Guess the Dress
Always thought that we knew proper etiquette and dress code for different occasions, at least we do in the U.S. There, you dress for a night out at the theatre while a baseball game would be shorts and a t shirt. Going to a symphony would be another occasion to dress up and look really smart but going to a horse race would be for fun and casual, unless you had a hospitality suite or box. Going to the movies is casual but not cool to bring in your own food or at least you don’t want to get caught.
Since we’ve been in the U.K., we’ve pretty much been backwards in all our knowledge of what to wear where. It’s a guess the dress code on many things and we’ve been wrong a good deal of the time. Our first outing was a nice play in Richmond. Of course it was Spamalot which is Monty Python but still, we thought theatre, so we should dress up a bit. While we were not the only ones there in nice clothing, by far there were more people there in jeans and t shirts and many there with their own food or buying food to sit and munch while watching the play. That seemed rather odd. Plus the dash for the ice cream during the intermission was very unusual to us.
OK, we’re adaptable. Next outing is just a visit to Cornwall. As we were doing our own thing which mostly meant walking around and seeing ruins and such, we figured it was jeans and whatever we wanted to wear. Wrong. Apparently even if you get a nice posh hotel at a discount rate, you are still expected to dress for dinner and we were way underdressed. I’m surprised they served us. Not doing very well here.
We have figured out that movies are ok to wear what you want. It’s also ok to bring in whatever you want to eat or get it there. They don’t stop you walking in with a bag of McDonald’s or a milk shake from the vendor in the mall. The symphony. Always an occasion to dress in the U.S. and because we were going to the Diamond Jubilee Symphony at Royal Albert Hall, surely it would be a dress occasion. Well, it might have been had we been sitting somewhere below the nose bleed section. High up in the rafters, you can wear what you want and should because climbing the stairs in heels and a nice dress is best left to the young and better coordinated.
OK, another play. Another attempt to dress up but we toned it down this time and got closer to being right. We matched the other theatre patrons much better but at our third play, we wore jeans and a nice shirt and fit in perfectly and joined the rush for the ice cream and no one would know we weren’t Brits as long as we didn’t open our mouths.
Outdoor events are a special thing, really. The Brits love their gardens and such famous events like the Chelsea Garden Show are really a dress up time. We figured it was more of a home show and garden show and see what flowers you can buy. Opps, got another one wrong. Luckily, I could buy a hat once there and that helped our look be a bit more refined.
Out of order but the Royal Windsor Horse Show. We figured horse show, outdoors, had been raining all week but wait, it does say “Royal” so let’s dress up a bit. That was a mistake in that we dressed up in the wrong kind of clothes. This is a horsey crowd and they are all wearing their fine riding clothes and their marvelous boots and special Wellies and we’re in tennis shoes getting mud all over our pants. We went home and changed for the evening performance and that was a bit dressier and we hit it closer to the mark.
Ah, Ascot! This one we knew was a dress up event. How could one miss it since there are articles in the paper weekly before the event on what to wear and how to wear it and dress codes are sent out with your tickets. A horse race and everyone is dressed in their finest clothes with the most outrageous hats but that’s Ascot and nothing else compares. This one we got right.
Windsor Horse Race. Different from anything Royal but still a horse race and we were invited into a hospitality suite so we did get dressed for this one. We fit in with the rest of the people in the suite but definitely not the ones just mingling in the crowd. So we’re confused again. Some horse races are all about dressing up and some are just wear what you want.
Haven’t been to Wimbledon but the dress codes are out for that too and it’s not just shorts and a t shirt for Wimbledon either but another dress up occasion. I’m not sure we’ll ever quite figure out what we are supposed to wear where. The good news is, for the important stuff, the powers that be will send you a dress code along with your tickets so you can’t mess up. For the not so important stuff, I think it is about comfort and just not being too much out of place.
We’re still trying. We have a few more events planned and some are questionable about what to wear but we’ll get it right eventually. In a few years when we go back to the U.S., we’ll have to relearn that dress code or get kicked out of theatres possibly and there won’t be any ice cream during intermission either. That will be a sad day.