What to wear to school speech day © Tommy Hilfiger

What to wear to school speech day

As the season for private school speech days in the UK and worldwide approaches, make sure you know what’s what, including what to wear

As another school year comes to a close, you are likely to have had the invite to your child’s annual ‘speech day’ or end of year event. If this is your first year attending this type of day, you may be a little unsure of the etiquette – what one wears, says and does.

Don’t worry though. You are not alone. Even for the most practiced of school speech day goers, there is an element of anticipation and nerves for the big day. Yes it is an important day for both you and your child, but once you know what is expected of you, it will be a breeze. Wear the right attire; know what you are in for and you are bound to impress the teachers, fellow parents and most importantly your child.

What to expect

It will of course vary from school to school and country to country but as a general rule, the day is not only about the prize giving itself but the sports matches, afternoon tea and socialising over a picnic with fellow families and staff. The school grounds are manicured to the max ahead of the all important cricket matches, marquees laid out for the prize giving, and hoards of eager parents pull up in back to back Land Rovers.

Immaculately dressed mums arrive armed with luxurious hampers of fresh fruit juice, champagne, sandwiches and strawberries for al fresco sports watching and grinning from ear to ear at the anticipation of being reunited with their child at the end of the school year. The prize giving ceremony itself is of course the highlight – prizes are handed out for academic and sporting achievement and speeches are given.


clockwise from bottom left: bag: Gucci, jacket: Alice + Olivia, trousers: Delpozo, top: Diane Von Furstenberg, shoes: Michael Kors

What to say

In Western culture, it is good manners to greet both men and women with a handshake. Introduce yourself and your partner including your surname and inform them of who your child is. Make a beeline for your child’s house master, tutors etc. in case you miss them when they are doing the rounds. Encourage your child to introduce his or her friends to you, so you can familiarise yourself with their day-to-day buddies who you would otherwise not always meet.


clockwise from bottom left: bag: Jimmy Choo, jacket: Stella McCartney, dress: Victoria Beckham, shoes: Pierre Hardy

What to wear

There is no dress code, but smart is definitely the order of the day. You are attending a formal event so it is important to dress up. Like you, parents are travelling from all corners of the world so you can be assured of a mix of styles, but long as you choose something respectable and elegant you will fit in perfectly. Men should wear suits or smart trousers, a shirt and a jacket.


shirt: Roberto Cavalli, bag: Michael Kors, skirt: Dolce & Gabbana, shoes: Gianvito Rossi. 

For ladies, a long summer dress, a floral midi skirt and blouse or even trousers and a jacket are all perfectly suitable. Don’t go too short with your hemline and not too high with your heels – you have to navigate your way across grass and will be on your feet a lot of the day. Dress as you would for a smart daytime social event – classic yet not frumpy. Remember, you are a role model for your child, and how you dress reflects on them. Make them proud.