AIRS AND GRACES
THE ETIQUETTE OF THE SOCIAL SEASON
What to wear
Season events demand a fiendish combination of not getting it wrong and not trying too hard: play by the rules but don’t overdress is a good maxim.
Women: wear flats, block heels, anything that will not spike you into a lawn, break your ankle or leave you trudging home with bleeding feet. A key season attribute is endurance: you walk miles, only to be folded up on a picnic rug.
Ascot’s Royal Enclosure really will enforce rules such as no spaghetti straps, no fascinators and no skirts above the knee. The Stewards’ Enclosure at the Henley Royal Regatta is the same on skirts, more relaxed about hats and straps. It is embarrassing and expensive to be turned away: local boutiques are used to enraged women cantering in for new gear. Hurrah for Modesty Wear, eh?
Chaps, don’t fall into the he trap of wearing ng wedding gear to Royal Ascot. cot. It may be subtle, ubtle, but it’s different. Shops renting Ascot wear will know the right look.
draws a soigné European crowd to Monte-Carlo Sports Club for this charity ball each March. There’s always a theme: tweak (and only tweak) your dress accordingly.
Black Tomato (Blacktomato.com, 0207 426 9888) can arrange a four-night package to Monte Carlo during the Bal de la Rose Monaco (dates for next year to be confirmed) from £2,179 per person. Price includes four nights at the Hotel Metropole Monte Carlo in a deluxe double room with Joël Robuchon breakfast, helicopter transfer from Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport to Monaco, and experiences in Monaco. More information: monte-carlo. mc/en/visits/bal-de-la-rose/
up at the Chelsea Flower Show and Wimbledon is really only for models, celebrities and the Queen – just dress for the weather. Probably a c coat.
How to behavebeha Don’t dropdro your champag champagne glass wh while treadin treading divots a at the polo;pol ponie ponies have to use th the field after you,y remem remember. Figh Fighting, while it adds greatly to the gaiety of the nation, is not allowed anywhere and will get you thrown out and possibly arrested.
Don’t try to buy a plant at the Chelsea Flower Show. Calendars and gardening gloves (sundries in Chelsea parlance) are fine, but anything large or organic must be paid for and taken away on the last day (see below). Mobiles off. Properly off. Or you will be “Asked To Leave The Enclosure”.
Never attempt to move someone’s picnic set-up on the lawn at Glyndebourne. Not even an inch.
What not to miss
The last night fireworks (free), ending the sailing activities at Cowes Week – keep an eye on news bulletins to check they are definitely going ahead this year.
The Royal Procession down the racecourse at 2.30pm daily during Royal Ascot, worth it just for the glares aimed at men who forget to doff their hats.
A ride in one of the Umpires’ launches in the Stewards’ Enclosure at Henley – not easy, but worth asking when you arrive.
The 4pm sell-off at the Chelsea Flower Show: buy Saturday tickets just to see several tons of foliage bounce up the road and into Sloane Square station.
The “cavalry dash”, aka the Qatar Stewards Cup, on the fifth and last day of what I still call Glorious Goodwood, with up to 20 horses sprinting six furlongs. around 200 yachts competing in different classes over six days, plus endless rum-fuelled parties and lobster barbecues on beaches, boats and in private houses. The place to be is the harbour with its race village and marinas – or aboard with an off-duty racing crew.
A 11-day tailor-made trip to Nevis and Antigua costs from £3,086 per person (two sharing), including seven nights B&B at the Inn at English Harbour on Antigua, close to many of the key vantage points for Sailing Week, return flights with British Airways, taxes, transfers and VIP arrival service in Antigua. Audley Travel (01993 838275; audleytravel.com/antigua). More information: sailingweek.com
MAY Kentucky Derby
It takes just two minutes to win (or watch) this classy, 143-year old American Flat race, run on the Churchill Downs at the end of a two-week racing festival. If come May 5 you are not in the stands on “Millionaires Row”, there’s a party in the middle of the course, just like our own Epsom Derby in early June. Drink mint juleps, eat burgoo (a stew) and take binoculars to see the Winner’s Circle with the triumphant horse draped in a blanket of roses.
A 16-day tailor-made self-drive tour through Kentucky and Tennessee costs from £2,950 per person (two sharing), including return flights, two nights in Louisville and general admission to the Derby. Hospitality is available at extra cost. Audley Travel (01993 838755; audleytravel.com/USA). More information: kentuckyderby.com
Ascot has rules on fascinators, below