The Biggest Lesson From Season Five Of The Crown? A Well-Made Suit Is For Ever
Mr Dominic West and Ms Elizabeth Debicki in ‘The Crown’, series 5, 2022. Photograph by Mr Keith Bernstein, courtesy of Netflix
Ever dreamed of living like royalty? Fantasised about trading in your nine-to-five for lavishly appointed castles, heirloom jewels and your own personal brigade of butlers? If you answered yes, might we suggest logging into Netflix, loading up The Crown’s fifth season and being swiftly knocked back to your senses. Freshly released this autumn, and set in the notoriously tumultuous 1990s, it’s a 10-episode reminder of the straitjacket rules, frosty family relations and borderline-illegal press intrusion that come as additional perks to the most plum appointment in the land. If the real-life royal tempest of the past few years wasn’t enough to make you unendingly grateful that you weren’t to the manor born, then episode five should do the trick.
And yet, though our conclusion by the final credits may be that even a gilded cage is still very much a cage, we will admit that the clothes almost made us reconsider. And, as it happens, we’re not talking about the endlessly mood-boarded Diana, Princess of Wales, here – rather her sartorially overlooked ex-husband.
True to The Crown’s high-def, ultra-glossy production values, costume designer Ms Amy Roberts has kitted out then-Prince Charles (portrayed by far-too-dishy Mr Dominic West) in immaculately tailored outfits that recall the IRL versions with uncanny precision. And as menswear editors, we couldn’t help but think: sure, his comportment throughout that era may be open to interpretation, but by goodness did he know a good suit.
Mr Dominic West in ‘The Crown’, series 5, 2022. Photograph by Mr Keith Bernstein, courtesy of Netflix
What makes Charles’ suits so noteworthy, you ask? Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, they’re only the very best a hefty inheritance can buy. Pretty much all from Savile Row, of course – over the years, he’s granted several of the street’s occupants royal warrants – and a billboard to British craftmanship. For those not in the know, we’re talking years of rigorous training, best-in-class fabrics and multiple fittings, all to culminate in a one-of-a-kind masterpiece that’s cut to fit your form like a dream. So dreamily, in fact, that even The Crown’s crack team of world-class costumers elected not to recreate them in-house, turning instead to Mr Timothy Everest, one of the Row’s own.
Of course, the royals are nothing if not sticklers for tradition, and Charles’ tastes in tailoring is unashamedly old-school. But what makes his style so much better than your average pink-cheeked aristo-boomer is a singular melange of polish and flair. That affected public-schoolboy scruffiness that afflicted a certain British prime minister is not to his tastes – you’ll nary find a collar out of place or a tie askew. And while he rarely veers too far from rulebook, he does bear markers that are distinctly his own.
“His comportment throughout that era may be open to interpretation, but by goodness did he know a good suit”
Flip through the archives and you’ll see he typically favours a double-breasted number with double vents and a generously cut peak lapel for his engagements. The waist nips in slightly so as to flatter, but he steers clear of anything that could be labelled “skinny-fit”, and the hem of his jacket tends to fall just below the seat.
He pays close attention to the finishing touches, too: the tie always tightly knotted, the dress shoes buffed to a shine (though presumably not by his own hands) and the pocket square perfectly… flouffed. In short, he exudes a pride in dress that mirrors his great-uncle, the Duke of Windsor, who famously showed incredible discernment in his wardrobe, if not his choice of company.
The ultimate proof that Charles’ suits of that era are pretty special, however, is that he’s still wearing them today. Yes, the exact same ones. In an interview he gave to British Vogue in 2020, he revealed that he’s a staunch advocate of rewearing. And, sure enough, those same pieces that carried him through a rocky period, when his divine right to rule was most in the balance, still look pretty sharp now that (spoiler alert) he’s ascended to the throne.
If the foremost takeaway from this latest season of The Crown is that the royal fairytale is actually an utter nightmare, then allow the second to be that a well-made suit – the best your own budget can stretch to, and in line with your own tastes and lifestyle – was, is and will eternally be the smartest investment. Sure, it may not provoke quite the same flurry as a limited-edition sneaker or the latest luxury streetwear collab – but nothing will see you through three decades and a dozen scandals quite like it.