How to dress for the Royal Enclosure

The highlight of the British season, Royal Ascot is a heady concoction of racing, glamour, indulgence, style and - if you happen to be in the Royal Enclosure - as much lobster and champagne as you can physically put away. There are, unofficially, two parade rings at Royal Ascot - the first is where the horses are lead out for all to cast their eyes over, and the second is the Royal Enclosure, where the great and good host their own sort of parade, with the gents dressed in their top hats and morning coats and the ladies in their showpiece dresses, coats and creative hats.

BLACK WINDSOR HERRINGBONE WOOL MORNING COAT

BLACK WINDSOR
HERRINGBONE WOOL
MORNING COAT

GREY WESTMINSTER STRIPE WOOL CAVALRY TROUSERS

GREY WESTMINSTER
STRIPE WOOL
CAVALRY TROUSERS

PARADE CREAM WAISTCOAT

PARADE CREAM
WAISTCOAT

The Royal Enclosure does of course politely impose certain sartorial caveats which we'll run through here. As per the Royal Ascot website:

"Gentlemen are kindly reminded that it is a requirement to wear either black, grey or navy morning dress which must include: A waistcoat and tie (no cravats or bow ties); A black or grey top hat; Black shoes worn with socks."

As you can see, there is nothing to read into or interpret with any subjectivity. The dress code is quite simple in fact. This means that Royal Enclosure attendees can choose a number of different morning coat/trouser combinations. This year will be the first time in the event's extensive history that the Royal Enclosure will permit navy morning suits, which is why - as an official licensee of Royal Ascot - Favourbrook has created the superfine wool 'Furlong' navy morning suit to commemorate this sartorial first. But should one prefer a more traditional configuration of black morning coat and cashmere stripe/herringbone trousers, or even a charcoal grey morning suit as preferred by HRH Prince Charles, then Favourbrook has plenty to offer on both those fronts.

CHARCOAL MERINO WOOL MORNING COAT

CHARCOAL MERINO WOOL
MORNING COAT

CHARCOAL WELLINGTON WOOL FLAT FRONT TROUSER

CHARCOAL WELLINGTON
WOOL FLAT FRONT
TROUSER

OLIVE WOOL DOUBLE BREASTED 8 BUTTON SHAWL LAPEL WAISTCOAT

OLIVE WOOL DOUBLE-
BREASTED SHAWL
LAPEL WAISTCOAT

The morning suit then is a fairly simple matter. We would advise booking an appointment by contacting our team at sales@favourbrook.com or menswear@favourbrook.com, or simply drop by our Pall Mall store after April 12 when we will be open once again.

Where some discretion is sometimes required is in the choice of waistcoat. Back to Royal Ascot's Dress Code for the Royal Enclosure:

"Novelty waistcoats and ties are not permitted. Discreet patterns and those of a patriotic nature (for example, a national flag) are acceptable."

And how does one define a novelty waistcoat exactly?

"Novelty waistcoats usually feature slogans, phrases or promotional messaging, and cartoon imagery. Although these novelty designs are not permitted, discretely patterned waistcoats and those of a patriotic nature are acceptable."

As you can see, the Royal Enclosure is pretty straight down the line on what is and what is not acceptable when it comes to waistcoat designs. If it makes you wince, brings on a migraine, or forces one to hide one's own eyes then you can probably take that to mean you shouldn't wear it. In fact, if your waistcoat choice gives you even the slightest modicum of doubt, then we would suggest you choose something different altogether.

NAVY HARDEWICK LINEN
DOUBLE-BREASTED SHAWL
LAPEL WAISTCOAT

PINK HARDEWICK DOUBLE BREASTED 8 BUTTON SHAWL LAPEL WAISTCOAT

PINK HARDEWICK
DOUBLE-BREASTED SHAWL
LAPEL WAISTCOAT

DUKES BEIGE DOUBLE BREASTED WAISTCOAT

DUKES BEIGE
DOUBLE-BREASTED
WAISTCOAT

That's because the spirit of morning dress in the Royal Enclosure is not one of overt flamboyance or oneupmanship and has never been, going all the way back to Beau Brummell, who was largely responsible for making racegoers adopt it in the 1800s.  Brummell, a close friend of the Prince Regent (the future King George IV), reportedly decreed that ‘men of elegance’ should wear ‘waisted black coats and white cravats with pantaloons’. Brummell was also very much of the opinion that great style should not necessarily be noticed, but rather acknowledged for its refinement by fellow discerning gents.

What all this leads us to say is that understatement is always preferable in the Royal Enclosure. If you want to turn heads, a hearty belly laugh is better than a gaudy belly covering. We would suggest opting for lighter pastel tones and mixing them between your waistcoat and pocket square. The great thing about pastels is that they all work well together so you'd be hard-pressed to get the combo wrong. Pinks, greens, blues, yellows - they're all mutually compatible and look very chic offset against a crisp white shirt. 

ALBANY BURGUNDY SILK TIE

ALBANY BURGUNDY
SILK TIE

ALBANY MIDNIGHT SILK TIE

ALBANY MIDNIGHT
SILK TIE

VICTORIA SKY SILK TIE

VICTORIA SKY
SILK TIE

For the tie, we would suggest choosing a bolder, contrast collar to stand out against the other softer tones. This is because the contrast will better draw attention up to your face. By the same token, the tie is also the perfect bit of real estate to introduce some pattern, but keep it simple and classic - a polka dot or similar geometric arrangement will do nicely.

And there you have it. The Royal Enclosure Dress Code explained. As you can see, it's really not that difficult to get right, and with a little advice you can get it really right. If you are yet to be fitted for your morning suit, don't hesitate to get in touch. We already have a large volume of personal fittings booked in for the first two weeks post reopening on April 12 so we would advise you schedule an appointment at the nearest opportunity.

Shop the Royal Ascot collection here.