Showing posts with label Duke of Windsor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Duke of Windsor. Show all posts

Thursday, 13 January 2011

It's Greatcoat Weather

   Outside the perennials such as Burberry Prorsum, Crombie, Aquascutum, Davies & Son and Belstaff, I've not seen much in the way of compelling outerwear for this frigid season. Of course, cursory scans of this column show that I'm rather fond of ye olde classic inspirations:

   This is Edward, Duke of Windsor's greatcoat, decorated with Royal Yacht Squadron buttons, circa 1930. Through my best friend, I recently had the pleasure of reading all three catalogues concerning Sotheby's 1997 auction of the wardrobes, knick knacks, servant's uniforms, furniture and other effects that belonged to him and Wallis Simpson, whose striking, if overly figural, Cartier jewellery and accessories recently set new records at another Sotheby's sale. Despite what the uncharitable might say about the couple, never let it be said that the Windsor collection lacked depth; I know a few women who would kill for a solid gold necessaire de soir. One or two men, also. Purseforum has male members, no?

   The greatcoat has a certain potent quality amongst other coats and the fact that they have not seen a resuscitation in their fortunes since John Barrowman first imputed his roguish Captain Jack Harkness character with Quentin Crisp-force camp in Doctor Who and Torchwood makes them a delectable attraction. Of course, this is a military coat I am talking about - it practically imbues the wearer with bearing through its shoulder structure alone. It also has a deft adaptability; deployable as it is with precise, formal ensembles, it also works with less dressy presentations like the slacks with shirts or knitwear that Burberry's stylists are adepts of. Wear it open with the collar turned up and dramatically framing an elegant turtleneck for that casual loucheness. And the drama can only deepen if one is partial to wearing them with stylish millinery like a fedora or a dressy Western hat:

   As for other styles of coat, I think that fur will be my next step-up. And this, the Duke's 1934 A Simpson & London Ltd formal overcoat, is strictly for the astrakhan lovers:

Scans from The London Lounge and The Cutter and Tailor

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The Cravat Post (and Other Knick Knacks)

   Prompted by a couple of comments on StyleForvm regarding cravat use amongst the young (the most specific being "How can I wear an ascot and not look gay kthxbye?"), I have taken upon myself to investigate this Scoobariffic mystery

   I'll begin by informing you that you're likely screwed if you wear them as ultra traditionally as possible, unless you are genuinely in costume or ridiculously full of elan. I own 3 and only trust myself to wear them to either a wedding, in character at a party or without a standard suit jacket/blazer/odd jacket, unless it's a three piece suit and a cravat that's sized more like a scarf

   Call me a sentimental young fogey, but I rather think the morning suit cravat holds up very well. I wore it as a groomsman last year, yet not only had I no say in the outfit (aside from relatively accurate fit), but when I arrived wearing the lilac cravat in a traditional manner with a pearl tie-pin, the rest of the four-in-hand cravat-sporting wedding party physically attempted to rearrange it whilst I was still wearing it. Good times

Via the New York Times , this J.C. Leyendecker look encapsulates elegance through illustrative prowess

Judy and Fred during the final scenes of Easter Parade, from a Telegraph featurette 

   But you want to know about less occasional and more down to earth usage. So make it casual. You need to refer to Apparel Arts/Esky and the Duke of Windsor on this one, and even if you are young, let Will at A Suitable Wardrobe guide you along the way (he also has the most comprehensive collection of Apparel Arts images in the menswear sphere)

   Instead of a regular cut jacket, try something a touch offbeat (I don't like reusing shots, so the link is necessary) or something more relaxed and informal like a cardigan (Will favours a safari-styled shirt jacket - colonial, yet still uncommon enough to be interesting). Or just get them in a particularly eyecatching size, tune up the nonchalance and colour match with extreme prejudice:

The DoW treats it as just another part of the ensemble by harmonising it with the rest of the outfit. Bold, bright and relaxed

   What I'm also driving at is using scarves instead. You get the combination of flash and practicality without the self consciousness. Some of you may remember this one:

   This would also look rather clean and somewhat exuberant with a waistcoat, either as part of a suit or a more informal ensemble - there's something of the lounge lizard about it. It's also rather enjoyable with a v-neck:

   You should also have noted by now that rather than the standard references of Lord Byron or early 20th century motorists, I'm actually interpreting something of a mariner look, which is far less overexposed and flouncy and much more enjoyable since it doesn't need to be worked at or overstated. Think also to the peacoats-and-flat-caps casual styles of the young Paul Newman but with decorative neckwear

   For those of you who don't want too much material but enjoy the look nonetheless, well, there's always a neckerchief; leaving the ends out is standard, though one can also sport them tucked in like so:

   For the upcoming seasonal change, look to the new collection of a certain Japanese designer whose name, I'm finding, is becoming rather redundant to type. You probably know who I'm referring to by now, and he's tackled this gilded age look with utter aplomb and a clear idea of how to make it natural today.

