Archive for the 'Dress & Appearance' Category



British Grand Prix 2009

The British Grand Prix has been held at Silverstone in Northamptonshire since the mid-1980s.

There is no strict-dress code for the stands and so you can get away with jeans. However, if you are lucky enough to have tickets for a private box then it is advisable that an effort should be made to look smarter, although it is wise to consult with your host as to what is expected.

Silverstone is always popular and so traffic around the area is a nightmare. Leave plenty of time to arrive as not to miss any of the race.

Further advice on this event – or any other event in the Season – can be obtained on request from The English Manner (www.theenglishmanner.com).

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot, held annually in mid-June (this year: 16th-20th), is the epitome of the British Season. As well as being a major social occasion, it is firstly a world-class sporting event, dating back to the late eighteenth century.

Tickets for the Royal Enclosure need to be applied for well in advance and letters should be sent to Her Majesty’s Representative at Ascot (currently the Duke of Devonshire).

There are four days in Royal Ascot. The first, Tuesday, is the busiest; Wednesday is popular with betting-types; Thursday is Ladies’ Day, and Friday is quieter but popular with the young.

There is so much to say about Royal Ascot (it can only be termed ‘Royal Ascot’ during the four days in mid-June) however; I shall concentrate this entry on the dress codes for the event.

ascot-raceThe dress code is still strictly enforced and it has been known for race-goers to be turned away for all sorts of reasons: men without hats, ladies in inappropriate dresses. Last year Royal Ascot was in the news as ladies were turning with too much fake-tan applied and in some extreme cases, they deemed it appropriate to go without knickers. This is never acceptable. Anywhere.

For women, it is advisable that cocktail dresses are avoided. Having too much flesh open to the elements at a predominantly outdoor event will only cause goose pimples.  Dress colours that work well are pastels, bright colours, neutrals such as cream and fawn, although fashion changes and each year will see a different colour or shade in vogue. As for materials, linen creases easily and for an event where you may be sitting to picnic (smart race-goers do this in Number One car park), this is not a good idea. Lightweight wool and silk are preferable. Dresses and jackets that can be removed easily if you get too hot are canny choices. Skirts that ride up when you sit down are not, however.

The Queen often wears one main colour all the way up (including the hat) which accentuates height and can make shorter people look taller.

Umbrellas may be a nuisance but are worth it if it begins to rain. They can be left in the cloakroom if needs be: parasols are naff.

Hats should be on straight and should be sensible: too much veiling and you won’t be able to drink or eat. If the brim is too low then you may not be able to see, so it is important to make sure you are wearing a sensible and comfortable hat, which should on no costs be removed, as your hair will look messy. When purchasing or choosing your outfit, do remember that you could be in it for up to seven hours. Shoes (if new) should be worn-in before the event as to avoid blisters.

For men, morning dress is required in the Royal Enclosure and on Ladies’ Day, this should be light grey. Top hats should be worn at a jaunty angle – never should they be worn totally straight and looking like chimney pots.

Morning dress consists of a tailcoat of sorts (although not be to confused with the pointed tailcoat worn in White Tie): this tailcoat is rounded; a buff waistcoat, which can be single or double-breasted; a pair of formal striped trousers worn with braces; a stiff white detachable collar (although a soft turned-down sewn on collar is acceptable now); a double-cuffed shirt; a necktie (please not a cravat), and finally a pair of black Oxford shoes. A top-pocket handkerchief is optional.

If you are still in any doubt as to the event’s protocol or what to wear, please do feel free to reply to this blog with any questions you may have. Alternatively, please visit our main website for more information: www.theenglishmanner.com

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

Travel Tips

The summer is nearly upon us, and for many of us this is reason for a holiday; whether you are traveling to distant lands or welcoming international visitors at home, make the most of the opportunity to improve your country’s profile and reputation. While no-one sets out to insult or offend their hosts or guests, unknowledgeable and naïve travellers may leave a trail of ill-will and hard feelings.

Before you go, obtain at least enough local currency to get you through the arrival process, tips for the airport porter, your driver and hotel bellman. Your home currency will be of considerably less value to them if they need to convert it at a bank and it suggests an arrogance to flaunt your home currency as though it were an international standard. Don’t over-tip, some cultures find it insulting. While recognising exceptional service is appreciated world-wide, standard services such as handling your baggage or driving from airport to hotel require only a modest tip, if any.

superstock_1598r-82430Prepare yourself with a few key phrases in the language of your host country. The first and most important phrase to learn is “Thank you.” Along with good morning/afternoon, and goodbye, these phrases, delivered with a smile even in your questionable accent, will ease your arrival and minor transactions during your stay.

Familiarise yourself with the culture you are visiting.  While hotel destinations in the Middle East are accustomed to Western dress, once off the hotel property or when traveling through the airport, women especially need to be aware that even simple items like sleeveless dresses or anything revealing the shoulders are considered immodest and may cause offence.  While alcohol is available at resort properties, when leaving the compound to experience the very culture you came to visit, don’t mention it or try to order it.

Even on the most casual of vacations, have at least one decent set of clothes to wear when the occasion presents itself. While formal dress codes are rare, a sense of moderation is encouraged or requested in many dining situations. For men, this means a collared shirt and long trousers (not jeans).  Ladies, no halter tops or shorts in the dining room.  And everywhere at all times, gentlemen (unless they have a medical or religious reason to keep it on) remove their hats indoors and this includes the ubiquitous baseball cap.

If you see an international visitor about to commit some glaring offence, a considerate prompt might be appropriate.  Remember, no-one sets out to offend or antagonise their hosts. A polite suggestion that saves a visitor later embarrassment or discomfort will be much appreciated.

