I had a bit of a wobble about attending Royal Ascot this year. I’ve been living in such chaos, thanks to my house move, and I wasn’t sure if I could justify taking a day out of my schedule, let alone find the time to sort out what to wear.
(That’s because the Royal Ascot meeting, held in June each year, has a dress code, and in the Royal Enclosure, where I am invited each year by the racecourse, women have to adhere to very specific rules. They aren’t in themselves particularly taxing, but there’s a certain look which is not one you wear every day, hence the need to give one’s outfit some thought. Think exceptionally smart wedding, plus hat – which must be at least 10cm in its base, no fascinators allowed.)
But then I gave myself a talking to: I LOVE Ascot and I was just being silly. Thanks to my very dear friend, the designer Suzannah, I already possess a rail of ravishing frocks which she has made for me in years past, and I have several friends amongst the milliners who are happy to lend. I persuaded Tara to come as my guest at two day’s notice – by dint of turning up at her house one evening with a bag of my dresses, shoes and bags and pretty much forcing her to say yes. I think when she realised just how wonderful she looked her resistance crumbled. (The art of good personal styling is to make someone not look fashionable but like the very best possible version of themselves.)
Then I rang lovely Rachel Trevor-Morgan, who was responsible for last year’s extremely chic pink 60s hat (below) and she squeezed me (and Lettice) in for a fitting the day beforehand. Rachel is also a Dachshund-loyalist so allowed Letty in her St James showroom.
And then it was off to Ascot. After the year I was stuck in a car for nearly two hours five miles outside Ascot and nearly missed my on air presenting slot for the BBC, I’ve learnt my lesson: We always take the train. It’s much, much quicker, and easier, as regulars will know. Only the exceptionally grand, deluded, Car Park One picnickers, or first timers bother to drive.
My top tip is to buy a first class ticket – it’s only a tenner more, use the Trainline app which flags the platform before the station board does, and sprint for the carriage the moment the barriers open to secure a seat, as the train gets rammed, and no one wants to stand for an hour, especially if it’s baking as it was this year. On the way home the platform was packed but our first class ticket secured us advance entrance onto the train and a blessed seat. Oh – do wear flats for the journey – it’s a ten minute walk uphill from the station. And busy.
We kicked off with a glass of Bollinger, courtesy of my friend Jonty who had left a bottle for us. Tara studied the form in her race card, whilst I went off to do my bit on air for Ascot TV.
Above: Kara (middle), in Suzannah.
Above: Me on the Ascot jumbotron, as captured by my friend Virginia from her box
Above: the Royal Enclosure before the hordes arrive
Above: the Queen and her guests in procession
Sadly we didn’t win a thing.
Sasha is wearing:
Dress: Suzannah (gifted).
Bag: Furla Metropolis Crossbody £235. (Gifted)
(Very Exclusive has several colourways in the sale from £120 here. Coggles has lots of colourways here, including an animal print in the sale for £159 here )
Hat: Rachel Trevor Morgan (loaned).
Shoes: Atelier R by La Redoute £59 – currently 40% off to £35 & free delivery in the sale.
Sunglasses: Stella & Dot Miramar in Blonde (Gifted)
Tara is wearing:
All details as Sasha’s outfit bar shoes and bag
3 New Quebec Street, London W1H 7RE
The Atelier, 20 New Quebec Street, London W1H 7SB
Telephone: 0207 258 0782. www.suzannah.com