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Frederick Scholte (Savile Row)

post #1 of 131
Thread Starter 

Frederick Scholte was the Duke of Windsor's (King Edward VIII's) tailor from 1919-1959. He trained the founders of Anderson & Sheppard, and was known for making the best shoulder on Savile Row, according to Richard Anderson. For those looking to study Scholte's work, there's an interesting opportunity. The Victoria and Albert Museum and Kensington Museum allowed the costume designers for a film to examine the construction of his suits. Perhaps JefferyD or one of the other tailors here could take advantage of this when they're in London and see Scholte's secrets.


"We got to open the suits up at the Victoria & Albert or the Kensington museums to see the construction and the lining."




"Scholte had rigid standards concerning the perfect balance of proportions between shoulders and waist in the cut of a coat to clothe the masculine torso . . . . These peculiar proportions were Scholte’s secret formula." -- The Duke of Windsor




post #2 of 131
Thread Starter 

The Duke, wearing traditional-width lapels and tie, stands next to a reporter in a 60s narrow suit.  The classic in contrast with the fashionable.



I don't think I've ever seen such a flawlessly fit and beautifully cut double-breasted suit. The shoulders have just the right amount of slope and width.  Scholte did have the reputation, as Richard Anderson said, of making the best shoulders on the Row.  What was his secret?



The shoulders are also gorgeous on the Duke's morning coat, cut by Scholte:



The shoulders are natural looking, but as seen in this photo, they do have some structure.



No divots in the sleevehead though:



The Duke's sleevehead is not roped (unlike the Duchess').  The cloth looks similar to one that the current Prince of  Wales has worn.



Here you see the high armhole on the Duke's suit, along with Scholte's use of drape. Note how the fuller, well-proportioned clothes conceal the Duke's short stature.  (Credit also goes to the composition of the photograph.)  If he had worn tight clothes, with a very trim shoulder and chest, as he did in military service, his below average height would have been more evident.  





The Duke in fuller clothes looked taller, and it's not until you see the soldiers next to him that you realize that he was 5'5 at most (based on photographs of him standing next to David Lloyd George).



One of my favorite combinations is a plain navy suit with a solid shirt and shepherd's check wedding tie.  The very definition of classic:



Edited by CrimsonSox - 10/26/13 at 12:33am
post #3 of 131
I am pretty sure the uniforms were not Scholte's. Scholte was indeed the main tailor the Duke used, but he had to use also others, whoever held the Royal Warrant for Military Tailor at the time probably. He is said to have used Caraceni in Milan as well, and a tailor from the Italian north west riviera, allegedly for this suit for example
post #4 of 131
Thread Starter 

True, I didn't want to imply that Scholte had cut the military uniforms (thus the contrast with the civilian clothes).


This tailcoat, minus the trousers, was cut by Scholte, and is part of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art:


post #5 of 131
It's interesting that this version has a black vest. A white vest is usually worn with tails.
post #6 of 131
There are historical versions and plates with black vest, and I guess once was more common, however I have also some doubts on how the Duke wardarobe got mixed up before the Duchess death and the various Donations/auctions. For example, the infamous Lord of Isles tweed dinner suit was auctioned with a same fabric evening waistcoat and cummerbund but also in the same set, two highlands marcella evening waistcoats and a green corduroy u cut dinner waistcoat. I suspect that this last waistcoat was instead meant to be coupled with the also famous Green Corduroy shawl collar DB dinner jacket auctioned separately, so there is a possibility that the black (midnight blue) is part of a dinner suit in the same fabric (the Met has a couple of such dinner suits as well)
post #7 of 131

That said, traditionally:

Naples: Scholte without the shoulder. The softest shoulder made anywhere. Either with traditional set-in sleeves and a little bit of wadding, or with shirt sleeves (the spalla camicia). Never any pad. Set-in sleeves might have a slight rope (rollino). Pleated sleevehead, resulting from the large upper sleeve and tiny armhole. Super high gorge. High notch, almost pointed upward. The bottom edge of the notch might jut out a little further than the top edge, enough so that you notice. Wide lapels, usually a little wider (by a few centimeters) than half the chest; typcially with substantial belly. Super soft chest, sometimes draped, sometimes not, but always quite full. Lots of drape over the blades. Nipped waist. High waist and button point. Front cut (sidebodies) rather than dart, to slim down the skirt. Open front quarters. Shorter coat than one would typically see in London. 3 button roll through preferred on SB. Patch pockets, if not preferred, then certainly quite common. The patches have a dramatic shape: very rounded, and much narrower at the top than the bottom. Deep side vents. Quarter lined is common. Also: lots of what can only be termed “ostentatious†hand stitching. Any seam that shows will almost certainly be done by hand; e.g., the outer straight seam on a trouser leg will be a hand-picked lapseam, as will the center backseam and shoulder and outer arm seams on a coat. The lapels often have edge-picking AND another quarter inch hand-stitch. Trousers: at the hip, with reverse pleats and tapered legs. Sometimes the cuffs can be quite dramatically wide, e.g. 2†on 5’5†guy. I am reliably informed that most Italians hate suspenders, though there is a small Anglophile sub-culture in Milan and Naples that wears them. The most famous tailoring firm is Rubinacci (London House).

Rome: high, pitched shoulder, usually roped to some degree. Built up but not out; no extension, typically. Everything lean and clean, no fullness or drape in front, and as little as they can get away with in back. Slightly lower gorge and significantly narrower lapels. No vents or shortish side vents. A shorter and narrower coat than the Neapolitan. More true-3-button coats. Flapped or besom pockets, typically no ticket pocket. Everything is also “small.†By which I mean, SR firms have proportional formulas for how wide (say) a breast welt pocket should be on (say) a 42 coat. The Romans trim that down by 10 or 20%. The trousers are slimmer, straighter, and more likely to be flat front. This is basically the silhouette that Brioni popularized in the 1950s.

