse to bring you an exclusive how-to on the best lockdown looks and how to create your own bespoke Ascot-style enclosures from home - the perfect blend of sophistication and safety.

Will you still be an Ascot purist and banish guests who don’t abide by your strict dress code - or will you flout the fashion rules and implement an-anything-goes policy? Whichever way you swing, we have you covered with this definitive guide to Socialite Distancing...

Garden Enclosure

If the weather is fine, transform your outdoor space into the Garden Enclosure. Invite up to six people from outside your household to a BBQ or a picnic and of course don’t forget the bubbly!

Dress code 1: Dressy casual

Ladies: wear a summery dress and hat. If you don’t have an occasion-wear hat in the house, adorn a sun hat with flowers from the garden, spare ribbons or other colourful pieces of fabric. Hold a hat competition for the most creative design. You never know you may realise your true vocation as a milliner!

If you want to protect yourself from your nearest and dearest, apply some extra fabric to your hat and make it a two metre radius to apply with social distancing guidelines. And if it's a bit chilly, apply some chic extra long gloves to turn heads AND be safe.

Gentlemen: if you own a morning suit and all the others have decided to go all out then why not? If not, still go dapper in tailored shorts or chinos and a summery shirt. Wear a blazer or just a waistcoat if the weather is warm. Add a straw trilby or fedora for that dandy touch.

Dress Code 2: Beachwear - make a splash and have a (paddling) pool party

Three summer trends for SS20 that would never pass the Royal Ascot dress code but will be great for a Royal Ascot pool party are:

  • Shorts (from hot pants to the more tailored Bermuda shorts).
  • Sheer dresses (great as a cover-up for swimwear) - sheer is a new trend for men too with see through vests - and for the dapper chap, see through shirts.
  • Bra tops (the new crop top). Take advantage of being able to bare your shoulders this year away from Ascot's prying eyes.

Balcony Enclosure

There may not be as much room to party, so this may be a more intimate VIP enclosure. Dress up the table with candles, flowers and party confetti and bring out the nibbles and cool cocktails.

Dress code: Relaxed but chic

Ladies: go for loose maxi dress or jumpsuit with sunhat and elegantly pose on the balcony. Spring/Summer 2020 colour trends are all white for the ethereal look or popping neon brights to make a statement.

Gentlemen: don a linen shorts suit and fedora. Dress down with a simple plain t-shirt but always add the dapper touch with a pocket square. Bring out the binoculars and use them to watch the races on the TV in the other room.

Indoors Enclosure

No outdoor space? Or the rain has called off the Garden party. No problem!

Then redesign your living room as the Indoors Enclosure with balloons, bunting - which you can print at home from the Royal Ascot website - and LOTS of food and drinks.

But remember, if you intend to enjoy Ascot with others who do not live with you, only open your indoor enclosure to someone in a single-person household who will be able to go inside your home.

Dress code: Comfy but stylish

This may be the enclosure you want to break all the rules and put comfort first.

Ladies: silky pyjama style trousers or joggers and a headband instead of a hat. Headbands have been on trend since last year and range from a simple silky hair band to the bejewelled padded crown headpieces. Be your own lounge princess. Footwear optional, but comfy slippers advised!

Gentlemen: One summer trend for men is satin. That means silky loose short-sleeved shirts and vests worn with satin joggers or boxer shorts. A more sartorial look is the pinstripe tracksuit; - this classic stripe is a fashion success for SS20, still a hit in the office but also in leisurewear.

Fred Nathan of Press Box PR said:

"This year's Royal Ascot is going to be like no other. Whilst we'd all prefer to be there, following the action safely from home provides a one off opportunity to rip up the usually strict rule book and experiment with bolder trends, colours and designs that wouldn't usually get the royal seal of approval."

"Our socialite distancing fashion guide covers everything stay-at-home racegoers need to make sure they're a winner in the style stakes this week."
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