Saturday 15 December 2018

Britain's Sophie of Wessex is an unlikely royal risk-taker in turquoise jumpsuit at Ascot

Horse owner (left-right) Imad Al Sagar, The Countess of Wessex, and the Earl of Derby during day two of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse
Horse owner (left-right) Imad Al Sagar, The Countess of Wessex, and the Earl of Derby during day two of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse
Sophie the Countess of Wessex during day two of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse
Sophie the Countess of Wessex during day two of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse
Sophie the Countess of Wessex (left) and Queen Elizabeth II watch the Wolferton Stakes during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse
Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Prince Edward REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Bethan Holt

When the British royal family arrives at Royal Ascot each afternoon, there is always great speculation regarding the colour of the Queen’s hat and who might be riding in the carriages alongside her.

But one thing is always for sure: the royal ladies will be demurely dressed in below-the-knee frocks or skirts of some description. Until yesterday, that is.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex became the first royal to trial Ascot’s latest dress code amendment on Wednesday, wearing a wide-legged Emilia Wickstead turquoise jumpsuit for the second day of this year’s race meeting.

Admittedly, it was perhaps the most unjumpsuit-y of jumpsuits, with its flowing culotte trousers making it easily mistaken for a dress. Nevertheless, in style terms, this is a revolutionary move on the countess’s part.

Although the jumpsuit has become a modern fashion go-to, the style was only approved by the Royal Ascot committee as a passable item to wear in the Royal Enclosure last year, so we might have expected it to take a little longer for the royal family to trial the look.

"We spoke to people in the fashion industry to take a sense of whether we should be considering it," Juliet Slot, Ascot's commercial director told The Telegraph at the time. "As a result of that, I took it to the board and got their approval. We are very considered about everything we do. Our customers and our members, particularly in the Royal Enclosure, have high expectations of what formal attire is. The board all felt, based on the evidence that I shared with them, that this was the right decision."

The countess’s jumpsuit is the £1,992 ‘Vida’ style from Wickstead’s spring/summer 2018 collection. This was Sophie’s second look by the New Zealand-born designer in as many days after she wore a blush pink dress with black rik-rak details for the first day of racing.

Sophie could have been assured that her choice met with the approval of organisers after they choose another of Wickstead’s jumpsuit designs to illustrate their new dress code last year.

Sophie the Countess of Wessex during day two of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse
Sophie the Countess of Wessex during day two of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse

This is not the first time that Sophie- who has developed a reputation for her chicly refined style-  has experimented with a jumpsuit for an event with her mother-in-law; for the Queen’s 92nd birthday concert in April, she wore a sleek navy jumpsuit by Galvan, a London-based label specialising in modern eveningwear.

It may be a relief for Wickstead to know that her designs are still being relied upon by a senior royal after it was recently revealed that she has made some less than complimentary remarks about the Duchess of Sussex’s wedding dress. Scoring a royal first at Ascot seems an elegant way to move on.

Before the jumpsuit received the Royal Ascot seal of approval in 2017, it was the trouser suit which passed the test back in 1971. 47 years on, we are yet to see one of those on a royal woman’s back.

Sophie the Countess of Wessex (left) and Queen Elizabeth II watch the Wolferton Stakes during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse
Sophie the Countess of Wessex (left) and Queen Elizabeth II watch the Wolferton Stakes during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse

Telegraph.co.uk

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