Dressing for an English garden party: Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee

June 12, 2012

By Wanda O’Brien

The British rain that spilled over London during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend in early June did not damper the style of those who attended Her Majesty’s Party in Bedford Square. The block of greenery in central London proved an ideal site for a garden party on the occasion of the Queen’s 60th year on the throne. Those who attended simply totted umbrellas, and wellies (or rain boots for those reading in North America) were the footwear of choice, rather than peep-toe sandals and loafers.

A garden party is not only a social gathering set in pretty foliage with good food and drink, but also highlights that English panache. It’s a chance for the ladies to adorn a colourful frock, bright lipstick, and a festive hat or fascinator (a head-piece that livens up any ’do), while the fellas charm the crowd in pressed linen suits and Windsor-knotted ties. The afternoon, hosted by Bourne and Hollingsworth cocktail bar, was such a scene. Summer dresses, 1940s hairstyles, blooming flower hair pieces, khakis, dress shirts, and pocket squares and neckerchiefs set against the backdrop of strategically placed Union Jacks.

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Andria Stirling, head of marketing at Bourne and Hollingsworth, was an organizer of this garden party, and she also coordinates themed-dress parties such as the 1920s Prohibition Nights and 1940s parties throughout the year. She outlined the staples to keep in mind when dressing for a garden party: “For chaps, you want to be wearing cricket whites, linen suits, panama hats and, obviously, always a good tie. Windsor knot is a must.” For the ladies, the dressing field was a bit more open: “Anything really. Flowery dresses, a smart trouser-suit, skirts and lovely tops. Anything summer-y and smart that makes you feel like a million dollars.”

The guests could enjoy a range of tea time treats and bbq, to accompany fresh fruit Pimms from the bar, and participate in garden games, including croquet and make-your-own royal crown. Miranda Garrett, dressed in a long deep mauve gown with matching fascinator and four-strand pearl necklace, was teaching croquet to party guests. “Extravagant headgear is always a must,” she said. “And lipstick!”

“I think it’s a social faux pas to have anything but red [lipstick], or a variation of red, at a garden party,” said Dandylion Wilson, who was also helping to highlight the finer points of croquet. She did so while wearing a faux fur coat over her dark-toned dress, cinched with a three-tier belt to keep warm. She pointed out one garden party beginner mistake was not dressing warmly enough and encouraged ladies to bring “shawls or small items of fabric that can be used as scarves if it gets incredibly cold.”

If you have your garden party outfit primed and ready, but wake up to find the weather gods are conspiring against you, the advice was the same across the board – wear it anyways.

Dressing choices

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