Post Brexit, we explore the growing interest in staycations in Britain. With London Fashion Week in progress, we chose to revisit a previous fashion expedition and share our thoughts about staycation and style in the British countryside.

 

Staycation and the rise of the ‘British Riviera’

Post-Brexit Britain is a different place from what it was before the June 23, 2016 referendum…or so the newspapers would have us all believe.

Shortly after the referendum, the British press began playing mind games by suggesting that in keeping with their desire to exit Europe, the Brits were increasingly giving up their holiday lifestyle to sunnier climates such as Costa del Sol in favour of bucket-and-spade weekends on shingle filled British beaches.

While this conclusion was perhaps premature, the weaker Pound which followed the referendum sent panic waves across the British Isles. With holidays to Continental Europe going up in price and resulting in a temporary slowdown of the annual escape to Italy, France, Spain and Greece, the idea of a British ‘staycation’ suddenly became more appealing.

Perhaps this is timely because, outside of the main cities, Britain is an island full of incredible natural beauty. Options range from antediluvian landscapes as found on the Isle of Skye to picture perfect villages in the Cotswolds. While sun worshippers may be tempted to seek out coastal resorts, our idea of the perfect British staycation involves exploring her beautiful countryside, a resource that Britain has in abundance.

 

The Great British Countryside

With so many options to choose from, planning the perfect, idyllic countryside getaway can be challenging. Our initial sources for inspiration usually include the English Heritage, National Trust and the outstandingly beautiful Lake District in Cumbriaeach providing exciting ideas for countryside adventures.

When planning staycations in Britain, our approach is to start by identifying activities of interest before deciding on accommodation. We like to visit farms, historic churches, castles and stately mansions and also to explore dramatic coastline. However, our staycation plans coincided with our planning for a ‘groom inspiration’ themed photo project. As the photo shoot was the primary focus for the weekend, finding the right location became paramount.

A chance meeting with a representative from the luxury Hand Picked Hotels group coincided with our planning. After reviewing their properties online, we were attracted to their 18th century Buxted Park Hotel  property in the old iron-making village of Buxted, located in East Sussex in South East England. With its Venetian inspired Palladian architecture, expansive grounds, accessibility from London and proximity to a number of attractions in East Sussex, it was easy to decide on this property as our base.

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The project: From mannequin to man-in-charge

By now you’re probably wondering what ‘groom inspiration’ means. Well, just like staycations in Britain are underrated in favour of the more attractive Continental getaway, we felt that the wedding industry places undue emphasis on women’s fashion compared to men.

The multi-billion pound wedding industry works on the assumption that women make the fashion decisions while men simply kotow and fall in line; the man being nothing more than a mannequin for the woman to express her fashion tastes. With our ‘groom inspiration’ theme, we wanted to explore a side of the wedding industry that is often underrepresented and put men in the driving seat when choosing their own style.

Staycation & Style in the Great British Countryside | via @dipyourtoesin

For a men’s fashion shoot, we needed…men. After some cajoling (and near bribery) we managed to round up some willing volunteers who didn’t seem to mind being test subjects in our fashion project. They seemed to like the idea of ‘male empowerment’ through providing styling ideas for weddings and ceremonies. Secretly though, we think they were just happy to be able to escape London and get a healthy dose of the outdoors.

Post Brexit, we explore the growing interest in staycations in Britain. With the London Fashion Week in progress, we chose to revisit a previous fashion expedition and share our thoughts about staycation and style in the British countryside | via @dipyourtoesin

[Check here for Buxted Park rates]

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Exploring our styling ideas

We wanted to showcase a range of styles and so we set out to achieve three looks for the day: a luxury stag party, a formal wedding party and a contemporary after party. Our colour scheme ranged from light blues, khakis, classic greys, to dark blues; almost matching the temperamental British weather which had begun the day with buckets of rain, eventually giving way to clear skies. Although we were shooting in the countryside, we decided to avoid the classic English tweed in favour of more airy fabrics that were reminiscent of late summer days.

