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  • Royal Weddings - A Guide to Royal Happiness

    Seven things not to do to ensure a long lasting royal marriage

    Today has seen the announcement of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s engagement, an occasion to add to the ever mounting list of royal weddings. But once the white dress is chosen, the vows read and the ceremony is over we get the marriage - traditionally not a strength of the monarchy. However, being both caring and concerned we have decided to solve this by producing a list of deal breakers Kate and Will should avoid after the royal wedding.

    So without further ado – the Smart Turnout guide to the seven mistakes you shouldn’t make in a royal marriage:


    1) Locking your wife up for fifteen years

    Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II 18 May 1152.

    It seemed like a match made in heaven. The young brilliant and soon to be king of England meets a famously beautiful French heiress. No obstacle can get in their way – not even the fact she is already married to the King of France… So where did it all go so wrong? Well Henry II being a famous womanizer probably didn't help, neither we imagine did Eleanor’s supposed affairs. After years of a very stormy relationship, Eleanor joined her eldest son Henry riding to battle against her husband. Ouch - that has to hurt. In retaliation, he locked her in prison for fifteen years. After his death, Eleanor was freed by Richard I known as the Lionheart.

    Fun fact – Following Thomas Beckett's death Henry II performed a penance impose by the Popes to express his shame for knights “misinterpreting” his commands leading to his former friend's death. The penance involved him walking to Canterbury Cathedral in sackcloth and allowing himself to be flogged by the monks.


    2) Do not murder your husband…

    Edward II and Isabella 1308

    Married to form an alliance Isabella and Edward disliked each other from the very beginning. Add their mutual dislike the fact he was rumoured to prefer men and you have a recipe for disaster. Isabella retaliated by leaving for France in 1325 plotting against Edward and taking Roger Mortimer as a lover. From France she made constant efforts to depose Edward - they do say hell hath no fury... In 1327 Isabella and Mortimer had Edward murdered at Berkley Castle.

    Fun Fact: Edward was the first monarch to establish colleges in Oxford and Cambridge. Get the Oxbridge look


    3) It’s best to propose to her not kidnap her…

    John of England and Isabella of Angoulême 1200.

    You know marriage is unlikely to go well when the bride is kidnapped. In 1200, John married for the second time after declaring his first marriage invalid due to consanguinity. Not being one to follow convention rather than propose he stole Isabella of Angouleme, the twelve-year-old daughter of a noble,  away from her fiancé! She had been betrothed to Hugh de Lusignan, although the marriage had been delayed because of her youth. Very little is known of Isabella during her time as the queen but on John’s death she married her original suitor Hugh de Lusignan suggesting she may not have been thrilled with her first marriage. John has been depicted as a villain by folklore such as Robin Hood and legend has it the current royal family will never name another male heir John through shame.
    Fun Fact: King Henry II had a painting in a chamber of Winchester Castle, depicting an eagle being attacked by three eaglets, while a fourth eaglet is poised waiting for its chance to strike. When asked the meaning of this picture, King Henry said:
    "The four young ones of the eagle are my four sons... who will not cease persecuting me even unto death. And the youngest, whom I now embrace with such tender affection, will someday afflict me more grievously and perilously than all the others." This proved ominously true when John betrayed his father in battle.


    4) One wife at a time please...

    Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, 11 June 1509.

    It’s like a beautiful fairytale the vibrant young widow of Henry’s brother and the new king Henry VIII fall in love against all the obstacles. They married at Westminster Abbey and were popular and loved by the English subjects. Unfortunately for poor Catherine, the lack of a male heir from their union provoked Henry to file for divorce – changing not only Catherine’s life but the landscape of England as he set about the break with Catholicism and established the church of England.

    Fun fact:
    Catherine was initially married to Henrys older brother Arthur but he died and Catherine maintained until she died the marriage was never consummated.

    Celebrate one of the famous venues for royal weddings with the Westminster inspired look


    5) Do not behead your wife...

    Henry VIII Anne Boleyn January 1533.

