Lee Kuan Yew’s most iconic outfits

From his navy jacket to preppy ensembles, here are Mr Lee’s most memorable looks. 

Lee Kuan Yew’s most iconic looks
Lee Kuan Yew’s most iconic looks
22 Mar 2016

Lee Kuan Yew’s most iconic looks

Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew is known for many things but his sartorial style isn’t one of them. Known for his frugal lifestyle, Mr Lee follows the same philosophy when it comes to fashion – simplicity is key - after all he is “not interested in impressing anybody”. On the first anniversary of Mr Lee’s passing, we look back at some of his most iconic looks. 

Navy jacket
Navy jacket
22 Mar 2016

Navy jacket

There are many things that remind us of Mr Lee, “Merdeka!”, The Pinnacle@Duxton, tree planting, but when it comes to clothing, none is more renowned than his navy zippered jacket. Mr Lee wore the “comfortable” jacket, which he owned for around 20 years, to countless Parliament sittings and interviews, and it was also featured on the cover of several books. In fact, he liked the jacket so much, he has similar versions of it in different colours.

Photo: Vinai Dithajohn/EPA/CLICK PHOTOS 

Mr Lee's
Mr Lee's "studying" outfit
22 Mar 2016

Mr Lee's "studying" outfit

Nothing says “business casual” like lounging on the grass in a suit (while doing your studies, no less), and this photo, which was taken while Mr Lee was studying in Cambridge, is a charming indicator of his serious, yet witty disposition. 

Mr Lee and Mrs Lee abroad
Mr Lee and Mrs Lee abroad
22 Mar 2016

Mr Lee and Mrs Lee abroad

Mr Lee’s posh Englishman look is a large part of what makes this photo so iconic. 

White on white
White on white
22 Mar 2016

White on white

Going head-to-toe white may not be a flattering look on some people but Mr Lee was a picture of understated, minimalist style.

Photos: National Archives of Singapore and Mike Nelson/EPA/CLICK PHOTOS

Swimming trunks
Swimming trunks
22 Mar 2016

Swimming trunks

Aside from his pyjamas, this outfit might be the one Mr Lee wore the most frequently, since he swam every day. In One Man’s View Of The World, he wrote that he would swim for 20 to 25 minutes before dinner. Previously, he’d played golf, but turned to running and swimming when he realised that they were less time-consuming but just as effective. 

Runway-ready?
Runway-ready?
22 Mar 2016

Runway-ready?

Before thin-rimmed glasses and wide-legged pants became fashion staples for models off-duty, they were part of the everyday wardrobe of Mr Lee, pictured here with the equally classy Mrs Lee, dressed in her usual cheongsam. 

Mandarin collar jacket
Mandarin collar jacket
22 Mar 2016

Mandarin collar jacket

Nothing says I am scholarly and proud of my Chinese heritage more than the silk Mandarin collar jacket. 

Photo: Stephen Morrison/EPA/CLICK PHOTOS

Exercise shorts
Exercise shorts
22 Mar 2016

Exercise shorts

In a tribute to Mr Lee at a memorial event in Yishun, Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs K. Shanmugam shared that he was just as prudent in his personal life as he was in his public life, wearing the same exercise shorts for 17 years. He would either patch up the holes, or his wife do it for him. We wonder if he was referring to this pair.

White sports jacket
White sports jacket
22 Mar 2016

White sports jacket

Here’s a classic and chic white sports jacket that would fit right in at Wimbledon and Paris. #Hipsterapproved

Photo: How Hwee Young/EPA/CLICK PHOTOS

Mr Lee and Mrs Lee revisit Cambridge
Mr Lee and Mrs Lee revisit Cambridge
22 Mar 2016

Mr Lee and Mrs Lee revisit Cambridge

Well it looks like Mr Lee had a weatherproof sense of style, as he and Mrs Lee looked as dignified (and cheery!) as ever while braving the drizzle in Cambridge. Only their matching smiles outshone the subtle colour coordination beneath their rain jackets.

Batik shirt
Batik shirt
22 Mar 2016

Batik shirt

Now this is a batik shirt we’d all be happy to wear - subtle, dignified with a dash of retro. If you want to see the shirt in the flesh, it is being displayed at the “We Built A Nation” exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore.

Bonus: Matching grey jackets
Bonus: Matching grey jackets
22 Mar 2016

Bonus: Matching grey jackets

Awww isn’t it heartwarming that father and son have the same jacket? We wonder if Lee Hsien Yang has one too.

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