The British social season and what to wear

chelsea flower show dress

Chelsea flower show. No I am not going to be wearing this dress!



It is the start of the social season here in the UK.  Chelsea flower show this week followed by Royal Ascot in June and Henley Royal Regatta in July. These are formal occasions often with strict dress codes. For example you can not enter the Steward’s Enclosure at Henley in trousers and must cover your shoulders.

Even if you are not attending any of these events you may well be a guest at a posh wedding or garden party. What to wear?



Henley Royal RegattaHenley Royal Regatta



Ascot dress codeDress code for Steward’s Enclosure




Royal AscotRoyal Ascot



I will not be attending Ascot this year however I will be going to Henley Regatta.

As you will be aware if you read this blog regularly I am more of a trouser fan than a dress girl!!! I now need to practice what I preach and get out of my rut and try a new look.




Bombshell dress with hat by pond



The high street and department stores are all very well but I like to explore and find designers that are a bit different, especially if they are British. I discovered a new brand recently.  I drove to their showroom in North London to try their dresses for myself. I was very impressed. The brand is called “bombshell”.




Bombshell dress with wide hat by bond



Katya Wildman, a former television costume designer is the creator of these flattering dresses. She set up her company in 2008  as she could not find dresses that suited her curvy figure.

The dresses, inspired by vintage shapes, have clever shirred panels at the side. These help to create space between the bust and waist which elongates the figure. The wrap V neckline sits as far on the shoulders as possible.  This gives the illusion of widening the shoulders thus making the waist appear smaller.  Finally the sarong skirt conceals any lumps and bumps and is very forgiving.

The dresses are made of soft liberty print cotton.  Comfortable, feminine and figure hugging without being constricting.



Bombshell dress by Barnes cottage





This is my dress for Henley and for France, where polyester is a no no. Only cotton or linen are possible in the summer months.




Bombshell portraitAll the gorgeous photos taken by Laura Hines round Barnes Pond.


I bet you never thought you would see me wearing floral prints!

Bombshell are currently offering my readers a 20% discount on full price dresses. Just add the code CHIC at checkout.

Free UK shipping and returns. Bombshell do ship Internationally.

Linking up with Notdressedaslamb’s feature on dresses.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post however the dress I am wearing was gifted to me. 












  1. jodie
    28th May 2016 / 16:04

    Oh my golly gee—-this dress is spectacular on you!! You look positively radiant!! I think this should definitely be your new normal!!

  2. Jane
    28th May 2016 / 17:15

    You look beautiful in this dress and hat Josephine! I am the same, prefer trousers to dresses. I always have a challenge finding a dress which flatters a mature figure and isn’t overly revealing. Thank you for the referral to Bombshell along with the deal! These designs are right up my alley and I think I may need to invest in one! Have fun at all of your summer functions!

  3. Carol
    28th May 2016 / 18:22

    This is a beautiful dress on you.

  4. WendyB
    28th May 2016 / 18:33

    Love that dress on you – beautiful! The neckline looks great and the fabric is really pretty. I’ll definitely have a look at their website. Enjoy Henley!

  5. Sue W.
    28th May 2016 / 19:39

    Whilst I really admire your outfits and advice for those who need it; I can’t help thinking there is a lot of unnecessary and pretentious snobbery in the U.K. Surely people are far more important than what they are wearing?
    Sue W.

    • 29th May 2016 / 15:01

      In response to Sue W’s comment. I would not call it snobbery I would call it tradition. I was brought up to place importance on how I presented myself as a form of courtesy to others. At special or celebratory events a lot of preparation and planning has gone into making that event as enjoyable as possible. To make the effort to dress up is respectful. This can just as easily be done on a tight budget. Some of my best hats have been bought at charity shops. For me personally it adds to the fun.

  6. Wendy
    28th May 2016 / 20:20

    You look absolutely fabulous in that hat and dress! I have had a look at Bombshell’s website and the dresses are far too expensive for me even at sale price. What a pity it’s so difficult to get dresses like these at high street prices. I always struggle to find something with sleeves that flatters a curvaceous figure at an affordable price.

  7. Sue
    28th May 2016 / 21:41

    Lovely dress. The styling is so flattering. Glad that it is made of cotton. That is what my husband is planting today. Don’t know if much makes its way from Texas to the UK.

  8. Susan S.
    28th May 2016 / 21:58

    You look beautiful and you certainly look as fabulous in dresses as you do with trousers ! Blue is definitely your color. I love the style of the dress. Well done !

  9. Susan B (
    28th May 2016 / 23:32

    That is a lovely dress and you look smashing! The cut and fit are amazing. I wish their shipping fees to the US weren’t quite so high, though.

  10. Maryann
    29th May 2016 / 18:52

    You look lovely in that dress. However it does irritate me that women cannot wear trousers. I think tradition can accomodate a well cut pair of trousers on a women after all time doesn’t stand still. Do men have a dress code as well?

    • 29th May 2016 / 20:46

      The Royal Enclose at Ascot does now allow trousers “Trouser suits are welcome. They should be of full length and of matching material and colour”..
      Yes the men definitely have a dress code for these events Formal suits and ties etc. and Ascot is very formal “Gentlemen are kindly reminded that it is a requirement to wear either black or grey morning dress which must include:
      • A waistcoat and tie (no cravats)
      • A black or grey top hat
      • Black shoes”

  11. Maryann
    29th May 2016 / 21:09

    Thanks for answering my question. This sort of thing fascinates me I in age were casual seems to rule.

  12. Ann
    30th May 2016 / 16:00

    Just gorgeous!

  13. Rita
    1st June 2016 / 14:30

    I have no problem with dress codes for these kinds of events, since you only have to look at the way some people dress when there are no codes! Dressing nicely implies self-respect as well as respect for others who are forced to look at you!

  14. Theresa Campbell
    28th June 2016 / 18:09

    Love that dress! Wasn’t aware of that Bombshell brand. Their collection is gorgeous. Very retro and feminine. And, frankly, I’m all for events where you’re expected to dress up. Though I appreciate that fashion has become more casual than decades past, there is a point where it often borders on sloppy. So, for me, it’s refreshing to go places where people put more effort into their appearance.

    • 28th June 2016 / 18:15

      Thanks Theresa I find that dressing for the occasion helps to make it special

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