Remember that when travelling, you are an ambassador for your country and the impression you leave behind reflects on your country and affects the way your fellow citizens will be welcomed in future. Arrive as a stranger, leave as a friend.

John Robertson
Tutor, The English Manner

Royal Epsom Derby

Aerial view of Epsom

Aerial view of Epsom

First run in 1780, the Epsom Derby (pronounced dɑː’ bi / dar-be) is a contest for three-year-old colts and fillies run over a mile and a half. Traditionally, the contest started on a Wednesday, but during the 1990s it was moved to Saturday, as it was thought that more people could attend as the days when Parliament was adjourned and the stock market closed in order for people to attend are no more.

This year, the event takes place on the 5th and 6th of June.

The Queen and other members of the Royal Family still attend and watch the racing from the Royal Box. For those who have admission to the Queen’s Stand, morning dress for the men and smart day dress with hats for women is required. For everyone else, jackets, ties/skirts and dresses are the protocol.

Part of Epsom’s Derby’s charm is the alternative style of dress of the gypsies and pearly kings and queens over on the downs (think of that scene in Mary Poppins). There is also still a funfair and many people arrive in open-topped buses.

Membership and entry requirements need to be checked early with Epsom racecourse and early booking is, like with many events, strongly advised.

NB: Although some call this type of event ‘horse-racing’, those in the know refer to it as ‘racing’.

If you are still in any doubt as to the event’s protocol or what to wear, please do feel free to reply to this blog with any questions you may have. Alternatively, please visit our main website for more information: http://www.theenglishmanner.com

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Blooms from 2008's show

Blooms from 2008's show

The first of the major events in the season is the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show. For newcomers to the event, it may be interesting to note that this event has not always been held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Before it arrived in SW3, the society used Chiswick House (this ceased in 1858), the site of what is now the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, and then under canvas in Temple Garden on the Embankment, before moving to where it is today.

There is no stringent dress code, but smarter visitors wear blazers and ties. Ladies often wear skirts and jackets or suits, but not usually hats.  However, it is the end of spring and nearing the start of summer, so the weather can be mixed. Try to prepare for rain and shine and possibly have a rain hat, rather than an umbrella which gets in the way in crowds and can block other people’s views.

Members of the RHS have the advantage of being able to book tickets in advance and two days are set-aside for members only. There is also a private Royal preview which The Queen always attends and other family members, on the Monday, with an evening Charity Gala Evening, used by the great and the good for corporate entertainment. This is followed on Tuesday and Wednesday for RHS Members and then three days for the public, with a fabulous opportunity on Saturday for bargains as stall holders and garden designers sell off their ‘used’ wares.

There are lots of loos but they do border on the primitive and long queues can be expected for the ladies’!

If you are still in any doubt as to the event’s protocol or what to wear, please do feel free to reply to this blog with any questions you may have. Alternatively, please visit our main website for more information: http://www.theenglishmanner.com

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

In Season: What To Wear

Two weeks ago, I commented on The Season in general. Now, as the start is less than a month away, here are a few dos and don’ts on dress codes to help you navigate this social juggernaut for some of the main events.

Chelsea Flower Show
Probably the most relaxed event in terms of dress code, and it is all in the entrance here.  Take the bus, tube or arrive by taxi, but be prepared to queue at the gates so arrive as early as you can.  Essentially, you are here to look at the flowers and gardens, and not on a fashion parade, so understated investment dressing is the key here:  depending on the weather go for light suits or dresses and jackets, and do remember a lot of walking is involved, so wear comfortable shoes.  If you are attending the private view then cocktail dress of course, but the men can get by all day in a crisp blazer and chinos with well-polished loafers.

Polo
Don’t, whatever you do, dress down.  Polo is probably the most high-profile of the season’s events, and attracts not only an international crowd but also seems to be a magnet for the celebrity crowd, from jet setting movie star to B-lister wannabee.  If the weather is good, team a pretty summer dress with the highest Jimmy Choos, or wear a chic trouser suit.  The latest designer sunglasses are a must-have – but do make sure that if you are invited into the Royal tea tent, you remove them out of the glare!  Men can get by with a blazer and well pressed trousers – the more one imitates the well-dressed smooth good looks of George Clooney, the better!

Royal Ascot
416_ascot_royal_416x300Morning suits and top hats are de-rigeur, as of course are the most fabulous hats.  Trousers for ladies are now permitted, but skirts must not be far above the knee, and if you are hoping to enter the Royal Enclosure you will need to apply for a sponsored badge many months in advance, with a reference from a member of the Royal Enclosure.  Top hats should always be black silk, and morning suits can be grey or black – my own preference is grey.  Ladies Day is the traditional one to ‘be seen’, when even the more conservative hat-wearer can really push the boat out.  A word of caution though:  if you are not used to wearing a hat, practice putting it on and off and wearing it around the house several times before the big day, and learn to relax – otherwise you will have severe neck strain and a bad headache before you go near the champagne!

Cowes
The cult brands of Jack Wills, Musto and Joules will be raking in the money this year as sailing appears to have taken off again – if it ever went out of fashion.  For spectators, stick to looking the part in deck shoes, sunglasses, windproof gear and a chance to wear that perfect Hermes headscarf – and there are plenty of wonderful wellies around if the weather is wet.  A plug here for the wonderful work of the RNLI – spare a thought for this entirely volunteer-led organisation which aims to raise some £131 million a year to maintain the fleet of rescue craft and on-shore lifeguards.  There is rarely a day when crews do not risk their lives to save others at sea so, if you are attending any sailing event this year, pop a coin into the nearest donation box;  you never know when you may need them!

Alexandra Messervy
Founder, The English Manner



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