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Royal Ascot fashion stakes rebels against austerity

3 min

Ascot (United Kingdom) (AFP)

Royal Ascot is the antithesis of the age of austerity championed by the coalition government in 2010, fashion expert Amy E Williams suggests.

The London Evening Standard contributing editor told AFP that the five days of Royal Ascot -- which began on Tuesday -- allowed women to express and feel good about themselves.

"I kind of like to think of Royal Ascot being anti-austerity," said Williams after casting her eyes over the first day's fashion.

"Because when it comes to dressing up this is the day you can splash out.

"That said the high street is now so so brilliant there is no need to spend a fortune, you can also mix and match.

"Thus you can buy a dress from a high street shop, say Marks and Spencers, but then buy a really expensive hat or buy a hat off the high street and and a Roksanda dress."

She added: "It is a very austerity-friendly way of dressing but on the other hand women love to dress up and yes there are weddings but Royal Ascot is different.

"You can go over the top and feel great about yourself for a day and perhaps that is the opposite to austerity just go for it."

Turning to the men in the 45,000 crowd Williams reckoned they had an altogether easier time of it in the fashion stakes.

"For men it is very easy so long as they have the morning suit (tailcoat), they don't have to spend a penny and I always think that is a bit unfair," she laughed.

She suggested that despite popular myth it was a mistake to associate Royal Ascot week as a fashion trend setter.

"I don't really see it as a high fashion event that way," commented Williams, who calls herself Amy E to avoid confusion with Amy Williams the 2010 Olympic skeleton champion.

- 'Less is often more' -

"There are of course lots of photographers but Ascot is not a street style catwalk, it is a competition about elegance.

"For me less is often more at Ascot, oviously you will see some extravagant hats and outrageous outfits but most sophisticated dresses we have seen so far are subtle colours and some great fitting trouser suits.

"So I think it is less about being fashion forward but more about sophistication -- for men it means wearing eye-catching waistcoats and ties."

The big news for fashionistas this year at Ascot has been that jumpsuits are permitted.

Queen Elizabeth II did not arrive in one instead being dressed in a lime green crepe coat and lime green dress with a floral design with matching hat.

"Seems to be the big news flash this year is jumpsuits being permitted but they have been very on trend for years now, both casual and smart," said Wlliams.

"People assume it is casual but it can be the opposite especially if well tailored and full length, which is very important for the Royal Enclosure (the elite area for spectators with strict dress codes) as otherwise you won't be allowed in.

"It can be cropped in other enclosures but given Ascot only allowed the trouser suit for women -- it seems amazing they would never have been allowed to -- Ascot is moving with the times now.

"It is most important though to get the material right there are a lot of jersey versions -- though in this sweltering heat not terrific -- but the best material would be silk or crepe.

"I have only seen one today and that one was very dressed down with flat shoes, looked cool in an edgy fashion forward way but not glamorous.

"But you can up up the glamour by upping the heels and get away with an amazing big hat as jumpsuits are slimline."

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