Ascots or formal cravats were once de rigueur for formal dress (frock coat and morning dress) but since the Edwardian period has fallen out of use and in its place the necktie is worn. However, Ascots were to certain degrees still retained by some people. Unfortunately in recent years, the Ascot was further downgraded due to the hire wear companies producing Ascots of the wrong pattern (i.e. the pattern for an informal day cravat which is meant to be worn under the open collar of a shirt and has a pleated rather than plain neckband) and of the clip-on variety. This coupled with an attached wing collar that is floppy and unsubstantial as a proper stiff starched detachable one created a very sloppy and inelegant look. Since this look was done so badly and to death, Gentlemen began to edge away swiftly from wearing the Ascot. Nowadays, no one but a handful of tailors, including myself, actually know what the correct pattern an Ascot ought to be and the correct way to tie one.
The Ascot (or the incorrect version of it) has been tolerated by high society, until now. Royal Ascot has issued what essentially is a decree that effectively abolishes its use as far as Ascot is concerned but the wider implications means it cannot be worn for proper formal and official events.
Royal Enclosure – Gentlemen:
“Gentlemen are kindly reminded that it is a requirement to wear either black or grey morning dress which must include a waistcoat and tie (no cravats), a black or grey top hat and black shoes.”
This clarifies that cravats are not acceptable and that black shoes should be worn with morning dress.
Cravats here not only mean the incorrect type but also the proper ones. I am guessing that the look had been done to death for far too long that they have clamped down on its use. Unfortunately, that also means those who actual own and wear the proper stuff now cannot wear theirs.
In the 2011 dress code, there is no mention of the cravat or tie for that matter. The interesting thing is that the 2012 code does not mention bow ties (or indeed used the word ‘neck ties’) so it would be interesting if it would be allowed, afterall it hasn’t be explicitly proscribed like the cravat has been. This is, of course, in the Royal Enclosure so one would be able to wear one in the Grandstand, etc but then again, the Grandstand dress code is pretty informal itself…
So, it now seems that officially, the Ascot is no longer acceptable.
I’ve received clarification from Ascot that bow ties are forbidden in the RE so that’s that then. They said that I’m the first person to ask about this and if more people ask they would consider making this clearer in their code.
I attended Royal Ascot in 2013 and noticed in the Royal Enclosure someone wearing an Ascot tie of all things (the proper kind from what I glimpsed)! Either he slipped passed the stewards (who TBF were probably too busy concentrating on spotting the entry badges rather that dress) or the dress code wasn’t strictly enforced. Of course, it does sound ridiculous that the person in question doesn’t seem to have actually read the dress code. He’s not the only one: I spotted several guys wearing toppers with feathers or whatnot sticking out of the hatband which was proscribed in the code. Tut tut, Royal Enclosure! Either enforce the new dress code strictly or return to pre-2012 conditions!
2015: The rules now specifically say ‘no bow ties’ so there you go.