At the age of 74, has King Charles worn his ‘coolest’ outfit yet? Certainly his thoughts on the environment and climate change chime with the next generation, and his knack for recycling old outfits has earned him kudos for resonating with a more sustainably-minded demographic. But the monarch’s most recent outing - during a State visit to France - saw him up the style ante considerably.
The King opted for a pair of sunglasses - termed the ‘Lemtosh’ - from New York brand Moscot, with a clear acetate frame at a cost of £315. It’s not the first time the King has worn them - he’s been spotted out and about in them throughout the summer - but the shades were reportedly recommended by his tastemaker cousin Viscount Linley, the Earl of Snowdon.
Linley’s mother, Princess Margaret, was of course, a famous fashion plate. He is also a fixture on the society and stylish circuit, and runs his own luxury furniture brand. So it’s perhaps no surprise that the King - a passionate advocate of Savile Row and the finer things in life - is swapping wardrobe tips with his well-heeled cousin. It also demonstrates an appreciation of the finer things - the little details - that make a gentlemanly wardrobe.
Reams have been written about the King’s suits over the years. King Charles is exacting in his approach to tailoring and zealous in his support of British made, favouring houses such as Anderson & Sheppard for suits and Gloucestershire based shirting brands like Turnbull & Asser and Emma Willis for shirts.
But as any sartorially-minded connoisseur will attest, there’s a whole roster of accompaniments that go into finessing the look - the flourish to the architecture of a suit which adds a certain something.
He has favoured tortoiseshell Ray-Bans in the past and a valet stand’s worth of accompaniments by way of ties, pocket squares, cufflinks and a particularly handsome Parmigiani Fleurier watch. That timepiece is significant; only real purists and connoisseurs in all matters luxury know about the discreet Swiss house of Parmigiani (Giorgio Armani is also a collector). His watch line-up also features a Patek Philippe Calatrava, that other standard bearer of excellence, as well as a Cartier Santos.
‘I have been fortunate to meet King Charles on a number of occasions and have always admired him for his effortless dress sense; a man who owns his clothes rather than merely putting them on,’ says Hackett co-founder Jeremy Hackett. ‘He is always appropriately dressed for whatever the occasion. He enjoys clothes, and that’s apparent when dressing for Ascot or black tie events. He’s understated, classic and truly British.’
It was on a tour of a shirting factory with the then Prince Charles that I too, got a sense of how fascinated and informed he was by the making process of his wardrobe. During a tour of Emma Willis’ artisanal hub in Gloucester, he was curious about every detail, from the buttons to the story behind the young people learning a profession there. His exacting nature informs his decision to pair his ties with his pocket squares through harmonious colour ways, but never painfully matchy-matchy.
The ties are a case in point; often from Turnbull & Asser or Hermes, the King favours playful patterns over more corporate, serious varieties - one features cartoon elephants. The monarch’s also a fan of pastel hues - those who’ve dressed him (who are far too discreet to go on record) note his fondness for pinks and lilacs, to offset the patrician nature of a grey suit.
The King’s also known to enjoy trinketry; his signet ring bearing the Prince of Wales crest has been a fixture since the 1970s, while his cufflink collection reportedly got him into trouble on his honeymoon - it’s rumoured that he wore a pair of cufflinks from Camilla Parker-Bowles featuring two intertwined C letters; Diana was apparently horrified.
It’s rare that a man is able to make personal statements with jewellery, but the King does so subliminally and discreetly. On my own encounter with him, he wore cufflinks featuring the Greek flag, in a nod to his father. As for shoes, the King’s been known to wear Crockett & Jones for years; the historic shoemaker is based in Northampton and he’s visited in the past.
‘King Charles has exceptional style, excellent taste and an eye for quality,’ says James Fox, director of Crockett & Jones. “His support of Made in England brands never goes unnoticed and we couldn’t be prouder.”
Will he take a tip from his unwittingly cool, stylish sister and adopt some Oakley shades next? They’re something of a signature of the Princess Royal, who definitely goes her own way in terms of dress and has become something of a left-of-centre style icon in doing so. Either way, it’s pleasing to see a man in his 70s still take care to finesse the finer points of meticulous dress.