The British Summer Social Calendar 2023: What To Get Dressed Up For This Year
Image Credit – Visit Windsor
It might only be the beginning of the year, but the British Social Season arrives more quickly than you’d expect. Indeed, even though it’s widely known as the British Summer Social Season, the fact that it kicks off in March and doesn’t wind down until late September – early October means that The Season covers quite a patch of the calendar.
And it’s coming around the corner fast, with the Cheltenham Festival kicking things off in mid-March. Indeed, we’re already fielding messages from clients looking to ensure they don’t leave things too late.
To keep you in the know this year, here’s a complete rundown of the key dates to put in your diary in 2023.
Something To Bear In Mind Ahead Of The British Social Season
Bespoke clothing can take between six and eight weeks to complete, from first appointment to final fitting and completion. It’s worth the wait, because quality cuts no corners. That being said, if you’re thinking about getting something a cut above tailored for an event this season, make sure to get started as well in advance. This will ensure both the quality and timely delivery of your final product, and will make sure your experience is enjoyable and stress free. That’s how it should be.
The British Summer Social Calendar 2023: Key Events & Dates
The Boat Race (Credit – The Daily Express)
Cheltenham Festival – 14th – 17th March
The British Summer Social Season kicks off in style at the Cheltenham Festival, which timestamps the opening of the racing season. Cheltenham, whether the sun is shining or the rain falling, always delivers a fantastic atmosphere. Being the first major event of the social season, many punters make a strong effort to look sharp, and while there’s no formal dress code at Cheltenham, it’s still a great idea to don a new outfit.
Check out our Style Guide for Cheltenham Festival here to explore some great clothing options.
The Boat Race – 26th March
The famous showdown on the Thames between Britain’s two old rival universities, Oxford and Cambridge. The Boat Race makes a brilliant day out, with as many as 250,000 spectators gathering on the river banks along the four mile course between Putney and Mortlake. There’s more of a relaxed approach to dressing at the boat race, but smart casual is considered the most appropriate style.
Considering that the smart and business casual looks have so many variables, it can actually be tricky to navigate. Check out our guide here.
Salon Privé London (Credit – CAR Magazine)
The Grand National at Aintree – 15th April
Quite possibly the most famous horse race on earth – the one even your grandmother has a flutter on. Here the style stakes are quite high. There’s no formal dress code, leaving plenty of freedom. However the prestige of the event ensures that everyone tries to look their absolute best.
Smart Casual, with a bias leaning towards the smart side is a good option. But so too is a well fitted two or three piece suit – something with a bit of colour to welcome Spring ideally. We’ve got a detailed guide on all the elements to consider when having a suit tailored here.
Salon Privé London – 20th – 22nd April
A new addition to the Social Calendar as of 2022, Salon Privé London is an expansion of the long-running Salon Privé luxury motor show – that which usually takes place at summer’s end at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire (more on this below). The London rendition of the event is set for the Royal Hospital Chelsea, with the headline event Concours de Vente featuring 60 rare and remarkable classic cars. Better yet, they’re all for sale if your money’s good enough…
It’s not all about classics either, with more than 150 high performance cars on exhibit including the latest offerings from the likes of Bugatti, Maserati, and Lamborghini. Away from the motoring focus, some of the finest luxury brands can be found at the shopping village offering everything from premium jewellery and accessories to clothing.
The dress code at Salon Privé London is smart, with shorts and t-shirts not permitted. Indeed, the organisers themselves recommend men to opt for, “A comfortable suit or blazer with chinos and a pair of brogues.” They also state that, “Although not required, ties, cravats or bowties are encouraged.”
Now would be a good time to point you in the direction of our Bespoke Jackets & Separates Style Guide.
Our Smart Casual Guide might prove useful too.
St George’s Day – 23rd April
With St George’s Day falling on a Sunday this year, there’ll be plenty more opportunities to do something special to celebrate England’s patron saint, from family-friendly dragon hunts or jousting displaces at village festivals to afternoon tea parties and dinner dates with friends.
You don’t need any dressing guides here, but if you do want to observe the date, wear a red rose in your lapel.
