Friday, 07 April 2017

In conversation with: Debrett's style expert

Following the launch of Bicester Village and Debrett's handbook 'Guide to British Style', sits down with a leading style expert at Debrett's to get some top tips on dressing for formal occasions

Written by Katrina Schollenberger
What is your partnership with Bicester Village and why does it work so well?

We have partnered with Bicester Village to publish a Guide to British Style, looking at some of our most iconic items of clothing and the dress codes associated with formal Season events.

Both companies are proud to be champions of British style – Bicester Village through the brands it represents and Debrett's through its expertise on etiquette and formal events – and both have an international customer base. Bicester Village is a global destination for style-lovers from overseas, and Debrett's training academy is increasingly teaching cross-cultural business and social etiquette to international customers.

What is the 'Guide To British Style'?

The guide is part of a year-long partnership exploring the historical origins of some of our most popular items of clothing and explaining the events of both the traditional and the modern Season.

The guide is available at Bicester and will educate visitors on the nuanced rules of dressing throughout the Season with an intricate guide to the ever-complex dress codes fiercely observed at events including Ascot, Henley Regatta and Wimbledon.

Visitors will then be able to take these dress codes into consideration when making purchases at Bicester Village.

What are some trends to look out for when dressing for social events this summer?

For the first time this year, Royal Ascot has included jumpsuits in its Royal Enclosure style guide for women, which reflects their increasing popularity as formalwear. We've also seen a lot of florals and acid brights amongst our favourite spring outfits.

What are some key differences when dressing for Ascot as opposed to an event like Wimbledon?

Royal Ascot remains probably the most formal Season event when it comes to dress codes, with rules for both men and women, which vary according to enclosure. At its strictest, morning dress is required, which means a morning suit for men and a smart dress or trouser suit with a hat or headpiece for women.

Wimbledon tends to be less formal, and in fact it doesn't have an official dress code for spectators (though players are required to wear mainly white). However, for a major match on Centre or Number One court at which a member of the Royal Family may be present, spectators may choose to dress smartly: typically a summer dress for women, or a blazer and tie for men.

What is your opinion on fascinator fashion- the bolder the better or understated?

Hats and fascinators can certainly be striking and colourful, but novelty hats are not recommended for a formal event such as a wedding or the races. Bear in mind your own comfort, too: a very large, heavy hat may become uncomfortable.

Are there any guidelines to heel height when dressing for formal occasions?

Many Season events take place outside, so beware of stiletto heels, which will sink into the grass. Ensure that heels are reasonably comfortable, too – many events last all day and involve plenty of standing and walking.

What are some handbag essentials?

The unpredictable British climate may mean that it's necessary to squeeze both sun cream AND an umbrella into your handbag! For an event such as a wedding, which may last all day, take a cover-up or wrap in case it becomes cool in the evening. If you're off to the races and fancy a flutter, don't forget some spending money.

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