The coronation of King Charles III on Saturday 6th May will be a remarkable day. The United Kingdom has not seen a monarch being crowned since 1953 and there is much interest in all aspects of this auspicious occasion. The ceremony will involve a lavish display of royal robes and regalia, but it is the St. Edward’s Crown that has the most important role. Created in 1661 for King Charles II, the crown is solid gold and decorated with 444 precious and semi-precious stones. The St. Edward’s Crown will be re-fitted for the new monarch and has been a part of every coronation since its creation.
Despite being founded in 1773, this will be only the ninth coronation to take place in our company’s history. There is much talk in the press regarding the decision by the Royal Household to advise the English aristocracy not to wear their own coronation robes but rather to don the lesser parliamentary robes or even “business dress”. This has had a mixed response with some expressing disappointment that they will not finally have the chance to wear their finery but we are sure that there is quiet relief from others who, perhaps, have not kept them in prime condition and would need to commission a new set. Contemporary mumblings from 1953 often expressed the burden of the expense for an article of clothing that is rarely worn. We believe the King has made this decision with the best intentions and do not see it as the dawning of a dress-down era; quite the opposite.
The King is always elegantly, smartly and appropriately dressed and invests in good quality clothing that can be repaired and worn for many years. He wears the patches in his handmade bespoke shoes and overcoats as badges of honour as proudly as he does the medals on his military uniforms. A reluctant fashion icon, his style is admired and copied by well-dressed gentleman around the globe. From the perfectly-knotted tie in his cutaway-coloured shirt to the idiosyncratic crease he instructs his valet to press into the sleeves of his tailored jackets, or the way he always wears a coloured pocket handkerchief with evening wear, the King is a man who understands the importance of details.
An advocate for traditional skills and natural fibres, whilst Prince of Wales, he was the global patron for the Campaign for Wool; a multiple-industry initiative to promote the unique, natural and sustainable nature of wool. His patronage and support has been appreciated and applauded from all parts of our industry. But this wasn’t always the case. In the 1980s, his personal style was criticised by Men’s Wear trade paper with “Prince Charles is unfortunately perfect example of the British man almost going out of his way to display no interest in his clothes”. This attitude was echoed by the press who continued to criticise his sartorial choices of fuller-cut trousers with “old-fashioned turn-ups” and double-breasted jackets with wide lapels. In 2023, this is seen as the height of sartorial good taste. Indeed, when offered an award from GQ to celebrate being on the best-dressed list, he quipped “…in fashion terms I’m like a stopped clock, in other words, I’m fashionable every 25 years”.
The waistcoat, or vest as it is known in both Savile Row and the United States, is also an opportunity for a little tasteful self-expression with pastel shades in double-breasted models being a fashionable choice. The bolder, novelty styles should be avoided. There is also choice in the cloth of your trousers, the classic “cashmere stripe” is always correct but houndstooths, prince-of-wales checks or chalkstripes will help you avoid the dreaded hired look. We would advise the wearing of braces to comfortably keep your trousers in place and avoid that unsightly flash of shirt at the waist as the day progresses. They will also keep the trouser hem neatly on top of your shoes. Shoes or boots must be black and although no styles are banned a plain toe cap is considered smart-especially when polished to a high shine to match the lustre of your Christys’ top hat.
We hope you enjoy the pageantry of the occasion and please remember the lesson we can all learn from the crowning ceremony-that the hat is the most important part of your outfit!
Long Live The King!