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Royal wedding guide: How to be 'frightfully posh'

By Susannah Palk for CNN
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How to speak posh
  • If you want to become posh, then you must learn how to become a "Sloane"
  • The word comes from the the privileged area of of Sloane Square in Chelsea, London
  • The term describes the mind set and behavior of the UK's upper classes

London, England (CNN) -- It's a world for the privileged few -- where men wear brown loafers, women speak with clipped accents and everyone comes from "good stock."

A double-barrelled surname is almost obligatory, a well-established family lineage is desired and an inherited family signet ring is a must.

This is the realm of Britain's upper classes -- a small network of men and women who might not be aristocracy, but hail from well-moneyed and well-connected families.

If your name is Giles Fortescue-Jones, Penelope Loyd-Ruthven or St. John Perrybottom, then chances are you're probably posh.

Nicknamed "toffs," "hooray henrys" and "yahs," becoming part of this privileged upper-crust set is a frightfully difficult affair.

Exclusive and extremely cliquey, access is mostly limited to those born into the right families and educated at the right schools.

A true Sloane would spend the week working and partying in "town" and the weekends in the country.
--Henry Conway, party promoter for Mahiki nightclub.

Without these two qualifications, gaining entry is tough. But if you're determined to join the ranks of Britain's ruling elite, you must learn to assimilate -- and to do that you must transform yourself into a "Sloane."

What is a Sloane?

"The term 'Sloane' is a way of describing the mind-set and behavior of the conventional, established, upper-middle-class people in England," says writer and social commentator Peter York.

Co-author of the famous 1982 book "The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook" and the more recent "Cooler, Faster, More Expensive: The Return of the Sloane Ranger," York took the word from the famously well-heeled Sloane Square, in London's Chelsea -- preserve of the rich and "spiritual home of the Sloane."

"It's a unifying style, mind-set and behavior of quite a lucky group of people," he said. "People who talk a certain way, look a certain way and are that way."

How to spot a Sloane

Chelsea's King's Road in London is the traditional stomping ground for Sloanes and spotting one is easy enough, if you know what you're looking for.

"There is a uniform," says Camilla Ridley-Day, stylist and former fashion editor for London's "Daily Mail" newspaper. "There are some basics in the Sloane wardrobe that come out time after time and are instantly recognizable."

For men this includes chocolate brown suede loafers, simple classic jeans, striped shirts -- sometimes worn with cufflinks -- and a blazer.

For women, wardrobe staples include white shirts, knee length skirts, plain boot-cut jeans, ballet pumps, a pashmina wrapped around the neck and, most importantly, a pair of pointed suede knee-high boots with a kitten heel. "The kitten heel definitely says Sloane," says Ridley-Day.

Jewelery is also essential, and according to Ridley-Day "definitely defines a Sloane." Items to spot include charm bracelets, silver bangles that jangle up the arm, pearl earrings and gold signet rings worn on the little finger by both men and women.

Woman almost always have a long, healthy mane of hair, which they flick, almost compulsively, to one side while men sport simple, clean hair cuts.

The look is neat, tidy, never fashion forward and screams conservatism -- the heels are never too high and flesh is never on show.

"It looks like quite a laid-back, casual look in many ways," says Ridley-Day. "But actually it's quite carefully constructed."

How to live like a Sloane

"For a Sloane there is London life and there is the countryside," says Henry Conway.

A former pupil at the exclusive boys' boarding school Harrow, Conway is a fashion journalist and party promoter for the royally patronized London nightclub Mahiki.

"A true Sloane would spend the week working and partying in 'town' and the weekends in the country," he said.

"Sports are very important, and many Sloanes would have ridden (horses) in their youth and like the idea of hunting and support it."

He continued: "The biggest part of this is the shooting season. It's very social, it's full of rules and is a good testing ground for those who might be coming into the pack."

Summer is reserved for the south of France and winter is for skiing, invariably at the ski resort of Val d'Isere, otherwise known as "Val d'Sloane."

"Skiing is huge," says Conway. "When winter comes it's almost like everyone is picked up from Sloane Square and thrown into the mountains."

This outdoorsy lifestyle makes Sloanes a pretty hardy bunch.

"They're not dainty or refined, and they're certainly not squeamish," says York.

Conway agrees: "I think there's something about that (boarding) school upbringing that makes you hardy.

"There's no complaining, there's no whinging. You have to be strong and carry on, very much that fighting spirit."

How to party like a Sloane

This "fighting spirit" can often be seen when Sloanes hit the town.

"They're a little bit more hardcore," says Conway. "They don't mind rolling into work the next day with a hangover."

But there are definite dos and don'ts if you want to party like a Sloane.

Rule one: Always party on a weeknight.

"Weekends are for the countryside," says Conway. "Anyone who goes out on the weekend is not the type of person you want to be partying with."

Rule two: Keep it simple.

"Sloanes are not terribly worried about high-fashioned food like media types," says York. "Keep it simple is always the theme -- all they're really after is to have a good time."

Rule three: Dressing up makes for a great night

Both Conway and York agree: Sloanes love to dress up.

"Especially the boys," says Conway. "If a Sloane boy sees a Borat mankini, he will dive for it and the girls love a corset!"

According to York, "ironic parties" such as chav parties and the "Not invited to the wedding" party at Mahiki nightclub are "absolutely typical."

In summary, Sloanes love a "rip-roaring" night on the town and although they now have to go out and earn a living, they still haven't lost their party spirit.

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