Get your Pimms ready – Wimbledon is on the way. It may not feel like it with the weather we’ve been having recently, but summer is just around the corner and with it comes one of the world’s greatest sporting events.
Of course Wimbledon is not only about tennis but also its very own set of lovable clichés – overpriced strawberries and cream, queuing for hours, and people shouting come on Tim”.
It’s also a great opportunity to get dressed up and be seen – while the tennis is obviously the main event, the sartorial choices of the spectators get a fair bit of publicity too. If you’ve been lucky enough to score tickets to Wimbledon this year and don’t want to attract the wrong kind of attention, it’s worth putting a bit of thought into your outfit.
Wimbledon Player’s Dress Code
Wimbledon actually doesn’t have an official dress code for spectators, but the players are subject to one of the strictest dress codes in the sporting world:
All players must wear white. This rule dates back to the 1800s and was enforced to minimise the appearance of sweat stains.
White means white – no off-white or cream is allowed
Any colour trims must be no wider than 1cm
Shoes must be white, including the soles, with no large brand logos
Undergarments must be white
Medical supports should be white.
Woe-betide the player who strays from these rules – three years ago Eugenie Bouchard made headlines after a glimpse of black bra strap was spotted under her white top, and last year several male players were sent off to change their underwear.
Luckily the spectators don’t have to keep such rigid guidelines in mind when choosing their outfits, but white is still the colour of choice for many Wimbledon attendees.
What to Wear to Wimbledon
While the Wimbledon dress code has become less formal in recent years, there are still a few guidelines to keep in mind:
– Smart casual
– No ripped jeans
– No running vests
– No dirty trainers
– No sports shorts
– Tailored shorts may be worn
– Gentlemen are not required to wear a shirt and tie
– Appropriate footwear should be worn (flip flops and high heels are not recommended)
– Any clothing bearing political statements or commercial identification intended for ‘ambush marketing’ are prohibited
– Oversized hats are prohibited
– Any bag exceeding 16″ x 12″ x 12″ (40cm x 30cm x 30cm) is prohibited
However you probably don’t want to turn up to Wimbledon in dirty trainers and a running vest anyway.
“Smart casual” is advised for most spectators, particularly those on Centre Court, but does this translate to at Wimbledon?
Aim for smart but not too formal. A classic summer dress is a good option for women and you won’t look out of place if you choose one in white or cream or a pretty floral print.
Don’t go for anything too short or tight. Mid-length styles that fall just below the knee work best.
Bringing a cover-up in the form of a jacket or blazer is a must for when temperatures drop in the evening. If Britain is enjoying an uncharacteristic spell of hot weather, a pashmina may be more suitable.
Loose trousers like palazzo pants or a jumpsuit are also good alternatives for ladies-wear at Wimbledon.
Sunglasses are an essential accessory and you should also bring a bag for all your necessary bits and pieces such as sun lotion, a compact umbrella, and a bottle of water. Remember large bags aren’t permitted – a small leather tote bag works well.
Mules, espadrilles, and sandals with a low heel are good footwear choices. Avoid wearing stiletto heels, which can make navigating the grandstand steps difficult.
A shirt and tie were once mandatory dress for Wimbledon but now a more informal look is more than acceptable unless you’ll be in the Royal Box.
Tailored shorts are fine if you want to stay cool on a hot day – wear them with a crisp white shirt with the sleeves rolled up and loafers or brogues for a smart casual preppy look.
However most men on Centre Court do still opt for full-length tailored trousers and a suit jacket, usually in a light summer fabric such as linen. Ditch the tie and leave your shirt open at the collar for a less formal look. You’ll still need a tie if you’re headed for the Member’s Enclosure
What to Wear to Henman Hill
If you don’t have court tickets and you’ll be watching the tennis from Henman Hill, it’s not necessary to put as much thought into your outfit – the look here is decidedly “picnic casual” – think shorts and t-shirt rather than tailored designer looks. However there’s a real variety of outfit choices seen on the hill – you won’t look out of place if you still want to dress to impress.
Shorts and trousers are preferable to skirts and dresses for women, as you’ll be sitting on the grass. For the same reason it’s probably best to avoid white and light colours on your bottom half or you might be sporting quite a few grass stains by the end of the day, even if you’ve brought a picnic blanket.
Comfort should be key as you’ll not only be sat on the ground for most of the day but there’s also a long queue to get into the grounds – heels are definitely not appropriate. A wide-brimmed sun hat and plenty of high-factor sun cream are also essential as there’s no shade to take refuge from the sun. Finally, don’t forget your umbrella just in case.