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Over the years I’ve worn some ravishingly lovely dresses to Royal Ascot, all made for me by my friend Suzannah. (Here is what I wore back in 2017) But last year (2018) she made me something a little different from my usual silhouette (waisted, full skirt): a pale blue silk wrap maxi dress with a frilled hem, and bow at the back.

I had been in the Suzannah atelier on New Quebec Street for a fitting for a navy blue crepe dress that she was making me when I spotted a version of the maxi dress in her ready to wear boutique on the other side of the street. Would you like one of those? she asked. Lucky me. A few days later, a sample of the silk she was thinking of using for me arrived in the post. Suzannah designs all her own fabrics, and this Summer Rose one she suggested was just so pretty, I agreed immediately.

So that was my dress sorted, with very little input from me, and much generosity from Suzannah. Next up for consideration was my hat. I am a creature of habit: ever since Suzannah introduced us some years ago, I have worn millinery by Royal Warrant holder Rachel Trevor-Morgan. (I think this pale pink hat has been my absolute favourite Royal Ascot number so far.)

Visiting Rachel’s little jewel box showroom is my idea of heaven: climbing the steps in the Georgian building tucked away down a flagstoned passage in the heart of St James’s always feel like an occasion.

And, of course, I get to try on all the ravishing hats in this very grown up version of a sweet store.

The added bonus is that Rachel also has a wire-haired Dachshund. Daphne, frankly, is reason enough to visit.

Last year I took my sister Holly as my guest to the Royal Enclosure, and Rachel very kindly lent Her a hat too. I was a little late for our fitting, and my sister rang me when I was en route: YOU DIDN’T TELL ME RACHEL HAD A SAUSAGE DOG, she squeaked with joy! When I arrived she and Rachel were nose to nose discussing dogs.

Rachel is always a calm voice of sense, guiding me away from unsuitable options and towards something lovely. (It’s no surprise that she is the Queen’s milliner.) My sister chose the silk confection on the left, and I borrowed the one with the bow on the right.

Pale blue can be tricky to match for accessories, but I thankfully had both a silver bag and silver shoes in my wardrobe. The silver Lottie bag was a gift from Aspinal of London a few years ago, and the shoes are kitten heels from Whistles. (Mine are are a few years old: they have a higher heel this season. Or you could try these sparkly Ganni kitten heels in the sale.)

And here is my glorious dress: so comfortable to wear, and so versatile. I’ve worn it since for a wedding, and also with espadrilles for a summer garden party.

In the Royal Enclosure Gardens

Above: Hat by Rachel Trevor-Morgan. Sunglasses by Stella & Dot.

The joy of a swooshy skirt

With huge thanks to Suzannah for giving me my beautiful dress, to Rachel Trevor-Morgan for loaning millinery to me and my sister, |and to Ascot Racecourse for inviting us to Royal Ascot 2018
in the Royal Enclosure.

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