Dressing For Wimbledon

Wimbledon 2019 is fast approaching and as the world’s oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament begins, we’ll not only be watching the tennis! Steeped in history dating back 140 years, nowadays it’s almost as famous for the celebrity ticket holders, it’s quintessentially British tradition of strawberries topped with cream and of course Pimms! For players and spectators alike, the rules of attire, whether written or unwritten are rigidly enforced. Many a celebrity has been turned away from Wimbledon for failing to adhere to the dress code and some of the world’s best players have been chastised! In 2017 Venus Williams was in violation of the Wimbledon dress code by wearing a pink coloured bra which was visible under her white outfit. After a break in the match she returned to the court in a different outfit with no pink bra visible. I wonder if she was corrected off court by officials?! 

The all white dress code dates back to the 1800s where the sight of sweaty clothing was seen as particularly uncouth, especially for women. The solution to this problem was that only white clothing should be worn. This tradition continued throughout Wimbledon's history before becoming the official dress code (1960’s and updated in the 1990’s) and it’s unlikely it will change any time soon. Nowadays officials say that the all-white dress code ensures that players don’t stand out for anything other than excellent play.

So what are the official dress codes?

Dress Codes for Players

White clothing (not off-white or cream)

White accessories (included in the ‘white only’ rule from 2014, apparently prompted by Roger Federer’s bright orange-soled Nikes)

Coloured trims are allowed but not wider than 1cm

Patterns are permitted but no solid mass of colour

Shoes must be white without large logos

Dress Codes for Spectators

General Dress Code

No ripped jeans

No dirty trainers

No flip flops

No sports shorts (tailored shorts may be worn)

No clothing bearing political statements or commercial identification intended for ‘ambush marketing’

No oversized hats or bags (this makes sense)

Any bag exceeding 16″ x 12″ x 12″ (40cm x 30cm x 30cm) is prohibited

Debenture Holders - have a "smart but casual" dress code. Jeans and trainers are not permitted but a shirt and tie is not obligatory.

Royal Box Dress Code -  if you're lucky enough to be invited to the Royal Box then the dress code is stricter. Lounge suits/jacket and tie for the gents and the ladies are asked be smart and not to wear oversized hats (large handbags are frowned upon). 

Although there are not many written dress codes for Wimbledon there are unwritten codes that must be adhered to. When Lewis Hamilton arrived at the Royal Box in 2015 to watch the men’s final he was refused entry to the centre court for being inappropriately dressed and had to watch the final from the Hospitality Suite instead!

So now you know the dress codes and won’t upset anyone, just don’t forget your umbrella…after all, there’s a chance of rain!! That said, there’s also a chance of Pimms! 

Julia Esteve

The Etiquette Consultant