Casual Friday: I tried to get into London’s most exclusive venues in trackies

The doormen were not impressed

Times change and modern fashion moves on, but some of London’s most exclusive venues still have a pretty strict dress code. Challenging these brutal societal norms, I tried to blag my way into the most VIP places in the capital dressed as casually as possible.

First, I looked through my wardrobe for my worst clothes — trainers with pathetic spaghetti-like laces, ancient black jogging bottoms and a grey hoodie with paint stains on it. Ready to challenge the elite, I hit up The Ritz, The Mayfair and an exclusive Richmond sports club.


Nice shoes mate

Richmond sports centre

The first place I tried to get into was the prestigious Bank of England Sports Centre. Although there was no official dress code at the club, it costs a whopping £1,895 to join as a member and enjoy its facilities.


It’s fancier inside I presume


See, much fancier

The luxury club in the leafy London suburb of Richmond plays host to the qualifying rounds of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. To enter the club, you need to be a guest of a member, which my friend fortunately was, but how would unsuspecting members view my very casual attire?

The club bar was quite empty so we spent some time enjoying ourselves watching their plasma TV on their huge leather armchairs. After a while we found one young member who has been at the Bank of England club since he was seven so I asked him what he thought of my get up.


You wear the clothes, the clothes don’t wear you

Olly Tapper, a 18 year old recent school leaver said: “We don’t have a strict dress code, but I’d say that it’d be pretty poor form for one of the members to dress as you have.

“It is a sports club so people are in tracksuits all the time, but you’ve got paint and on your hoodie and people should generally change their clothes into something nicer if they’re in the bar. It’s sort of assumed that you dress to a reasonable level.”


Olly was not impressed

The Ritz

Disappointed by the absence of a backlash, we decided to up the ante by trying to get into some of the most exclusive hotels in the world – The Ritz and The May Fair hotels in Mayfair, Central London.


Ready for The Ritz

The Ritz’s website says guests must dress in a manner which “reflects the elegant nature of the hotel’s architecture”. Specifically, this means men must wear jackets if they’re in the restaurant and must be in smart casual attire elsewhere in the hotel.

We were predictably refused entry into the hotel’s Member’s club and were quite sternly told that we should not have tried to get in. A doorman told us they took the dress code very seriously and he even asked us to the delete a couple of pictures we had taken outside the hotel.

The Mayfair

Undeterred, we then tried to gain entry into The Mayfair hotel — albeit with minimal hope of succeeding. We were predictably, yet again refused entry but we were told they had a more relaxed view on what people should wear.

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The doorman told us if you make a reservation for afternoon tea then you are in fact allowed to dress casually. Although, I’m still not sure they’d appreciate my paint-covered hoodie.