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Churchill Style

The Art of Being Winston Churchill: The Siren Suit

Churchill wears his siren suit in meeting with General Montgomery

By BARRY SINGER

Winston Churchill adored uniforms. His personal fashion sense, however, was very much zipper-driven. Churchill’s favorite suit, by far, was not a uniform at all but a garment he designed for himself—his “siren suit,” a zip-up, all-in-one that his children referred to as his “rompers.”

Though ideally suited to hurried dressing at the sound of an air-raid siren (hence the name—coined during the Second World War), Churchill’s siren-suit had in fact been conceived and designed before the war in imitation of the boiler suits worn by Churchill’s fellow bricklayers at Chartwell.

Generously cut, with breast pockets and roomier side pockets, pleats to the trouser fronts, and fold-over cuffs, Churchill’s siren-suit was a fashion apotheosis of simple practicality and comfort.

He had a number created for him by the bespoke tailors Turnbull & Asser in different fabrics for different activities, including examples in red, green, and blue velvet suitable for dressier occasions, a business-like blue serge, and, of course, one constructed of smock material for painting. Churchill’s crested slippers or a pair of his zip-up dress shoes, custom crafted for him by Peal & Co. completed the ensemble.

Barry Singer is the author of Churchill Style (Abrams Image, 2012) and the proprietor of Chartwell Booksellers in New York City.

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