Milan: the top bespoke tailors are more typically “English†than those in the other cities. Not so much Scholte or A&S English, but the rest of SR without the armor. Sloped shoulder, but padded (lightly). Soft but clean sleevehead. Full chest, but no drape in front, or maybe a touch. More subtle waist. Lots of 2-button coats with deep side vents for suits, 3-button roll-throughs more common for odd jackets. Higher rise to the trousers; not quite suspender rise, but above the hips. Fuller leg, and more likely to have forward pleats. Overall, a more “rounded†silhouette than the Roman, which can be bit angular and somewhat severe. A. Caraceni is the best. The Rome Caraceni makes this too, or something like it, but more often three button, with a shorter coat, and lower rise, slimmer trousers.
post #8 of 131
Thread Starter 

The British are coming . . . to Boston in 1943.  The Duke's shoulders, sleevehead, and collar on his jacket are perfect (Scholte tailored the Duke's jackets from 1919-1959).  Note the high, small armhole and the besom pockets.  




Wearing an overcoat in Boston:



California King.  The Duke visits San Diego:



The Duke of Windsor in Venice, 1936.  Natty in the summer:



Outside of the Ritz in 1948:


Two pictures from later in life.  Few combinations are as classy and versatile as a grey tie with a grey suit.





The skill of the tailor can distinguish our virtues and disguise our vices.  The Duke would have looked much more diminutive, and closer to his natural figure, if his clothes had been excessively tight:


Edited by CrimsonSox - 11/3/13 at 1:11am
post #9 of 131
Originally Posted by CrimsonSox View Post

True, I didn't want to imply that Scholte had cut the military uniforms (thus the contrast with the civilian clothes).


This tailcoat, minus the trousers, was cut by Scholte, and is part of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art:



And who cut those trousers? I'd kill for something like that.

post #10 of 131
Originally Posted by RDiaz View Post

And who cut those trousers? I'd kill for something like that.

H. Harris of New York?

Pretty sure.
post #11 of 131
Thread Starter 

That's right, the trousers are by H. Harris.


Often trousers are cast in a supporting role in an outfit.  The greater scale of the Duke's trousers, the way they flow and drape, give them the lead alongside the jacket.

Edited by CrimsonSox - 11/3/13 at 10:58am
post #12 of 131
Thread Starter 

Grey can take on such a different personality depending on the colors that are mixed into it.  In the first two outfits below, the Duke is wearing grey, but one is cool and blue, and the other warm and closer to brown.  In both cases, he coordinates the shade of the tie to make it more blue-grey or a more silvery-brown grey, harmonizing with the color of the suit or overcoat.  


Here's a small but significant detail you very rarely see in public today.  Most people would wear a blue or stark white shirt with these suits and ties.  At first, the Duke's shirts seem to be pure white. But if you look closely, the white has just a faint hint of blue in the first photo (unlike the plain white shirts of the men in the background), and the barest touch of grey in the second photo.  It softens the white, fading it and making it contrast less with the tie.  I've included below a third photo where the color of the very light grey shirt is more evident.


Many people when they think of the Duke imagine strong plaids and suede shoes.  Those can be attractive, but another aspect of his design sense that's less noticeable but equally brilliant was the use of detail: the shade of the dress shirt or the precise fit of Scholte's suit shoulders.  As another great dresser, Cary Grant, said, "it takes 500 small details to add up to one favorable impression."




Edited by CrimsonSox - 11/3/13 at 1:35pm
post #13 of 131
Thread Starter 

The key with the pale grey shirt is how faint and near white it is.  Compare President Hollande's dark grey shirt.  Here's a thought provoking exercise that can deepen one's design sense: why does the Duke's outfit in the photos above work, and Hollande's does not, even though both are wearing grey shirts with grey suits?  And why do the Duke's ties coordinate better?



post #14 of 131
Thread Starter 

How much did it cost to get a suit made by Scholte, one of the best tailors in London, in 1931?  Only 16 pounds, or roughly $1700 in today's dollars.


London Tailor Sues Scarsdale Client

NEW YORK. Mar. 12—A London tailor, F. P. Sholte, Ltd.. who reached across the Atlantic to bring suit against John W. Elwood of the Scarsdale Apartments, Scarsdale, was awarded $319.82 in New York Supreme Court yesterday.


The English firm alleged that Elwood purchased two suits and an overcoat at 16 pounds and a few shillings each, as well as a pair of white flannels at five pounds and a few shillings in April, 1931, and that even an English firm accustomed to the deferred accounts of royalty were entitled to payment after six years. Elwood, failing to appear in court, lost the suit by default.


post #15 of 131
I was at the V&A museum this morning for an appointment booked over two months ago. I was mainly interested in "study" an early " Hawes & Curtis" backless waistcoat and related bow ties , but as you could view up to 8 items, I also asked to view the Only suit they have from the Duke most probably by Scholte. This must be the same suit mentioned in the OP, however I doubt they actually opened it as you are not even allowed to touch any item but a senior supervisor is with you at all the time and able to handle, measure and for me even trace on tracing papers what is possible. The suit did not have any front dart as common for Scholte, but only a short under harm dart and the side dart that connect with the back panel. Unfortunately I cannot share the pictures taken as they made me sign an agreement not to do so. Interestingly the suit had a label inside from Trimingham, London-Bermuda, apparently a retailer, but I suspect the tweed fabric was from them, rather then the finished suit. Edit: the actual V&A museum catalog has the suit maker being Trimingham, but having looked at the details, it was definitely a bespoke garment, made following a Scholte template at the bare minimum.
Edited by marcodalondra - 11/7/13 at 6:15am
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