   As befitting JW's "new feeling for basics," the proportions are executed rather similarly to my own silhouettes, generally mixing slim-but-not-tight upper halves with flowing trousers and structured looks that utilise shorts to avoid severity, alongside some well mannered quirks and enviable pattern mixing

   Observe that the neckwear is even worn with polo and short sleeved shirts and without jackets. A perfect way to bring these Esky looks back into focus:

JW CdG Man S/S10 images from A full review may appear after its release next month

   If you don't believe that you have a flair for the look, the solution is very simple - find someone with a flair for it and take inspiration. After that, the rest seems easy

   As for the neckerchief with suits-look, let me get back to you when I've made it happen for myself. Oooh, excitement

Monday, 30 November 2009


And now for a post that doesn't feature me in it

   As an addendum to The Party Post, I'd like to reiterate that we're rolling headlong into the party season; a time of frivolity, stupidity, overconsumption, enjoyment and your parents being overly embarrassing/overly affectionate/overly or not so overly generous/overbearing pompous asses. For those of you who have more strings to your social bow than the ritual cheese overload and rite of humiliation/schadenfreude/sexual misadventuring that is the office Christmas Party, get dressed to express, impress and flounce the night away in as strut-worthy a manner as possible. Be glamourous. And if you cannot, be mildly insane:

Sammy Davis Jr.

From the aptly named Iconic Photos, Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson in a London nightspot in 1936. The photographer, James Jarche, covertly concealed his camera in his bowler for just such an occasion. When did the paparazzi stop being so creatively underhanded? Today, such deviousness means that you're also paid to write about it or are reporting to a superior in at least one governmental departmment

Alain Delon

Claus von Bulow; socialite, theatre critic and Man With a Dark Side

Truman Capote accompanied by then Washington Post president Katherine Graham at his Black and White Ball, November 1966

Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones; the suit is actually an appealingly carefree shade of purple

Keef's bandmate and dandy drummer par excellence, Charlie Watts, in good company

On the far left, Julian Ormsby-Gore, late son of the also belated David Ormsby-Gore, 5th Baron Harlech and diplomat, accompanied by his sister, Victoria, and interior designer David Mlinaric, who sports a Mr. Fish suit since donated to the Victoria & Albert Museum. Alongside the other Ormsby-Gore siblings, the lifestyles of all three existed at the intersection of rock, aristocracy and hippydom during the Swinging 60s; Mlinaric was once asked to leave Annabel's for his flagrant sporting of a white suit. I can't help but approve

Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick

Liliane Bettencourt with her late husband, André

The late Brooke Astor, long-lived socialite and social activist

Antonio Azzuolo A/W 2008

Renowned operatic soprano, the late Maria Callas

A recently departed pop colossus

   Note the stylish proliferation and use of accessories, from signature eyeframes to louchely held cigarettes, nonchalantly draped scarves to ethnic jewelry, studded sparkling belts to lustrous furs. Looks that kill

(Author's note: I'm shocked at how easily the opening paragraph wrote itself. Misanthropy Mode has its advantages. Perhaps by (re)attaching my "Keep Away" sign to my forehead over the holidays, I may finally get to catch up on my reading)

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Switch Up Suiting

   Most people tend not to see the suit as a garment for pleasure and leisure, despite the efforts of style magazines, bloggers, writers and clubbers to give it back its sense of everyday (and night) usage. To them, the lack of knowledge and effort displayed by the masses in terms of sartorial standards often leads to a sense of exasperation and a niche kinship with the relative few who feel the same, though this is also an easy path to disagreements about the minutiae and appropriateness of those details that they cherish. For every person voting the sober elegance of Prince Charles as the best dressed man in the free world, there's the more fashion forward inclined who'd much rather throw in with his late uncle, the Duke of Windsor

   Well, to hell with that. Each side has their place and their uses and results are undeniably different. What matters is that they're done well. And I'm certainly in favour of Prince Charles's voting - it's probably about one of the 3 things I've agreed with in Esquire's pages over the last 5 years

   To highlight the differences, I submit two different "event outfits". The grey suit on the top was worn for a professional education fair, which I felt called for a calm three button suit, a City Boy-style striped shirt and a reasonably sedate tie. The only touch of individuality I allowed myself was a tie clip I recently acquired via eBay, and an indulgence I allowed myself that day because it blends in while standing out. The coverage on tie accoutrements of late has been centred on the US as the style press have found the generation of younger guys appropriating old school accessories to be a more American phenomenon. Call it the Don Draper Effect. An acquaintance remarked "I feel faint" when he saw me, due to my apparently out of character (ultra) conservative business dress. Better my appearance than my eau de toilette, I suppose

   Of course, I'm usually in more comment-inspiring gear like the double breasted blue pinstriped suit in the second picture, or the other photos below. I was crawling through an installation at Maddox Arts, and the occasion of an opening always calls for a more lively ensemble, the better to blend in with and stand out amongst the offbeat creatives that also go to see a contemporary's work. A print silk tie is hardly a step away from the business world, but that always depends of the style of design, which is a fairly notable mix of colour and pattern in this case. Throw in a green hued shirt with faint blue stripes, a complimentary watch and a royal blue pocket square, and it's not so likely that I'd be mistaken for an on or off-duty banker at any given moment. And I feel just as free and easy in this as I would in my casual clothes

   Whether they ultimately like the result or not, I think people do notice your ability to scrub up well if you've got it in the first place. And for me, that makes it worth it