Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Royal Ascot

Need a reason to wear a fabulous dress, over the top millinery and drink champagne at 10:00am? Then Royal Ascot is the event for you.  This year marked my first year at Royal Ascot, the quintessential British tradition that began in 1711 (and I like to think it’s now my tradition started in 2010!) Lovely ladies in well adorned hats, handsome men in ties and tails, bottles of Bollinger champagne, jugs of Pimm’s embellished with fresh mint, oranges and cucumber…and let’s not forget the silver platters of clotted cream and strawberries. There are definitely worse ways to spend a Saturday!

Strawberries & clotted cream is really all you need...

 In preparation for the big day, I accepted an invitation with the girls to an afternoon tea and visit to a local hat shop. We tried on an assortment of hats – from big and outrageous a la Lady Gaga, to more sensibly inspired by Lady Diana. I eventually settled on my own black fascinator adorned with black feathers and veil that I found last year in a vintage shop in Camden. I added a red rose flower clip in an attempt create my own Philip Treacy inspired headpiece, and the outfit came together.

People watching at Ascot is as much fun as betting on the horses, as everyone arrives dressed for an extremely fancy garden party. For the Royal Enclosure, however, not only do you have to be recommended by someone that has attended Ascot for the previous four years, and known you personally for at least five, you must also adhere to a stricter dress code – only knee length dresses allowed, with absolutely no shoulders or cleavage seen.

After the first bottle of Bolli, my friends and I dubbed ourselves “The Champagne Syndicate” and made our way through the posh crowd to pool our pounds for bets with the bookmaker. Rachel and I worked on our rather smart horse betting strategy by agreeing that you can really choose a horse based on it’s name and the pretty colors of the jockey’s outfit. So Sonning Rose in bright blue was our choice over Slim Shady in grey. Luckily, our strategy did result in one of our picks making it to first place. However since our meager winnings didn’t quite afford us the much hoped for limousine ride back to London, we did as the British do – stopped and the pub after, flirted with handsome British men and made do with the tube. All in all, a great day.

Waving to the Queen!

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