As L.K. Bennett teams up with Ascot and Crew Clothing makes a splash for Henley… High society hits the high Street

  • Kerry Potter advises on how to dress for summer’s biggest social events
  • UK-based style expert says British retailers are responding to occasion wear 
  •  She recommends LK Bennett’s Royal Ascot line and Phase Eight for the Jubilee

With Glyndebourne kicking off at the weekend and Chelsea Flower Show back in bloom next week, the summer season has finally resumed after a two-year hiatus. 

But while we couldn’t be more pleased that fun is officially back in fashion, as for the fashion itself, well, that’s a little more complicated. Having lived predominantly in drawstring waistbands and trainers since 2020, women across the land are eyeing their social calendars with dread, lamenting the lost art of dressing up. 

Glyndebourne May 21 – August 28: Dress, £39.99, Reserved; bag, £80, Anthropologie; shoes, £95, Dune; headband, £35.99, Isabel Manns; earrings, £195, Laurence Coste

Got nothing to wear? Neither has anyone else staring down the barrel of a big day/night out for the first time in for ever. 

I have been invited to a black-tie event (remember those?) next week and am in an advanced state of panic. With 16 dresses, borrowed from various friends, strewn on my bedroom floor and many more en route from various online retailers, surely one will work, so I shall go to the ball? 

The good news is that British retailers are responding to our collective occasion wear wardrobe crisis, not just by flooding the rails with elegant outfits but, in some instances, designing collections with specific events in mind. 

Left: Royal Ascot June 14-18: Jacket, £299, & trousers, £199, L.K. Bennett; bag, £105, Isla Risa; shoes, £295, Terry de Havilland; hat, £240, Camilla King; earrings, £165, Laurence Coste. Right: Wimbledon June 27 – July 10: Shirt, £99, Jigsaw; trousers, £109, Mint Velvet; bag, £55, Anthropologie; shoes, £195, Rogue Matilda; hat, £195, Lock Hatters; earrings, £225, Monica Vinader; bangles, £115 each, Aspinal; necklace, £32, Accessorize

L.K. Bennett’s Royal Ascot line is well worth a look — the High Street favourite has read the lengthy official dress code properly so we don’t have to, which means everything in the 18-piece collection is raceday appropriate. It includes chic dresses in silk and crepe, peppered with delicate botanical prints. For something different, this blue satin trouser suit is great. 

Henley Regatta June 28 – July 3: Dress, £175, Crew clothing; jacket, £275, ME+EM; shoes, £85, Boden; hat, £245, Emily London and sunglasses, £175, Aspinal

Elsewhere, Phase Eight has created a jaunty capsule of red, white and blue dresses and jumpsuits for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Whether you’re heading to London to catch the Trooping the Colour or manning the Pimm’s stall at your street’s Jubilee party, the breezy red and white stripe maxi-dress will see you through the day. The fabric is cotton-rich so it’s ideal for hot days. As is this broderie anglaise dress from Crew Clothing’s Henley Regatta range. Broderie can feel too boho to be dressy but in a belted shirtdress, it’s structured enough for a posh day out. And for the Goodwood Revival, Hobbs’s teal suit will be a frontrunner.

Goodwood Revival September 16-18: Jacket, £229, & skirt, £129, Hobbs; bag, £199, & shoes, £259, L.K. Bennett; gloves, £99, Aspinal; earrings, £140, Carousel Jewels

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