Cheltenham Jazz Festival – 26 April – 1 May
Van Morrison, Paloma Faith, Chick Corea, Randy Crawford, and Hugh Laurie have all previously taken to the stage at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, which has grown into one of the UK’s best celebrations of jazz music. This year, the event is expected to attract well north of 20,000 people. Being a music festival, there’s no dress code here. Wear whatever you feel, but make it comfortable – you’ll be on your feet most of the day.
Badminton Horse Trials (Credit – The Sloaney)
Badminton Horse Trials – 4th – 8th May
The village of Badminton in Gloucestershire, just a few miles northeast of Bristol and Bath, plays host to the Badminton Horse Trials – an eminent dressage, cross-country, and show jumping competition. There’s plenty to see and do away from the equestrian action too, with the shopping village considered a highlight.
Comfortable clothing is recommended at Badminton Horse Trials, footwear in particular. There’s no strict dress code here, but many visitors lean into the country aesthetic; while a good pair of boots, jeans, and a knit sweater would fit in just fine, a textured tweed number fits the bill perfectly.
See our Country & Tweeds Style Guide.
*Normally a three day event, the 2023 Badminton Horse Trials has been extended to a four day programme to avoid any clash with the Coronation of King Charles III on Saturday the 6th of May. The Dressage event will finish early on Saturday so that visitors can observe the coronation, which will be shown on the big screens.
The Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III – 6th May
The afternoon of Saturday the 6th of May sees Charles III officially crowned as King, alongside The Queen Consort Camilla at Westminster Abbey London, in a ceremony overseen by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Though the full details of the day, including the procession route to Westminster Abbey, are yet to be confirmed at the time of writing, the streets of London are sure to be lined with spectators.
Royal Windsor Horse Show – 11th – 14th May
Back to the equestrian theme with the Royal Windsor Horse Show, jumping, driving, dressage, and endurance competitions featuring some of the world’s best riders, as well as more than 130 showing classes, are all on show at Windsor Castle at the UK’s largest outdoor horse show. On top of these competitions there are exhibitions from the likes of The King’s Troop and Royal Horse Artillery, as well as the Land Rover Shetland Pony Grand National.
General entry ticket holders aren’t held to a dress code here, but those watching from the Members’ Enclosure must ensure that they’re dressed smartly. Our advice? A well cut suit or a tweed jacket would be ideal.
The Chelsea Flower Show – 22nd – 27th May
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is considered the world’s greatest flower show and is an important occasion in the British Summer Season. It showcases incredible landscape designs, flower displays, as well as luxury shopping at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. Whether horticulture is your thing or not, it makes for a fantastic day out.
As for the dress code, there isn’t one, but the unwritten rule is to dress smart or smart casual. Think collared (or even polo) shirts, chinos, and a comfortable, lightweight blazer. It’s also a perfect occasion for a linen number.
Glyndebourne Festival (Credit – glyndebourne.com)
Glyndebourne Festival – 19th May – 27th August
East Sussex’s famous old opera house plays host to the annual Glyndebourne Festival, with performances running all through summer until the end of August. Shows take place in the indoor auditorium, while the gardens outside make a lovely picnic spot. There are also a handful of fantastic restaurants to dine at.
To show respect to the performers and the occasion itself, formal dress is encouraged.
The Concours on Savile Row – 24th – 25th May
This one is not to be missed. In fact, it might be the event we’re most excited about this year. The Concours on Savile Row brings together the best of the automotive and luxury tailoring worlds on the famed Savile Row – the home of classic British tailoring. Should you go, you’re more than likely to bump into us there!
Savile Row itself will be pedestrianised for the two day event, with over forty high end cars, from rare classics to modern supercars all on display. Better yet, entry is free for the general public, but tickets are on sale for the special Gala Dinner in the Collections Gallery at the Royal Academy of Arts on Wednesday the 24th of May, while Thursday the 25th sees Reception held at Burlington Arcade (by invite only).
The Gala Dinner and Reception will most likely have a more formal dress code to keep an eye out for, but do check the dress requirements if you get a ticket or invite. Here’s a Guide to the Formal Dress Code, should you need it.
The Concours on Savile Row imposes no dress code, but you’re encouraged to dress smart if you can. It’s Savile Row after all – a lovely opportunity to look your best.
