Alas Royal Ascot is over for another year, but hard on its heels is Glorious Goodwood, providing everyone with another reason to don their glad rags. With Ascot, it was all about being ‘dapper’ in your formal morning attire, now it’s the turn of the quintessential summer English gentleman look in a light linen suit and Panama hat.

Unlike the morning suit in Ascot’s Royal Enclosure, the wearing of linen suit is not obligatory to enter in to Goodwood’s Richmond Enclosure. But it is a tradition that caught on ever since the trend-setter King Edward VII wore one (and a Panama hat) in 1906.

Linen suits will give you a casual chic look when dressed down with t-shirts, polo shirts, light wool sweaters and open necked shirts. But for Goodwood the dress code for the Richmond Enclosure is a jacket worn with a tie, cravat or polo neck sweater, so you need to wear a shirt and tie with your linen suit.

The wearing of light-coloured linen suits became popular in the Victorian era when gentlemen travelled abroad and wanted to look well dressed and elegant whilst keeping cool in the sweltering heat. Linen was ideal as this natural fabric is loosely woven allowing air to circulate freely and the skin to keep cool. Plus it suits a looser fit style which is more comfortable in hot sticky climates than the more tailored suits, and is great for most body shapes.

The Panama Hat

Whether you opt for the traditional linen suit or just a smart jacket and tie, the hat to be seen in at Goodwood is the Panama hat. Surprisingly the Panama hat doesn’t originate from Panama but Ecuador. Many factors endorsed the name: Panama was the international point were goods from South America would be taken before being shipped to Europe and the USA; workers on the Panama Canal wore them for shade and when visiting the Panama Canal construction President Roosevelt was seen wearing one. But probably the main reason was when the hats were sold in the Paris World Fair in 1855 by a Frenchman living in Panama. Ecuador was not mentioned as a participating country, so the hat became known as Panama.

The Panama hat is ideal for travel as it will spring back to its original shape after being rolled up.

At Goodwood, a popular sight is the Panama with the hat band in Goodwood racing colours of red and yellow. These can be purchased from www.goodwood.com and the price ranges from £40 for the Trilby Sussex (pictured above) to £250 for the Panama Richmond (pictured right).
For different colours check out Pachacuti on www.panamas.co.uk . They import directly from Ecuador cutting out the middle man and are a Fair Trade hat specialist. Pictured right: Fedora with peacock blue band £99.50.

Footwear

Yes linen suits look great with moccasins, boat shoes and even sandals. But for Goodwood you’re going for the smart look, so opt for something like a spectator shoe in a light neutral colour. Avoid black as this is too dark.

All in the spectator style and in the Herring Premier Collection (pictured) are from left to right:
Christchurch – a Monk shoe; Henley – a full brogue, also comes in a wide fitting due to popular demand; Marlow – a tassled loafer.

All are in chestnut calf leather with beige canvas body and Goodyear welted. Price £225.
www.herringshoes.co.uk

Linen Suits

Outfit 1…

The stone colour of Debenhams’ Karl Jackson linen two-button suit, £130, is a light shade which won’t show the dirt as much as the creams and whites, plus will look great paired with shirts in most hues. You could opt for the crisper clean look of a white shirt; an elegant tonal look with creams, ivory and beiges; a cool chic look with pastels or the statement look with bold brights.

Details of suit: Single breasted, notch lapel, three-button cuff. Left and right straight pockets plus breast pocket, side vents, 100% linen, lining polyester. www.debenhams.com

Pachacuti’s Fedora Brisa Weave grade 2 with its red stripe band (£49.90) would go well with this suit. www.panamas.co.uk

 

Outfit 2…

The M&S Collezione collection features a range of pure linen and linen blend suits. The beauty of linen blend is the suit has the appearance of linen but doesn’t crease as easily.

Here we have M&S Collezione linen blend blazer (£99) and trousers (£49.50) in an almond shade and worn with their Blue Harbour white t-shirt £6. But for Goodwood replace the t shirt with a shirt and tie.

Details of suit: Jacket – two-button fastening, notch lapel, five-button cuff, front flap pockets; 50% linen, 28% silk and 22% cotton. Trousers – straight leg, on the waist, single pleat, rear pockets with button detail. www.marksandspencer.com

Add a touch of colour with Goodwood’s vanilla Panama Trilby Gordon and its red and yellow band (price £120) plus one of their Horse Gallops ties (pure silk tie with detailed weave of a racing horse) at £70 www.goodwood.com

Or a striped tie such as Jacamo’s orange silk woven tie, £15 at www.jacamo.co.uk

 

 

Outfit 3…

Main picture, top: This Paul Smith cream double-breasted linen jacket £550, worn with Kenzo cream linen trousers £170, may not be an actual linen suit, but still looks the part of the English gent.

Unfortunately the Kenzo cream granddad collar t-shirt (£79) won’t pass the dress code for the Richmond Enclosure so go more dapper with a white shirt and coloured flamboyant cravat. The double breasted blazer and cravat are a winning combination. www.houseoffraser.co.uk

Right: Wear the suit with a Charles Tyrwhitt natural colour Panama hat. Was £90 now £34.95. Woven in Ecuador, leather inner band, traditional black ribbon. www.ctshirts.co.uk

Outfit 4…

The more popular colours for linen suits at Goodwood are the neutral creams, beiges and taupes. So stand out from the crowd in your Stvdio Jeff Banks light blue linen suit (£135) from Debenhams. www.debenhams.com
Team with Pachacuti’s Fedora Llano weave grade 8 and its luxury teal silk band £139. The Llano weave is a flexible durable herringbone weave and the teal silk band is made in Devon by the UK’s last remaining silk band specialist mill. www.panamas.co.ukWear the suit with a white or cream shirt and either a floral or paisley patterned tie to complement the embossed pattern on the silk band of the hat. Below: Charles Tyrwhitt’s blue and green cotton Liberty ditsy floral handmade tie says ‘English summer’. 100% cotton in a genuine Liberty design fabric. Was £70 now £19.95 www.ctshirts.co.uk

Zanacco, the Italian eco-luxury brand, has Silvio Sand, a vegetable-tanned leather Oxford style shoe at £365. The light sand colour is ideal for this linen suit. www.zanacco.com

 

 

Allison Graham

Allison is the Publisher of Eclipse Magazine. She loves going to the Races and is learning to bet (despite being officially the worst bettor in the History of the Universe), there's a lot more to learn...

Latest posts by Allison Graham (see all)

If you enjoyed this, try...