7 best Ascot dresses for a flaming hot race day

by Сашка

If you are a sartorial siren or simply into fashion, the Royal Ascot is the place to see and be seen.

Though the Ascot itself is a racecourse and the Royal Ascot is, at its heart, a week-long horse racing event, we all know that it’s really one of the biggest fashion events of the year.

And like any high-fashion or royal event, the Royal Ascot does have a dress code. Without simply repeating the dress code from their website (which also depends on what enclosure you have tickets for), ladies are required to wear modest dresses or full-length trouser suits.

But just because there’s a dress code doesn’t mean you have to cramp your style.

In fact, this year’s Ascot Lookbook is all about letting your individual style shine through. We’ve taken a page or two from their book as well, and selected styles for each of their categories.

(Can’t attend the Royal Ascot? Not to worry. These looks will carry just as well at your local racecourse.)

What to wear at ascot

Create a luxe look fit for the Ascot and beyondNail a vintage visageCelebrate an emerging designerAn Ascot ensemble that celebrates pattern

Create a luxe look fit for the Ascot and beyond

7 best Ascot dresses for a flaming hot race day

Photo: Selfridges

Zimmermann Floral-Print Flared-Hem Linen Midi Dress

As soon as we saw this dress, we were obsessed. The floral pattern cascading from the neck is absolutely stunning, and we can’t get over the incredible detail in the flower buttons.

Easily one of the best Ascot dresses, we’re dying for someone to show up to the horse racing in this dress with a custom-made headpiece.

If this Zimmerman piece is a bit out of your price range, check out this unique hi-low sage green floral dress from PrettyLittleThing for less than £50. It’s an affordable alternative also perfect for a day at the Ascot racecourse.

Nail a vintage visage

7 best Ascot dresses for a flaming hot race day

Photo: John Lewis

Ted Baker Astrydd Floral Midi Dress

Want the look of vintage without the work of digging through the racks at your local vintage shop? This Ted Baker floral dress fits the bill perfectly.

To us, the puff sleeves scream ‘vintage’, and the lovely floral pattern makes us think of summertime in the sun. 

If you’re looking for actual vintage dresses, Beyond Retro has hundreds of items, with stock rotating through all the time.

Celebrate an emerging designer

7 best Ascot dresses for a flaming hot race day

Photo: Marks and Spencer

Sosandar Polka Dot Knee Length Shift Dress

Launched in 2015, Sosander is loveed for their chic and affordable style. And this polka dot dress in particular reminds us of Kate Middleton’s 2022 Ascot debut dress.

We think this polka dot option deserves a highlight as one of the best ascot dresses for good reason. The flowing hemline is perfect for summertime, and the length is just long enough to make the dress code. Add the flattering yet not-too-tight shift silhouette, and you’re sure to feel comfy and stylish at the races.

Though you’re sure to see plenty of ladies choosing designer dresses for Royal Ascot, you can still turn heads in this wallet-friendly dotty number. We recommend pairing it with a lovely white hat like the Annalise from LK Bennett or this floral hat.

An Ascot ensemble that celebrates pattern


7 best Ascot dresses for a flaming hot race day

Photo: Coast

Sleeveless Stripe Jacquard Midi Dress

Looking to turn heads without wringing your wallet dry? We love this adventurous print vibrant blue jacquard dress from Coast.

The dress is fully lined, so no need to worry about getting turned away by Ascot dress code police on account of the sheer fabric.

Its pattern is understated without feeling too bland making it a stunning focal point for your race day attire. Keep your accessories minimal or create a striking look with contrasting colours – this Coast frock can do it all.

We would love to see this dress on the racecourse grounds with a unique Oversized Feather Floral Headpiece.

Read also:
14 flaming-hot outfits perfect for your next winter date night

Where the High Street meets Ascot attire

7 best Ascot dresses for a flaming hot race day

Photo: Reformation

Gloriana Silk Dress

As one of the actual dresses from the 2023 Ascot Lookbook, we can guarantee that this gorgeous silk dress is one of the best dresses for the Royal Ascot.

