What to wear to a classic British picnic

Al fresco eating presents its own unique array of style challenges and opportunities
Al fresco eating presents its own unique array of style challenges and opportunities

English literature is stuffed with delightful-sounding picnics.

Enid Blyton’s characters are always heading off somewhere with a basket full of ginger beer and egg sandwiches, while books like Emma, A Room with a View and Women in Love contain the sort of picnics that fizz with excitement. Then there is the wonderful 1981 television adaptation of Brideshead Revisited, which encapsulates the welcome haze of a day spent snacking in the shade.

Jeremy Irons as Charles Ryder and Anthony Andrews as Sebastian Flyte in Brideshead Revisited (1981) - Alamy
Jeremy Irons as Charles Ryder and Anthony Andrews as Sebastian Flyte in Brideshead Revisited (1981) - Alamy

Understandably, we all try to capture that feeling as soon as the sun begins to shine. Once the wine is chilled, the sandwiches made, the salt and vinegar crisps bought and the strawberries washed, all that’s left is to work out what to wear.

Men could learn a thing or two from Sebastian Flyte in his cream shirtsleeves and matching trousers – although with the temperatures we’ve been experiencing this summer, I’d suggest leaving Charles Ryder’s sweater vest at home.

For women, the ‘midaxi’ dresses that have been in fashion for the past few years have been a godsend among picnic lovers. Before this particular trend, many of us spent afternoons in the park contorted into ever more uncomfortable shapes to avoid our skirts riding up too high. Now, we have full freedom to loll around.

Joan Collins picnics in style in 2007 - Getty
Joan Collins picnics in style in 2007 - Getty

This summer, it’s all about gingham and polka dots – and of course the perennial florals in flattering, busy prints. Add to your outfit a pair of soft leather sandals or tennis shoes, a wide-brimmed straw hat, some hoop earrings and a basket bag, and looking good will feel like a picnic.

What to wear for a picnic this summer

picnic merch
picnic merch

Clockwise from top left: Shorts (£45.99, Mango); earrings (£35 for one, Sandralexandra); shirt (£34.90, Uniqlo); bag (£205, Muuñ); blanket (£68.99, The British Blanket Company); trousers (£139, Wrap London)

picnic merch
picnic merch

Clockwise from top left: Sandals (£100, Vagabond); enamel plates (£17.99 for six, Argon Tableware at Rinkit!); dress (£150, Kemi Telford at John Lewis & Partners); trainers (£99.95, Massimo Dutti); 12-piece cutlery set (£130, Matilda Goad & Co); bottle (£25, Yeti)

How will you be dressing for picnics this summer? Let us know in the comments below