10 November 2009

The Duke's Smoking Jacket

A friend who works for an auction house attended Sotheby's Duke and Duchess of Windsor Sale. His three volume set of catalogs are noted with his impressions of lots - - mostly silver and clocks -- and on the last page of the catalog he scrawled, "...it would appear all these two people ever did was play cards and eat."

As much as I would like to have made off with his catalog set...it's far too large to stuff down one's trousers (Perhaps if my trousers were pleated and made by H Harris I'd a gotten away with it), I finally secured my own set of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor sale sans any thievery on my part. Should you be inclined to do the same ... a word of warning. If, like me, you find yourself in a tony upper east side book shop and see this volume for sale...fend off any impulse to purchase it for $250. Rather, go on line to Alibris or Abe and secure a copy for $30. Which is probably what the owner of that book shop did.

If you, like me, enjoy peeking into other people's medicine cabinets and poking around in their sock drawers looking for methods of birth control - - You're gonna love this catalog. I can pretty much guess which readers of The Trad already have this catalog. But I would offer it up to anyone, with sartorial interests or not, as one of the most perplexing, interesting and beautiful books I have ever owned. Not bad for thirty clams.

This week I'll post photos of the Duke's closet. After the winter of 1936, the Duke had a lot of spare time on his hands. And he threw that spare time at his closet. Sotheby's reports in 1960 he had, " ...fifteen evening suits, fifty five lounge suits and three formal suits." There's no mention of Odd Jackets, Smoking Jackets or Blazers. One can only guess.

I own two Smoking Jackets and I'm not sure why. One reason may be cost. I didn't pay full freight for either one. The second reason may have to do with my natural inclination towards being an asshole. One Christmas I wore a Smoking Jacket at a home dinner party with the Golf Foxtrot's family. Black Watch tartan trousers, monogrammed black velvet slippers, double cuff shirt with enameled fox head links, a Black Watch ascot and a black velvet Smoking Jacket trimmed in quilted green silk and tied with a tassel belt. What a hit I made.

Lesson 57. Just because the Duke of Windsor wore it doesn't mean you can.


L.A.S said...

"The second reason may have to do with my natural inclination towards being an asshole."

Superb. That is one fat shawl, jesus h. christ.

Anonymous said...

Anthony Blanche called, he wants his outfit back. Please tell me there is photographic evidence of this OTT fashion transgression. D

Easy and Elegant Life said...

You've got me beat. I only have one... bottle green with black quilted lapels and a tie closure. I was hoping to convert it to a frog closed version.... maybe all I need are tassels to twirl. That and Black Watch tartan trews.

I ordered the catalogue... bit more than $30 ... looking forward to it.

EsseQuamVideri said...

I cannot wait to see more of this --


tintin said...

LAS- Pretty amazing, huh? The jacket that is. Not me being an asshole.

D- No one was gonna let that go without a photo. But you'll never see it.

E&E - I thought for sure you had the catalogs. That you had a SJ was a no brainer.

EQV- Keep an eye out - - While I'm not gonna scan the whole thing I promise some Duchess stuff as well.

Was it Churchill who said about the Duchess, "If there's a man she has had a platonic relationship with - - his name is lost to history."

Richard said...

The outfit you describe is amazing, could you show us a photo of the garments?

Anonymous said...

Why am I not surprised that Wasp101has already chimed in on this topic?

Lesson 57 is for you.

Paul said...

Great advice at the end of your post - and taken.

Wish for a day when we can dress this way and talk of the day's events with a drink, a cigar and/or pipe - without the advice ever being offered.

Nice work!

heavy tweed jacket said...

Tintin, I have only seen the 3 vol. boxed set once, and was just dumbfounded by the sheer size of the auction, by the contents of their household. Complex and riveting.

tintin said...

Richard- While it sounds amazing --it doesn't look amazing. I'll post a picture of the kit but not of me in it.

Anon 16:23- Lesson 57 is for every one.

There is a way to tone down the asshole factor with a smoking jacket and it can make for a creative alternative to holiday black tie. A black bow tie instead of an ascot is a good starting point. I'll put up some stuff next week. There is a reason men wear this while entertaining at home...it could get you a serious ass whoopin on the street.

HTJ- Geez, I pegged you for having at least two copies.

In some ways these people are as full of shit as a RL ad. In other ways, I see an erudite style and level of taste that's astounding.

ray said...

indeed it is a fascinating box set, but wish there were more of edward's things than the mrs

heavy tweed jacket said...

Yes, I was always a Bonhams sale man.

M.Lane said...

I have an OLD smoking jacket in red velvet with black lapels. I won the office Halloween party one year when I went as Hugh Hefner.


Richard said...

Thanks TinTin....I do appreciate it!

Richard said...

I would like to acquire these catalogs......any suggestions other than the two sites listed. I checked those out and could not find anything.

Richard said...

I just ordered a copy on Amazon...$40 bucks. Thanks anyway!

Alice Olive said...

I love this post! And I love your Christmas ensemble. Sounds very dapper.

Anonymous said...

CRINGE! I don't doubt you made an impression. So very, very funny!

At what point did it occur to you that matching your ascot to your trousers may not have been your only fashion faux pas of the evening?

Marry that girl, TinTin. She's one helluva good sport!

C.Sharp said...

I bought the catalog at the time of the auction. Since then I have thought what became of the lots that did not sell? Who bought the clothes? Is there a dealer some place selling Duke of Windsor neckties with all the proper provenance?

On the subject of somking jackets I confess. I own one. Bought it in the early 90's my local store was giving them away. I bought one in black wool with the appropiate piping and frog closures. Ben Silver carried the same model about the same time. I do not know if it was a good or bad thing to have passed on the claret and the racing green one. I would buy a vintage Sulka in a heartbeat if it was in my price range.

casual jackets said...

Would love to wear a jacket like this to a dinner party!