THE BRITS HAVE THEIR STANDARDS: Audrey Hepburn's Eliza Doolittle may have spoken out of turn during her fictional visit to England's famous Royal Ascot race meeting, but at least she dressed the part. Now, in a bid to rid the Royal Enclosure at the real-life Ascot of fashion blunders this season, the racecourse has been forced to lay out a dress code that's stricter than ever.
The race meeting, which runs from June 17 to 21, has stipulated that women with passes to the Royal Enclosure, where England's Royal Family watch the races and wander, should refrain from wearing dresses and tops that are "off the shoulder, halter neck, [with] spaghetti straps and dresses with a strap of less than one inch." The request has been issued by Queen Elizabeth's representative at Royal Ascot, the Duke of Devonshire, who also suggests that "only formal day dress with a hat or substantial fascinator [headdress] will be acceptable." If visitors fail to comply, they will be asked to leave the enclosure — if they even get past the eagle-eyed stewards at the gate.
The hard-line rules come as guests in recent years have taken to wearing thigh-skimming skirts and strapless tops, with subtle hair ornaments rather than hats or head-dresses — all in a desperate attempt to be snapped by the hordes of paparazzi outside the gates and have their pictures end up in one of Britain's tabloids. Royal Ascot's Web site even publishes a page of images to illustrate the dos and don'ts of the dress code.