by Camilla Ridley
What do the beautiful printed floral silk dresses on display at Royal Ascot last week tell us about what we should be wearing this season and beyond? I got together with two leading fashion influencers to analyse the key looks and styles and discuss why floral print dresses are such a big part of the collective British summer wardrobe.
Enjoying Royal Ascot Ladies Day with fashion influencers (from left to right) Sammy @theturquoiseflamingo in our Ridley London tiered statement Mathilda Maxi dress in the luxurious D'anjo Jazz floral silk satin Liberty print. And Becky @bricksandstitches in our versatile summer Serena silk Maxi dress in turquoise Hampton Wedding satin. I'm wearing our new royal blue fantasy land sil satin Octavia Midaxi.
I hope you’re keeping well and have been enjoying some of the beautiful weather recently and the chance to get out and socialise again. I was lucky enough to spend two days at Royal Ascot last week, as part of the Governments Events Research Programme. And I’ve got to say it was definitely a different Royal Ascot experience. Instead of the usual 60,000 spectators each day numbers had been reduced to 12,000 and for an event that’s all about the data, there were multiple tests, tracking and social distancing galore. While the organisers have been concerned that the reduced buzz might feel like a funeral, I actually thought the whole experience was extremely well run and rather pleasant. It did feel a little empty in places but this somehow enhanced the feel of exclusivity. And above all, it gave us a clear view of some of this season's key fashion trends as well as some more eccentric sartorial offerings.
Royal Ascot has long been a barometer for style, as fashion journalist of the year Lisa Armstrong pointed out in The Telegraph last weekend "Royal Ascot has always been as much about the spectators as the races. It's the definition of an event made infinitely more significant and for many attendees, more enjoyable, because of its formality. Why else would the organisers go to so much trouble each year to publicise and occasionally update The Dress Code? Why does it even have rules if not to create talking points about what to wear?" And with so many of this seasons destination events delayed, streamlined or cancelled, Royal Ascot 2021 provides an even more important snapshot of fashion, and the key styles and trends that you might consider wearing if you're attending a special occasion anytime soon. With this in mind, I've enlisted some expert fashion analysis from influencers Sammy @theturquoiseflamingo and Becky@bricksandstitches who I spent Royal Ascot Ladies Day with.
Fashion stylist and influencer @gaylerinkoff (top left) was absolutely on trend this year in her bold statement printed floral silk wrap dress. Meanwhile The Duchess of Wessex (top right) opted for a silk maxi skirt in a bold summer floral print. (bottom) Action from the Gold Cup showed the popularity of printed floral dresses
Camilla: I was really pleasantly surprised by how dressed up and elegant everyone looked this week, what was your overall impression of the fashion on show at Ascot this year?
I was really impressed. Everyone I saw in the Royal Enclosure had clearly made the most enormous effort and it really showed. It was such a positive contrast to winter months of lockdown leisurewear. And even though Ascot was quieter than usual, this effort and all the fabulous colour and style added an amazing upbeat energy and helped create the overall sense of occasion.
Yes I completely agree, I felt everyone had almost dressed up even more than usual Ascot years. And they just looked absolutely great. It just shows how much better we all look and feel when we make a bit of an effort. Dressing up just lifts everyone’s spirits and it made the day really special and memorable.
Key trends from the Royal Ascot Royal Enclosure this year included an array of statement summer dresses in a spectrum of bold floral prints. (Clockwise from top left) Becky @bricksandstitches in our Ridley London Serena printed floral maxi dress. Melissa Dickenson in a bold floral printed dress. Zara Tindall also goes floral with puffed sleeves. (Bottom left) Jordan Allen in a bold orange floral printed dress also featuring the puff sleeve trend
Camilla: What fashion trends did you both notice in particular?
For me Ascot is all about dresses and they were literally everywhere, especially lots of beautiful full length maxi dresses. Which look really elegant as they elongate and visually slim everything. There were one or two silk jumpsuits, but it was mainly a sea of beautiful dresses in a spectrum of amazing vibrant colours and floral prints.
There were so many incredibly beautiful dresses in all sorts of styles, but I agree, it was the amazing bright colours and floral prints which really stood out. Colour and print is such a great fashion tool as it’s really playful and just makes everyone appear younger, happier, more vibrant and full of life.
I couldn’t agree more, especially if you choose the right colours that really flatter your natural colouring and skin tone. I also noticed feminine detailing was again a big trend, so there were lots of dresses with tiered skirts. I also noticed quite a few ruffles again and also puffed sleeves were prominent.
Yes, I also noticed quite a few high necked prairie style dresses, which have been really popular for the last few years. But the puffs and shoulders appeared to be much bigger and more exuberant this year. And for a more relaxed Royal Enclosure look, there were a few really great tiered printed floral maxi skirts, quite like the beautiful Ridley ones which you do.
