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Royal Ascot 2021: It’ll be a vintage year

And we're off… to the charity shop for a stylish and sustainable Royal Ascot. This year's all about second-hand style, so here's where to buy and rent the chicest outfits.

Freedom beckons on the 21 June, but Royal Ascot is back from 15-19 June and we’re ready to ditch the sweatpants and gallop towards the winner’ enclosure in some fancy pants fashion

Capacity this year will be dramatically reduced to between 4,000 and 10,000 a day (down from 70,000) and only the Royal and Queen Anne enclosures will be open. Nonetheless, after a year in hibernation, we’re hot to trot for Berkshire’s social event of the summer season.

If your outfit planning starts now, you might want to start by shopping your wardrobe first. This year Ascot is laser focussed on sustainability and the delights of shopping second-hand. Collaborating with stylist and thrift queen Bay Garnett, Ascot’s infamous Style Guide has been release with outfits sourced from charity shops, pre-loved boutiques, vintage emporiums and re-sale websites.

Now, the chances of stumbling across a vintage Chanel dress and Philip Treacy hat are slim, but have a rummage through the stuff you already own. Nothing take your fancy? Here’s our guide to the best Pre-loved, Vintage and fashion rental boutiques in Berkshire and online.


Luxury resale is big business, reduces your eco fashion footprint and you get big name labels for a bargain. Get to know the owner, so they’ll spot your style the minute it drops in store.

Vampire's Wife floral dress and floral crown

The Stock Exchange, Sunninghill

A great selection of designer and high street to suit all budgets. Keep your eyes peeled for Rixo, Sandro and M&Em dresses. There’s also a nice pair of Louboutin wedges available. Pop into the Sunninghill boutique (just off the high street and right next to a free car park) or shop online.

Vanilla Essence Lodge, Wokingham

The wonderful Helen has a lodge in her garden full or pre-loved pieces she has sourced – and there are some belters. Again there’s a good mix of high street and designer brands. I’ve spotted a lovely pair of Celine shoes, Me & Em midi dress, MaxMara goodies, Paul & Sister and Marc Jacobs bags. Book an appointment and rifle through the rails.

Chic 2 Chic, Eton

A gorgeous boutique on Eton High Street selling second-hand designer and posh high street labels in ladies clothing, bags, shoes, hats and accessories all in immaculate condition. In fact some of the stock is brand new. I spotted a stunning Erdem dress for £95, Philip Treacy hat and an Amanda Wakeley trouser suit.

Sign of the Times, online

Timpanys (fomerly of the Berkshire parish) merged with London’s Sign Of The Times to offer top notch, pre-loved designer clobber. Expect to see Rixo, Erdem, Loewe, Zimmerman, See by Chloe, Saint Laurent, DoDo Bar Or, Jimmy Choo and Chanel. Not cheap but good for label addicts.


Remember, body shapes have changed over the decades, so think less about label size, more about measurements and have a good seamstress on standby for any alterations.

Royal Ascot 2021 Second Hand Clothes

Dolly Rose, Caversham

An absolute hidden gem. Debbie Pettet is your local vintage fashion queen. After more than 25 years of trading at Spitalfields and Frock Me in Chelsea and Kensington, she has set up a shop in Caversham. Oh my days, she has an eye for the fabulous from a Pucci maxi skirt, 80s floral jumpsuit and 70s silk handkerchief dress and so much more.

Thames Hospice, Windsor

 the Thames Hospice charity shop on Peascod Street, is a hidden gem. A dedicated Vintage and Retro shop, it’s a hotspot for the fashion crowd, TV stars and media stylists. It’s absolutely teeming with one-off clothes, accessories and homeware.

New Beginnings Vintage, Hungerford

A fine vintage! New Beginnings is a fab Hungerford-based vintage fashion seller on Etsy. Owner Sheree sources the most amazing pieces from the 50s to 80s. The 60s secretary blouses are stunning.

Georgina’s Vintage Couture, Caversham

Your one-stop vintage shop and you won’t have to leave the sofa. Scroll on by to Georgina’s Etsy page and you’ll find pill box hats, vintage frocks and a couple of seriously rare, and very collectable show-stoppers.

