For a show that dramatizes the life of the British royal family between 1979 and 1990, season 4 of the hit Netflix series The crown has surprisingly timely lessons on how to dress.
If you watch period dramas primarily for their style (like me), there are two things you might be struck by in this upcoming show. The first is the perfect conservatism of men’s tailoring–all the earthy tweeds, sports coats and dark double-breasted suits – and the second is how genuinely suave the main men are, in season four, and really, throughout the show.
On screen, actors who are not used to wearing costumes can often look a little embarrassed when they have to dress for a role (notoriously, Steve McQueen resented wearing costumes three rooms in The Thomas Crown affair). But not here. Whether it’s Josh O’Connor’s Prince Charles with his hands tucked into jacket pockets or Tobias Menzies’ Duke of Edinburgh walking in his navy gold button-down blazer and perfectly pressed flannels, it’s as if the cast was really born to live in tailor-made couture.
“It’s great to see how comfortable the guys are in their clothes,” says Fred Nieddu, chief cutter at Timothy everest, the British tailor-made tailor who created everything The crowntailor-made men’s clothing since the first season. “We try to keep the clothes nice and relaxed, and we work hard to make the jackets as comfortable as possible. The costume designer [Amy Roberts] it’s great to work with; as long as the actors have a good editing experience, she lets us go and do our thing.
It certainly shows. Charles Dance’s appearance as Lord Mountbatten in season four is a perfect example of this. In the first episode, Dance appears in a cream and navy blue jersey boat neck sweater with Breton stripes, cut to fall off the shoulders. By the way, it’s a smart move on the part of the costume department, in reference to Mountbatten’s career in the Royal Navy. The sweater is tucked into a pair of light beige chinos, on top of which he throws a three-button tweed pirate jacket, worn with the collar turned up and closed only on the top button.
Seemingly effortless and remarkably casual, this is an outfit that is a testament to the way we wear tailoring in the modern world. While the ’80s are often associated with powerful jumpsuits with strong shoulders, and the royals conjure up a rigid upper lip formality, season four defies stereotypes. These days, relaxed cuts we can wear on the way out of the house are the order of the day – often layered with casual pieces underneath. Far from thinking of the costume as a uniform, the male leads The crown a bespoke showcase as it really needs to be treated: an elegant lifestyle choice. Or, as Nieddu puts it, “Screw the rules. Relax and enjoy your clothes. “
Of course, there is an art to this. Thanks to Everest’s regular film and television work, Nieddu’s approach to tailor-made tailoring is more open-minded than some of his peers. He’ll be happy to cut you a tall, bold and structured jacket, or create something totally deconstructed and loose. His favorite house style sits well between these extremes, mixing his Italian roots with the formation of Savile Row. The costumes in seasons one and two of The crown were heavily structured enough to be correct, but this season and last the suits you’ll see are much closer to House Everest style: lightweight jackets with slightly elongated natural shoulders but a distinctively British fitted silhouette.
What is the key to wearing stitching with ease of Mountbatten in The crown, then? “The most important thing is to find the tailor who is comfortable doing what you want,” says Nieddu simply. “Some tailors will be more receptive to different types of cuts and construction than others. I would always advise a guy to go to a tailor who is open to different things. I consider myself there to make the client feel comfortable. Plus, it’s boring to cut and craft the same way all the time.
Apparently, Nieddu’s philosophy works for Netflix. Whether you catch yourself admiring 40s Matt Smith epaulettes in season one, or O’Connor’s early 80s safari costume this season, The crown is a comfortable and timeless sewing masterclass.
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