This long-sleeved green ascot dress is made of a fabulously lightweight silk charmeuse, perfect for keeping cool on hot summer days. We love the bustier detailed sweetheart neckline and this midi dress’ wrap skirt, both of which offer a bit of spice while keeping within the Ascot fashion guidelines.

Pair it with these elegant sandals (block heels so you don’t sink into the turf!) and a colour-coordinated headpiece like this cute floral fascinator to complete your look.

Pre-loved and rentals for race day

7 best Ascot dresses for a flaming hot race day

Photo: LK Bennett

Martha Meadow Scene Metallic Silk Maxi Dress

This stunning metallic silk floral print dress also features in the 2023 Ascot Lookbook. We, along with the Ascot stylists, love the glitzy fabric and long ruffled edges of this silky summer dress.

The pleated bust waistline looks lovely as is, or you can pair it with a belt to match the Lookbook.

While this dress is available to buy, you can also rent clothing items from . If you’re someone who hates wearing the same thing twice, fashion rentals are the perfect sustainable solution for you.

For a perfect tailoring

7 best Ascot dresses for a flaming hot race day

Photo: Next

Basket Weave Textured Tailored Suit Set

Tailored Double Breasted Textured Blazer

Tailored Wide Leg Trousers

Though this is a collection of the best ascot dresses, we felt we still needed to throw a nice suit in the mix. When it comes to Ascot outfit ideas, you’ll want to choose an outfit ‘like nothing else’ — and this orange tailored suit, it ticks all the boxes.

According to the style guide, Ascot races womens’ outfits can include suits, but they must be full-length and of matching colour and fabric. However, if you are attending the Windsor enclosure or a different racecourse altogether, feel free to mix and match your suit blazer and trousers.

We love this orange suit set for its vibrant stand-out colour as well as its classy cut — the loose fit with a slightly tucked waist creates a chic, unencumbered silhouette. 

Pair with some espadrilles and a monarch butterfly-adorned headpiece to complete the look.

Do you have to wear a fascinator to Ascot?

If you’ve seen pictures of the Royal Ascot, especially Ladies’ Day, then you know that extravagant and inventive millinery is everywhere. But you may be wondering if headwear is in fact a requirement.

In short, yes, ladies must wear a hat or fascinator when attending the Royal Ascot.

But the exact requirements depend on what enclosure you have tickets for. 

The Royal Enclosure, for example, requires both ladies and gentlemen to wear hats, with fascinators not allowed. The Queen Anne Enclosure Ascot dress code is the same as the Village Enclosure: hats and fascinators are both allowed and required. In the Windsor enclosure, headwear is not required but encouraged.

But dress code or not, if you want to be one of the Royal Ascot best dressed, you’ll want to spend a good amount of time picking the perfect headwear.

When is Ladies’ Day and what should I wear?

Ladies’ Day, typically the Thursday during Royal Ascot week, is the day especially set aside for ladies to flaunt their outfits at Ascot.

Not only will you want to wear one of your best ascot dresses, but you’ll also want to put extra effort into your headpiece. We’re talking cascading flowers, wire-suspended butterflies and even miniature architecture.

If you’re not attending the Royal Ascot, don’t worry. Most local horse races will host a ladies’ day as well, so you’ll still get a chance to strut your style.

Our verdict

While there are so many possibilities for Ascot outfit inspiration, we stand by our selection of the best ascot dresses.

From the extremely affordable PrettyLittleThing Sage Green Draped Midi Dress to the luxurious Reformation Gloriana Silk Dress — and not forgetting the snappy orange suit set from Next — there are plenty of chic ascot outfits to choose from.

All that’s left to do is grab your most fabulous hat or fascinator, and it’s off to the races with you. Tally ho!

The information presented above is accurate as of 15/05/2023. We are not responsible for any changes to the prices. The 'Best Buys featured' badge indicates sponsored content, and we may earn a commission when you make a purchase.

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