- Sep 28, 2004
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Dear Folks: Doing some research last night, and found an article written at the time one of the major auction houses was putting his wardrobe and household effects on the block. This was around 1997. I actually went to the viewing, and was able to see and fondle many items. I even tried on a servant's jacket -- the Duke's were way too small, as you will read. I wish had known as much about suit and pant construction than as I know now. I just remember that his pants were very strange. Since so much of this board's posts are about the relative size and shape of different clothing details, it is useful to remember that, although the DoW was a small guy, he never looked it in photos because everything was made perfectly proportionally to him -- even his wife-------------------- From the article: The duke wasn't without other surprises, particularly in his clothing choices. Most men's wardrobes, says Taylor, are a disappointment of dull, solid colors. His was full of patterns, dots, spots and textures, in improbable combinations. "The wardrobe of H.R.H. The Duke of Windsor is undeniably the most important wardrobe of male clothing ever to come to auction. The duke was one of the leaders of fashion of his day, and preferred to set fashions rather than follow them," says Taylor. The former king's fondness for tartans, Fair Isle sweaters and plus fours for golfing set styles on the golf course for decades. He once wrote: "I believe in bright checks for sportsmen. The louder they are, the better I like them." It's fair to blame him for the long reign of gaudy golf clothes - and for elasticized waistbands. The duke invented an interior, elastic girdle that allowed him to skip wearing suspenders. Yet he wasn't a big fashion spender, according to "The Heart Has its Reasons," the duchess's autobiography: "For some time after our marriage, I was puzzled by the fact that while he was the acknowledged leader of men's fashion, he rarely bought a new suit." The former king had not only arrived at a fairly unchanged style at the time of his marriage but also remained the same size: the 5-foot-7-inch royal had a 29-inch waist and wore a size 37 or 38 jacket well into old age, says Taylor. He died in 1972. Thousands of photographs in the collection help illustrate the couple's fashion sense, but quite often, the original item surfaced in the Paris house. "They kept everything. That's why his wardrobe is so historically important," says Taylor. Their possessions weren't widely scattered after the duchess' death in 1986 because an unlikely preservationist purchased her Paris home and its contents, the source of the Sotheby's auction. Mohamed Al Fayed, the chairman of Harrod's department store in London, and owner of the Ritz Hotel in Paris, bought and soon restored the house to its 1950s splendor. He returned many valuable items that had been removed during the declining hears of the duchess. The upcoming sale will benefit Al Fayed's children's charity. Taylor hopes that some charity-minded customers bid on the clothing. She'd particularly like to see the duke's wedding suit purchased and donated to the Metropolitan Museum. That way, it can be reunited with the suit his wife wore on their wedding day.