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Exclusive One-Off Designer Hats For The Races

Hats for the Grand National, Aintree, Royal Ascot and ladies days

Horse Racing

When the ladies day season approaches, it’s time to start looking for those special designer hats for the races.

Having many years’ experience in dressing the royals and celebrities with their hats for Ascot and now with Aintree race day hats, the Nigel Rayment boutiques are able to cover all bases.

Adorning the walls in our London and Manchester hat boutiques you can view the stunning new race day hat designs from the Nigel Rayment and Niche hat collections.

In the lead up to the races, Nigel personally creates one-off exclusives for each boutique. So you can be sure, whether you are looking for a hat for Ascot, Aintree or elsewhere, no-one else will be in the same stunning creation. With an extensive array of colours, use of only the highest quality fabrics and trims and an unrivalled use of styles, you can be sure that when wearing a Nigel Rayment hat design at that special event, heads will turn...for the right reasons.

Why not bring your outfit with you when visiting the Nigel Rayment boutique and let our experienced stylists help find the perfect race day hat creation for you. From smaller headpieces to extravagant hats, there is sure to be something for you. And with prices starting from £95 there really is no reason not to WOW the crowds at ladies day this racing season.

Royal Ascot Hats

What you wear to Royal Ascot is as important as what you win at this world-famous race meet.  This key social event in the British sporting calendar is not only a show-ground for some of the most brilliant racehorses in the world but also a fashion parade for race goers.

Royal Ascot demands race dresses whatever type of ticket you may have purchased be warned that dress codes must be strictly adhered to. The racecourse does have a right to refuse entry if people are not suitably attired.

So – what should you wear? As usual, for men, it's easy. A smart suit and tie is the norm but top hat and tails ( black or grey morning dress) is required if you’re in the Royal Enclosure.

For ladies – it's a whole different matter. For guests entering the Royal Enclosure – there’s rules as to how much flesh is exposed. Not a bad thing as the flat landscape of Ascot often allows a chilly wind to whip up across the course.

Bear in mind that dresses that are off-the-shoulder, halter-neck or have spaghetti straps or straps thinner than one inch are not considered suitable. Miniskirts are also frowned on as is exposing your midriff! Shorts are a definite no-no.

The answer is a formal outfit – dress and bolero jacket ideally.  It is advisable to go to a special occasion boutique to find such outfits. If you buy from the high street, you run the risk of seeing lots of other women in the same dress as you. Nightmare!

If you're not in the Royal Enclosure, dress codes still apply. Smart day-wear is a must for the Queen Anne Enclosure and the Windosr Enclosure with the advice to "dress in a manner that befits a formal occasion" and don a hat or fascinator at all times. Overseas visitors are welcome to wear the formal national dress of their country or service dress but fancy dress is not allowed during Royal Ascot week. And finally, don't forget – a big handbag to take home all your winnings!

The Dress do’s

  • Dresses and skirts should be of modest length defined as falling just above the knee or longer.
  • Dresses and tops should have straps of one inch or greater.
  • Jackets and pashminas may be worn, but the dresses and tops underneath should still comply with the Royal Enclosure dress code of having one inch or thicker straps.
  • Trouser suits are welcome. They should be full length and of matching material and colour. They must be worn with a top that adheres to the guidelines of not being strapless or sheer.
  • Hats should be worn; a headpiece which has a base of four inches (10cm) or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat.
  • A hat, headpiece or fascinator should be worn at all times.
  • Jackets and pashminas may be worn but dresses and tops underneath should still comply with the Grandstand Admission dress code.

The Dress do nots

  • Strapless, off the shoulder, halter neck and spaghetti straps are not permitted in the Royal Enclosure.
  • In the Grandstand, strapless or sheer strap (i.e.see-through plastic type straps) dresses and tops aren’t permitted.
  • Midriffs must be covered.
  • Fascinators are no longer permitted in the Royal Enclosure; neither are headpieces which don’t have a base covering a sufficient area of the head (four inches / 10cm)
  • Shorts aren’t permitted.

The best hats and fascinators for Ladies Day at Royal Ascot

Founded by Queen Anne in 1711, there’s no doubt that Royal Ascot is still one of the highlights of the British Racing Calendar. Every year, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the Royal Family are in attendance as well as over 300,000 people over the course of the five days. The third day of Ascot has come to be known as “Ladies Day” and is famous not only for its races but also its dress code. It is unclear when this day came to be known as Ladies Day, but many believe that the third day at the races was always the most popular and drew in the largest proportion of females who came for the style and pageantry of the event. As the years went by, Ladies Day came to be known as an unofficial fashion event where men dressed in full morning suits and ladies competed for the finest hats. More recently, the day has seen some outrageous headwear and has even been compared to the “Oscars” for hat-makers.

How to choose the best hat

If you’re attending Ladies Day this year, you’ll want to make sure you stand out from the crowd with the very best headwear. For the Royal Enclosure, hats are expected to be worn but elsewhere, ladies can opt to wear a fascinator. At the Nigel Rayment Boutique, we stock a wide range of hats for the races whether you’re looking for a classic style or something more niche. With Nigel’s creations, you’re bound to turn heads.  When choosing a hat, here are some things to keep in mind:

Your face shape

If you have a heart or oval face shape, you’re lucky enough to suit any shaped hat. If you have a round face, a smaller headpiece that has a design with long feathers will add height and elongate your face. Ladies with this face shape should choose something a little angular to give definition and compliment their bone structure.


The brighter, the better is the general rule when it comes to choosing a hat colour for Royal Ascot. If you’re looking to be the centre of attention, choose a bold colour that will stand out against darker tones in your outfit.


Botanical leafy patterns and flower prints have always been popular at the races, but more recently we’ve seen softer designs in blush tones that go well with any pastels and creams in the rest of your outfit. 


Don’t go overboard with jewellery and other accessories. After all, you want your hat to be the star of the show, and there are plenty of options to choose from to make sure that you choose something that matches perfectly with your dress.

Be unique

Maybe the most important thing to keep in mind is to choose a hat or a fascinator that you know will be unique. As the races draw nearer, Nigel produces a variety of one-off exclusives for each boutique in a huge array of colours and only with the highest quality materials so you can enjoy your day knowing that no one else will be wearing the same hat.

» Buy hats for races

What mums said about us …

Hi Sean,

I'm not sure you will remember me but I've been meaning to drop you a line since my daughters wedding at the back end if August. I can't tell you how many compliments I got on the day about my outfit and in particular how much the colour suited me. I would never have chosen taupe and ivory in a million years without your intervention, so thank you so much for that, even the staff at Crewe hall said the mother of the bride was fabulous, how good is that!!!

We had a wonderful day and you played a big part in making me feel very special.

Thank you very much.

Kind regards
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Nigel Rayment Retail Limited (company number 3973160), a company registered in England and Wales. Our HQ is at 9 Frederick Street, Luton, Beds, LU2 7QW.