If you haven’t already heard about the Chap Olympiad – now into its second decade of events – then you have some catching up to do. Every year hundreds of well-dressed competitors assemble in London’s Bedford Square Gardens to compete in such games as ironing board surfing, umbrella jousting and volleyball with bowler hats.
The leading event of the vintage calendar is hosted by The Chap Magazine, the publication that inspired the movement of “anarcho-dandyism” – a bold attempt to fight back against a society that has lapsed in its standards of dress and decorum.
While the events have always varied each year, this edition on July 14 comes with a bold redesign. Rather than a central stage surrounded by spectators, several stages will fill the gardens with events taking place throughout the day. This aims to widen participation, although it has caused concern among regular attendees about the need to coordinate being in several places at once while negotiating cocktails, pipes and maintaining sartorial standards.
As part of the new format competitors are invited to beat existing world records. One target is the most hats worn while riding a bicycle. “The world record is 23 hats, currently held by Daniel Wilmer of the United States,” said The Chap Magazine.
“We aim to break this record at the Chap Olympiad on 14th July, and you could be the one who breaks it. All guests at the event will be invited to participate in our world record attempts as well as the usual roster of scheduled events. Existing world records we’ll be attempting to break will also include Most Hats Tossed on to a Hat Stand (current record 16 – we can do better than that!). The new world records we shall be setting for the very first time are Most Ties Knotted in One Minute, Most People Smoking One Pipe and Fastest Dash Holding a Cup of Tea.”
What to Wear
The event welcomes a broad range of dress styles from vintage enthusiasts, goths and plenty more. “When it comes to dressing for The Chap Olympiad, virtually anything goes – except of course for sportswear of any description and pantaloons de nimes [jeans],” said the hosts.
“Some guests choose to go the whole nine yards and sport their most fabulously eccentric outfits, while others play it down by dressing as if attending a garden party on Long Island in 1926. We cannot advise you what to wear, but we can say that this is the single opportunity you may have to wear an outfit considered far too outrageous or flamboyant for any other occasion, whether indoors or out-of-doors.”