Since November, when Prince William and Kate Middleton announced their engagement, the fashion industry has been scrambling to produce knockoffs inspired by the classically chic wardrobe of the princess-to-be. But men’s wear manufacturers have decidedly less with which to work. When he’s off duty, Prince William favors striped cotton shirts tucked into slouchy jeans worn with sensible leather loafers, a look he has stuck with since his nightclubbing days. He appeared elegantly relaxed in the Brunello Cucinelli beige cashmere V-neck he wore for one of his engagement photos—but he’d borrowed that sweater from the photographer, Mario Testino.
This story first appeared in the March 21, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Still, Jeremy Hackett, the famously discerning founder of British men’s label Hackett, says a low-key style befits a prince. “I don’t think Prince William is particularly bothered about his clothes,” Hackett observes. “It is said that a gentleman should dress so that you don’t notice, and I think that Prince William is happy for that to be the case.”
When acting in an official capacity, William relies on discreet British labels long on heritage. He donned a sleek navy suit by Turnbull & Asser, the 125-year-old London clothier and shirtmaker, for his more formal engagement pictures. And recent rumors suggest that, on his wedding day, April 29, he will wear a military uniform by Gieves & Hawkes, located at No. 1 Savile Row, whose early clients included King George III.
Although Gieves & Hawkes insists that what William will wear at the royal wedding is “still to be decided,” the bespoke specialist is hardly unknown to the prince. “Gieves & Hawkes has had the pleasure of being of service to HRH Prince William of Wales over several years,” says John Durnin, its chief executive officer. “We have noticed that the prince certainly has his own style and favors a very English cut to his suiting.” Durnin notes that William likes a relatively long coat with angled pockets including a small ticket pocket. “HRH William of Wales also favors a traditional cut and cloth to his formalwear choices,” Durnin says.
Hackett, a fashion authority also known as Mr. Classic, has his own preferences (“I have always thought that [William] looked his best in army kit, or when playing polo”), but he views the approach of the royal wedding with confidence: “I am sure that Prince William, dressed as an officer and a gentleman, will be impeccably well turned out.”