Credit – Concours on Savile Row
The Derby at Epsom – 2nd – 3rd June
The Epsom Derby is one of the premier horse racing events. Ladies’ Day takes place on the 2nd of June, with the main event – Derby Day – getting underway on Saturday the 3rd.
This is one of the biggest events of the year, and will be attended by celebrities, high society members, and indeed some of the Royal Family.
Chestertons Polo in the Park – 9th – 11th June
Hurlingham Park plays host to one of the world’s premier polo events, which couples top quality sporting action with a lively social atmosphere. Champagne and wine flow, the shopping areas buzz, while the popular Mahiki tent is always a great spot for a party. There are some high style stakes here too, though they’re not restrictive. Here’s what Chestertons own website says, “Comfortable yet elegant style is the aim for spectators on a day where country tweed is thrown out in preference for city chic. For men, pale pastels, whites and beiges provide the ideal foundation for a summer day, combined with the occasional bold splash of darker colour to stand out from the crowd. However, if you plan on attending some of the hospitality areas, then smart attire is generally required.”
On the subject of Polo – the dates for the Gloucestershire Festive of Polo and Cartier Queen’s Cup are yet to be confirmed at the time of publishing, though June is likely to be the month. We’ll update these as soon as they’re confirmed.
The King’s Birthday Parade (Trooping the Colour) – 17th June
The UK Sovereign’s birthday is traditionally celebrated by The Trooping of the Colour, and this June marks His Majesty King Charles III very first. The event involves an exhibition of pageantry, military precision, horsemanship, and musical skill by close to 2,000 soldiers, horsemen and musicians, as well as an RAF Fly-By to close the ceremony.
Many members of the Royal Family will be mounted on horses or travelling in carriages themselves as the parade makes its way from Buckingham Palace along The Mall to Horse Guards Parade and back.
Tennis Championship at Queen’s Club – 19th – 25th June
A permanent fixture on the Men’s ATP world tour, this Century old tournament at Queen’s Club makes a fantastic prelude to Wimbledon for tennis fans in the British Social Calendar. The list of names which have played and won here is an impressive one, featuring Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, and John McEnroe.
Royal Ascot – 20th – 24th June
The most prestigious fixture in the racing calendar, Royal Ascot promises five days of thrilling flat racing. For spectators however, Royal Ascot is almost as much about fashion as it is racing, and comes with strict formal dress codes to be observed.
Royal Ascot’s dressing expectations can be tricky to navigate, depending on where you’re watching from, so check out our dressing guide here.
Royal Ascot (Credit – Sky Sports)
Isle of Wight Festival – 15th – 18th June
One of the very best At the 2023 Isle of Wight Festival, there are some huge comebacks on the cards with Pulp, The Chemical Brothers, and even Robbie Williams headlining. We won’t even tell you how to dress for this one… pack for all seasons, don’t forget the wellington boots, and enjoy the show.
Glastonbury Festival – 21st – 25th June
The mother of all music festivals in Britain, even the world, Glastonbury 2023 will feature the legendary Elton John as the headline act. If you can land a ticket, this one is not to be missed. As above, dress for comfort and fun!
Henley Royal Regatta – 27th June – 2nd July
Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire hosts turns into quite the party scene during this fantastic rowing race. The Henley Royal Regatta welcomes visitors from all over the world who come dressed to impress, socialise, eat, drink, and be merry. Similar to Royal Ascot, the dress code depends on which enclosure or club you’re going to. Here’s a really useful guide by Tatler to point you in the right direction.
Henley Royal Regatta (Credit – BBC News)
Wimbledon – 3rd – 16th July
The world’s most famous tennis championship needs no introduction or preamble, and is for many the go to event of British Summer. There’s no dress code, but smart or smart casual is encouraged. Here’s that style guide again.
Formula One British Grand Prix – 7th – 9th July
Another sporting event which needs no extra hype, the Silverstone race promises plenty of thrills and culminates on Sunday 9th of July. Smart casual is the order of the day again, with chinos and a button down or polo shirt a popular choice.
Credit – F1.com
The Open at Royal Liverpool – 16th – 23rd July
The Original Golf Championship will take place at the historic, challenging Royal Liverpool Golf Club in the Wirral, Merseyside this year. It’s another event that needs no real intro, and if you’ve been before you’ll know how to dress. For first timers, know that anything too casual might be frowned upon. Shorts are okay considering the time of year however. Think nice chinos or shorts, a golf shirt or a nice button down.
