Since it was founded by Queen Anne in 1711, the annual Royal Ascot
races have become the highlight of the English social season. Ostensibly a five-day sporting event, it's also evolved into something of an immense fashion show, marked by the arrival of the Royal Family
in ceremonial horse-drawn carriages every day. It has become the style for ladies to sport increasingly outrageous hats, and lately the traditional rules about "formal day dress" in the coveted Royal Enclosure
have been rather loosely interpreted, much to the Queen's dismay.
This year officials have cracked down
, declaring that "Off the shoulder, halter neck, spaghetti straps and dresses with a strap of less than one inch and/or miniskirts are considered unsuitable," while "Midriffs must be covered and trouser suits must be full length and of matching material and color." Those not in compliance will be asked to leave the Royal Enclosure. Gentlemen have always been required to wear full morning dress
with top hats. Lest all the pageantry detract from the business at hand, it's worth noting that prize money at this year's event
, which runs through Saturday, has reached an unprecedented $7.8 million.