by Katrina Schollenberger

There is no doubt that fashion, style and etiquette go hand in hand. Tom Ford once said 'dressing well is a form of good manners'. In that light, never was there a marriage of two unions more perfect that Debrett's etiquette consultants and Bicester village, the luxury outlet village showcasing premium fashion brands at discounted prices. This year, the two institutions will partner on a bespoke book titled the 'Guide to British Style', depicting the history of British fashion and trends and providing insight into contemporary seasonal dress codes.


To celebrate the launch, I was invited to a panel discussion featuring some of Britain's style experts and influencers including Mary Portas, Richard E Grant, Lady Kitty Spencer and Debrett's stylist Tim Lord. Held at the Keeper's House at the Royal Academy, guests were treated to a sit-down breakfast of miniature mango and chia seed puddings, pineapple skewers, Croque Monsieur's and sweetcorn fritters topped with guacamole.

The panellists covered a range of questions delving into British fashion, and with such differing backgrounds and ages, opinions were varied. For example, Mary Portas had asked if Britain were to set up shop in any country around the world, what would our 'signature look' be, and what items would be on display? Does Britain have a 'signature style'? Richard E Grant definitively thought not, whereas Tim Lord was on the fence, and Lady Kitty Spencer perhaps thought hats would be our top export. Despite this, there is no doubt that Britain has lead the forefront on fashion trends for decades. Panellists agreed that Brits dress unapologetically, whereas countries like America lag behind the times, with Richard inputting that British men "are not fearful of looking anything less than four-square heterosexual, they dress with more individuality than their American counterparts".

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The floor opened up to questions ranging from casualisation in high fashion to production sustainability before guests left with potted hyacinth bulbs (to represent the growth of Bicester) and the Guide to British Style itself. The book comes in English, Arabic and Chinese, reflecting the origins of Bicester's cultural customers, and will be available to VIP customers at Bicester Village.