1. The Henley Royal Regatta remains a summer social staple for upper class Brits. Any excuse to put on a big hat and eat egg-and-cress sandwiches, after all.
Often loftily described as “the last bastion of class,” the Regatta consists of five days of boat races rowed up and down the Thames River. It’s an annual event ever-marked on the calendars of posh British folk from West London to those parts of London that aren’t technically West but you have to call it West because you just can’t live anywhere else in London these days, really you can’t. (The landed gentry also pop into town for the weekend.)
2. It’s a nonstop cavalcade of prepsters’ finery. Chambermaids and/or butlers will have been sacked for failing to press guests’ dress slacks just right.
THERE ARE DECK CHAIRS. DECK CHAIRS.
3. And more striped blazers than you’d ever thought possible.
4. This eye-catching pink and white stripe denotes students at the Abingdon School, a public all-boys school in Oxfordshire.
(In England, public schools are the equivalent of über-pricy American private schools.)
5. Anyway, here are some preppy old folk on a boat.
THEY HAVE A GRAMOPHONE, which is possibly the most obstinately old school upper class thing to have on your boat. These are the hipsters of the British preppy establishment, if you will.
6. And here are some more preppy old people on a boat, with champagne and — hopefully — some nice sandwiches with the crusts cut off.
7. This man’s sideburns are exquisitely prep.
Also, that blazer.
8. And so is this man’s mustache, tie, cap — everything really.
This is Charles Eugster posing with members of the Thames Rowing Club. Fun fact from the Getty photo caption: “Dr. Eugster, aged 93, is the world’s oldest competitive oarsman and bodybuilder. He last rowed at Henley in 1938.”
9. Here’s another photo of Eugster. You can tell he means business because he’s wearing a fleecy scarf during the height of British summertime.
10. And here’s another delightful rowing team lifting up their cox, post-race.
No no, that’s not some boarding school insult. A cox is an integral part of a rowing team, who both steers the rowboat and keeps all the rowers in their rowing rhythm. It’s a tough job, but there are lots of skinny posh kids well-prepared.
11. Also, do you think these teams get together and co-ordinate their pants beforehand, maybe via text?
If so, this group failed. Overheard: “Gosh Tarquin, you were supposed to wear sky blue slacks this year. You’re such a middle class fuck-up.”
12. Top left in this photo: a quarter of prepsters in salmon pink shirts and black bow ties.
Keep it classy, guys. And don’t be mad if old folk mistake you for the caterers.
13. Speaking of: These preppy old folks are taking a nap.
14. Now for some preppy variations on a salmon pink theme: the blazer.
16. And some bright salmon pink socks.
17. Here are some old boys in their collegiate blazers.
The term “old boy” is given to any alum of a British public school (technically also to public schools from within the Commonwealth, but everyone laughs at those try-hards behind their blazer-clad backs, let’s be honest here).
18. This red, white, and blue ensemble comes thanks to an alum of Oxford’s Magdalen College.
19. This old boy’s from Kings College in Cambridge. He has a tie pin. What say you, Oxford folks?
20. And this old boy from a not-specified public school but that’s OK because look at his cap. That is definitely part of a public school’s uniform.
Now admittedly I only went to private school (a shamefully serious step down from the public school sector, I should note) but I definitely had to wear a cap like that when I was a kid.
21. This preppy lady has a nice fan, but no lady-in-waiting to wave it for her. Nice hat, though.
22. OK, no, wait. THIS is a preppy hat that means business. It also means the folks sat behind this lady are screwed.
23. Harvard’s rowing team were there, because.
24. Look at this prepster’s watch chain. Sartorial artistry, I’m telling you.
25. And here’s some more “classic rowing attire.”
I mean, the hat is called a straw boater which is a good sign.
26. “Classic rowing attire,” part 2. This old chap loses points if he’s chugging a pint of beer.
Don’t worry though. This is almost certainly a freshly pressed apple cider. That’s fine and dandy.
27. Now this may come as a shock, but these prepsters are Italian.
Who let folks from the Continent in, honestly? It’s a downhill slope; it really is.
28. This preppy kid second from the left with no socks on: You can’t really tell because of his sunglasses, but he’s shocked.
So just imagine what the older generations will be thinking. Oh, there’ll be talk at high tea back in manor houses across the country these next few weeks, just you wait. What if — and this is a phrase that’ll only be whispered, but Brits do like to have a vaguely xenophobic panic every now and then — we start allocating tickets to the French?!
29. Or even the Aussies. You won’t believe it, you really won’t, but this dapper preppy gentleman is from Melbourne, Australia.
“Is it even legal for Australians to wear cravats?” is a question someone probably asked during the Regatta.
30. And this rowdy bunch of prepsters are probably jeering at some foreigners.
They win the “best set of stripes” contest though. This black/cobalt blue combination is lovely.
31. Preppy hats, hats, and more hats.
32. Still hats.
33. This fluffy rabbit is apparently a well-known rowing emblem.
It’s also a well-known baby’s toy, but, hey, different strokes for different folks. Posh people are funny like that.
34. These high-heeled shoes, however, are certainly not preppy.
In fact, these women wouldn’t have even been allowed inside the posh Steward’s Enclosure because their skirts don’t fall below the knees. They’ll have been reduced to watching the race from the Thames’ banks with other assorted riffraff, and what’s the point of the Regatta if you can’t catch up with the duke who lives three castles down and talk shit on the Middletons?
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