The history of dandy and British style owns very much to the man considered “arbiter elegantiae“. Edward VIII weaved together his life and style, creating a way to express himself that reproduced his own attitude. His cult of beauty went beyond fashion and conventions, creating new style standards that are now considered timeless.
The eldest son of king George V and Mary of Teck grew up following the rigid rules of the English Crown, but he was not restricted by the rigid values of the court.
His life was characterized by an unending elegance that made him a modern dandy. After he abdicated the throne in favour of his brother and became Duke of Windsor his way of life became an idol. Keeping intact the traditional British style he has transformed it with new personal marks that made it less austere and more dynamic. He was recognised to be the symbol of eccentricity, but nevertheless linked to the tradition. He renewed his style over and over again. He was the one who revived an ancient textile, the tweed. It was considered a country gentleman textile, Edward VIII altered it to fit his times. He deeply loved glen plaid, a textile invented by his grandfather Edward VII. He introduced the “midnight blue” dinner jacket. He wore it at formal events, proving himself to be a master of style who was able to have a personal mark even when the dress code was an actual communication code. The glare of the artificial light made the blue of the suit deeper and more solid than it really was. The suit had shawl lapels such as those of the traditional velvet smoking jackets.
To the Duke is also own the famous Windsor knot and the drape suit with a tight-waist and broad-shoulders jacket. Edward VIII is also said to have invented the turndown-collar tuxedo shirt in place of the full-dress one.
Edward VIII established a new style linked to the tradition. This is probably the secret of the great success of his style. His way of dressing was not influenced by other people’s opinion, instead had always a personal mark that was an unique mixture of eccentricity, elegance and good taste.