Dating back to the seventeenth century, the ‘Social Season’ in England was originally instructed by the packed-out engagement calendars of the Royal family – and still is to some extent. From operas to flower shows and all manner of sporting events, the Season kicks off as it always did around Easter time, and draws to a close in October. What happens over these glorious six months is an elite schedule of social occasions, many steeped in history and each with their own set of dress codes, rituals and ways of getting on the guest list. Other events coming onto this select calendar are younger and more relaxed gatherings, proof that the Season will continue to move with the times while remembering its rich heritage. Here’s Sloanie’s pick of the Season…
One of the younger and more relaxed events of the Season, Cowes Week is a world-famous sailing event and takes place on the Isle of Wight every August. A packed program of boat-racing dominates each day, and guests congregate at yacht clubs and on the beaches of this little island to watch the action and socialize in the sun. Racing starts at the Royal Yacht Squadron, the most exclusive club on the island.
Sloanie Dress Code: No official rules on this, but it’s all about Sloanie nautical chic: big hair and big tans, flip flops, stripes and sunnies. And maybe a flash of sailor bling…
Henley Royal Regatta
A five-day celebration of world-class rowing, Henley Royal Regatta is an old favorite of the Social Season, and the prizes are always given by a genuine Royal at the closing ceremony. The pretty market town of Henley-on-Thames has played host to the Royal Regatta for over one hundred and fifty years, and while a vast stretch of the river bank is open to all, the place to be seen is the Stewards’ Enclosure. This cordoned-off section of riverside commands a great view of the finishing line and you can only get in if you’re a member or a guest of a member. Inside the enclosure it’s all manicured lawns and jazz bands, oyster bars and retro deck chairs. This event stays true to its heritage, and guests will be ejected if spotted using their cell phones. Take that as a warning!
Dress Code: Enclosure style is all about stripy old-school blazers, and it’s mandatory for guys to wear a jacket and tie. Ladies have to wear dresses or skirts that fall clearly below the knee. Time to rock the maxi dress, girls…
Cartier International Polo
Emma Watson at Cartier International Polo Day in 2011
The most prestigious and star-studded event on the British polo calendar, the Cartier Polo takes place every July in Windsor Great Park, overlooked by the Queen’s residence Windsor Castle. Treading in the divots (patches of grass upturned by the polo sticks during play) is a time-honored tradition, and spectators are invited onto the pitch to tread the turf back into place at half-time.
Dress Code: Smart-casual unless you’re living it up in the Royal Box or the Cartier Marquee. In which case, go glam! Stilettoes may prove for difficult walking around as they can sink into rain-softened lawns, though our girl Emma Watson seems to be coping very well in hers. Unlike other Season sporting events, the party goes on late at Guards Club. Consider a transition look that works from day-to-night, like Emma’s floaty number and oversize clutch.