Prince Harry’s rejection of fashion is a fashion statement in itself


COMMENTARY

When it comes to the British royal family, clothes matter. And not just for fashion-savvy observers (although, as the retail crash known as the “Kate Middleton effect” implies), they I DO matters to fashion-minded observers). In the famously tight-lipped world of the monarchy, where royals are often seen and rarely heard, clothes say what the royals themselves don’t.

Clothes convey rank and status; at Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in September, scandal-ridden Prince Andrew, who has been stripped of his military titles, was banned from wearing traditional ceremonial military dress. Clothes communicate respect and formality: As Meghan, Duchess of Sussex revealed in the Netflix documentary Harry & Meghan, during Elizabeth II’s reign, members of the royal family did not have to wear the same color as the queen to public events. The clothes have even staged notable rebellions while in progress: Princess Diana famously broke palace dress and grooming rules – wearing plunging necklines, un-British clothes and red nail polish – when she was out and about with her in-laws.

So it matters, too, when an estranged prince declares that he just never cared much for clothes.

Prince Harry’s new book, Spare, has made headlines this week for its revealing descriptions of his life as a misfit royal. In one anecdote, Harry mentions that he used to buy his everyday clothes at the retailer TK Maxx. (a branch of US TJ Maxx, slightly changed in name to avoid confusion with pre-existing UK retailer TJ Hughes). Harry too reveals that as a student at Eton College, he was often flustered and late to class thanks to his elaborate school uniform, and that growing up, he often had to be reprimanded to replace his shoes when he continued to wear a pair of laces. “As a rule, I didn’t think about clothing. I didn’t fundamentally believe in fashion, and I couldn’t understand why anyone would,” he says in the book. “Writers would bookmark a picture of me and wonder why my pants were so long, my shirts so wrinkled. … Not very princely, they would say. I think you’re right.”

Apparently, the men of the British royal family face less pressure to look eternally stylish than, say, their female counterparts. But still: Prince Philip could always be counted on to stamp out inconsistencies broken costume. King Charles III has his two trusty arms. Even Prince William, whose personal style is relatively conservative, has made a signature summer linen shirt.

Conversely, who among us can remember the details of any an outfit that Prince Harry has chosen to wear in public in addition to his Nazi military Halloween costume that got him into trouble in 2005? Compared to those of his royal relatives, Harry’s clothing choices seem almost conspicuously inconspicuous. A visual sign that he sees himself as different from his family? Of course. And finally, it seems to be one more signal that he won’t partake in the tradition of letting the clothes do the talking.

On his press tour for “Spare” — and in recent years, for that matter — Prince Harry’s outfits have been notably muted, without many eye-catching touches of the good or bad variety. The What Meghan Wore blog, which tracked Harry’s wife’s outfit choices and informed consumers where they could buy identical or similar pieces, now runs primarily on Instagram. But on her website, you can still find a page called “What Harry Wore”. In stark and almost comical contrast to Meghan’s Manolo Blahniks and bespoke Louis Vuitton, the site lists the affordable and tasteful Everlane shirts, Adidas Gazelle sneakers and 7 For All Mankind chinos that Harry wore of late 2010.

In the years since Harry and Meghan “stepped down” from their royal duties and moved to the United States, Harry’s rebellious tendencies have become more pronounced. In his 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper on Sunday, Harry wore a dark turtleneck over a white Oxford shirt. On “Good Morning America” ​​and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” later in the week, Harry wore regular gray suits and untucked blue shirts – just slight variations on the ensemble he wore in his explosive interview with 2021 together with his wife Oprah Winfrey. (Unlike his father and brother, who tend to wear ties to TV appearances, Harry remained tieless for the whole thing.)

“Harry & Meghan,” released last month, finds Harry sitting for interviews in a cotton collar and logo-free, long-sleeve polo, both black. In the smartphone footage shot at the Sussexes’ home in seaside Montecito, Harry wears nondescript simple outfits – loose colored T-shirts paired with jeans or simple light-coloured athletic shorts – as he walks his dog, works on the laptop and kicks a football. ball (sorry, soccer) around with his son riding on his shoulder.

“If you’re looking for fashion statements, look elsewhere in my family,” Harry’s outfits have always seemed to say; recently, they come with an extra “Really. I’m just a regular dad in California now.” In a surprisingly quiet way, Harry looks like many other men in the Western world who work office jobs and fool around with their kids in the backyard on weekends. And for a boy who grew up in an environment almost entirely antithetical to that ideal, that’s a statement in itself.

Harry, of course, is no ordinary California dad. But dressing like one, wearing clothes that project almost No. The messages alone, Harry creates the ideal conditions for a book like “The Exchange” to achieve its goal — which, as he told Colbert Tuesday night, is to finally give “the other side of the story, after 38 years.” “

In the interview, Harry pointed out that in his family, where the motto is “Never complain and never explain”, the traditional way of getting a message out is indirect; rather than stating the truth directly to the press, royals may plant stories with unnamed sources or release them through their press offices. Or, perhaps, convey it in their body language – or fashion choices. The book itself is Harry’s rejection of this tradition. “I’m the source of that book,” he told Colbert. “Instead of hiding behind unnamed sources, these are my words, from my own lips.”

Harry’s clothing choices, in other words, successfully ensure that his clothes are not the story. Instead, his story remains history.





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