On Friday morning as I was hurrying my late ass to work I received a text message from Dan Jenkins to check out the Daily Mail for an interesting style piece on Prince Charles. Now, the Mail is a paper which I freqently catch a glimpse of in newsagents and even the shortest of looks forces me to walk away shaking my head in bemused disbelief. Ultimately, I tend to avoid handling it at all costs but thanks to the wonders of the Internet I do not have to taint my fingers with this publication for the far right of centre and can share its contents with you. The article One's antique clothes show: How Prince Charles has always been the King of recycling is well worth reading and to discuss further.
His suits are unmodishly double-breasted. His dinner jacket is cut like a slouchy cardigan. His ties are almost comically narrow and tightly knotted. His morning suit is a slightly gauche, grey-on-grey, called a 'pick and pick' fabric; the lapels of his waistcoat are accessorised with dandy-ish, white 'slips' or 'demis', which attach to the inside of the garment with buttons.
In light of the above (unfair) sartorial criticism throughout his adult life it is somewhat remarkable that Prince Charles could be considered as the most stylish man on the planet. You might recall that the April issue of Esquire declared Prince Charles as the worlds best dressed man. Esquire described him as "perfectly turned out", adding that "admirably, the prince keeps his wardrobe in appropriate style and we're told he has a room laid out like a tailor's shop. Of course, the prince comes from a significant family line of royal clothes horses, but where his great uncle, the dapper Duke of Windsor, played with bright colour, flirted with fashion, and even started the odd trend, the current heir to the throne is a dab hand at solid yet fully accessorized classic English style. His image riffs on a quintessentially perky British look, which is essentially based around smart tailoring with dapper touches.
His classic English style which has not always had its plaudits has been custom made for him by a mouth watering list of fine British craftsmen including Anderson and Sheppard, Gieves and Hawkes on Savile Row, and veteran custom shirt-makers Budd and Turnbull and Asser on Jermyn Street. The Prince certainly has good taste and is not afraid to invest in quality.
When we spoke to Patrick Grant during the launch of E. Tautz we discussed the art of wardrobe building and Charles (Can I even call him that? I can't keep writing the Prince...) is certainly a practitioner of this idea. There is something very charming about building a collection of clothes, where every piece has a position in your wardrobe. If any item requires attention and repairs then these alterations are made, the item is not thrown to the bottom of the wardrobe and forgotten about. The below paragraph demonstrates that the prince believes in the art of wardrobe building:
Clothes that never went out of fashion because they were never in fashion. Clothes that are over and above fashion - and which he is thus happy to wear for decades on end, repairing them as and when necessary.
Charles embarked on his art of wardrobe building in his early 20s. The collection of clothes and accessories has aged with him and he has continued to buy well throughout his adult life. As he has bought well made, crafted pieces then he can still wear them at sixty years old. I have no interest in a royal biography because his wardrobe will almost tell the story of his life. Just look at his shoes.