Regatta style

Summer is here, a season of festivals and smart functions.  We’ve already cheered from the stands at Ascot and are still queuing up in our hundreds at Wimbledon. Next up, Henley Royal Regatta, which runs from the 3rd – 7th July.



Here Robert Treharne Jones from Henley’s famous Leander Rowing Club shares his expert advice on regatta dress…

In a rapidly changing world Henley Royal Regatta, founded in 1839, provides a tiny oasis of stability, and the dress rules reflect the historic nature of the event. Royal Ascot and other events of similar standing may have moved with the times, but the Edwardian garden party atmosphere at Henley demands more rigid adherence to the code of a bygone age.

The dress code for men is fairly straightforward and consists of either a lounge suit, a jacket or blazer with flannels, and a tie or cravat. The fact that many of the senior rowing men present will have long since grown out of their blazer, or that the garment bears witness to a long history of overindulgence at the bar and dinner table, is seen as a badge of honour rather than any sort of sartorial misdemeanour.

Only if the temperature soars to heights last witnessed in 2006 will the rules be relaxed to allow gentlemen to remove their jackets, in which case the tie must remain firmly in place.

Ladies are required to wear dresses or skirts, but the further stipulation that the hemline must be below the knee has been the undoing of many a fashion-conscious regatta guest, who finds herself at the mercy of the gate inspectors, who rigorously enforce this rule. Divided skirts, culottes or trousers of any kind are not permitted so, needless to say, shorts and jeans are completely off-limits. Unlike Ascot, there is no requirement for ladies to wear a hat, although they are encouraged to do so.

Those guests whose regatta dress is deemed inappropriate, for whatever reason, need not worry unduly. Henley town centre has more than its fair share of upmarket clothing stores, all of whom will be more than willing to provide replacement outfits at a moment’s notice.


© Robert Treharne Jones/Leander Club


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