13. The Duke of Windsor might have been a poor King of England, but he was arguably the best-dressed Brit of the past century
As King Edward VIII, he sat on the throne of the United Kingdom for less than a year. These days, he’s best known for his 1936 abdication rather than his brief reign – and for good reason. When he stepped down in order to marry a twice-divorced American socialite, he caused a huge scandal and even threated the very foundations of the monarchy. However, he got out and lived a long, quiet life as the Duke of Windsor, one of the most stylish men in the whole world.
As the Prince of Wales and heir to the throne, Edward was the most eligible bachelors in all of Europe. He was not only rich and handsome, he was also impeccably dressed. This was no accident. Rather than being dressed by others, he took an active role in designing and tailoring his outfits, and he knew exactly what styles made him look good. He opted for zippers instead of buttons on his trousers – a style that was copied by many upper-class men in the 1920s, as did his insistence on breaking the mould and having cuffs on his pants – and he made British fashion, and in particular Scottish tweeds and Fair Isle sweaters, incredibly popular.
As Duke of Windsor, he had a passion for stripes and other patterns. He was one of the first high-profile men to pair different styles of clothes, plus he showed many shorter men how to dress well. He was famously quoted as saying that, rather than being put on Earth to rule, “I was in fact produced as a leader of fashion, with the clothiers as my showmen and the world as my audience.” Modern fashion critics agree, and the Duke of Windsor regularly tops lists of the best-dressed Brits of the 20th century.