Every summer, to the south of London in leafy Wimbledon, the world’s oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament takes place. A world-renowned sporting extravaganza, steeped in history and dating back over 140 years, this event is so much more than the game of tennis. From the public ballot and legendary Wimbledon queue, to the tradition for strawberries, free flowing Pimms and celebrity spotting on centre court, Wimbledon’s tennis tournaments are a cultural experience not to be missed! But, what to wear to Wimbledon?
These days, the two-week tournament attracts more VIPS than ever – royals, A-list actors, musicians etc., which has undoubtedly had a ripple effect on the crowd that attend. Caroline Leaper, who wrote an article for The Telegraph – 11 Ways to Ace The Unspoken Wimbledon Dress Code – suggests that “Wimbledon could well rival Royal Ascot and the Cartier Queen’s Cup polo in the spectator style stakes”.
Is there a dress code at Wimbledon?
Despite the event being steeped in tradition – including a very strict ‘whites-only’ dress code for the players, dating back to the 1800s – there is technically no rule book or reference guide as to what a spectator should wear. Visitors are simply encouraged to dress ‘smartly’, allowing plenty of latitude as to what they may interpret as smart. However, with ticket numbers limited, expensive or hard-earned by queuing, there’s certainly a sense of occasion amongst those lucky enough to attend and putting together a Wimbledon-worthy outfit is very much part of the overall experience.
A top tip as to what to wear: To really ace your Wimbledon attire, dress as you would for a summer wedding, except in this instance the wearing of white is perfectly acceptable!
What Not To Wear To Wimbledon
Although there are no hard and fast dress code rules, it’s worth noting there are certain items, not surprisingly, that are not permitted in the grounds, including torn jeans, running vests, dirty sneakers, sport shorts and anything bearing a large logo or political statement. In recent times oversized hats or bags have been discouraged too.
Wimbledon Spectator Dress Code
Despite the relaxed approach to spectator style, marginal dress-code fluctuations do come into play dependant on whether you’re viewing the game from Henman’s Hill, a hospitality suite, Centre Court or the Royal Box. Here’s a little overview on what to wear where…
If you have tickets to Centre Court or Court One, you may well be sat in close proximity to the chicest attendees – Kate Middleton, Anna Wintour or Victoria Beckham – so make a concerted effort when planning your outfit. With stylists to dress them and an unlimited budget, these women are always seriously stylish, so perhaps Google their history of championship outfits for some Wimbledon-worthy outfit inspiration.
Centre Court tv cameras continually sweep across the spectator seats, in between games, so you might like to consider wearing something eye-catching or striking to stand out from the crowd. It’s your upper half that will be visible so choose a vibrant top, a bold necklace, statement sunnies or a colourful scarf so you can identify yourself on screen after the game.
Stand out from the crowd, when seated in the stands, in stylish, statement accessories. Nahua‘s shoulder-grazing, embroidered earrings and wrap around necklace will show you’re in a league of your own.
The Royal Box on Centre Court
This 74-seat spectator area is coveted above all others and has played host to a huge number of British royals over the years, as well as all manner of VIPs. A suit, tie and proper shoes must be worn by men, whilst women are expected to dress in a demure manner. The wearing of hats is not permitted as they may obscure the vision of those sat behind them, something Meghan Markle quickly discovered at the 2018 Championships, where she was forced to carry, not wear, her favourite fedora.
The dress code at this access-for-all grassed area is at its most casual. Spectators sprawl out on picnic rugs, supping Pimms whilst intermittently taking part in a Mexican wave. White may be the most popular colour amongst Wimbledon’s spectators, but it’s perhaps best to be avoided if you’re watching the action from here – at least on your lower half. Instead opt for darker colours and prints that won’t show up the grass stains.
Debenture/Corporate Hospitality Suite
One would think that Wimbledon’s corporate hospitality guests would perhaps have to embrace a more formal dress code, but Wimbledon’s official hospitality agency Keith Prowse simply says – “We request clients dress on the smarter side of casual ie. No jeans or trainers. Jackets and ties are not obligatory.” That said, it is undoubtedly a great opportunity to dress to impress. Think wedding guest and you’re on the right style path.
