article is reprinted from Messrs Charlton and Thompsons
Croquet. Commentary by Phooka editor Reginald Bakeley
may be read by following the link at the end of this article.
proper croquet garb, like the game itself, is determined
by quiet good taste. There are of course bespoke, chic labels
seen more and more on trendy courts and these are accepted
without comment, but essentially the rules for dress are
flexible; limited only by practical rules of comfort. The
game is a demanding one, and as such demands a comfortable
uniform. Freedom of motion is the ultimate criterion.
Out of consideration for the course, the croquet shoe should
be soft and flat soled. The soft rule is a good one; not
only is the course protected but the player is guaranteed
maximum foot comfort for the grueling hours ahead. Whether
the shoe is a Gucci slip-on, a Topsider, Adidas sneakers
or disreputable jogging shoes is determined by the breeding
and personal preference of the individual. Champion players
have been known to favor all varieties, with a surprising
number opting for the disreputable, albeit well broken-in,
tennis shoe. Indeed, some in the U.S. have played barefoot.
Style must be sacrificed only insofar as protection of the
playing surface is concerned. Shoes with sharp heels are
not to be worn under any circumstances during play.
Skillful players at any level will take every advantage
to improve their game. Many croquet buffs believe the generously
cut shirt provides a more fluid swing and so recommend wearing
a shirt a size larger than normally worn. Opponents of the
bigger-shirt theory hold that the extra material may in
fact impede the swing by increasing wind resistance; logically,
they extend their thinking by wearing snug, wrinkle-free
pullover short-sleeved shirts, preferably of a synthetic
material. The synthetic fabric, according to these theorists,
will not absorb moisture and will therefore be of lighter
weight during the course of the play. Too, they feel the
synthetic fabric will move more freely through the air.
an argument that has gone on for some time, and the rule
book for croquet sensibly ignores it. A shirt or top (particularly
for women players) should be worn; the style and fabric
to be chosen and determined by ones own standards
of playing comfort.
traditionalists ask that the croquet shirt remain a white
broadcloth Sea Island pima cotton, the long sleeves rolled
to just below the elbow.
Trousers or Skirt
White flannel is still worn by serious players in England,
and it is hard to fault the elegance of this classic garb.
However, in croquet, alas like in too many things, standards
have changed over the years and skirts and trousers of every
conceivable cut and fabric are now seen on the croquet court.
Croquet players, like all athletes, have their superstitions.
In consequence, the lucky blue-jeans, flannels,
or shorts will be worn repeatedly. There are known instances
of players being requested to change their luck and their
trousers, but again, the rules are wisely flexible in this
regard. The selection of color, fabric, and cut of skirt
or trousers remains the exclusive province of the wearer.
Fortunately for civilized play, the protective helmet is
no longer needed. At one point in croquets checkered
history, the mallet was used as imaginatively as todays
hockey stick, a flexibility that encouraged the wearing
of leather caps not too dissimilar from the football helmet.
Happily or not, these are bygone days.
billed cap is to be worn only for protection against the
heat and glare of the sun. An attempt at a team uniform-to
include the visored cap emblazoned with team colors-simply
did not catch on. Frankly, caps are considered effete by
seasoned players, and are openly discouraged except when
playing in the tropics or Australia.
White, of cotton or wool, is the preferred color sock. The
sock should reach well above the ankle, but need not reach
mid-calf. Croquet is nothing if not a realistic game. Many
players do not wear socks at all.
Weather Croquet Gear
One of the hardier games, croquet provides for continued
play even in the face of inclemency. Since a game will not
be delayed until puddles begin to form on the court, players
are advised to make provision for playing in the rain.
standards for rainwear are simple: usually a large umbrella
held over the head of the player by his partner. Boots and
raincoats are generally not worn since they act as obvious
impediments to a clean swing. There are no specifications
regarding the size or color of the umbrella, but a player
is under no obligation to share or to offer to share an
umbrella with an opponent foolish enough not to provide
for the vagaries of the weather.
Counter-Viewpoint, by Reginald Bakeley