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.
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!
Morning 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!
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!
Founder, The English Manner