The Wearing Of White at Wimbledon
So, when it comes to what to wear, many align with the all-white dress code of the players, for a more traditional approach to Wimbledon styling. A breathable white suit, linen sundress or broderie anglais blouse is a great way to look and feel fresh all day long and is perhaps even a style nod to one’s serious passion for tennis!
An all white outfit might be a little ambitious but combine whites, off-whites and neutrals to create a look that’s a lot less clinical. Add a smart pair of white trainers to reveal you’re a real sport.
A Style Guide – What To Wear Wimbledon
From dresses to jumpsuits and separates to sunnies, here’s how to put together the perfect Wimbledon ensemble, whilst adhering to the dress code, albeit a very loose one. Although royalty, celebrities and the players’ other halves will undoubtedly be in designer labels, there are so many fabulous and affordable options available on the high street too.
We hope the following suggestions take the panic out of what to wear, so you can relax and enjoy the day…
A summer dress is the easiest Wimbledon solution and will instantly deliver an on-point ensemble – and there are many styles to choose from too, dependant on what makes you feel comfortable and suits you best. Will you opt for a chic little shift, a mid-length midi or an easy-breezy maxi? Would you prefer to keep the silhouette simple or throw in some frills and decorative trims? Whimsical florals, soft pastels, or a geometric pattern for a contemporary twist?
Once the decision is made, accessorise with a stylish Panama, clutch and a pair of wedge sandals.
Choose your dress well and you can call on it again and again – for barbecues, garden parties, picnics and the polo. Just switch up the accessories and re-invent your look each time.
Scoring high in this season’s style stakes, a maxi dress is an easy, on-trend option. Team with statement earrings and a colourful tote. And if you don’t fancy heels but still want some height, a chic pair of wedges is the way to go!
If you’re looking for a head-to-toe outfit and dresses aren’t your thing, take a style short-cut and go for an on-trend jumpsuit. Unlike separates, this all-in-one option will require minimal adjustment once it’s on. But remember, this spectator sport requires a lot of sitting so ensure there’s enough length in the body to keep it comfortable.
Separates – A Skirt and Top
A skirt teamed with an elegant blouse can perform a polished and impressive double act and prove a lot less restrictive than a suit. Keep one part of the duo plain in colour, the other part patterned to create a harmonious look that comes together with ease.
This two-piece approach will offer infinite style milage too, the outfit easily dressed up or down dependant on a quick change of top, accessories and shoes. For example a frilled midi skirt, teamed with a cotton tee, denim jacket and trainers will deliver casual chic. Instantly up the ante with a silk camisole, boyfriend blazer, heels and a clutch. It really is that easy!
Elegantly co-ordinated separates deliver a stylish double act, especially when it’s this stunning frilled one from Coster Copenhagen. The waistband is elasticated at the back, which ensures a blouse or t-shirt will stay beautifully in place.
Separates – Trousers and Top
It may surprise you to know that jeans are perfectly acceptable at Wimbledon, as long as they’re not ripped or overly distressed. The trend for wider legs and cropped lengths makes this option even more tempting- and for those of you nervous to stray from what you know, jeans are not such a seismic style jump away from your comfort zone. If denim seems too restrictive, you may prefer a pair of lightweight linen trousers or even tailored shorts. Team with billowy blouses, tucked in or left loose and a waist defining belt and you’ve an outfit for Wimbledon – and way, way beyond…
High waisted trousers and an elegant blouse deliver an on-point ensemble for any outdoor event. A vibrant silk scarf will really up your game and a cosy, knitted layer will save the day should the temperatures start to drop.
As mentioned earlier, for those in the stands, the upper half of the body is what gets the most exposure and this season’s blouses deserve their moment in the spotlight. The current trend for a delicate ditsy print or a full-scale floral is made even more feminine with the addition of pretty frilled necklines, romantic ruffles, elegant lace edging or pom pom trims. A printed blouse teams best with a one-colour skirt or trousers. And vice versa. A plain white or single colour blouse will work wonders atop a patterned skirt or printed pants.
