|Love this golf ensemble on the Duke of Windsor, back when he was the Prince of Wales!|
I just finished reading The Heart Has Its Reasons: The Memoirs of the Duchess of Windsor. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would for its retelling, straight from Wallis, about her upbringing and life and, of course, the events leading up to the abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936. I will admit I was hoping for a bit of description from her about her fabulous jewelry collection, but there was nothing about it in the book. Maybe she considered it too private to write about it, or thought it would be gauche. While she didn’t write about her jewels in her memoir, she did pen many interesting passages in which she analyzed the character of her husband, David, the former king. There was a paragraph that caught my attention that speaks to everything I love about well-made things and how they are used by a man of style:
|Looking great in a double-breasted suit. The shoes seem to match!|
“David had another attribute that I also envied. For some time after our marriage I was puzzled by the fact that while he was the acknowledged leader of men’s fashion, he rarely bought a new suit. To be sure, he had a dozen or so, most of which I vaguely remembered having seen before, although each time I saw what I thought was the same one, it was oddly different. I happened to mention this phenomenon to Mr. Carter one day. He replied, ‘There’s no mystery to this at all. Take, for instance, that tartan dinner suit His Royal Highness wore last night at dinner. According to the tailor’s marks on the inside pocket, it was made for his father in 1897. Now, I am happy to see the suit still looking so well, after being refitted to His Royal Highness, even though I never did hold with His late Majesty’s insistence on having his trousers creased on the sides.”
|Pensive in a top hat and tipped jacket.|
The Duke of Windsor was a dapper guy from the time he was a young man and certainly set the fashion tone for men in his day, but what I love knowing is that he reused suits made for his father, King George V, by having them altered to suit his purpose and taste. Talk about making secondhand first, royal style! This is such a great reminder as to why it’s important to buy (or thrift, or inherit) things that are well-crafted—they can serve you, and maybe the next generation too, for many, many years.
I am including a few photos of the Duke in his younger days that I found around the web and sure enough, he is great in every single one. His good looks, touched with melancholy, and the easy way he wore his clothes must have had a huge impact on men’s fashions of the time.
|In the Prince of Wales check he made famous.|
Whether he was in full regalia, as shown below, or more in tune with what a wealthy and privileged man of the day might wear, he really knew how to express his personal style through clothing and accessories.
|In formal regalia.|
|With a high collar AND a double-breasted suit. Can anybody wear this today? (No.)|
|In 1919 on a tour of Canada. I love this picture of him, finally smiling!|
|Love this picture of Wallis and David.|
Let me know if you have read Wallis’s book or what you thought of the way David dressed or how he recycled clothing belonging to his father. If you have ever had something originally belonging to a parent that you had remade to suit you, tell me all about it!