Debrett's and Bicester Village's Guide to British Style

BOOKISH TYPES: Bicester Village and Debrett’s have harnessed the enduring fascination with British etiquette — traditional and modern — for a pocket-sized paperback dedicated to the nation’s style and to dress codes for seasonal events ranging from Ladies’ Day at the Cheltenham Festival to Wimbledon and Glastonbury.

The book, launched at the Royal Academy in London on Tuesday, is full of tips; quips from the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Joan Collins and Oscar Wilde, and brief histories of sartorial stalwarts such as the trench, the Wellington boot, the handbag and the pinstripe suit.

The cover of Debrett's and Bicester Village's Guide to British Style

The cover of Debrett’s and Bicester Village’s Guide to British Style.  Courtesy Photo

Collins talks about how to wear a trenchcoat in winter (with dark tights and knee-high boots), while Karl Lagerfeld waxes lyrical about the versatility of the little black dress. There’s also advice on the width of hat brims for the races — “a wide one can make kissing tricky at social occasions” — and the history of the Wellington boot (invaluable in the trenches of World War One).

“Debrett’s and Bicester Village Guide to British Style” comes in English, Chinese and Arabic, reflecting the cultural makeup of the village’s visitors, and will be distributed to VIP customers at Bicester, which is located outside Oxford.

The partners are also thinking about wider distribution of the 55-page guide, which is part of a yearlong partnership between Bicester and Debrett’s, the 250-year-old company that publishes a range of books on etiquette, style and professional achievers.

The book’s launch coincided with a panel discussion where Richard E. Grant, Lady Kitty Spencer, Tim Lord and Mary Portas talked about modern style.

The 26-year-old Spencer said her generation “wants less stuff,” loves sharing and swapping web sites, cares about the origins of clothing and tries to “shop better” than the generations before them.

Actor-turned-perfumer Grant said British men “are not fearful of looking anything less than four-square heterosexual. They dress with more individuality than their American counterparts,” whom he described as “men in toddler-wear.”

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