Here at MilanStyle, we’re fixated (some might say obsessed) with the finer things in life and if anyone else shares our obsession, it would be our very own Royal Family. So we have decided to do a special feature on brands that have a much-coveted “Royal Warrant”, which is about the best seal of approval you can get. Perhaps more importantly, we are also going to explain how you can incorporate these classic items into your own wardrobe – and dress like a king.
Firstly, what is a Royal Warrant? Simply put, a Royal Warrant is a mark of recognition to businesses that have supplied goods or services for at least five years to either HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh or HRH The Prince of Wales. A warrant is therefore a highly prized symbol of excellence and quality in your particular field.
Originally granted as “Royal Charters” to trade guilds (associations of master craftsmen), the earliest recorded Royal Charter was granted by Henry II to the Weavers Company in 1155. From then they evolved in to the Royal Warrant.
The modern history of the Royal Warrant starts with Queen Victoria in the 19th Century. Queen Victoria and her family granted more than 2000 Royal Warrants over her 64-year reign (Eight times as many as her uncle George IV!) thus ensuring the Royal Warrants status as a prestigious mark of quality.
HOW TO DRESS LIKE A KING
We are not all born to inherit the throne, or command a great empire. But this does not mean we should not see ourselves as princes and kings in our own lives, whatever background we hail from – working class or blue-blood aristocracy. How we present ourselves to the world is a reflection of how we see ourselves.
Still wearing tracksuits for anything other than the gym past the age of 25? Time to grow up and be a man. Better yet, a prince. Take yourself, and your personal style, seriously and you will be amazed at how differently the world treats you.
Is this about wearing a double breasted suit with bench-made Tricker’s for a trip to the local supermarket? No, of course not. Nor is it about suppressing your own individuality and making everyone look the same. (Although, we note that those who are desperately emulating footballers’ and pop singers’ ‘style’ all ultimately look the same, no matter how ‘stylish’ they believe themselves to be).
A great opportunity for ‘dressing like a king’ presents itself to those of us who work in offices. Many men complain that their individuality is ‘compromised’ by having to wear a shirt and tie in their day jobs. You will see this type of man all over the office – his shirt is scruffily hanging out of the back of his polyester blend trousers (we make this point only because we know he can easily afford better) and his shoes are heavily scuffed. The problem is that while this man believes he is being rebellious or nonchalant, the rest of his colleagues see him as a buffoon. Actually, you can be very individual in your office attire in your choice of colours, tie knots, shoe styles etc with a little time and effort. But, back to the point, to elevate your look and dress like a KING, takes perhaps a little more time and, yes, it will take more money.
Why waste time trying to work out who the best craftsmen and artisans are for shirtmaking, leatherware, tailoring and English shoe-making, when the British Royal Family have already done this for you over the centuries?
Brands and artisans do not present any old rubbish to the Royal Family. Stand on the shoulders of giants then and invest in a Royal Warrant brand next time you are after a ‘best in class’ garment or shoe. Don’t worry, these items can easily be mixed into your everyday wardrobe – an Aquascutum trench coat is going to look just as good with some battered 501 jeans as it does with your work suit.
Royal style is undeniably classic, with a certain flair that comes from being a member of the ruling classes – but you can achieve this too. Wear the right clothes and the right quality brands and you will find yourself walking taller, sitting up straight and speaking more clearly.
Tailoring is classically British, with Prince Charles wearing Gieves & Hawkes, his sombre double breasted suits with wide lapels are always accented by a perfectly ruffled silk pocket square and a perfectly tied silk tie. Leave the small carnation in the lapel to Prince Charles – although a witty Lanvin flower pin might look quite dandy – some things are of course, best left to royalty.
Typically of timeless style, the double breasted suit has endured a torrid time with the trendsetters of the world over the past two decades, its reputation as a standby garment was dealt almost irreparable damage by the ill fitting, wide shouldered suits that epitomised the 1980s. Cast aside for years in favour of the sleeker single breasted suit, which fitted in with the trend for “skinny”, the double-breasted is enjoying a comeback. We like the double-breasted suit here at MilanStyle, we just know that it has to be worn well. Avoid spread collared shirts, and keep your tie knot slim, nothing bigger than a half Windsor knot. Trousers should be fitted, but not skinny and please, keep your ankles off display! The current trend for Italian style leg-wear should be left well alone when wearing a double-breasted suit. Feel free to flash some colour with your hosiery, Corgi cashmere socks in bright colours are a nice touch.
Shoes should be kept simple, we love brogues here at MilanStyle, but they’re not really the kind of shoe you should be wearing with a double-breasted suit if you see yourself as a king. Stick to plain cap toe Oxfords from John Lobb or Tricker’s, if you’re feeling a little adventurous, John Lobb “Double Monk strap” would work well if the trousers were suitably fitted.
What are the brands you need to invest in to dress like a king?
Remember, this is not necessarily about wearing all brands together (although which sensible man would turn down the opportunity to wear a Burberry mac with some John Lobbs, a Gieves & Hawkes suit and a Jermyn Street tailored shirt?) but elevating your current wardrobe by mixing in these brands, as much as possible, depending on your budget.
