Lewis Hamilton should have known better than to turn up at Wimbledon, in 2015, without his jacket and tie. You don’t get into the Royal box without looking your regal best, and he was rightly sent packing.
You may not have tickets to sit with the royals or join the execs and celebs in the members’ enclosure, but it’s still best to look like you could rub shoulders with the VIPs and hold your own. Here’s what to wear to Wimbledon.
That ball was out
In recent years, the organisers of the world’s stuffiest grand slam have relaxed the dress code considerably, but you still won’t gain entry to the lawns of Wimbledon if you’re wearing torn jeans, a running vest, or dirty pumps.
Quite right too; in fact we recommend you to avoid jeans, trainers, and t-shirts entirely. Use your noodle – if you’d wear it to clean the car, unblock your plumbing, or for your workout, you don’t wear it to Wimbledon.
Samuel Windsor to serve
If you have tickets for the most exclusive enclosures, you need to wear a lounge suit or a tailored jacket with tie, trousers, and dress shoes. Some of the other hospitality enclosures may also demand that you wear a jacket – as with any social event, you should check with the organisers.
That said, if you dress to impress, you’ll make the grade no matter what it says on your ticket. Our recommendation is to go for summer-weight fabrics with a stylish smart casual cut. Let’s look at your wardrobe.
What have you in the way of summer jackets? If all you’ve got at your disposal is a navy blazer with brass buttons then congratulations, you won’t look too bad at lawn tennis’ summer spectacular. As the guys at the Gentleman’s Journal say:
“Nautical influenced-fashion just looks right in tennis circles. Those brass buttons, those double-breasted blazers, that navy/white colour pairing – we don’t know why it works, but it does.”
Linen jackets are a good bet for Wimbledon, but since you’ll be spending a lot of your time sitting, pumping your fist, and Mexican waving, you don’t want anything that crumples too easily – a linen mix is best because it gives you the comfort of nature’s coolest fabric, without making you look like you’ve been left in the tumble dryer overnight.
For another cooling summer fabric, you can’t really go wrong with seersucker. This traditional crepe cloth originated in the Middle East but now gives British gents another string to their racket – go for a pastel colour and you’ll look thoroughly trans-Atlantic.
A summer-weight tweed jacket is another really great look. Go for a cooler hue than your usual winter browns and reds – think in terms of slate blue, or look for a number with some grassy greens in it – you’ll blend right in.
The only kind of shirt to wear to Wimbledon is a cotton one, and the crisper the better. Nothing makes a man look more dapper. You’ll want one that fits well without being “fitted”. With your shirt tucked in, take a look at yourself in the mirror – if you’re overflowing like a glass of fizz poured too fast, you need a slimmer cut – but not too much.
Keep your look clean and simple by avoiding busy checks or floral patterns. In fact you may wish to ape the tennis stars and wear plain white – a colour that John Wilson at Paragon says, performs a vital function. It was “the sight of sweat spots through coloured clothing [that] led to the now famous ‘tennis whites’.” A white shirt is a sensible choice that also reflects the scorching summer sun. And do sport a snazzy pair of cufflinks – Wimbledon is a chance to show a bit of class.
Should your Wimbledon experience be all about a blanket and picnic spread on Murray mound, you’ll be glad to know that you are indeed allowed to wear tailored shorts. Teamed with a summer shirt and Panama, crisp chino shorts will certainly look presentable enough.
All other tennis spectating should be done in trousers. Again you’re looking for something that offers a natty contrast to the rest of your outfit – a blue blazer paired with stone chinos; a linen jacket with pale blue chinos – cool cotton is best when the sun shines.
Since you’ll be sitting a fair bit, we counsel against 100% linen trousers. But linen-cotton mixes and summer weight tweed, as long as your legs don’t clash with your jacket, fit the Wimbledon vibe like a jug of Pimm’s.
Game, set and match
You’re watching the top names in tennis battle it out at the most famous tennis tournament in the world – you’re a spectator, so wear spectator brogues. These two-tone shoes are the footwear equivalent of racing into the net to out-volley all challengers with your exquisite sense of style.
And do remember to get yourself a pair of sunglasses that look the part. Forget wrap-around plastic and opt instead for timeless classics like Wayfarers, Clubmasters, or Aviators. You’ll also need a pocket square, and a Panama hat – but don’t wear it while you’re watching the tennis or you’ll earn the ire of anyone sat behind you.
Are you going to Wimbledon, or have you been before? We’d love to hear your tips – leave us a comment below.