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Menswear issue 06/20/2011

He is, arguably, the black sheep of the family: a college dropout famous for posting silly photos of himself and his pals on the Internet—in drag, in a French maid’s uniform and stockings, and mooning the camera.

Then again, James Middleton comes from a family that hasn’t put a foot wrong since they hit the headlines during the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s long courtship, so what’s the harm in having a little fun?

This story first appeared in the June 20, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The youngest of the three Middleton siblings, James, 24, is still trying to carve his niche. He attended Marlborough, the same prestigious boarding school as sisters Kate and Pippa, but then dropped out of Edinburgh University during his first year, determined to fulfill his entrepreneurial dreams. Thanks to support from his parents, Carole and Michael, and their ultrasuccessful children’s party supplies business, he quickly set up the Cake Kit Company, a bakery venture offering themed cakes to bake at home as well as catering services. The company already has won a New Business Award from the government, and there are reportedly other projects in the pipeline, such as a wine business.

But recent buzz surrounding the youngest Middleton has less to do with his business acumen than with his looks. His airtime during the royal wedding in April certainly gave him a boost: Middleton, who is dyslexic, memorized the Bible passage that he recited during the service, and sent men’s hearts aflutter on Twitter. He has unwittingly become an object of gay men’s admiration, although he has never publicly confirmed—or even discussed—his own sexual preferences. And having no date at the wedding only fueled the speculation.

Although he has been described in the British press as “flamboyant,” Middleton’s clothing preferences are typically Sloaney, or English preppy. He pairs blue blazers or dark chalk-stripe jackets with stripy or checked dress shirts and jeans. He sometimes sports stubble, and has been known to incorporate a dash of eccentricity—such as green suede car shoes— into his decidedly traditional wardrobe.

What makes him a budding style icon, however, is not the clothes he wears so much as the way he wears them.

Imperially slim, with the poise of a natural aristocrat, Middleton is an ideal mannequin. He’d be a dream spokesman for a chic yet classic British brand, like Turnbull & Asser or Burberry. (Are you listening, Mr. Bailey?)

At the wedding, he wore a morning suit with the traditional corn-colored waistcoat, accessorized with subtle but unmistakable flair: a raspberry necktie and blue shirt with a white collar. Perhaps James Middleton—along with Her Royal Hotness, James’ sister Pippa—is just what the Windsors need: a touch of middle-class style to keep things lively.

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