Our guide to surviving the Season.
The Season is upon us, that magical time of year when it’s acceptable to wear a Union Jack waistcoat, and for middle-class people to camp in the street in the hope of getting tickets to Wimbledon or the Proms.
Yet, like all things truly English, this is not merely an occasion for merriment. It is also governed by a wildly random yet viciously strict set of rules. How to behave and what to wear during the Season is a metaphor for the class system, the pointlessly convoluted etiquette designed only to distinguish those who know from those who don’t. But fear not: dressing for the Season is actually relatively simple. No knees, no knockers. Think Lorraine Kelly interviewing the Queen over tea. Always wear a hat, except at the polo. Never wear trainers, unless your surname is Delevingne. For men, it’s mainly about not wearing black. Go crazy: try navy blue.
The strictest rules are at Henley, where couples are expected to act as though it’s still the early years of the last century: in the Stewards’ Enclosure, you can’t even use a mobile phone. Women must never wear anything vaguely resembling boys’ clothes: no culottes, no trousers, no shorts. Men, however, appear free to wear a straw hat and head-to-toe candy colours, like members of a champagne-sozzled barbershop quartet. Of course they look ridiculous. That’s the point: everyone’s too drunk to care.
At Ascot, things are more relaxed. Not only can women wear trousers, but this year, in a shocking move towards modernisation, jumpsuits are permitted. Her Majesty will be spluttering into her Bollinger. She’ll be safe in the Royal Enclosure, where men must wear morning dress and top hats. Ladies: no skirts above the knee.
At the polo, the challenge is to find an outfit appropriate for both stomping divots over afternoon tea and grinding up against an Argentine polo player in the club tent that night. No hats, please. A hat at the polo is as much a faux pas as make-up before dinner — but you knew that, right?
At Wimbledon, wear white. Imagine you’re off to a job interview for the reception class at a prep school. Or Pippa Middleton meeting the Pope. You can bring a picnic, but not a selfie stick: they’re banned.