The Chelsea Flower Show takes place at the end of this month, opening on May 24.
For many women planning a visit to the grounds of Chelsea Royal Hospital, where the Royal Horticultural Society’s colourful, annual garden exhibition takes place the big question is “What should I wear”?
Dressing for Chelsea Flower Show is always a dilemma because it falls in the middle of the “dress-up” spectrum – Chelsea is less dressed-up than, say, a wedding or Royal Ascot but is more dressed-up than Wimbledon.
So there is a narrow path to tread to look stylish but not to look as though one has tried too hard, nor as though one has not tried at all… And then there is the British weather to take into account, as well: at the end of May, it could be blazing hot or freezing cold or very rainy, or any permutation of those – which also adds to the difficulty of planning an outfit.
As clever as we are at SoSensational, we are not clever enough to predict the weather for the end of May. But even if it turns out to be chilly, Cyndy and Jan think you will still want to wear light, summery colours because, well, because it is the end of May and it’s Chelsea, so of course you will want to wear summer shades. You just may wish to chuck a thermal vest under your outfit (or in your handbag) to guard against hypothermia.
Length and volume are your allies for an event such as Chelsea Flower Show, notably midi and maxi skirts or midi and maxi dresses. Pair your midi or maxi skirt with a knit or jacket. If you choose maxi, try to ensure it hits your ankle rather than falling all the way to the ground. If it hits the ground it could trail in puddles if it turns out to be rainy and you don’t want a soggy bottom, sorry, soggy hem!
Despite their love for biker jackets, Jan and Cyndy would be wary of suggesting anything in suede for Chelsea on grounds of a possible downpour (rain being not good for suede) or the possibility of damage if you accidentally brush against plants such as lilies which could leave an indelible stain on your suede jacket… On the other hand, leather could work; as always, a really stylish leather biker jacket is the perfect piece to pair with a midi or maxi dress or a midi or maxi skirt. A blazer or a great cardi could also look sensational and perfectly on trend.
A trouser suit would also work perfectly for Chelsea Flower Show or, indeed, for any smart event this summer. For Chelsea the way to style it is with flats and a simple tee or vest. So when buying, factor in the need to wear flats when buying trousers (i.e remember they might need to be a touch shorter than you would wear with heels – ankle grazers could be especially good.
A terrific, lightweight trench coat or statement raincoat could also provide the perfect Chelsea outfit. Keep in mind that you won’t remove your trench/raincoat, so choose accessories to wear with your coat not with whatever is underneath it.
When it comes to footwear, you could stroll from garden to idyllic garden in plimsolls, sandals or flat courts – ideally in a muted colour so that your shoes don’t scream for attention. If there’s real a risk of heavy rain, do remember not to wear socks under your plimsolls; as if your plimsolls get wet, your feet will dry more quickly if you are not wearing socks.
Notice there are no hats. If you want a gorgeous hat or advice on finding the perfect hat, you can find it here. But Chelsea is not a hatty event; pretty much the only person to wear a hat is the Queen who wears one when she attends the opening day. But anyone else wearing an Ascot or wedding-type hat will look overdressed, so save yourself the expense! An umbrella (preferably a compact mini to tuck into your handbag) is, in our view, a much better investment.
Are you going to the Chelsea Flower Show? What are you planning to wear?
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