A Virtual Vintage Market

Double sustainability points for renting vintage. The Virtual Market allows you to rent a knockout vintage outfit without spending days rifling through charity shops and battling for that winning bid on eBay. Simply sign up to be an approved renter and then scroll the pieces you can hire.


No more one hit wonders, for as little as £8 a day you can rent designer togs without the commitment of justifying a second or third outing. Plant friendly and can save you a fortune.

Royal Ascot 2021 style guide 16

Lizzie’s Hats, Lambourn

What Lizzie doesn’t know about hats and racing, isn’t worth knowing. She’s married to a champion jockey and has impressive collection of millenary. Her showroom has more than 500 hats for sale and rent with all the big names covered – Rachel Trevor Morgan, Philip Treacy, Dawn Guibert and Emma London and many more. There’s even a handy quiz to help you work out what styles will suit your face shape and colouring.

Dress 2 Impress, Ascot

Dress 2 Impress is the only hat and headpiece hire business that you can collect and drop off on the day you’re attending Royal Ascot. View the collection online, make your booking and it’ll be waiting for you at Royal Ascot Tennis Club (just 3 mins walk from the Grandstand) ready to fulfil its fashion destiny. You can try before your buy, by appointment only.

My Wardrobe HQ

Fancy wearing Roland Mouret or Stella McCartney? Well you can for £17 per day at My Wardrobe HQ. It’s the UK’s first fashion rental marketplace for luxury and modern womenswear, with a superb collection of 500+ designer brands. There’s a lot of stock, a decent range of sizes and you can rent your items from four to 14 days. Order before 11.30am weekdays and for next day delivery and you return using the DPD label provided. No dry cleaning, no ironing, just box it up and send it back. Love what you rent? You can buy it. Then, when you want to share it and earn some cash for your next investment purchase, list it back on the platform. Clever.


Described as ‘the airbnb of fashion’, HURR is a tech-first platform with thousands of renters and lenders sharing the fashion love. It’s like raiding your stylish friends’ wardrobes, ending the fast fashion cycle and creating an army of entrepreneurs. They have a phenomenal inventory of clothing, including plus size, maternity and even bridal. The Vampire’s Wife has a rental collection available, Stacey Dooley is a Lender and you can see your environmental savings. Once your request to rent an item is approved it is sent out to you, but your have to organise and pay for the returns.


If you new to Royal Ascot’s dress code, or can’t remember the many sartorial rules, here’s our Graham with a quick reminder.


  • Formal daywear
  • Keep your dress and skirt length modest.
  • Straps on dresses and tops must be a minimum one inch wide.
  • Strictly no strapless, halter necks, spaghetti straps or sheer straps or sleeves.
  • No bare midriffs
  • Trouser suits can be worn just make sure trousers are full length, matching in material and colour.
  • Jumpsuit for joy, they allowed too, but have the same rules as dresses.
  • Hat and headpieces only with a solid base that at least 10cm.
  • Do not utter the F word. Fascinators are for girls aged 10-17 only.


  • Posh day frocks
  • Hats, headpieces and fascinators are all to play for.
  • Strapless and sheer dresses and tops are banned. This includes off-the-shoulder, Bardot and one shoulder.
  • No sheer straps and sleeves and midriffs must be covered.
  • Trouser suits must be full-length and jumpsuits should fall below the knee.
  • Shorts are not permitted.


Give yourself plenty of time to get there, the trains are rammed, the roads are chocca. It always takes ages.


You’re will haemorrhage money. Outfit, ticket, food, drinks and a flutter don’t come cheap. One racegoers reckoned they spent about £750 for a day in the Royal Enclosure. Be prepared to sell a kidney if necessary.


For the first time in your life, the queue for the ladies loos will be shorter than the men’s. True.


Wear comfy shoes. You do a lot of walking. So much, in fact, you’ll qualify for a Duke OF Edinburgh Award. There’s nothing stylish about going barefoot, so if you have gone for cool over comfy, pop a pair of flats in your bag. Dirty trotters will be heading in one direction only and that is the Mail Online sidebar of shame.


Like all good Scouts, be prepared. In recent years the weather has less than predictable – hotter than Gobi desert and torrential rain. So have an umbrella and chic rain coat on standby as well as a fan and sunglasses. Most important of all, don’t forget your mask and hand sanitiser.


Tickets are not yet on sale for Royal Ascot 2021, so get you name down and be the first the hear.

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