fashion yearbook

When British Ladies Go to the Races, It’s Their Hats That Are Competing

Of course you remember the scene in My Fair Lady where Eliza goes to the Royal Ascot horse races in that glove of a lace dress and marvelous hat — well, the real-life, annual version wrapped up in the U.K. last week. And though we assume people don’t sing on the sidelines, attendees are still delightfully proper and old-fashioned. The men wear top hats and the women wear all kinds of hats, some of which are, well, memorable. The dress code in the Royal Enclosure, where the Queen sits, was especially strict this year, forbidding women from wearing dresses that were too low-cut, over an inch above the knee, off- the-shoulder, with straps less than an inch thick, or with halter necks. Yes, it’s a whole new kind of VIP section. Let’s have a look:

These ladies hanging out in the Royal Enclosure prove dressing conservatively still looks good! At left, actress Talulah Riley could have jazzed up her shoes — though we love her classic hat and admire her restraint in opting not to wear anything resembling a sea anemone on her head, which seems to be the prevailing trend these days. In the middle, singer Liz McClarnon’s dress looks like it could have been fitted better. Also we have serious doubts about her lowlights, and the Cousin Itt-ness of her hat, but we do love the shoes. And at right, model-actress Tamsin Egerton-Dick’s neckline is definitely pushing it for the Royal Enclosure, but how could the Queen not approve of her overall stylishness? The total package works.Photo: Getty Images

We told you some of these hats were special! The hat on the left resulted, we assume, from a turkey flying into a table fan. And the pink headgear looks like the prop that would have made us pay attention in geometry class.Photo: Getty Images

She’s wearing a bathroom on her head. ‘Nuff said.Photo: Getty Images

That creation on the left appears to make use of conical fake hair, and it just kind of weirds us out. Meanwhile, the blue butterfly in the middle looks like it came from the Claire’s of fancy British hat shops. And that hat o’ masks? Clearly held together by pure magic.Photo: Getty Images

We know balancing the cheese plate on your head is your signature dinner-party trick, but let this image serve as a warning why you should stop this behavior.Photo: Getty Images

When British Ladies Go to the Races, It’s Their Hats That Are Competing