Georgia ‘Toff’ Toffolo’s surprising victory in ‘I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here’ shows that it’s okay to be posh in 2018, writes Emelia Hamilton-Russell
There was a time when posh-bashing was a national sport. Mustard corduroy was only found in nursing homes and young poshos historically took pains to drop their ‘h’s and downplay their noble ancestry. No more. Now that everyone wants to emulate Clare Foy’s demure ‘queen cardi’ and you can pick up a herringbone-tweed coat in Zara for less than £100, the toffs have found themselves in fashion, and are coming out of their (moth-ridden) closets. Posh is back.
Yes, we had the Downton years; yes, Cara Delevingne has been around for ages, and yes, we’ve had more Etonians in the Cabinet and in Hollywood than since the 1930s. But the victory in December of Made in Chelsea’s Georgia ‘Toff’ Toffolo (a member of the Conservative party ever since her tween days at the Devon girls school Blundell’s) in the Australian jungle firmly cemented the national goodwill towards toffs — and wannabe toffs — everywhere. The fact that Toff won over the British public (to say nothing of hosts Ant and Dec) with her ‘muck in’ and ‘crack on’ attitude, to be crowned the ‘I’m a Celebrity’ jungle queen shows you just how far poshos have come.
Fashion has also fallen for the poshos of late – Dolce and Gabbana swapped their army of identikit models for a line-up of bright young aristos that reads like the ultimate debutante ball dance-card. Millennial toff postergirls Lady Amelia Windsor, Idina Moncreiffe, Lady Kitty Spencer, Sabrina Percy, Lady Tatiana Mountbatten and Lady Alice Manners all walked in the Italian fashion house’s spring campaign, massively boosting their already substantial social media followings.
Last year also witnessed another unexpected social media star from the posho corner: Jacob Rees-Mogg, with 89,000 Twitter followers and counting. His sincere, unapologetic 18th century demeanour has endeared him to a throng of young-fogies (including Toffolo, who described him as a ‘sex god’), and even got him talked up as a leadership contender. Whatever happens, Moggmania is not likely to vanish in 2018.
And we have a Royal wedding upon us, which will both celebrate poshness and bear witness to its redefinition. Just as the aristocrats gobbled up the American heiresses in the 19th and 20th centuries – so now the Windsors are poaching from Hollywood. The Windsor-Markle union will see the fusion of the Royal royalty with Hollywood royalty, one which will sprinkle some stardust on the Windsor’s tweedie image. Not that they need it. Much of the transformation has already happened — the Royal millennials have smashed the ancient stiff-upper lip stereotypes with a series of high-profile interviews promoting their mental health campaign Heads Together, and Harry’s podcast interview with Obama was a global hit. Everyone, including the 44th president, is seemingly a fan of his toned-down Windsor charm.
So there it is: poshness is having a revival. If you thought it had reached its apogee under Cameron, forget it. Not since the Mitfords has it been quite so vogue. But this time, inclusion in Burke’s is obsolete. All that’s needed is a pair of stout Wellingtons, vowels faintly leaning in the right direction, and a gung-ho attitude. In 2018 it’s okay to embrace your inner poshness, whoever you are.