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The Season: Henley Royal Regatta

The annual regatta is one of rowing’s most prestigious gatherings – and also features one of the sport’s strictest dress codes…

The History

A cornerstone of the summer season, the first Henley Regatta was held in 1839, a one-day affair that proved so popular, it eventually grew to become nearly a week long. Royal patronage was important, for the Henley Regatta is where the upper classes come out to play. Helpful, then, that its earliest champion was Prince Albert, Prince Regent and husband of Queen Victoria, who became the first official royal patron, in 1851. The event has been known as the Henley Royal Regatta ever since; following Albert’s death a decade later, royal patronage was conferred by the reigning monarch.

Navy Blue Wool Unstructured Jacket

Pale Blue Formal Royal Twill Shirt

The Rules

The format for races is a head-to-head knockout, the winners eventually progressing to Finals Day on Sunday. The draw takes place in the town hall the weekend before the regatta (the 2024 edition runs from Tuesday 2 July to Sunday 7 July), with crew names drawn from the magnificent Grand Challenge Cup. The regatta course is straight, 2,112m long and starts at Temple Island. Much like the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race, each crew is awarded a side or station; at Henley, it’s “Bucks” and “Berks”, named for opposing banks in Buckinghamshire and Berkshire respectively. Various rowing clubs and enclosures admit spectators, although they must be guests of club members and then only for the regatta’s duration. Of these, the Stewards’ Enclosure is the smartest and open only to Henley “Stewards” and their associates. Effectively the officiating committee, Stewards are the keepers of the flame and drawn from the ranks of high-achieving oarsmen. A kind of riverine MCC, membership is capped, and the waiting list is currently between four and 10 years. The Enclosure operates a strict dress code, requiring men wear to wear a lounge suit, shirt and tie.

Navy Blue & Blue Petersham Striped Silk Tie

White Smart Casual Plain Linen Slub Shirt

The Dress Code

While Thomas Pink can’t help you with a boat hat or an official club blazer, we can certainly provide you with all the formal essentials. Our Navy Blue Wool Unstructured Jacket should be your go-to suit jacket, with its premium wool fabric and unstructured cut for a comfortable fit.

Keep things nautical with our preppy Pale Blue Tailored Fit Formal Royal Twill Shirt and our 100 per cent Navy Blue & Blue Petersham Striped Silk Tie. If the temperature is looking toasty, our durable yet lightweight new White Smart Casual Plain Linen Slub Shirt fits the bill. A jaunty silk pocket square never fails to add a certain je ne sais quoi.

And while there is no official dress code in the Regatta Enclosure, where the common folk mingle, most choose to embrace the spirit of the event by keeping things formal (wear jeans at your peril). Our top tip? Bring a smart bag, such as our Caboodle Crossbody. Taking outside food and drink is forbidden, but it’s handy to have a place to store your essentials plus some seasonal extras, such as factor 50, bug spray and a pair of sunnies. Because when the weather is favourable, a visit to the Henley Royal Regatta might just be the perfect way to spend a summer’s afternoon.

Cream & Blue Flower Monogram Printed Silk Pocket Square

Black Thomas Pink x Troubadour Caboodle Crossbody