Prince Charles Picks Your Classic Coat Selection
Stoic and Well-DressedWe expect members of the Royal Family to be stoic as they attend to their engagements with propriety and dignity. State duties require detachment and non-quivering upper lips. Some say Princes Henry and William aren't paying attention in this respect.
Investitures, receptions and audiences listed in the Court Circular (now online!) require appropriate dress as well as conduct. In terms of dress, Prince Charles has never faltered in his duty. If the Italians think he's the world's best-dressed man, he's the world's best-dressed man.
What's the secret of Prince Charles' style? It's pretty simple. He wears the classic styles and goes for the best of breed in each. You can look at photographs from his youth to the present day and they have not dated in the least — traditional clothes don't. He has eschewed fashion with profound determination, and championed British makers and styles in a similar way to the Duke of Windsor — such as his patronage of The Campaign for Wool.
One misstep could have spoiled everything: an ill-advised ear plate, hair dyed 'Lego black', a v-neck t-shirt and slacks combination (favoured by the likes of Simon Cowell and Ricky Gervais). I'm sure you can think of other such horrors.
Protocol dictates that Prince Charles could never offer advice directly from these pages, so we must look closely at what he wears, and do as he does.
OvercoatPrince Charles has a collection of overcoats in traditional Guards or Chesterfield styles. The coat above was made from vicuña cloth by highly-regarded tailor, Steven Hitchcock. Steven's tailoring establishment in Mayfair, London, is completely independent — there are no private equity firms or investors pulling the strings and trying to 'leverage the brand' in the background. And he does all the making and cutting work by hand himself. He is rightly defensive of the reputation associated with Savile Row and its surrounds, which he feels is in danger of being diluted by certain tailoring houses arriving with 'no training or feeling for craft or tradition'.
I'd like to feature the work of Steve more. Steven, if you have anything to share with our readers, please get in touch. We are huge in the US and Germany!
Trench CoatA trench coat is an absolute essential for a classic wardrobe. I can't stop acquiring the bally things. Prince Charles goes for the classic tan colour in a double-breasted style. Look for epaulettes, waist belt, storm flaps and D-rings in the details.
HRH always belts them properly. I tend to leave my belt tied and hanging at the back.
Aquascutum and Burberry are names that are immediately associated with trench coats — and rightly so, considering the history of the coat. I have an example of each, which are both going strong: an Aquascutum trench coat channelling Paul Weller; and a Burberry trench coat channelling Carter.
If I could find an excuse for another trench coat, it would be the sublime Trench Coat in Stone Ventile from S.E.H. kelly (below). I really like the raglan sleeves and how the pocket flaps come over the belt. Boy, is that a good coat. The coat is made from waterproof Ventile cotton, and has brass buckles and horn buttons manufactured in the Midlands. S.E.H Kelly have always taken provenance very seriously indeed. That's why we love them so.
Barbour Wax CoatWhat can be said about Barbour's wax jackets that hasn't been said before? It's a de facto national dress.
Doesn't the lady in the headscarf and paddock jacket (below) look superb? They say elegance and deportment are rare qualities these days.
Top marks to the steward in the covert coat and spectacles. Possible brown trilby on bonce.
HRH favours longer styles of wax coat. I favour the mid-thigh Border myself. But the short Bedale (below) is really the classic style, truth be told. Made from 6oz thornproof waxed cotton, with all the features you expect: corduroy collar, bellows pockets, hand-warmer pockets, chunky Barbour gold two-way zip, tartan lining and side vents at the back.
The Bedale is like a Georgian townhouse or a dark chocolate digestive — perfect and impossible to improve on. Imagine sitting in your Georgian townhouse wearing your wax jacket and dunking a dark chocolate digestive in a cup of tea.
Here be our Eden, but we know it not.
Duffle CoatYou don't need to wear a kilt with a duffle coat, but it helps. I'm surmising HRH is wearing a navy duffle coat here. It sits just above the knee, and has three sets of toggle fasteners, with the top set closing under the neck.
I like the balance of a toggle on each side. It's not the traditional way, but I like it. I wonder if he had it made? It's certainly an excellent fit, draping very nicely.
Gloverall is your man for a classic duffle. The Original Montgomery in navy (below) is your man for the style you will be looking for. The coat has wooden toggles and jute rope to fasten on one side, and a tab to keep the elements out at the neck. The thick duffle (boiled) wool is fashioned with storm guards at the shoulder and patch pockets, thus helping to achieve the essential dufflisimo we strive for.