Archive for May 5th, 2012

Winston Churchill’s skivvies

Saturday, May 5th, 2012
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But the skin was delicate...

Sir Winston Churchill, Nobel laureate writer, spent a wads on his skivvies.  Who knew?  And who needed to knew?  According to a letter from his wife Clementine, it was  “very finely woven silk (pale pink) … from the Army and Navy stores and cost the eyes out of his head.”

Jason Diamond in The Paris Review writes here: “Churchill had style, and even though his choice of undergarments might not suit his public image, comfort was his first concern. The silk was an extravagant expense, justified by a therapeutic application toward Churchill’s persistent skin problems.”

The article does not set out to discuss Churchill’s unmentionables, nonetheless, it provides some riveting detail in an article that otherwise discusses the only bookstore in the world dedicated to Churchill. In keeping with the former prime minister’s half-American heritage, the bookstore “Chartwell” is located in downtown Manhattan, not the U.K.

The proprietor, Barry Singer, has become “a Churchill historian by osmosis,” writes Diamond.  Singer is the author of Churchill Style: The Art of Being Winston Churchill, published this month by Abrams.

Diamond shares another sartorial tidbit:

“… his greatest sartorial triumph was the zip-up, all-in-one ‘siren suit,’ which Singer’s book points out was conceived and designed by Churchill before World War II. The suits, which looked like a cross between a child’s onesie and the boiler suits worn by bricklayers, were made by the tailors Turnbell & Asser and came in several different colors and fabrics. While the suits did make the prime minister look like he was gearing up for an air raid, they may have also been the single most comfortable article of clothing worn by a world leader while commanding an army in the history of modern warfare.”

They went with the undies, I guess…

Book sounds fascinating and fun – kind of like dessert.  But save some room for the entrée, in the form of Paul Reid‘s forthcoming volume 3 of The Last Lion.