Don't come as you are: There is only Harrods dress code

Share
Related Topics
It has been five years now since Harrods introduced its dress code, but people still get terribly upset about it. Mortified Londoners just cannot get over being refused entry to a mere shop. Instead of taking their custom elsewhere or simply putting some trousers on, they write aggrieved letters to the newspapers, which still print them.

For those of you who have been doing all your shopping elsewhere, the Harrods dress code can be summarised as follows: no beachwear, no backpacks, no riff-raff.

Under the al-Fayeds, Harrods had become a victim of its own success. Sumptuous displays and some striking refurbishment meant that everyone wanted to have a look around, but that was often all they wanted. Bona fide customers could not see the merchandise for half-dressed tourists with telephoto lenses snapping the wet fish.

Banning photography and selling more postcards was an obvious move but how was the management to keep out the rest of the coach party element? As the voice of the chairman's office puts it: 'Quite frankly, our lady customers didn't appreciate queuing up for their bagel or baguette next to someone in crotch-high shorts and a vest showing their hairy armpits. The dress code was the logical step.

The core of local clientele was thrilled (60 per cent of Harrods customers live within three miles of the shop in the so-called Tiara Triangle). Dowagers no longer walked in fear of encountering the revolting spectacle of an unwashed Swede at the vegetable counter.

Fading pop stars, predictably, used the code as a mechanism for getting their pictures in the paper. One of these, described by the Harrods spokesman as 'this Luke Goss person, went along in some fetchingly torn trousers to be turned away. Ensuing tabloid coverage gleefully pounced on the fact that Harrods had ejected a Badly Dressed Person who had Lots of Money.

The wonderful thing about the dress code is that Harrods does not care if you do have lots of money. You are not allowed in dressed like that.

The press dutifully took up cudgels on behalf of the underdressed - conveniently overlooking the fact that London pubs had been refusing refreshment to any working man in 'soiled clothing for years. And have you ever tried buying a McDonald's with no shirt on?

Harrods insists that higher standards enhance the pleasure of shopping but there are other considerations. The odd half-naked megastar may slip through the net, but your average topless backpacker in cut-off jeans is unlikely to be the last of the big spenders. Harrods is not a democracy, it is not a public service, nobody has a right to be there. It is a shop. It is private property and it only lets people inside if it thinks it will profit from the exchange.

A small shop has an armoury of tricks to exclude the browser: no prices in the window, admission by buzzer only, French staff, that sort of thing. But the department store is powerless to prevent itself being used as a luxurious railway station by all and sundry who graze their way through the food halls, repair their lipstick in perfumery and straighten their clothing and feed the baby in the powder room.

Marks and Spencer's customers were once famous for trying on their purchases in the ladies' room of other department stores to make sure they had bought the right size. Can you blame the big stores for wanting to limit the passing trade to those with money to spend?

The question is has Harrods gone far enough? You still cannot move for gawpers on the ground floor and some tourists can still be seen eating their own sandwiches in the Dress Circle cafeteria. Serious shoppers are defecting to the increasingly glamorous Selfridges. Harrods cannot very well install turnstiles. The only answer must surely be to beef up the dress code and exclude time-wasters once and for all.

But how can you sort the sightseer from the shopper? Patchouli oil is a dead giveaway, as are shaved heads and body-piercing. Husbands and wives in matching polyester trouser suits are not usually good for much more than the odd lavender bag. But where does one draw the line?

(Photograph omitted)

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas