Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Ascot Dress Code and Champagne Cocktails

Champagne is a must for Royal Ascot so I thought it would be fun to include some Champagne Cocktails that are stylish and tasteful – as well as some useful tips. By the mid 1800s the Champagne Cocktail was all the rage at dinner parties and soirees in genteel society – and who needs bling when you have got style?

Ascot is being held on Tuesday 17th June to Saturday 21st June 2008 and I shall be glued to the coverage of Ladies Day on Thursday goggled eyed by the good, the bad and the ugly – I am talking about the hats! Some go in for the chique and the sublime but some go in for the ludicrously daft monstrosities just to get noticed – but then when all you can see around you is a sea of hats you have to do something to stand out.

The governing body at Ascot issued guidelines for dress this January as it seems standards have been slipping. The ultimate Ascot faux pas, the miniskirt, is now officially non grata and "considered unsuitable". Shoulder straps should be no thinner than an inch, no bare midriffs or mismatching trouser-suits are acceptable and a decree from on-high that all women should cover their heads by wearing a "substantial fascinator [an ornate lace or feathered head covering]". Or a hat.

If you are going, here are some tips to help you pick a winner:

The sun will hopefully be out, so make sure you pick a hat that looks good with sunglasses! Or if not remember you may have to negotiate an umbrella if your hat is vulnerable and turns into a soppy mess if not protected.

If you're short, don't wear a hat that's too wide. If you're tall you can get away with more.

Unless you have the character to get away with it, the brim of the hat shouldn't be wider than your shoulders. Don't let your hat drown you. If you feel comfy with your chosen hat, you will automatically look confident and good!

Before the day, experiment with hairpins, combs and elastic so that your hat will stay on your head.

Hairspray helps to stop your hat slipping in the wind.

Other top tips are that the dress code for women is to keep their shoulders covered, skirts below the knee, that bear legs are a definite “no no” (the late Princess Diana got away with it but we won’t), that showing your midriff is definitely not on and to wear sensible shoes that match the outfit - walking on grass in stilettos is no easy task.

Chewing gum and using your mobile phone are frowned upon and tradition holds that as soon as the reigning monarch finishes eating lunch in the Royal Box, everyone else must stop.

As for a Champagne Cocktail to accompany your “look” then a French 75 will fit the bill. Given that the Cocktail may take its name from a breed of horse, known as “cock-tail” it’s rather fitting that we should have them at Ascot. The Cocktail – like the horse – was a mixed breed. The other possible origin of word came is that it came from the French word coquetier meaning egg-cup which were used to serve the drinks in New Orleans in the early 19th century.

French 75

1½ measures dry gin
Juice of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon icing sugar

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the first three ingredients and shake well. Strain into a chilled champagne flute. Top up with champagne. Serve garnished with a strip of lemon peel.

Images Courtesy of

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