Topic: British Army
Guards Officers' Dress
Even When Off Duty It Must be Strictly According to Rule
The Montreal Gazette; 13 December 1913
Via the London Standard
A check to the growing carelessness and slackness in the matter of men's garments has been administered by instructions that have been issued to the effect that all Guards' officers, when not in uniform, are to wear black coats and silk hats when in the neighbourhood of Buckingham Palace.
Instructions of this nature are not officially issued, but through channels that are just as stern, and they have caused considerable discussion in military circles. It is not generally credited that the new order is in deference to the wishes of the King, although the fact that it applies to the "neighbourhood of Buckingham Palace" would point to that conclusion. It is accepted that the order has come from the new General Officer Commanding the London District—Major-General Sir Francis Lloyd, who succeeded Lieut.-General Sir Alfred Codrington on September 1 last.
Major-General Sir Francis Lloyd has a reputation as a very precise and exact soldier if not a martinet and on his appointment to his present command the officers of the Brigade of Guards expected some new and surprising orders. He has been a Grenadier Guardsman since 1874, and has seen considerable service in Egypt and South Africa. He vacated the command of the Welsh Territorials when appointed to his present position.
The discussion in service circles is; Should a Guardsman be compelled to be a dandy in his own time? Those in favour say a commission in the Guards carries with it social obligations of an exacting nature; that the traditions of the Brigade are that its officers should be the leaders of fashion in times of peace; that men join the Brigade well knowing these traditions, and should be prepared to keep them up. It is also advanced that the people of England look to the officers of the Guards to keep up their reputation for smartness both on and off parade, and that to see an officer in London dressed like a chauffeur or groom is a violation of the best traditions of the Brigade of Guards.
On the other hand, it is advanced that no laws are unchangeable; that the motor car and the growing popularity of golf have changed all the laws of fashion; and that to insist upon the silk hat in modern London is barely less extreme than to demand the revival of knee breeches, satin coats, lace ruffs, and three-cornered hats. It is also claimed that a gentleman looks a gentleman in any garb; that your true Guardsman is a Guardsman in his shirt sleeves; and that there is quite as much distinction and fashion to be got out of a tweed suit, cap, and mackintosh as there is in the silk hat or the frock coat, which is now little more than the mark of the shop assistant.