Whether an exercise in separating the wheat from the chavs following last year's drunken brawling or simply an attempt to up the collective style ante, Royal Ascot's decision to tighten the thumb-screws on an already pretty strict Royal Enclosure dress code has been met with a mixture of confusion and praise.
They insist their newly released sartorial guidance was prompted after a "misunderstanding of what constitutes appropriate attire for this formal occasion." Read: if you can't eliminate the great unwashed, better get them to smarten up, eh old chap?
"It is stretching a point to say standards have collapsed" begins Nick Smith, Ascot spokesman "but there is no doubt that our customers would like to get back to a situation where it is universally acknowledged that this is a formal occasion and not an occasion where you might dress as you would at a nightclub."
That's right, riff-raff: hatless, tramp-stamp revealing, crotch-skimming strapless get-ups combined with Laurent Perrier Rose missiles do not a good look maketh.
"Dresses and skirts should be of modest length defined as falling just above the knee or longer. This replaces the less clear instruction that miniskirts are considered unsuitable. Hats should be worn; a headpiece which has a base of 4 inches (10cm) or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat."
Got that fillies? No more fascinators!
Now, I've always detested fascinators: resembling something closer to an amorphous avian anemone slapped on the side of one's head than an inspired piece of millinery, the feathery non-entities have been a lazy, omnipresent headwear option at best and grim mother-of-the-bride-esque at worst. Imagination: 0 Ubiquity: 1
As an Ascot attendee last year (In case you're wondering: a Piers Atkinson fuchsia leather beret, complete with 'Dalston' in mirrored lettering - one must always support one's neighbourhood don't you know?) the lack of witty, unique head baubles was distinctly, depressingly overwhelming. So, if anything, these measures will hopefully prompt racegoers to get a little more crainially creative.
Then again, perhaps uppity style-gatekeepers in glass houses shouldn't throw stones: given that the Duchess of Cambridge favours a fascinator - and let's not forget those exemplars of millinery excellence, the Tweedledee and Tweedledum princesses inability to nail respectable head attire (here's looking at you, 'ovarian toilet seat') then what hope is there for the rest of the hoi polloi...?
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