I just read a criticism on the Internet, about hunt balls and one observer wrote, “Around these parts, anyone can follow the hunt, even if it’s a donkey you’re riding, but only the cliquey horsey set go to the hunt ball. They’re the ones who wear the tailored clothes on the hunt (rather than a pair of wellies and an anorak like the common folk). The girls are usually called Pippa or Tess and the lads are all Marks and Harrys. They go to private schools or are boarders in the local ones, and Mater and Pater are usually frightfully important. Older ones are usually Trinity heads, but a lot of them will have gone to Cambridge and the like to be ‘finished off’. The hunt ball is a place for them all to socialise and meet prospective mates, and the riding is not confined to horseback at these events.” Funny.
Actually, anyone can go to the hunt ball, and most of those associated with a fox hunt do attend. Not everyone is called Tess or Harry, but I confess a few are and many have gone places to be finished off, while others come to the hunt ball to get finished off. It is a rare formal occasion, where one can wear a top hat, cuff links, and a white Marcella cotton tuxedo shirt, a starched wing or Emperial waist coat, and Marcella waistcoat, all while not feeling overdressed. But, in the end, those who can ride are respected more than those who pretend to ride to hunt, regardless of your position in life. I dare say that comment goes as well in the field as it does after hunt balls.
I suspect the reason it is criticized by some, is that it is truly the most grand evening you can have each year, so if you didn’t attend one or more hunt balls each season, I can see why you might be upset. And there is everyone there from secretaries to farmers to those with titles, and no one much cares which you are, if you have shown you can ride that season and you know how to have a good time.
So Gents, dust off your top hat and pick up an Emperial collar and other from my favorite formal wear shop:
Ede & Ravenscroft, 93 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1DU
Te.: +44 (0) 20 7405 3906 www.edeandravenscroft.com.
Here is a great guide to white tie dress.