The Utterly Inessential Hay Shopping List: All you’ll need to thoroughly enjoy ‘the Woodstock of the mind’

We've rounded up all the utterly inessential products that you absolutely do not need (top hats for Ascot aside) to enjoy this summers season of festivals, shows and races. This week: Hay Festival.

Peter Florence’s brain child asks for no dress code or ticket to secure attendance. Held in ‘The Town of Books’, Hay-on-Wye, Hay has been a part of British Culture since the late eighties. Although we wouldn’t go quite as far as Tony Benn and claim that it’s replaced Christmas in our hearts, we’re more than happy to offer these tentative suggestions for your wardrobe should you be attending; after all, where else can you crack out a waistcoat without the presence of a top hat or wedding band? All can (and should) be paired with ruffled hair and a far-reaching, writer’s gaze.

The soul of a writer and the pockets of a banker

Luxury Summer Season shoot

I haven’t mixed navy and ‘gold’ (the word my school mistakingly used to refer to our egg-yolk blouses) since I was no longer required to, but this combination is certainly a winner for that its-summer-but-will-likely-rain look.

‘It’s for Hay, mother. I can’t wear my new Jayjee double-breasted silk.’ No, you certainly cant, and this wonderfully-British alternative is just the ticket. If you’re searching for flare, find it in your accessories; the peak of a bold pocket square or a colourful sock will brighten up your outfit even on a rainy day. Watch out for Friday.

Navy-and-brown Nehru waistcoat, £195, Sir Plus, www.sirplus.co.ukGold retro pocket square, £65, Turnbull & Asser, www.turnbullandasser.co.ukmustard wide-rib socks, £12, Sir Plus www.sirplus.co.uk


Surely you already have a picnic blanket…

Get kitted out for summer season events - Glyndebourne, RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Hay Festival, Henley Regatta, Royal Ascot and Wimbledon

A linen shirt is a must for all summer events; if you don’t have one already, add this one to your wardrobe now.

Similarly, if you’re looking to invest in a decent watch, Bremont’s armed forces collection is the way to go. Designed to appeal to military personnel and civilians alike, the collection comes from a collaboration with the Ministry of Defence (MoD).  Bremont is the sole luxury watch producer allowed to legitimately use the signs, symbols and Heraldic Badges of the Army, Navy and Air Force. Understandably, they sell quickly; preorders are now open for Broadsword, the Army-inspired watch, as well as the Arrow and the Argonaut.

Blue shirt, £160, Frescobol Carioca, www.frescobolcarioca.com; Broadsword watch, £2,595, Bremont, www.bremont.com


Live life for the accessories

Get kitted out for summer season events - Glyndebourne, RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Hay Festival, Henley Regatta, Royal Ascot and Wimbledon

Let’s face it: who among us hasn’t considered buying fake-lens glasses to look smarter?

Waxed-cotton handweave belt, £100, Elliot Rhodes, www.elliotrhodes.com; Imperial blue glasses, from £320, C. W. Dixey & Son, www.cwdixeyandson.com; Small horn pocket comb, £10, Truefitt & Hill, www.truefittandhill.co.uk; Novel Ideas notebook, £65, Smythson, www.smythson.com; Bond pencil case, £165, Smythson www.smythson.com


These shoes were made for lounging

Get kitted out for summer season events - Glyndebourne, RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Hay Festival, Henley Regatta, Royal Ascot and Wimbledon

Who am I kidding; you have a pair of brown shoes or an old pair of Timberlands; just give them a brush up. If by some slim chance you don’t, these are as good as any for sitting under a tree with a book, enjoying the brief period of sunshine between precisely 11:45am and 12:30pm.

Leo shoes, £445, Tricker’s, www.trickers.com


If you purchased this entire week’s shopping list you would’ve spent £1,377 and if you’re wondering where to buy a new picnic blanket, turn your mind to the last place you saw the one you surely already own. We’re sure it’ll turn up somewhere.