Nobody does stuffy like the British, and of all sporting institutions, the MCC must surely rank among the stuffiest of all. So much so that having taken the unusually bold step of issuing dress code cards, the 225-year-old institution nevertheless manages to make its models look like shabby waxwork dummies rescued from a cellar at Madame Tussauds; not even their trousers fit.
Should you be off to the cricket this summer, do read on – here we’ve interpreted the Lord’s dress code in such a way that you’ll be an oasis of understated sophistication in a sea of stuffed shirts.
The Lord’s dress code
If you’re bound for the members’ enclosure at Lord’s, you’ll need to wear either a lounge suit or jacket and trousers. Ties or cravats must be worn on match days. Don’t turn up wearing scruffy shoes either – anything fit for the beach will see you sent packing. On non-match days, you’re allowed to forego the jacket and tie.
The members’ friends’ enclosures adopt a more relaxed, smart casual dress code. Although you’re allowed to leave your jacket at home, you must wear a collared shirt. You may wear shorts, or denim trousers, but these must be tailored – if there is such a thing.
You’re going to Lord’s for God’s sake. Heed our words of wisdom; make the most of the occasion by dressing well.
Ditch your denim, your shorts, and your pullover – if it’s looks like it’s going to be chilly, wear a vest or thermal underwear like Barack Obama does when he visits chilly places. A summer blazer should ward off the cold sufficiently if you find yourself watching late into the evening.
Wearing a suit to watch England crush their cricketing rivals? You’re spectating at a summer event, so you need to select a lounge suit to match. Leave your fusty, winter navy or charcoal work suit in the wardrobe and instead, opt for something rather more seasonal.
Wouldn’t you look great in a summer weight blue number? Something lighter in tone, warm enough for an overcast day, yet cool enough to see you crisp and unruffled should the sun shine on the most hallowed of wickets? That’s what a summer-weight wool suit gives you.
Or go for linen – preferably a linen mix which gives you all the cooling properties of nature’s air conditioner, together with the structure of cotton or wool. It’s best to opt for half-canvas construction too – any activity which involves a lot of sitting makes pure linen look like a used hanky, a look you want to avoid.
Wearing a jacket and trousers gives you the chance to show just how relaxed and confident you are in the rarefied atmosphere of the MCC. But don’t forget your tie on match days – a silk one, with matching pocket square will do, or for the cutting-edge dressers among you, a knitted tie that matches your tweed jacket and waistcoat.
“Tweed?” You might say. “For a summer’s day?” But those ghillies north of the border know a thing or two; summer-weight tweed is a great way to combine elegance with a certain relaxed charm, and all without shivering if the sun dips behind a cloud.
Linen again gets a definite nod; its cooling and moisture wicking properties making it a must for hot days. Choose neutral colours like khaki, slate, or pastel blue and contrast with a striking red, or dark blue tie.
Trousers and shirts
Wearing separates gives you the opportunity to add verve to your outfit with contrasting colours and textures. As a rule of thumb, whatever you do with your top half, do the opposite with your bottom half.
Going for the nautically inspired navy blazer with brass buttons? Your go-to trousers are stone chinos. Opting for a tweed jacket? Switch from textured to smooth fabric for your legs by twinning a slate tweed jacket with pale grey flannel slacks.
Sporting linen? Why not add texture by combining the smooth finish of your jacket with summer-weight wool trousers? And if you’re going with a neutral jacket, consider adding a sharp contrast with summer blue chinos.
Match textured or checked jackets with a plain shirt – crisp white is always a summer winner. Twin a block colour jacket with a contrasting shirt – pastel colours look great with a navy blazer. Alternatively, pep up a plain jacket and trousers, with a natty striped shirt.
While the rules say no espadrilles or other beach-ready attire, they say nothing of the need for laces. So while socks are a must, loafers are definitely in – a boon considering the comfort they offer when the temperature rises and your feet swell.
Otherwise, we recommend plain black or brown shoes like Oxfords or Derbys to wear with your suit, or try suede for a fun way to add texture and contrast to your outfit.
Of course if you’d really like to make a statement then as a spectator, surely the only shoe for you is the eponymous “spectator” brogue, the two tone footwear of choice of Sebastian Flyte and chums.
Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun and though obviously you’ll be pausing for luncheon, a hat is a must if you’re to sit outside to listen to the thwack of leather on willow. A panama, frankly, is the only way to go.
Do enjoy your visit to Lord’s, and don’t forget to let us know your tips for a very British day out. Just head on over to our Facebook page and drop us a line.