”I was in fact produced as a leader of fashion, with the clothiers as my showmen and the world as my audience,” the Duke once recalled.
The Duke of Windsor stood only 5′ 5″ and favored comfort in his clothes, free movement and a style that he referred to as ”Dress Soft.” His jacket waists were uniformly set high to elongate his silhouette. His pockets were cut wider on the left side of the trousers to accommodate his ever-present cigarette case. He wore elasticized girdles inset beneath his waistbands to preserve the flat appearance of his stomach. He tweaked the proportions of all his clothes, Mr. Bolton said, for effect. ”Even when he wore a lot of patterns, which are a no-no for small people,” making them seem squat, the Duke gave the impression of being a taller man.
The Duke’s dressing room at the Paris residence with a suit (above) in medium-weight worsted with darker blue checking. The jacket is dated 16/11/56 by Scholte, London and the trousers dated 3/4/57 by Harris, New York. Jacket has side vents and substantially padded shoulders.
”Not since his forebear King George IV in the 1820’s had a monarch lavished so much care and expense on his own personal appearance,” Ms. Taylor, the Sotheby’s specialist who has spent seven years preparing for this sale. ”He bought clothes of the finest quality but literally expected them to last a lifetime, which in fairness, many of them did.”
The Duke used the same tailor, Scholte of Savile Row in London, to make his jackets from 1919 to 1959. Ms. Taylor said, ”Scholte was the snobby tailor who refused to make suits for the riffraff; he even turned down Fred Astaire.”
The Duke preferred materials made in Britain, especially Scottish tweeds and Fair Isle sweaters. He liked naturally dyed wools that blended in with bracken and heather. ”He was also keen that traditional industries like weaving and dyeing were maintained,” Ms. Taylor said.
Remarkably, the Duke’s wardrobe spans 60 years, because he never lost his trim figure (his waist went from 29 inches to 31 inches over a half century) and it seems he never threw anything out. A 1960 inventory of the Duke of Windsor’s closet recorded 15 evening suits, 55 lounge suits and 3 formal suits (and 2 pairs of trousers for each), along with more than 100 pairs of shoes including a fabulous collection of velvet slippers by Peal & Co.
The Duchess was known for traveling with a regiment of luggage. But Geraldine Stutz, the former owner of Henri Bendel, said the Duke did not like to travel with a lot of clothes; he preferred to keep them in the places he visited, and in New York, after World War II, that place was the fur vault of Henri Bendel, on the top floor at 10 West 57th Street.
Rothesay Hunting tartan lounge suit with shaw collar. Apparently this suit triggered a vogue in tartan in the USA in the 50s. Made in 1897 apparently for his father, George V. re-tailored to fit the Duke with a Talon zip added in place of the button fly. He didn’t like buttons on pants, so insisted on zippers, which were large and primitive in those days.