Fashion at the World-Famous Henley Royal Regatta
by Kristi Carignan, Fashion Editor
Henley Royal Regatta (HRR) is one of the UK’s oldest and most prestigious events of the summer sporting calendar. Dating back to 1839, the event, which takes place at Henley-on-Thames, has been held every year since its inception and is steeped in history. Quintessentially English, HRR is considered to be one of the social highlights of the year, therefore it’s important to carefully select your attire for this traditional event.
Although there is no formal dress code for Henley or the Regatta Enclosure, most men wear lounge suits or blazers, chinos and other rowing apparel. Whereas women opt for summer dresses and it is customary to wear a hat or fascinator.
Stewards Enclosure and Temple Island
If you're watching the racing from the Stewards Enclosure or Temple Island, ensure you dress to impress. Spectators in these areas must dress in accordance with the traditions of Henley.
For the ladies, these include beautiful dresses, hats or fascinators, and of course, accessories. Bear in mind that formal day-wear must not fall above the knee, and ladies who do not respect this requirement will be declined entry. Absolutely no jeans, shorts, culottes or trousers are permitted, and novelty clothing is absolutely not allowed. Girls over the age of 13 must respect these fashion guidelines.
For the gentlemen, traditional dress includes a blazer, a tie or cravat, and flannels. Men may also wear chinos and a sports jacket, or dress in traditional striped blazers showing their support for their preferred rowing club. Jackets and blazers must be worn always. Similarly, men are encouraged to wear boaters or Panama hats, and although not obligatory, they are dapper. Again, novelty clothing is not permitted and boys over the age of 13 must too respect these fashion guidelines.
Henley vs. Ascot
It is believed that Henley Royal Regatta enforces the world’s strictest dress code, so what may work at other sporting events, including Royal Ascot, will not work at Henley. At Royal Ascot, the strictest fashion rules apply only to the Royal Enclosure. For example, ladies must wear dresses of a modest length, falling just above the knee or longer. In addition, straps must be one inch or greater, and although jackets can be worn, dresses underneath must comply with the Royal Enclosure dress code. Hats are essential and must have a base size of at least 10cm wide. Fascinators are a faux pas. Royal Ascot is all about the hat, so although making a bigger impact is better here, it would not be acceptable nor appropriate at Henley. In addition, anyone attending an event at Henley should conform to the dress code stipulated on their event ticket.
Some of the banned garments at Henley include above-the-knee hemlines, trousers and culottes shorts for women. Women wearing thigh-high splits will also be asked to leave. It goes without saying that jeans are banned for both men and women.
With only a few days until the Henley Royal Regatta begins, now is the time to decide what you will be wearing to this elegant and exciting sporting event. Ensure you are familiar with the dress code so you can look brilliant on the day.