Members’ only-clubs have been around since the 18th Century, when the upper classes established exclusive institutions in which they could drink, debate and dine. And, whilst the memberships and patrons differ from club to club, there is nothing quite like sipping a glass of neat scotch whilst playing cards in your club’s wood-panelled bar.
As with exclusivity and individuality, the rules and regulations of each club differ according to their patrons and purpose. Yet there are several statues of etiquette that are set in stone regardless of your specific club. So, if you ever find yourself invited to one of these exclusive establishments, bear these few tips and tricks in mind. Among them are dress codes. Although many clubs no longer enforce a strict dress code, there’s nothing worse than being the most casually dressed man in a room. So, in order to avoid judgemental eyes, wear a jacket and tie – the minimum requirement of formality for many of the upper class clubs. If you find yourself overdressed, you can always remove your tie, after all.
Our advice is that you should maintain a self-disciplined dress code of neutral tones or all black. It's easy, always looks sharp and won't have a doormen telling you to go try your local Nando's for some peace and quiet.
That being said, each club has different rules and traditions, so we've rounded off some of the more known clubs in London whereby you'll need to brush up on your dress codes.
Annabel's, situated in Berkeley Square, as multiple rules an regulations. Though not as stuffy as in years gone by, they're strict and they want you to stick to them. Linen is allowed, but must be pressed. Jeans are allowed, but must be a dark, solid colour. Trainers must be in good shape. Crew neck T-shirts can be worn, but only with jackets. Baseball caps are a no, but trilbies are the only style of hat permitted.And shorts are never allowed. Ever. Gym gear? Don't even ask.
Located in the heart of Mayfair, Mark’s Club was opened by Mark Birley in 1972 as an alternative to the traditional St James’s gentlemen’s clubs. Members and their guests should be elegantly dressed and men are required to wear a jacket at all times. Whilst suits are actively encouraged, in recognition of an evolved style, chinos and smart, dark jeans are permitted for guys before 6pm.
White's was established in 1693 by Francesco Bianco and, despite not adhering to the times when it comes to dress codes and formality, should be praised for its resilience. Well-known members include HRH The Prince of Wales (who had his 1981 stag night at White’s) and David Cameron, each of whom failed to stray from the strictly formal dress code.
Giorgio Armani suit
5 Hertford Street
"The dress code is intended to uphold the spirit of the club and as such requires members to be well dressed at all times," says the elite club's site. Here you'll find men in suits and ties, while shirts are usually the order of the day. The Mayfair haunt won't let you in if you're in shorts, collarless shirts and T-shirts, sportswear of any kind, or beaten up sneakers. Flip flops or sandals are top of the banned list. As with Annabel's jeans must be smart, non-frayed and of one tone.
The Georgian house located members' club is one of London's most exclusive. Those allowed through Maison Estelle’s front door must place a sticker over their phone’s camera lens. That said, it's a little more relaxed than others. There's no dress code!
No dress codes per se, but they do have a strict no suits rule, to align with their "creatives only" mantra. Wear black. You'll look cool without meaning to. A black T-shirt always wins. Maybe a little Comme des Garçons in case someone asks where you get your tees.
Comme des Garçons T-shirt
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