A light-weight knit – whether in a cashmere, cotton or linen yarn – is the perfect piece to throw across your shoulders should the temperatures suddenly drop. Match it in with your outfit’s colour palette – or opt for a contrasting colour to create an eye-catching clash. Pulling a jumper down over your head may momentarily obscure somebody else’s view, so if space is limited it’s perhaps easier to slip discreetly in and out of a button-through cardigan.
Scarves, Shawls and Pashminas
If the wind picks up while you’re seated in the stands, a handy scarf or shawl will create a warming layer and there are so many beautiful options to choose from. If your outfit is relatively neutral, why not go for a vibrant silk or wool print, similar to those designed by Diana Wilson Arcana. Her artwork is exquisite and the length and width ensure there is plenty to keep out the chill.
Alternatively you could opt for one of our best-selling, one-colour cashmere wraps. These are available to buy all year round, come in a selection of classic or high-fashion shades that will add an uplifting pop of colour.
A light-weight scarf is also great for protecting exposed shoulders on a very hot day.
A Wimbledon wardrobe is not complete without a pair of stylish, statement sunnies. Whether you wear them to protect your eyes or simply as an expensive accessory balanced on the top of the head, it will be the height of the British summer so sunglasses are an absolute must.
Hats and Headbands
What could be more iconic at Wimbledon than a stylish straw hat, but keep the silhouette modest so as not to block the view of those sat behind you. A Panama is the perfect choice, not least because it folds away with ease. Or for a more sporty look opt for a baseball cap, which looks great worn with a low, messy bun…
Alternatively, the fashion for headbands shows no signs of abating. Available in a multitude of colours, prints and fabrics, this is undoubtedly the on-trend choice when it comes to head-wear and can be strategically styled in to compliment the rest of your outfit.
If the forecast is for blue skies and sunshine, beat the heat in a loose-fitting, knee-length tiered dress. Devotion’s range of high quality, embroidered pieces have won them a host of devoted fans and their signature style dress has quickly become the summer dress essential. A pretty headband completes the look.
Anyone who has ever visited Wimbledon in the past will know that comfortable shoes are a must if you want to avoid leaving the event, at the end of the day, barefoot and grimacing! Whether you’re heading for Centre Court, a hospitality suite or the member’s enclosure, there’s still a fair amount of walking to be done, so opt for flats, wedges or mid height, block heel. There’s every chance you’ll be clambering over spectator seats or navigating a grassy hillock at some point, so give yourself a fighting chance and avoid a spikey heeled stiletto.
When it comes to bags, anything goes, although a big bag may become tiresome and obstructive as you weave your way through the throngs of people. Even more so as you navigate your way up and down the narrow, seated aisles. Perhaps better to consider a hand-held clutch or crossbody style with enough capacity to hold your essentials – or a pretty woven tote – big enough to carry a cardigan and scarf – but soft enough to squish down under your arm too.
In Conclusion – Wimbledon Style Tips
In addition to the ‘what to wear’ advice above, here are a couple of other suggestions too:
- Although we’re always hopeful Wimbledon will be soaked in wall-to-wall sunshine, spectators need to remember this is London and the weather could turn at any moment. Whilst there may be glorious blue skies in the morning, there’s the likelihood of a shower at some point later in the day, so it makes sense to pack a pretty cover-up – less pac-a-mac, more stylish trench coat or elegant mac.
- As many fashion gurus suggest, opt to reveal either chest or legs, not both.
- Not specified in the dress code, but try to avoid wearing anything too short or too tight – or heels that are too high.
- When shopping for your Wimbledon outfit, buy items that will see you through many an event this summer – barbecues, garden parties or weddings etc.
- Whatever your final choice of outfit ensure it ticks the ‘comfort’ box. You’ll be wearing it all day long so it’s worth ensuring you can sit, stand, walk and give an energised round of applause too!
Flouting the advantage, another easy-on maxi dress. Loose fitting and lovely, this version flares out from above the bust into a full length skirt that will keep you cool throughout the day. Platform sandals and a tasselled tote deliver the finishing touch.