What is Country Club Attire?
Country Club attire is a curated ensemble of garments, footwear, and accessories worn at country clubs by wealthy elite engaging in leisure activities like golf, tennis, horse riding, polo, and yachting.
Core garments in Country Club attire are polo shirts, chinos, cable-knit sweaters, and oxford shirts.
These garments are also found in several styles, such as Preppy, Old Money, British Sloane Ranger, and French Bon Chic Bon Genre.
What’s the Origin of Country Club Attire?
This unique way of dressing emerged in the late 19th century in affluent areas of the American Northeast, such as the Hamptons and Nantucket, as well as the coastal towns of Florida and California as a way of showcasing a traditional style while providing comfort during leisure activities associated with these exclusive establishments.
However, while the term ‘Country Club Attire’ is associated with American settings, the attire’s clothes, footwear, and accessories have aesthetic roots in Britain and parts of Europe, where golf, polo, horse riding, and tennis were popular leisure activities among the elite.
What Should You Wear to a Country Club?
The perfect Country Club attire comprises garments, footwear, and accessories from the Preppy style, particularly with the Hamptons and Nantucket aesthetics, British Sloan Ranger, and French BCBG styles.
Essential Clothing in Country Club Attire
1. White Chinos (Long or Short)
With aesthetic roots in British army uniforms, white chinos have been adopted into Country Club attire as the go-to trousers for golf games and outdoor luncheons, exemplifying the elite’s lifestyle.
Recommended Brands: Bonobos, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger
2. Pleated Tennis Skirt
With aesthetic roots in Preppy uniforms and the tennis wear popularized by athletes like Suzanne Lenglen in the 1920s, pleated tennis skirts are core in the Country Club attire, excellent for tennis matches and upscale social events within the club setting.
Recommended Brands: Lacoste, Tory Sport, Fila
3. Golf Pants
With origins to the Scottish links where golf was born, tailored, lightweight golf pants are critical in any Country Club attire, suitable for playing golf or clubhouse events.
Recommended Brands: Tory Sport, Lacoste, Under Armour
4. Tennis Dresses
Inspired by the court attire worn by women tennis players of the 1920s, tennis dresses in Country Club attire are sleeveless, either with a collar and buttons or a v-neck.
Recommended Brands: Lacoste, Fred Perry, Fila, Tory Sport
5. Gingham Dresses
With aesthetic roots in Southeast Asia, “gingham” derives from the Malay word ‘genggang,’ meaning striped textiles, and popularized in mid-20th century America, breathable gingham dresses are ideal for summer luncheons and garden parties.
Recommended Brands: Tory Burch, Kate Spade, La Ligne
6. Polo Shirts
Inspired by the sports attire of 19th-century British soldiers playing polo matches in India, this unique shirt style adds a sporty yet refined touch to any countryside attire.
Recommended Brands: Ralph Lauren, Fred Perry, Lacoste
7. Casual Oxford Shirts
Originating from 19th-century Scotland and refined by Ivy League students in the 1950s, the Oxford shirt brings a scholarly touch to Country Club attire.
Recommended Brands: Brooks Brothers, J.Crew, Thomas Pink
8. Cable Knit Tennis Sweaters (Cricket Jumpers)
Inspired by the warm-up attire of English cricketers, cable knit tennis sweaters, also known as cricket jumpers, contribute a traditional British touch to Country Club fashion.
Recommended Brands: Polo Ralph, Lacoste, Thom Browne
9. Crewneck Sweaters
Derived from the 1930s athletic wear of American Ivy League schools’ rowing teams, crewneck sweaters in Country Club attire serve as a versatile layering piece for sporting and social events.
Recommended Brands: Gant, J.Crew, Thom Browne
10. V-neck Cardigans
Originating from British military uniforms in World War I, V-neck cardigans in Country Club attire serve as a refined layer for casual dinners and club meetings.
Recommended Brands: Vince, Theory, Thom Browne
Recommended Footwear in Country Club Attire
1. Tennis Sneakers
With origins in the early 20th-century shoes designed for lawn tennis, tennis sneakers for Country Club attire are ideal for tennis tournaments, racquetball games, and badminton matches.
Recommended Brands: Wilson, Adidas by Stella McCartney, K-Swiss
2. Golf Shoes
Inspired by Scottish golf traditions dating back to the 15th century, golf shoes with cleated or spiked soles underscore the elite atmosphere of exclusive golf clubs.
Recommended Brands: FootJoy, Adidas Golf, Callaway
3. White Bucks
Inspired by the early 19th-century British golf footwear, white bucks with uppers in nubuck leather and red brick soles symbolize leisure and exclusivity in Country Club attire.
Recommended Brands: Camper, Allen Edmonds, G.H. Bass
4. Boat Shoes
Hallmarks of the relaxed New England style, which, in the context of Country Club attire, accentuate the maritime leisure activities associated with these exclusive venues.
Recommended Brands: Sperry, Sebago, G.H. Bass
5. Straw Wedge Sandals
Inspired by the beachside culture of the Mediterranean, straw wedge sandals are popular among the European elite vacationing and poolside lounging along the Riviera at upscale country clubs.
Recommended Brands: Castaner, Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin
Essential Accessories in Country Club Attire
1. Golf or Tennis Visors
Inspired by early 20th-century tennis and golf attire, the visor is a quintessential accessory in Country Club attire, depicting sporting heritage.
Recommended Brands: Lacoste, Nike, Tory Burch
2. Brim Hat With Ribbon
Originating from the British Edwardian era, the brim hat with ribbon was a staple among upper-class women attending garden parties and polo matches. Nowadays, these hats symbolize Country club exclusivity.
Recommended Brands: Eric Javits, Eugenia Kim, Borsalino
3. Straw Boater Hats
With aesthetic roots in men’s formal summer wear of the late 19th century, these straw hats with flat tops and brims are ideal for garden parties and outdoor Country club events.
Recommended Brands: LK Bennett, Boutique Bonita
What You Shouldn’t Wear to a Country Club
Whenever possible, avoid clothing, footwear, and accessories that diminish the timeless and refined essence of Country Club style in particular:
- Athletic Wear: While Country Club attire incorporates sporty elements, full-blown gym attire like sweatpants or running shoes is inappropriate.
- Denim: Although casual, the Country Club style still has a level of formality, making denim, in particular distressed or ripped, unsuitable.
- Casual Sandals: Flip-flops and rubber sandals are too casual for a country club’s elite and refined environment.
- Graphic tees: Shirts with logos, slogans, or images are too casual and out of place.
- Bright colors: Country Club style values subdued colors and traditional patterns, making neon colors a misstep.
- Cargo shorts: The additional pockets and baggy fit are too informal for the country club setting.
- Baseball caps: While brimmed hats and visors are acceptable for outdoor activities, traditional baseball caps do not align with Country Club aesthetics.
- Ill-fitted clothes: Country Club attire emphasizes tailored clothing.
Country Club Similar Styles
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After years of managing hundreds of fashion brands from London's office of a global retailer, Mandy has ventured into freelancing. Connected with several fashion retailers and media platforms in the US, Australia, and the UK, Mandy uses her expertise to consult for emerging fashion brands create top-notch content as an editorial strategist for several online publications.