Featured Image from: The Independent
If you can remember what Winston Churchill wore throughout his life, you can argue that the man was a fashion icon in his own way. While he didn’t invent the suit, hat, and bowtie nor coined the outfit, the look has often been attributed to him.
In the same way you cannot imagine Queen Elizabeth II in bright one-colored outfits, you can’t imagine Winston Churchill outside of his suit or, during war time, his iconic onesies. Where each royal family has their own signature style – Kate Middleton with her conservative but elegant dresses and Meghan Markle with her boat necklines – Churchill has managed to remain immortal throughout time as the man in the suit.
Winston Churchill’s Wardrobe: The Suit
Churchill was remembered as a snappy dresser because he knew the way a good tailored suit could make him look more confident and powerful. Churchill always looking poised in his three-piece suit, and this was during a time when men of noble standing wore nothing but suits.
To avoid blending into the crowd, Churchill wore tailored suits from Savile Row altered to fit and complement his body type. While he had a regular body type in his younger years, as he aged and rose to his career, he was not known to have a body type frequently seen in male models. He was overweight with slumped shoulders, an arched back, and a gut that protruded. Despite his unflattering physique, no one remembers this because of the way he carried himself and the way he wore his suits.
If you could trace back his political career, it is possible Churchill saw the importance of fashion and style in his position because of Anthony Eden, arguably one of the best dressed politicians at the time after popularizing what would become known as the iconic “Anthony Eden hat.” Having worked with Eden, Churchill must have known the importance of looking one’s best.
Churchill’s Signature Accessories
From World War II up to Britain’s rebuild in the aftermath of the war, Churchill was recognizable not only with his three-piece suit, but also the accessories he carried with him. His signature hat, which is known as the “Homburg Hat” was actually a difficult look to pull off at the time. The hat was traditionally worn with evening wear due to its stiff shape, but with Churchill’s age and powerful build, he proved he could make it work.
Churchill even understood how accessories could supplement his outfit and make him look more distinguished. In his photos, you’d rarely see Churchill without his bowtie, pocket squares, and his chained pocket watch that makes him stand out from the rest of the gentlemen in suits he surrounds himself with.
How Churchill Popularized the Onesie
Outside of his three-piece suit, Churchill was also famous for wearing another suit: the Siren Suit, an onesie-like outfit supposed to be worn in air raid shelters when the sirens sounded a threat. While a standard issue in many places in the United Kingdom, he had his made from a number of fabrics and customized to add his own cigar pocket. He made his Siren Suits with fabrics that strayed away from the standard wool that it soon appeared he was simply wearing onesies. After the war, Churchill continued to wear the Siren Suits well until the 1950’s.
Siren Suits were extremely popular during the World War II era. With shortages in commodities, everything (including clothes and fabrics) were in short amounts. Because of the constant threat of Nazi air raids, sirens would sound at any time of the day to send people to bomb shelters and wait out any threat. As soon as one would hear the siren, there was no time to spare and they had to quickly run to the nearest bomb shelter, regardless of what you were doing at home or what you were wearing.
So, to make-do with the rationed fabrics and the need to dress up quickly, the Siren Suit was born and released to the public. While more people added their own style to the siren suit, Churchill’s styles had always been a classic. After the war, Churchill’s decision to continue wearing the suit may have influenced the Siren Suit’s popularity even when it was no longer needed. Instead of a war necessity, it turned into a type of loungewear used in the ‘60s and ‘70s as a luxury designer type of suit.
A Fashionable Man Keeps Fashionable Company
And even if you don’t agree that Churchill is a fashion icon, you can agree that he did keep a retinue of fashionable company. In 1908, he married Clementine Churchill, who was at the time considered one of the most beautiful women in British nobility. Their marriage was a grand affair that the media covered intensely.
In the 1930’s, Churchill was known to frequent Château de l’Horizon, the Southern French home of a famous actress that was a hot spot of celebrities. He would also go on hunting trips with famous individuals, including Coco Chanel.
Part of Winston Churchill’s immortality in history is because his fashion has helped him not only to become recognizable, but has helped him look strong and powerful during troubled times when the English needed someone strong to lead the country through turmoil. It goes to show what a good suit and a few matching accessories can do to help with appearances. Looks aren’t everything, but when you’re in the shoes of someone like Winston Churchill, it may be necessary to develop a sense of style and fashion that you’re most remembered for.