    Poor Anne Boleyn – it would seem to be a classic case of being careful what you wish for. Married to Henry after he divorced Catherine Ann Boleyn became queen and the outlook seemed bright. Giving birth to a daughter (the future Queen Elizabeth) Anne was younger than Catherine and had far more chance of a boy to inherit the throne. However, as with Catherine, Anne suffered a series of miscarriages and the precious son never materialised. Upon Catherine’s death, Anne’s position was even more precarious – the many doubters of the legitimacy of her marriage encouraged the king to look elsewhere and her own three miscarriages doomed her. Executed in May 1536 on charges of adultery and conspiracy (all believed to be utterly false by modern historians.)
    Fun Fact: Major General J.D. Dundas of the 60th Rifles regiment claimed to see Anne’s ghost while at the Tower of London. Looked like a whitish, female figure sliding towards the soldier.


    6) Do not behead your wife - Henry we really mean it this time...

    Henry VIII and Kathryn Howard 28 July 1540

    Thought to have been born in Durham around 1525 Kathryn Howard met the king at court and became married to him shortly after his annulment from Anne of Cleves. Whilst Henry was said to be besotted with the young beauty and nicknamed her his "Rose without a thorn." For Kathryn, it seems the affection was not returned. Young and vibrant and married to a man so much her senior and by this point morbidly obese her attention wandered. She began what proved to be a fatal affair with a handsome noble Thomas Culpepper. Unfortunately for Kathryn, this was discovered and she was sentenced to death and executed on the 13th February 1542.
    Fun Fact: Legend says before her execution Kathryn declared, “I die a Queen, but I would rather have died the wife of Culpeper."
    Royal style – embrace Kathryn’s Durham colours


    7) Do not get married while drunk – you’ll regret it in the morning...

    George IV and Caroline 8 April 1795

    Upon meeting George and Caroline of Brunswick are said to have instantly disliked each other. The bride was rumoured to be unhygienic and the groom was drunk at the ceremony. One might be forgiven for thinking these were not good signs for future happiness. They would have been 100% correct.

    Fun Fact The married couples were rumoured to only spend three nights together throughout the duration of their disastrous marriage.

    So there we have it – learn from these failed royal weddings and avoid these mistakes William and Kate. Follow our tips and you should have a long and happy marriage – and may we suggest a Smart Turnout Bow Tie for the happy day?

  • Cufflinks: To Button or not to Button?

    Off the Cufflinks

    To button or not to button?  That is the question and what a splendid question it is.  Man has wrestled with many riddles over time - where did we come from? Are we alone in the universe? However, undoubtedly none can be more important than the immortal question:

    How to tie one’s shirtsleeve in an appropriate and elegant manner?

    This conundrum became even more pertinent with the rise of the French cuff  (why is there always a French connection?) - a double length cuff folded back on itself, and, still to this day, the king of cuffs.

    Where previously such ingenious innovations as cuff strings and bracelets were considered acceptable, the cufflink now became the only way in which to hold a shirtsleeve together.  The ruffled cuffs of old began to disappear.  They were lost in time, dusted off briefly by the New Romantics in the 80s and then confiscated for good.

    These frilly eccentricities were replaced by the straight cuff, which was popularised by musketeers in the late eighteenth century.  And, if you’ve ever tried to accurately fire a musket wearing a ruffled cuff on your wrist while the armies of Napoleon bear down on you you’ll understand why.

    “But”, I hear you cry,

     “why should we slavishly imitate the French of old?  Isn’t the buttoned sleeve the apotheosis of modern cloth attachment technology?  It’s dark in the morning, I’m tired and I can do the button up as I walk out the house with a smile on my face and a newspaper under my arm, content in the knowledge the sleeve has been secured.”

    And you’d be right.  The button is practical.  It’s functional.  It does its job.  It’s like the guy in the office who gets in at nine and leaves at five without ever saying a word.  That’s right, it’s dull, deathly dull.  There’s no flair or elan in the button.  Think back on your long years on this earth and ask yourself this: “have I ever been impressed by a button?” (And no Button Moon does not count.)

    Hopefully, you’ve stopped wearing shoes done up with Velcro. It’s time to make the similarly mature move into the world of cufflinks if you haven’t already.  The cufflink has so much more to offer.  It says great things about a man.  The cufflink immediately declares to the outside world that here is a man who not only knows how to dress but thinks about how to dress.  It’s subtly sophisticated and coordinated with the rest of the outfit - just as the wearer is with the world.