Although keeping the masculinity of the styling intact was paramount, we also wanted a contrasting floral palette that gave just enough softness to connect the men’s styling to the stunning British landscape.

Our incredible florist Emma Soulsby, who also has a keen eye for details, suggested a color scheme of pink, violet, and golden yellow. She chose the perfect mix of blooms with varying textures to both compliment and contrast the masculine styling.

For the table setting, we were inspired by small golden lions in an old holiday ad for Target Stores in the U.S. We scoured London for rubber lions that we painted gold, creating a slot at the top of the head where we inserted place cards. We weren’t sure about our last minute DIY project, but it worked brilliantly!

Additionally, we found candelabras with faux horns, which was a great addition to the tablescape. With the inclusion of textured gold charger plates, and similar vases with gold details, the soft floral palette was a perfect look to top it off.  

Staycation & Style in the Great British Countryside | via @dipyourtoesin

The stationery designer (Sinead of Paper Grace) was given the task of creating something chic, Italian inspired, fashion forward; with just the right hint of romance. After showing a personal sketch to our cake designer (Judit Hellebrandt Cakes) of leaves creeping up a cylinder cake, we asked Sinead to incorporate a fig leaf motif into the stationery. The cake and stationery design became a creative collaboration of three voices constantly going back and forth to achieve the desired effect.

To truly capture the spirit of the great British countryside and to complement our styling choices, we needed a classic car that exuded power and luxury but which would look at home against a backdrop of green meadows and woodland. Our search led us to a 1977 MGB Roadster, a traditional two-seater classic sports car from British manufacturer MG.

Staycation & Style in the Great British Countryside | via @dipyourtoesin

Staycation & Style in the Great British Countryside | via @dipyourtoesin

Although slightly rough around the edges, its red finishing, leather interior and flip top provided the luxury look we needed. A quick drive around the estate provided an authentic MG experience. Its overdrive gearbox and distinctive exhaust note pleased the piston-heads among us. The only regret we had was that we didn’t have the car for the entire weekend!

 

A toast to style and staycations

Very rarely do our interests in fashion and travel intersect. However a staycation in Britain allowed us to explore our ideas while enjoying a nice weekend out in the countryside. The boutique styling, and extensive countryside surrounding Buxted Park Hotel made it an ideal location for both our shoot, and a weekend away.

Buxted Park Hotel landscape | via @dipyourtoesin

Image supplied by Buxted Park Hotel

Flat lays and photo shoot completed, we were soon toasting to a successful day and the prospect of a relaxing weekend ahead exploring East Sussex. Our celebratory mood received an extra boost when we ran into the legendary Brian May, lead guitarist of the rock band Queen, who was attending a private family function at Buxted Park that weekend. British staycations are certainly not boring if you know where to go.

Staycation & Style in the Great British Countryside | via @dipyourtoesin

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[Check here for Buxted Park rates]

Industry analysts predict that Britain’s tourism industry could benefit from a weaker pound in the wake of Brexit, providing good value for domestic and foreign travellers. Perhaps just like our wedding fashion statement for men, staycations in Britain rather than Continental escapes could become the new style.

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VENDOR TEAM

Photography & Styling: Eulanda Shead

Florist: Emma Soulsby

Cake: Judit Hellebrandt Cake Company 

Stationary: Paper Grace

Car Hire: Retro Hire

Flatlay styling: Ovie Egbedi 

Decor: Zara Home

Table cloths: Yahire

Venue: Buxted Park Hotel 

Film development & scanning: theFINDlab 

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Staycation & Style in the Great British Countryside | via @dipyourtoesin

Co-Founders & Curators at HDYTI

Eulanda & Omo Osagiede are London-based freelance writers and award-winning social influencers who run the popular travel, food, and lifestyle blog HDYTI (Hey! Dip your toes in).