Royal Ascot style guide 2021: this year it’s all about wearing sustainable secondhand pieces and charity shop finds

Chloe Street
·3-min read
 (Royal Ascot)
(Royal Ascot)

Royal Ascot is not only a celebration of the best in racing, but also a major sartorial showcase, awash with amazing occasionwear and magnificent millinery.

After a year in hibernation, the fashion at this year’s event is set to be bigger and better than ever.

After the 2020 event took place behind closed doors (with spectators encouraged to share their Ascot outfits on Instagram from home), this year’s event, which will take place Tuesday 15 - Saturday 19 June, plans to welcome racegoers once again, provided government plans for easing restrictions remain on track. Capacity this year will be reduced to between 4,000 and 10,000 a day (down from 70,000) and only the Royal and Queen Anne enclosures will be open.

For those keen to start planning their race outfits, Ascot has today released its annual style guide, to outline the dos and don’ts of dressing for your big day out. This year, Ascot is focusing on sustainability, and the delights of shopping second-hand.

Collaborating with stylist and thrifting supremo Bay Garnett, Ascot has released a shoot to accompany the style guide featuring garments sourced from charity shops, nearly-new boutiques, vintage emporiums, and re-sale websites.

Royal Ascot
Royal Ascot

“Royal Ascot is one of the most glamorous and traditional events of British sporting life. To have an opportunity to bring second hand into this context was very exciting and I jumped at the chance,” says Garnett, who sourced Chanel, Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent items from charity and vintage shops Rellik, Cancer Care, eBay, Found & Vision, rental site My Wardrobe HQ and vintage personal styling platform Circle of Style for the outfit inspo pics.

“This is exactly the sort of event that can change the perception around second hand clothes. I hope that this year’s Style Guide shows that by buying second hand, it is not only a better choice for the environment but is also a way to dress in a fun, individual and stylish way.”

Other than making efforts to sport something pre-loved, what should you wear? Rules on attire vary depending on which enclosure you have tickets for (from the ultra-smart Royal Enclosure where morning suits are mandatory, through to the Windsor enclosure where dress codes are only a “recommendation”) and each year Ascot make revisions to its requirements.

Royal Ascot
Royal Ascot

In 2017 women were permitted to wear jumpsuits for the first time, and in 2018 it was decreed that all men must wear socks.

This year no major changes have been made, although navy morning suits will be allowed in the Royal Enclosure for the first time (previously only grey or black morning suits and grey or black top hats had been allowed and, of course, fashionable face coverings (and particularly those that coordinate with your outfit) will be the must-have 2021 accessory.

Want to be sure your outfit ticks the boxes – see the full dress code rules here.

“We anticipate Royal Ascot 2021 will be an important event in this year’s calendar as the highest profile formal occasionwear outing in Britain for over a year,” says Felicity Barnard, Ascot’s Commercial Director.

Royal Ascot
Royal Ascot

“We have chosen this year’s 10th anniversary Style Guide to shine a spotlight on pre-loved fashion and encourage racegoers to ‘shop their wardrobes’… Royal Ascot is an elite sporting event, dressing for the occasion is not in itself an elite sport.”

Here’s hoping the local Oxfam has a fabulous vintage Chanel dress and Stephen Jones hat...

For further information about Royal Ascot and the official Dress Code visit ascot.co.uk.