I absolutely loved the skirt and blouse combination worn by Sophie Wessex, which was topped off with a statement feathered hat. She looked really elegant but her outfit was also really bright and upbeat. I also spotted one or two dresses with looser style short sleeves, which were also a really flattering feature and great for when it’s hotter later in the summer.
Tiered maxi skirts and silk maxi dresses were also highly visible in the Royal Ascot Royal Enclosure this year in a variety of statement floral prints. (Clockwise from top left) Sammy @theturquoiseflamingo in her on-trend Ridley London printed floral tiered Mathilda maxi dress. (Top right) Olivia Arben opts for a tiered maxi skirt and blouse in a beautiful green printed floral silk. (Bottom right) Gemma Freeman wears a tiered maxi dress with full length sleeves featuring a ditzy floral summer print. (Bottom Left) Royal Ascot fashion presenter Susan Bender wears a statement silk tiered prairie style maxi dress in an amazing tropical floral print
Camilla: I absolutely loved Gayle Rinkoff’s outfit this year. Her floral print dress was really fun and colourful and the combination of padded shoulders and belted waist were really slimming. And her Camilla Rose hat finished it off beautifully. Was there one outfit that particularly caught your eye this year?
Apart form our incredible Ridley London dresses we wore this year of course!! I spotted a fantastic print dress which combined a really bold print of hugely bright overblown poppies in reds blues and yellows with a very demure cut. It just stood out as being fun but also very elegant and looked great on.
I was really interested to see the Queen’s outfit. Let's not forget she’s had a really tough year loosing her husband and in the olden days Ascot would probably have be canceled and we’d all be wearing black right now. But as we all know she has an incredible sense of duty and she absolutely understood the bigger post Covid picture and made a really positive, uplifting statement for everyone. I thought she looked absolutely great. The eau de nil blue colour really suited her and made her look much younger than 93. And after such a terrible year it was so good to see her smiling. With that appearance she just set a positive, joyful tone for everyone and the rest of the summer. Wow!
Camilla: What outfits did you wear to Ascot this year and how did it make you feel?
I can’t tell you how excited I was to wear my incredible outfit this year. I absolutely loved my Ridley London Serena maxi dress in the turquoise Hampton Wedding floral printed silk. The style is so elegant and flattering, yet quite relaxed and incredibly comfortable to wear and absolutely great for summer. Even though it was pretty chilly at times the silk was incredibly warm. My hat was from @bundlemaclarenmillinery which I also loved.
I wore a Ridley London Mathilda Maxi dress in the green and fuchsia D’anjo jazz floral satin print. Again I absolutely loved wearing this dress. I felt incredibly glamorous and it was really flattering and comfortable to wear. I also love the fact it was customised for me so after being taken in at the waist and having the skirt proportionally shortened, it just fitted like a glove. I really felt great and got so many compliments on the day with lots of people asking me where my dress came from and 3000 likes on instagram. That really shows what a great dress can do for you.
Some of the more interesting statement outfits at Royal Ascot this year included (top left) this stylish tribute to seasonal British produce featuring a delicate printed chiffon silk dress with on-trend the puff sleeves. Meanwhile The Queen (top right) was all smiles in her eau de nil blue outfit. And (bottom) we enjoyed a fabulous seafood picnic in Royal Ascot's exclusive carpark 1 complete with our own brass band! A great way to show off our fabulous Ridley London printed floral silk statement summer dresses.
Camilla: Lisa Armstrong in The Telegraph suggested forgoing the fashionista’s clutch bag for a bag that allows you to pack for every eventuality, especially given this years variable weather. What tips would you suggest for Ascot and dressing for special occasions this season?
For me it has to be having comfortable shoes. While heels look great, by the end of the day they’re impossible and terrible on wet grass. As you know you guys, I brought my favourite pair of pink fluffy slippers with me, which I changed into each time we went back to carpark 1 for another picnic course!! Having a carpark picnic space at Ascot introduces so many more outfit options and the atmosphere in carpark 1 is always really special and very traditionally British, with all the old Rolls-Royces and gazebos with dining tables. In many ways I think it captures the real essence of what Ascot’s all about. Especially when you get to enjoy such a lavish picnic like you prepared.
Outfit wise I would definitely say bring a jacket, cardigan or pashmina, particularly if you’re wearing short sleeves. British summer weather is so variable and it just meant you can wrap up at any time. Jamie and I both really enjoyed your amazing picnic and the experience of being in carpark 1, which definitely has a real exclusivity and atmosphere to it. And I love the fact it meant we had the freedom to dip in and out of the Royal Enclosure as we wanted to. We hired a driver for the day which was great as it meant we could both completely relax without worrying about the long journey home.
The luxurious new collection of statement Ridley London floral print dresses for special occasions is available to purchase on-line and in Ridley's London store. Celebrate your individuality with a unique piece that's made to measure from your choice of any of our stunning new printed floral silks or cottons. Call us to arrange a virtual fitting:
Ridley London, 82 Church Road, Barnes, London SW13 0DQ T: 01730 823097