What To Wear To The Henley Regatta
How to blend in on the banks of the Thames at the rowing event of The Season.
Of all the summertime events that mark “The Season” in the UK, Henley Royal Regatta stands out as being indefatigably, idiosyncratically British. How else to describe the somewhat eccentric spectacle of dressed-up crowds descending on a small town in Oxfordshire to watch – or, if the low afternoon sun and the Pimm’s combine to produce a drowsy reverie, half-watch – a bunch of rowing crews splashing up and down the Thames? Welcome to the most genteel fixture in the sporting calendar, as famous for its Fortnum & Mason picnic hampers and strict dress codes – enforced vigorously by its style stewards – as for its boats, sculls and coxswains. Henley is the spiritual home of the striped blazer – sometimes, though not always, representing different rowing club colours – but how should you accessorise so that you can mingle unchallenged in clubhouse and enclosure alike? Take a bow in these looks, and avoid a stern dressing-down.
Henley is more old skool than a Kiss FM mix tape, so what better place to start than with an old-skool tie? Etro’s red-and-gold stripes on rich navy could pass as the colours of, say, the Royal Chester Rowing Club, but the hidden paisley detailing on the underside adds a touch of rad-trad. Match it with a slim-fit linen shirt – the cutaway collar on this Polo Ralph Lauren version should set it off nicely – and you’ll be top of the klass. Sorry, class.
There may as well be a sign on the road into town for the Regatta’s duration reading: “Now entering chino country”. With jeans frowned upon and shorts considered beyond outre, the earth-toned, blazer-complementing, smart-casual staple are inevitably the trousers of choice; but Incotex’s slim-fit, cotton-blend versions are, quite literally, a cut above the rest.
The rowers may have to brave the depredations of the midday sun bare-headed and bare-armed – that’s OK, they’re made of stern stuff at the Tideway Scullers School – but you can beat off the UV rays, while adding a dapper flourish to your outfit, with a Panama hat by Loro Piana, hand-woven from superfine straw. The final touch to ensure you’re worthy to tread the Stewards’ Enclosure’s exquisitely manicured lawns? These tortoiseshell sunglasses from Persol, which confer the requisite cool and, not incidentally, can be folded neatly into a blazer’s breast pocket.