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Hats off to the real winners at Royal Ascot Ladies' Day

By Amanda Ferguson

Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot is all about the hat.

Forget the horses ... headpieces were the focus of attention for fashion-savvy racegoers yesterday.

The Queen looked elegant in teal and Princess Beatrice looked wonderful in a chic white dress and a burnt orange and teal picture hat by milliner Laura Apsit Livens.

Irish pop star Ronan Keating cut a fine figure alongside fiancee Storm Uechtritz, who was decked out in white.

A number of women attending the racing festival were wearing hats created by Northern Ireland milliner Marie-Claire Ferguson.

Last night, Marie-Claire, who is based in Strangford, told the Belfast Telegraph of the strict fashion rules at Ascot.

"There are strict rules as to what can and can't be worn within the different enclosures at Ascot; the Royal Enclosure has certain guidelines regarding skirt lengths and the thickness of straps on dresses," she said.

"Fascinators, the terrible feathery kind, are not allowed in the Royal Enclosure and all hats or headpieces must have a base with a diameter of 10cm or more."

Marie-Claire's personal bugbear is bad angles.

"A percher or cocktail hat should be worn towards the front of the head and tilted over one eyebrow," she said. "It should not be plonked on the top of your head. That makes me cry. If you are unsure, contact the milliner or hat shop you got it from, they will be happy to advise on the correct way to wear it."

Marie-Claire says if you feel good about your hat choice, that is what counts. "Be brave, step out of your comfort zone, there are no hard and fast rules about what hat to choose, but pick something that makes you smile and walk taller," Marie-Claire said.

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