At Ugbrooke Park, we are now eagerly anticipating our first day of the new season and welcoming our guests to the house. Following months of preparation, our gentleman loaders are prepped, the bar is stocked and the port is ready to be decanted.
So we’re ready, are you? Spurred into action by David Beckham’s recent weekend shooting with Guy Ritchie, we thought it timely to write a quick reminder of what to wear shooting, a timely checklist for the experienced shot, and a veritable bible for the uninitiated.
If you believe the Daily Mail article, and you all know how I feel about the Daily Mail, David Beckham’s outfit cost in excess of £1000, which I can well believe. A pair of Le Chameau wellies cost in excess of £300 alone. But when you are spending many times that on the shooting alone, make sure your day isn’t ruined because you didn’t stump up for that new kit you really needed. This checklist should help you avoid any fashion faux pas, and keep your eye out for our next post on Field Faux Pas.
Let’s start at the ground and work up;
1. Waterproof footwear
Wellies are by far the most common choice, but sturdy walking boots will be equally acceptable. Naturally, you will have cleaned them off since last season, oiled the leather and the zip. On the off chance you haven’t, ahem, at least double check you haven’t sprung a leak lest you find your socks swimming at the bottom of a muddy gully on the first drive.
2. Socks & garters
Once upon a time, shooting socks and stockings used to sit firmly in traditional tonal territory, but more and more we are seeing some very colourful calves sprung free from their wellies at lunch. At Ugbrooke Park, we say ‘go for it!’ but perhaps do check with your host on the formality of the day as not every host will appreciate your red and orange stripes quite as much as we do.
3. Breeks, plus fours, moleskin or tweed trousers
The choice is entirely yours and what you feel comfortable (and dry!) in. Many say
comfort is more important than style, but a certain sartorial sophistication certainly doesn’t go astray on a more formal day – just make sure you can back it up with some smart shooting too. No one likes a right twit in the wrong tweed.
4. Waistcoat vs Gilet
A well turned out gun in a three-piece tweed suit is again a very smart look, but the axiom ‘fashion is pain’ certainly has no place in the field. A warm woolly jumper with a Chelsea life vest (more commonly known as a fleece gilet), is both practical and acceptable, even on the smartest of shoots.
5. Shirt and tie
There is a certain amount of tradition associated with driven shooting, and this element of smart attire is one of them. Tradition suggests that shirts be either brown or green check, but other colours can be worn. For example, if you are on a grouse moor, a darker shirt is often worn.
6. Ear defenders
There are some terribly clever ear defenders on the market now that will cut out certain frequencies such that you can still hear a human voice, but not the shots. They come in the big traditional shape that cover your whole ear, tiny ear pieces that you insert directly, or alternatively, if you’re not shooting that often, a good set of freebie foam earplugs from the airplane will be adequate to see you through.
Critical to keep the drizzle away, the sun out of your eyes, and the warmth in. Peaked flat caps do tend to be de rigeur, but a trilby or fedora style is equally acceptable. Do consider what form of ear defenders you are wearing.
8. Wet weather gear
Sod’s law – the day you forget your slicks is the day it tips down and you get sodden. That means no sitting on the silk damask sofa at lunchtime, say nothing of the cold, itchy, smelly day ahead of you as your tweed gets heavier than lead by the final drive.
9. Inside kit
There is a lovely camaraderie at smaller, family run shoots where you can kick your wellies off at the door, strip off your wet jackets and pile into the shed for some hearty brown stew. In contrast, smarter shoots across the country will serve lunch in the dining room where it is somewhat frowned upon to pad across the 18th century hand-woven rug in your socks. Don’t forget a pair of loafers, smart slippers or indoor shoes to wear once the wellies come off, and top it off with a tweed blazer.
10. Gun paraphernalia
This is a whole post in itself but don’t be daft and forget your gun, your slip, your cartridge bag, enough cartridges to see you through, and your licence. Although we do arrange gun hire for our guests, not every shoot does and it would be terribly embarrassing to turn up with your fingers crossed that they might have a spare somewhere because yours is still in the safe at home!
If you are still at a loss, check our our Pinterest boards for some ‘fashions in the field’ for more inspiration. Even if you can’t hit a barn door, at least look good trying.