Summer occasion dressing comes with its fair share of challenges. There are complex dress codes to follow and unpredictable weather patterns to battle with. Plus, there’s also the added pressure of Instagram and Facebook. Because you know your friends are going to tag you in group shots immediately, whether you like it or not. So you’d better be happy with your look!
This summer Bicester Village have collaborated with Debrett’s, the authority in British etiquette since 1769, in an attempt to simplify the rules of summer occasion dressing. Together they’ve produced the helpful Guide to British Style, which clarifies the dos and don’ts of event dressing. The handbook helps to decipher the dress codes for black tie events, Royal Ascot, the Henley Royal Regatta, summer festivals and other key events in the social calendar.
And, with that in mind, Bicester Village invited me to share my own guide to summer occasion dressing. So here are my top tips…
First things first
UNDERSTAND THE DRESS CODE
There’s a lot to get your head around when it comes to summer dress codes. If you’re attending Royal Ascot or the Henley Royal Regatta be sure to check the dress code that is specific to the section you’re visiting, because the rules often vary. For instance, the Royal enclosure at Ascot requires dress straps that are one inch wide or greater, hems that fall “just above” the knee or below and headpieces with a solid base of at least four inches. However, the Queen Anne enclosure allows dresses of any length (still with hats), and the Windsor enclosure has no formal dress code.
If you’re a guest at a wedding the dress code should be easy fairly to decipher. But always avoid wearing white, ivory or cream unless the bride has explicitly said it’s okay. Also remember to take a cover-up if you’re attending a church wedding and your dress reveals your shoulders.
Left everything to the last minute? Not to worry
MAKE THE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE ENJOYABLE
Whilst I typically prefer to shop for clothing online, when it comes to big occasions I think it’s impossible to take shortcuts. You have to invest the time to try things on and make sure you’re fully comfortable in the outfit you choose. And if you’re going to spend an entire morning or afternoon shopping you might as well make it an enjoyable experience, right? Which is why I love the designer outlet, Bicester Village.
In the past few years Bicester Village has got really fancy. Like, Regent Street fancy! And it plays host to a wide variety of luxury boutiques – including Diane von Furstenberg, L.K. Bennett, Oscar de la Renta, Reiss, Temperley London and Ted Baker – which all offer enviable discounts.
As Bicester Village is just a 45 minute train ride from London Marylebone, it’s easy to nip over there for an afternoon of shopping. And it’s a really pleasurable way to shop, as you can pick up everything you need in one visit – the dress, shoes, accessories and menswear (if your significant other needs kitting out too).
KNOW WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR
There’s a seemingly endless amount of choice at Bicester Village, which is great. But unless you’re someone who really likes to shop, I think it’s best to go in with a clear action plan. So ask yourself these questions first:
Are you looking for a dress, a jumpsuit or separates? What colours and silhouettes do you feel most confident in? Which boutiques do you want to visit first? Is this look for one occasion only? Or would you like to be able to re-style the outfit for another upcoming event? Do you need matching accessories? Will you be on your feet for much of the day? If so, what is the maximum heel height you can handle?
Write out a list of requirements to help structure your visit and save yourself from wasting valuable time.
3 Styling tips to fallback on
1. A tailored jacket in ivory, cream or blush pink is a worthy investment. You’re guaranteed to wear it year after year, so don’t be afraid to spend a little extra because the cost-per wear will quickly even out. It’s always smart to have a summer-appropriate cover-up in case the weather takes a turn for the worst (a denim jacket simply won’t do if you’re at a wedding or the races). And shoulders should always be covered at church ceremonies, so they’re good to have on hand for weddings and christenings too.
2. Transform a “hero” dress with hardworking accessories. A classic dress can easily be transformed to suit a multitude of summer occasions if you choose your accessories wisely. Maje’s pink lace dress [above] is perfectly suited to an outdoor wedding when paired with Miu Miu’s playful sunglasses and a statement belt. But it could just as easily work for Ascot’s Queen Anne enclosure if you ditched the belt and sunglasses and added a hot pink headpiece.
3. Wearing shoes that give you blisters? Massage a little Vaseline or Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream into the spots your where shoes usually rub. It will reduce friction and stop blisters forming. I also dab a little on the inside of my shoes too, just to be extra safe.
Are you planning a visit to Bicester Village this summer? And how do you simplify summer occasion dressing? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks, so feel free to comment below…
Style Credits | Shopping: Next blouse, IDA jeans, hush jacket, Boden bag, La Redoute shoes. Pink Dress: Maje dress, Maje belt, Gina shoes, Furla handbag, Miu Miu sunglasses at David Clulow; all via Bicester Village. Blue Dress: L.K. Bennett dress, L.K. Bennett shoes, Furla handbag, Ray-Ban sunglasses at David Clulow; all via Bicester Village.
Photos by Victoria Metaxas
~ This post was created in collaboration with Bicester Village. Thank you for continuing to support the sponsors that make Coco’s Tea Party possible. ~