>LONDON, June 17, 2008 (AFP) - Royal Ascot, the annual British parade of horses, hats and high society, got under way Tuesday with organisers warning racegoers to follow its dress code or risk being thrown out.
The racing meet, which has been running for nearly 300 years and is a favourite with Queen Elizabeth II (right), is traditionally a high society affair which ranks with the Henley rowing regatta and Glyndebourne opera for prestige
It has started drawing a wider crowd in recent years and the British press now ritually publishes full-page spreads of some racegoers spilling out of revealing outfits.
But this year, organisers have issued a reminder to people watching the race from the elite Royal Enclosure - where a single daily badge costs 82 pounds (SGD220) - to look suitably smart.
Men have to wear a top hat and morning dress while women must don "formal day dress with a hat or substantial fascinator," the advice says.
"Off the shoulder, halter neck, spaghetti straps and dresses with a strap of less than one inch and/or mini skirts are considered unsuitable," it adds.
"Midriffs must be covered and trouser suits must be full length and of matching material and colour."
The advice warns that those failing to comply with the regulations will be asked to leave the enclosure.
James Sherwood, a fashion commentator, said that, alongside grand English weddings, investitures at Buckingham Palace and Trooping of the Colour, Ascot was one of the few places where people still wear formal day dress.
"Trying to be too adventurous or aiming to stand out for the cameras, people tend to make an exhibition of themselves and attract attention for the wrong reasons," Sherwood wrote on the BBC website.
The queen, who is often described as being above fashion, received a round of applause as she arrived at the races Tuesday in a horse-drawn carriage, wearing a cream coat with black pattern and trim and matching hat.
She was accompanied by Prince Philip, Prince Charles, his wife Camilla (right), Prince Andrew and his daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.
The highlight of the five-day event is the Gold Cup, which takes place Thursday.