Edward VIII : The Duke’s concept of ‘Dress Soft’.


Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David; later the Duke of Windsor. 5 foot 5 inches. 1894 –1972.

Now I’ll start out by saying, I don’t know much about the Duke or the Royal family to that matter. Regardless, this post is about style and sartorialism; which this gentleman, without question, certainly had.

NPG x27879; Edward, Duke of Windsor by Hugh Cecil (Hugh Cecil Saunders)

Formative years -Taken by Hugh Cecil Saunders.

Edward was born in to be the heir to the largest Empire in the world since ancient Rome. He was brought up in what has been described as a ‘stern court’ by his father George V. Leading up to his role as Prince of Wales and then King his feelings of being restrained by what was expected him grew stronger. Resulting him to throw off the shackles of conformity, obligation and duty and opted to embrace the growing world of frivolity and glamour in Hollywood’s golden age.

He wasn’t the tallest of men and in so favoured comfort in his clothes, free movement and a style that he referred to as Dress Soft.  His jacket waists were 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 elasticised girdles in his waistbands to preserve the flat appearance of his stomach.  He tweaked the proportions of all his clothes for effect.


Due to the fact that he allowed himself to push the boudaries of what a Royal should or shouldn’t wear, it gave himself a reputation as a trendsetter and he even described himself as a ‘true British dandy’. Blurring the lines, crossing barriers and questioning the etiquette of dress.


Known to most as a charmer, he met a bewitching American, Wallis Simpson. He chose his love for her over his duty of his country found himself abdicated in 1936 having by then only been King no longer than a year.

1.  duke and duchess of windsor nassau

1941; taken by David E. Scherman.

During the Second World War, in order to keep Edward at an arms length Winston Churchill installed the Duke as the Governor of the Bahamas.  So in 1940, Wallis and Edward sailed to Nassau, where subsequently he was able to cultivate and display his flair for fine tailoring.


Here Edward experiments with pastel light weight fabrics and became rather fond of seersucker, setting a trend.

In 1998, The Duke’s Parisian wardrobe appeared in a Southerby’s auction. A sense of envy for all the bidders in the room overwhelms me after coming across the catalog imagery. The wardrobe spans 60 years, as he never lost his trim figure (waist from 29 inches to 31 inches over half a century).  Included; fifeteen evening suits, fifty-five lounge suits and 3 formal suits (and 2 pairs of trousers for each), along with more than one-hundred  pairs of shoes.

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.

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.



A large advocate for all his materials to be made in Britain, especially Scottish tweeds and Fair Isle sweaters. He liked naturally dyed wools that blended in with bracken and heather.

The Duke used the same tailor, Scholte of Savile Row, to make his jackets from 1919 to 1959. A tailor that had sass and was very particular about who he worked with. The head auctioneer (who took seven years to comile this lot) stated Scholte would snub any “riffraff and even chose to turn down Fred Astaire”.

Interested in any more information on the auction check out ; http://www.ericmusgrave.co.uk/index.php/archive/blog/the-duke-of-windsors-tartan-evening-suit/

Duke of Windsor tartan

Rothesay Hunting tartan lounge suit with shawl 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.

This is obviously no new news. People have always held him in high regard when it came to his wardrobe selections. Regardless of his personal choices in his ‘career’, you’ve gotta say the Royal family once had swagger. From state robes to top hat and tails he was a bastion of modern menswear.


True style is an ageless concept.

This entry was published on October 8, 2013 at 8:47 am. It’s filed under Blog post and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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