Women Finally Allowed To Wear Trousers At Henley For The First Time In 182 Years

by : Emily Brown on : 12 Aug 2021 16:29
Women Finally Allowed To Wear Trousers At Henley For The First Time In 182 YearsPA Images

Women attending the Henley Royal Regatta will be allowed to wear trousers for the first time in the event’s 182-year history following an update to its dress code. 

The rowing event has been running annually in the Oxfordshire town since 1839, and following the introduction of a formal dress code in the 1970s women in the Stewards’ Enclosure were required to wear ‘dresses or skirts with a hemline below the knee’.


The old dress code further stated that women would not be admitted into the Stewards’ Enclosure, which is open only to stewards, members and their guests, if they wore ‘divided skirts, culottes or trousers of any kind’.

Henley Royal Regatta spectators (PA Images)PA Images

Last year, Oxford student Georgina Grant launched a petition calling for women attending the event to be able to wear trousers.

Hundreds of people showed their support for the change, and the dress code for the Henley Royal Regatta has now been updated to say that women in the Stewards’ Enclosure can wear ‘jackets or blazers with trousers, or trouser suits’, in addition to dresses or skirts ‘with a hemline below the knee’.


Guests can also wear jumpsuits and culottes with a hemline below the knee while watching the competition from the enclosure, which offers the best views of the event. A separate area designed for the general public has no formal dress code.

In her petition, Grant described dress codes such as the one at the regatta as ‘excluding, discriminatory and sexist’ and accused the event of upholding ‘sexist and antiquated rules, imposing a draconian dress code in the Stewards’ Enclosure’.

The student went on to point out that the dress code excluded transgender people, non-binary people and people with disabilities, noting: ‘On the water, men and women dress the same. Why are things any different off the water? To promote equality for competitors at this event, an equal dress code for spectators is the first place to start.’


Grant said it felt ‘amazing’ to learn the dress code has been changed, though she expressed her belief that the next step of updating the rules should be to de-gender the dress code to be more inclusive to all genders.

She explained: ‘They could say ‘you either wear this, or you wear this’. It doesn’t necessarily have to be men wear this, woman wear this. In doing that, it includes everyone. You can keep it formal but give people options.’

Steward's Enclosure (PA Images)PA Images

Sir Steve Redgrave, chairman of the event, told The Telegraph the changes were an ‘evolution not revolution’ which he was ‘very much in favour of’.


He explained the adjustments to the dress code came after the event had been ‘asked for a number of years’ if it could review the rules because ‘times have changed’.

Redgrave said, ‘Even though we see ourselves very much as a traditional event with a traditional way of dressing, with the introduction of more women’s events in recent years and a growing number of women stewards, we felt that it was the right time to make the change,’ The Independent reports.

With the updated dress code now in force, Grant is looking forward to attending the regatta and wearing trousers in celebration of the change.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: News, Dress Code, Now, Sexism


The Independent
  1. The Independent