05 May 2017

Royal Style of the Day: Philip's Version of Sartorial Splendor

Have you HEARD? (You've heard.) Buckingham Palace announced Thursday that the Duke of Edinburgh will be stepping down from public duties in the autumn. It will be a well-deserved retirement for the 95-year-old royal, who has racked up an impressive list of stats in his decades of royal service: 22,191 solo engagements completed, 785 organizations represented as patron, 637 solo overseas visits undertaken, and 5,493 speeches given.

The announcement thankfully put a stop to the fevered speculation that had been consuming Twitter for hours, going as far as rumors that the Duke or the Queen had died. (Sometimes Twitter is great. Sometimes, when there is a lack of facts and an abundance of speculation, it is not.) And just in case there was any doubt remaining regarding their health, the pair had an engagement on Thursday, where the DoE was in his usual wise-cracking form.

By Allan warren - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
Anyway! In honor of Prince Philip, we're going to talk about something that we almost never discuss on this blog: men's fashion. Coverage beyond the fact that the dude owns a lot of suits, even. #specialoccasion

Sergeant Colin Kelley, Royal Canadian Air Force via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Flashiness isn't part of the Duke of Edinburgh's style; perfection, however, is very much his sartorial trademark. The proportions and fit of his clothes are always just right. He's the epitome of impeccable British tailoring.

His clothes are well made and well cared for, and are expected to last forever. Much of his wardrobe is decades old. Prince Philip is said to have five morning suits, which are worn for events including Royal Ascot and royal garden parties, and three of those suits are over 40 years old. Pieces are regularly sent out for repair and updates; he made headlines in 2008 when he sent a pair of baggy trousers dating back to the 1950s out to his tailor to be cut in a more modern, fitted style.

Philip's favorite tailor for decades now has been John Kent, who reports that the Duke's famous opinions extend to his wardrobe. He knows exactly how he wants things done, and he's pretty involved in the process. Philip has been known to have suits made from fabric he's acquired himself (not unlike several royal women out there - including the Queen - who sometimes pass along fabrics obtained on trips abroad to their favorite couturiers). Mr. Kent told the Daily Mail that he made the navy blazer pictured above from the Duke's own design. Each brass button is from a different branch of the Royal Navy.

Of course, what the Duke of Edinburgh wears best of all is the formal garb that comes along with his position. From the full dress uniforms of his many military positions, to the ceremonial finery of events like the Order of the Garter service, to the white tie and knee breeches - with the Order of the Garter around his leg - worn to the most formal evening events, he brings a certain necessary gravitas to his wardrobe. It's often the gravitas that makes the look, especially with some of the more traditional and outdated elements. (I have my doubts that things like the knee breeches will make it past a King William V reign, so I appreciate this even more today.) He's got his own sort of sartorial splendor, and he's one of a kind.