THE ROYAL WARRANT MENSWEAR BRANDS
Barbour – Barbour currently hold a Royal Warrant from Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales. Barbour’s hard wearing waxed & tweed jackets have been seen gracing the shoulders of the late Diana, Princess of Wales and the Queen.
Aquascutum – Formed in 1851 when tailor John Emary opened a menswear shop on Regent Street in London, Aquascutum were first awarded a Royal Warrant in 1897 when the King Edward VII (then The Prince of Wales) ordered an Aquascutum coat in the famed “Prince of Wales check”.
Burberry – Founded in 1856 by the 21-year-old Thomas Burberry, Burberry were awarded a Royal Warrant in 1955 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and another by HRH The Prince of Wales in 1989 (Charles already having been spotted in a Burberry trench coat with Diana).
DAKS – The company that was to become DAKS was formed in 1894 when Simeon Simpson started creating bespoke suits for the London elite. The trademark “DAKS” was registered when Alec Simpson took over the business after his father’s death. It is believed to be a combination of “DAD” and “SLACKS”. DAKS has held a Royal Warrant since 1956 when The Duke of Edinburgh granted one, subsequently the Queen awarded one in 1962 and Prince Charles in 1982.
Gieves & Hawkes - Founded in 1771, Gieves & Hawkes are originally a military outfitters, supplying dress uniforms to the British Army and the Royal Navy. One of the old guard of Warrant holders, it was awarded it’s first back in 1809 by King George III. They also supplied the uniform that Admiral Lord Nelson was wearing when he was killed in action aboard HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. They currently hold all three Royal Warrants.
John Lobb – Founded in 1866, John Lobb became a proud holder of Royal Warrant when then were appointed by King Edward VII. John Lobb’s motto “The bare maximum for a man” says it all about the famed creator of the double “monk-strap” shoe. John Lobb currently hold two Royal Warrants, from His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. Prince Charles is a particular fan of John Lobb and has worn the same plain cap toe John Lobb Oxford shoes for well over 40 years!
Loake – Started in 1880 by the three Loake brothers, Thomas, John and William in Thomas Loake’s house in Kettering, Northamptonshire. Their aim was to create the finest footwear possible, with style, comfort and durability the three key values. Loake were granted a Royal Warrant in 2007 by HM The Queen.
Tricker’s – Established in 1829 by Joseph Barltrop, the company would later become “Tricker’s” when his son married and adopted the maiden name of his wife Claire Louise in an effort to make the company more commercially viable. Tricker’s currently hold a Royal Warrant from the His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.
Turnbull & Asser – Provider of shirts to Prince Charles since his youth, Turnbull & Asser are famously the first Royal Warrant that Charles signed. They also provided the shirts worn by Sean Connery’s James Bond, whose dress shirts had a “turn-back” cuff – a double cuff that is fastened with buttons, instead of cuff links.
Corgi – Purveyors of luxury hosiery (socks to me and you) were awarded a Royal Warrant in 1989 by The Prince of Wales. We can imagine Prince Charles adorning his feet in Corgi’s finest cable knit cashmere socks whilst out strolling the grounds of his country estate.
Ettinger –Gerry Ettinger founded Eittinger in 1934, originally a film producer who worked with the legendary Marlene Dietrich, he used his contacts throughout Europe and England to help him create luxury leather goods of exceptional quality. Ettinger were awarded a Royal Warrant in 1996 byPrince Charles. They have also worked with esteemed brands such as Asprey, Harrods and Bentley.
Smythson –Frank Smythson’s trade card described his business as “First class stationery, leather goods and cabinet work’ and even now over a hundred years since Smythson opened their first shop on Bond Street they’re holding true to their founders statement. Granted a Royal Warrant to Her Majesty the Queen in 1964, they were also granted warrants by Prince Charles in 1980, the Queen Mother in 1987 and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in 2002. Smythson are also one of the select few companies who have held four Royal Warrants at the same time.
Swaine Adeney Brigg - Swaine Adeney being the providers of leather luggage, Brigg being the umbrella specialists. Founded in 1750, Swaine Adeney Brigg became the very first manufacturer of umbrellas to hold a Royal Warrant, when Her Majesty Queen Victoria granted them one in 1893. They currently hold a Royal Warrant to produce umbrellas for HRH The Prince of Wales and are also appointed as “whip and glove makers” to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Swaine Adeney Brigg were also joined by the esteemed milliner Herbert Johnson, famed as the creator of the “Poet” hat worn by Indiana Jones, they still produce the hat to this day.
Dents – An honorary mention to Dents, formed in 1777, John Dent started creating fine leather gloves in Worcester, England. Dents have a unique place in the history of companies who have produced items for the Royal Family, in 1937 they had the honour of creating the “Coronation Glove” worn by King George VI at his coronation and in 1953 they made the “Coronation Glove” worn by the Queen at her coronation.