    Let me leave you with a little story to illustrate the point.  In 1910 schoolboy Nicholas Allen was approaching his confirmation - a time for gifts from godparents.  Young Nicholas was delighted to receive a pair of cufflinks, set with sapphires and diamonds, in the shape of the Imperial Russian Eagle.  His godmother was no ordinary lady nor was she a stranger to fashion.  She was the Tsarina of Russia.  And the cufflinks were made by Faberge.

    The number of buttons given by Tsarinas’ as gifts – zero.

    The jury here at Smart Turnout rests its case.

  • Twelve Fun Facts About the Humble Tie

    Ties, we all love them and a large proportion of the population wear them five days a week but what do we actually know about them? Well, that's all about to at Smart Turnout we are proud to bring you twelve fun facts about the humble tie.

    1) Rock around the clock – the origin of the tie.

    The fashion of wearing fabric around the neck has been linked right back to soldiers buried with the Chinese emperor Shih Huang Ti in 210 BC so ties are certainly nothing new. The appearance of the more recognisable neckties dates right back to 1618, however after the First World War ties became increasingly popular as a way to display membership. Accordingly, in Britain, Regimental stripes began to take prominence in the 1920’s...

    2) An English tie in New York?

    Visually, British ties can often be identified by the way the stripes run from the left shoulder down to the right side. Unlike the UK, in the USA their ties are cut in the opposite direction to differentiate them from the British regimental stripe.  Although there are occasional British exceptions such as The Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Wellington College which all run the same way as the U.S. stripes, generally this rule holds true.

    3) It’s not easy being skinny.

    It is sometimes possible to guess the historical era of a tie by the width -widths increased to around 4.5 inches after the second world war. In the 1950’s ties became thinner and widths slimmed down to around 3 inches and continued slimming until the 60’s where thin ties became the norm – the thinnest width was around 1 inch. At the start of the 21st century, ties widened to 3.5 inches wide again and this remains the standard width today.

    4) To cut a long story short…(or indeed tie)

    Before World War II ties were worn shorter than they are today; partially because trouser waists were higher and because three-piece suits were a key trend, and having the tie stick out below the vest would be considered a major faux pas...

    5) A Groovy kind of love!

    The 1960s brought about an influx of pop art influenced designs partially inspired by the huge amount of pop art based advertising in the States. It became common to see more fun and exuberance of the styles.

    6) He Didn't Have To Be… Paisley

    The 1970’s marked the rise of the Paisley tie – possibly as a reaction to the more garish designs and it became fashionable and indeed common to see various different paisley ties on men

    7) Money Money Money…it’s a rich man's world

    In terms of business and fashion how you dress reflects upon how you are perceived. Therefore to look Smart and conscientious in the UK and the US the tie is an absolute must for work wear. The tie in the UK particularly has become a symbol of respect so for any formal occasion it would be impolite not to wear it. Additionally, as men have become increasingly fashion conscious ties help to ensure you look your absolute best. To quote P. G. Wodehouse from Jeeves and the Impending Doom, “There is no time, sir, at which ties do not matter.''

    8 ) The Stripes are back in town…

    At the moment the traditional striped tie is enjoying a major renaissance. Certainly, trends come and go, and colours have become brighter and bolder but the appeal of stripes seems timeless.

    9) That’s not my name...

    You’re a what now? A person who collects ties is called a Grabatologist. Rumours that knowing this can also bag you a victory in countdown are unconfirmed…

    10) Schools out for summer

    British schoolboys are especially noted for wearing ties to school. Both state and private schools required them Ties are believed to have been adopted as a part of the mainstream uniform around 1910. Oxford University rowing club are believed to have created the first sporting tie.

    11) Daddy Cool

    Around the world, the tie is still the most popular Father's Day gift closely followed by socks.

    12) We are living in a material world…

    The worlds most expensive tie was worth approximately £162,030.46 (or $250,000.00 USD) The designer, Satya Paul, created it for a 2004 Mumbai fashion show. The extravagant tie is made of pure silk and studded with 261 diamonds. Definitely not a tie to spill coffee on.!

    I hope you enjoyed our latest post and If we have missed out your favourite tie fact let us know!

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