We are back with another post on something that has been a topic of recent conversation. It is written by a WKW/WKKW friend, Brooke Nurthen. Some readers may recall seeing Brooke’s name during the India/Bhutan tour when she contributed to this post about Kate & William’s hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery; she had made the climb with her husband in 2014. Brooke lives in Australia and knows her fashion; she recently left a position with Zimmermann, a brand Kate has worn. She is now learning lots about childrenswear as the mother of a precious 6-month-old boy. We look forward to seeing more of Brooke’s work here on occasion!
Today we take a look at a commonly asked question about Prince George’s style.
The young royal is always seen in shorts at official events and engagements, and in images released by Kensington Palace. A lot of commentary around Prince George’s style centres on the ‘old-fashioned’ look he champions, and there’s a reason Kate dresses George in shorts.
In official photos for the young prince’s third birthday, he sports a cotton navy blue pair and a linen-blend beige short, both by a brand Kate favors, Pepa and Company.
The answer? “It’s a very English thing to dress a young boy in shorts,” British etiquette expert William Hanson told Harpers Bazaar UK.
“Trousers are for older boys and men, whereas shorts on young boys is one of those silent class markers that we have in England. Although times are (slowly) changing, a pair of trousers on a young boy is considered quite middle class – quite suburban. And no self-respecting aristo or royal would want to be considered suburban.”
The best news? We’ve got a few more years of year-round Prince George knees before he grows into his trousers for public engagements. “The usual custom is that a boy graduates to trousers around eight years old,” says Hanson.
Of course, this short story isn’t news for all royal-watchers. Many will remember Prince William and Prince Harry sporting similar styles as boys, and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, followed the same style guide for James, Viscount Severn. In the portrait of Her Majesty with grandchildren and great-grandchildren, the custom becomes apparent to the keen eye, as Viscount Severn, seen below at age eight, wears trousers while Prince George dons shorts.
“The modern habit of upper class families choosing to dress their boys in shorts will deliberately hark back to a bygone age. The British upper set are always keen to hold on to tradition, and this one also silently marks them out from ‘the rest’,” says Hanson.
The pair were previously worn at Prince Harry’s christening, some 32 years prior:
Diana and Charles got some mileage out of the blue and white suit; Prince William is also seen wearing the ensemble aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia in 1985 during an official visit by his parents to Italy.
And below, Prince George at the christening of sister Princess Charlotte in a look inspired by his father’s wardrobe.
Adding to the conversation, Bethan Holt, The Telegraph’s digital fashion editor, in a piece that ran on Sunday:
Some on social media were shocked to see the three-year-old Prince sporting shorts on Christmas Day, but the long-socks-plus-shorts combination has been the customary formal dress for young upper class boys for several generations.
William in shorts on Christmas Day 1987 with cousins Peter and Zara Phillips.
Of course, Diana was well-versed in the rules. Young Princes William and Harry are seen below in their matching sets of shorts and smart shoes as Harry goes to his first day at Mrs. Mynors’ nursery school. (That is the proprietress, Jane Mynors, seen below right.) You can tell the occasion isn’t quite as formal as Trooping the Colour or the Christmas day walk to church at Sandringham because the boys are wearing short socks, not the dressier knee-highs.
The topic is one that never really goes away.
The next quote dates back to 2014, from a People story that followed the release of photos showing George sitting on the Kensington Palace steps in a pair of Amaia Kids bloomers/shorts. From the People story:
“Boys wear short trousers until they are 8,” Editor-in-Chief of Majesty magazine Ingrid Seward tells PEOPLE. “It is very English.”
The same was true for George’s father. “Prince William didn’t wear long trousers until he went to school at Ludgrove at the age of 8 or 9,” says Seward.
That’s not to say that George will never wear pants until he goes to prep school. (After all, those English winters can be pretty cold!) But it’s likely he won’t be photographed in them.
Many will recognize the short trousers that are part of the iconic Wetherby uniform. In this photo, you see Harry and William arriving at the school in September 1989; it is a look we could see Prince George sporting if reports are true that he will be attending Wetherby.
This isn’t an exclusively British standard by any means. Indeed the practise is also noted as an upper-crust class marker in America, where particularly in the South and in New England, young boys don short trousers.
Bastions of upholding social protocol, the Kennedys wouldn’t be seen with JFK Jr in a pair of trousers as a boy, as seen in this 1962 photo taken in Palm Beach.
Many American readers will find the below image, c. 1962, a familiar sight – note older boys in trousers and younger in their shorts (and those sailor-inspired ensembles!).
It looks like it could well be several years before we see Prince George in long trousers at important and/or formal events.
A quick note – we’ve updated the Sunday post to reflect the latest information, and have also added some fun photos.
We will see you shortly after New Year’s Day. Until then, a massive ‘thank you’ to everyone who has helped make this site such a fun, collaborative environment. I wasn’t sure how doing the second blog would work (or if it would work at all, truth be told), but it has turned out to be just delightful. Not having children has made some things a challenge (yours truly has been utterly clueless on some fronts!), but I love learning all about the current children’s brands and styles. I hope you all have a terrific 2017 and am excited to see you again in the New Year!