If you want to take things up a level, our Bespoke Shirts Style Guide might come in handy. It’s also worth remembering that we’re well versed in making tailored shorts, chinos, and a range of other separates.
British Open Polo Championship for the Cowdray Gold Cup – July (Final date TBA)
The Gold Cup Final makes for a brilliant, family-friendly day out near South Downs National Park. Like many of these sporting events, there’s plenty of extra entertainment to keep everyone happy including a fairground, shopping village, as well as live music in the evening.
What to wear? Smart casual is the way to go again, but if you’re lucky enough to be headed for the members’ enclosure, shorts are not permitted.
The Game Fair – 28th – 30th July
The Game Fair is possibly the quintessential event for anyone interested in countryside pursuits, from shooting to fishing, falconry to horse & hound. This year it’s taking place at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire, and you shouldn’t be surprised to see us recommending Country & Tweeds to look just the part.
The Game Fair (Credit – FarmingUK)
Cowes Week – 29th July – 4th August
A long running Regatta on the northeastern shores of The Isle of Wight, spectators flock to Cowes to watch more than 1,000 yachts compete. There’s a festival atmosphere at Cowes Week, with a relaxed dress code and plenty of venues to eat, drink, and watch the action.
Qatar Goodwood Festival – 1st – 5th August
Glorious Goodwood is the penultimate horse racing fixture of the social season, drawing some of the world’s best jockeys to Chichester for five days of adrenaline-inducing flat racing. There’s a wealth of entertainment options and fabulous dining, as well as some of the best fashion on show at Goodwood.
The dress codes differ from enclosure to enclosure, with the likes of linen suits and panama hats encouraged, while formal dress is expected in the Richmond Enclosure. Here’s Goodwood’s own official guide to keep you right.
Salon Privé – 31st August – 4th September
We mentioned the newly launched London rendition of Salon Privé above, which takes place in April, but this right here is the original. Based at Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, there’s a startling collection of cars on show during the Concours d’Elegance and The Salon Privé Club Trophy, which celebrates the UK’s prestige car clubs.
Just like Salon Privé London, the dress code here is smart, and shorts and t-shirts are not an option. Here are Salon Privé’s very own guidelines on what to wear.
Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials – 31st August – 4th September
The final equestrian event of The Season, The Burghley Horse Trials is a wonderful showcase of dressage, cross country, and show jumping at the grand old Burghley House just outside Stamford, Lincolnshire. With so many fantastic accommodations and dining in the area nearby, as well as VIP and private hospitality options, this makes a great idea for an elevated weekend getaway.
As The Season winds down, so too do the dressing requirements at the Burghley Horse Trials. Their guidelines on what to wear simply say to dress comfortably and be prepared for all kinds of weather. Make no mistake though, most visitors won’t be letting standards drop too far, with Country & Tweeds, dapper Jackets and other separates, and perhaps even overcoats in case the late Summer weather takes a turn.
Wentworth Golf Club (Credit – Eventmasters)
BMW PGA Championship, Wentworth – 14th – 17th September
The Summer Social Calendar draws to a close in spectacular fashion with the BMW PGA at Wentworth Golf Club in Virginia Water ,Surrey. The world’s top golfers will be competing along these historic fairways, while the excellent hospitality options, including the Championship Pavillion by the 18th and final hole, are perfect for enjoying a drink with friends or family as the action draws to an often dramatic close.
On the topic of Wentworth, this is a place that’s close to our hearts at Marc Oliver, as for the last 15 years, we’ve been working closely with the Golf Club, tailoring suits and leisurewear for pro-golfing members and club management. Read more about this relationship, which is frankly a great honour for us, here. Indeed, here’s another dive into the creation of Club Captain Ally Hunter’s Captain’s Jacket in 2022.
And with that, our rundown of the British Summer Social Season comes to a close. We trust you’ve found it useful. We’ll be back later in the year with another guide to the Autumn / Winter Season.
If you’d like to refresh your wardrobe and enjoy a fantastic tailoring experience, get in touch to arrange a consultation. Welcome to Savile Row. Welcome to Marc Oliver.