Spring into Action
Ensure you’re appropriately clothed for the new season’s key social, sporting and cultural events in Britain, Europe and the United States.
The COVID-19 crisis may be causing large-scale event cancellations, self-imposed quarantines and panic aplenty — but at The Rake, we’ve chosen to adopt a ‘keep calm and carry on’ approach, which we hope many of the organisers of the following spring happenings come to share. For those of you with the intestinal fortitude to venture out into society during the coming three months, here’s what we suggest wearing to the essential events of the season (accessorised with a surgical mask only if you really must).
The Cheltenham Festival, Gloucestershire, England: 10th-13th March The Grand National Festival, Aintree, England: 2nd-4th April The Kentucky Derby, Louisville, USA: 2nd May A midweight navy single-breasted suit with a plain white or tattersall check shirt and solid navy tie, coupled with dark brown suede chukka boots or black Chelseas will pass dress-code muster at virtually all British equestrian competition meetings, except the scant few occasions requiring morning dress. (Consult Chris Modoo’s comprehensive guide to appropriate get-up for the Royal Enclosure at Ascot and its rarefied ilk here [https://therake.com/stories/style/guide-to-dressing-for-the-races/].) The Kentucky Derby, meanwhile, calls for a far less sober approach — in keeping with the copious mint juleps consumed during festivities. While the Derby doesn’t quite live up to Hunter S. Thompson’s memorable description of decadence and depravity, it is nonethless an irreverent outing, best enjoyed clad in preppy-delic garb — think ‘go-to-hell’ tailoring and accessories in a mix of seersucker, madras, seering pastels, embroidered critters, loud patterns, bow ties and bucks. Be sure to contrast a brash sartorial approach with the refined manners of a southern gent, peppering conversation liberally with niceties and respectful sirs and ma’ams. The Boat Race, London, England: 29th March Given its provenance among 19th-century Oxbridge rowers, detailed in this article [link: https://therake.com/stories/the-true-story-of-the-blazer/], the blazer is a flaming obvious choice for The Boat Race, the annual clash between Oxford and Cambridge crews. Eschew the lurid stripes and lairy colours that originally gave the garment its name — instead, go with classic navy blue blazer, coupled with a white trouser or pale chino, perhaps a blue shoe, striped shirt and crested tie. Though the day may start out sunny enough, you’d be wise to prep ahead for chills and drizzle, as spring will have only just sprung. Bring a light raincoat and a trusty cashmere scarf for when the clouds inevitably close in. The Master’s Golf, Augusta, USA: 9th-12th April The Monte-Carlo Masters, Monte-Carlo: 12th-19th April The Italian Open, Rome, Italy: 10th-17th May The French Open, Paris, France: 24th May-7th June Channel pared-back Caddyshack country-club chic for these golfing and tennis fixtures: don a polo shirt or OCBD, sports coat (preferably in a subtle check), a light cotton trouser, comfy shoes, and do remember a summer hat, as you’ll be spending plenty of time in the baking sun. Just as verbal silence is expected during play, so too should you endeavour to keep your apparel relatively quiet, avoiding potential distraction to the competitors (that said, plaid’s natural home is on the green). Not all tennis events are created equal, of course; note that dressing for Wimbledon is another matter altogether — peruse our exhaustive guide [https://therake.com/stories/style/guide-to-dressing-for-wimbledon/ ] to acing it at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
The Badminton Horse Trials, Badminton Park, England: 6-10th May The Royal Windsor Horse Show, Windsor, England: 13-17th May Tony though they may be, these multi-day equestrian events can get downright mucky, calling for practical apparel — weather-proof outerwear, tweedy tailoring, a trouser in cord or perhaps dare we say a jean, and sturdy mud-resistant footwear (wellies won’t be out of place). Relax a little, even Her Majesty The Queen opts for pragmatism here. But if you’re feeling uncomfortably casual, dress an otherwise rugged rustic look up with a natty animal-motif tie and plush Italian wool flatcap. The Met Gala, New York, USA: 3rd May Cannes Film Festival, Cannes, France: 12th-23rd May The theme of this year’s Met Gala is ‘About Time: Fashion and Duration’. To demonstrate fashion’s cyclical nature, consider coupling a classic pique-lapel midnight blue tuxedo with a louche ruffle-fronted formal shirt — the height of chic in the 1970s, a stylistic no-go for many years thereafter, and now once again very much in vogue. (Your host Ms. Wintour will surely approve.) Seamlessly, shamelessly rock the same attire on the red carpet in Cannes, a city where you could be forgiven for thinking the disco era never ended. Monaco Historic Grand Prix, Monte-Carlo: 9th-10th May Mille Miglia, Brescia, Italy: 11th-16th May Concorso d’Eleganza, Lake Como, Italy: 22nd-24th May Monaco Grand Prix, Monte-Carlo: 24th May Whether participating or spectating at these notable high-octane gatherings, during the day, we say go hell for leather in a suede bomber, classic white tee, driver’s sunglasses, trim cotton trouser, sophisticated moccasin and a motoring-inspired timepiece. At night you’ll want to slip into something more elegant, especially when visiting Villa d’Este (site of the Concorso d’Eleganza), which admirably maintains a jacket-and-tie dress code for gentlemen dining of an evening. Maintain the automotive vibes in more formal settings such as this with subtle car-motif accessories.
All Points East, London, England: 22nd-31st May BottleRock, Napa Valley, USA: 22nd-24th May With All Points East featuring Iggy Pop, Kraftwerk, Massive Attack, Thom Yorke and Johnny Marr, and BottleRock boasting Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Blondie, Stevie Nicks and Eric B. & Rakim, these music festivals are clearly aimed at mature-skewed audiences and promise a relatively genteel experience. Especially the latter, with its Cali wine country setting and cuisine’n’vino theme. Nevertheless, a festival requires rugged gear — echo ’90s Seattle (think Matt Dillon in Singles) in a plaid flannel shirt, leather biker jacket, slim indigo denim, boots built to take a beating and jewellery that asserts your alternative bona fides. Cartier Queen's Cup, Windsor, England: 19th May-14th June In approaching the question of apparel for this royally patronised polo competition, simply ponder: What would Prince Philip do? (Aside from making wildly inappropriate and insensitive remarks, that is.) Photographic evidence reveals that the Queen’s consort — who twice reached the finals as a player in this tournament — is generally found attending the cup in trad double-breasted blazer, grey flannel trousers and a tie representing one regimental affiliation or another. Copy Philip’s get-up, if not his gaffes. Top the princely look off with a fine Panama hat to keep the rays at bay. Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye, Wales: 21-31st May Glyndebourne Festival, Lewes, England: 21st May-30th August Memorial Day, USA: 25th May At the Hay Festival of literature, obviously, you’ll want to look smart — however the occasion’s al fresco environs make picnic garb most appropriate. Go with a nice white linen shirt, a washed-out jean and loafers worn sockless, which is also a perfect outfit for an outdoor Memorial Day barbeque. (During this moment of remembrance, no timepiece is more fitting than a Hamilton, as worn by generations of American servicemen.) Dining amidst the green and pleasant grounds of Glyndebourne, meanwhile, necessitates classic black-tie. Footwear-wise, an opera pump seems apt — especially if worn to a performance of The Rake’s Progress by Stravinsky, showing mid-August.