June 14, 2024

What Elizabeth II’s iconic outfits reveal about her personality and her rule | Globalism

6 min read
What Elizabeth II's iconic outfits reveal about her personality and her rule |  Globalism

She is one of the most photographed women in history, and over the past 70 years, she has defined what it means to dress like a queen.

It’s not about new trends or daring, it’s about distinctive style.

She was best known for her brightly colored dresses and coats paired with her hat – accompanied by an unmistakable square bag, a pearl necklace and a jewel brooch. It sounds simple, but Queen Elizabeth II’s style has become a powerful formula.

70 years of rule: the UK prepares to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee

70 years of rule: the UK prepares to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee

It’s a style that has been refined and refined over seven decades, with the help of designers and fashion designers with whom I’ve developed close and trusting relationships.

“Real fashion is fun, powerful, and full of meaning,” says Elizabeth Holmes, royal fashion writer and commentator.

“Your image is a huge part of your legacy.”

According to historian Michael Beck, the Queen has always had a very clear idea of ​​what she wants to look like.

A montage showing Queen Elizabeth II at different stages of her life – Image: BBC

“People say she knows nothing about clothes, but it’s not true. She’s very smart about what works,” he says.

When she was 20 years old, then Princess Elizabeth began to use the services of designer Norman Hartnell, a relationship she inherited from the Queen Mother.

Influenced by French haute couture, wide skirt dresses with a defined waist were paired with white fur shawls and diamond tiaras.

When she took on her new role as queen, Hartnell helped her impress at formal banquets and royal tours with a series of tulle and satin dresses, exquisitely embellished with pearls, crystals, and beads.

Hartnell also created two of the most important dresses she’ll ever wear – her wedding dress and the dress she wore for her coronation. Choice describes this process as collaboration.

Hartnell reveals, “For the coronation gown, Hartnell produced about eight designs, selecting elements from each and crafting her own.”

For the Queen, working with the same people was not just a matter of trust, but a necessity.

The latest photos of Elizabeth II – Photo: BBC

Hartnell had the largest haute couture house in London along with the largest embroidery workshop, and for someone as busy as the Queen, who needed hundreds of new costumes every year, this meant he had the ability to design and produce what she needed.

However, the amount of work made her also ask designer Hardy Eames to work for her, starting with a wardrobe for a tour of Canada in 1951.

The Amies led the Queen to adopt a look a little more sedate, with tailored daywear and more elegant evening wear. Until Ian Thomas influenced her during the ’70s and ’80s with a collection of prints and bows made of brightly colored chiffon.

For the past 24 years, her looks have been designed and produced in-house by a small team of about 10 people, led by personal stylist Angela Kelly.

Every piece the Queen wears is bespoke, and before the Covid-19 pandemic, she attended more than 300 engagements a year.

“It’s a tremendous amount of work,” Beck says.

“You don’t want the King to wear something someone else would wear. The audience expects something different.”

“Hartnell and Ames made her even more special, while Angela Kelly was very smart and was able to take her individual style and make it shine.”

When the Queen goes out in public, every aspect of her appearance is meticulously planned.

Fabrics are checked for fit and how easily they can behave. Chosen for the season and occasion, the bright colors provide an instant impact to make them stand out from the crowd. The hat, in turn, adds a few inches to her petite body and enhances her face.

She’s wearing block heels – handcrafted and worn to make sure she’s comfortable – and there’s always a sheer, finished canopy in the same color as the outfit she’s waiting for, so she can’t even predict British weather got in the way.

This uniform style of dress increases your comfort on long days, but it also helps define your turn, says Elizabeth Holmes.

“Your job is to be a calm and consistent presence. Your clothes are a mixture of knowing what to expect, but also the ability to surprise and delight.”

“Even in the casual moments, there’s a sense of dress code, with her hijab and veil. She maintains continuity and also shows that she’s never off duty.”

Arguably the most famous part of the Queen’s appearance is what has remained largely unchanged throughout her reign: her famous hairstyle is almost identical to the style she wore when she acceded to the throne in 1953.

Except for the change in color as she ages and embraces her natural gray, she’s kept her signature wavy curls in the front and her narrow, structured shape in the back, perfectly accommodating a crown or hat.

The traditional style, set by curlers with the help of a hair dryer, was the hairstyle of choice for many women who followed Britain’s fashion in the post-war years. But despite changing trends, the Queen has remained faithful to the style ever since.

“Her hair is quite traditional for a woman of her age, but it’s a strong look, smoothed by curls to give it splendor,” says royal and celebrity hairstylist Richard Ward.

“I think her hair epitomizes what we all really appreciate about her. It’s sensible, practical, and elegant.”

Among the most popular Queen style brands is the popular Launer long handle bag.

Unlike other classic designer bags like the Hermes Birkin or Chanel 2.55, which are popular with women in their 20s and 70s, the Launer isn’t elegant or desired by younger women, says Charlotte Rogers, an expert in luxury accessories.

But there is still a large market for them in other countries, especially in the Middle East. The Queen’s Royal Seal of Approval changes everything for a brand.

“The fact that the Queen still wears launcher bags has tremendous weight,” Rogers says.

“The royals are the ultimate influencers.”

The bags sell for around £1,500 to £2,000, and the Queen is said to have a collection of over 200 in different colors and patterns.

The Queen’s Jubilee Year appears to be more influential than ever, and it’s no easy task for a 96-year-old, according to Rogers.

“It’s age appropriate, has a style very similar to what my grandmother would wear on special occasions, and I think it’s impressive for older ladies,” she says.

“Pins and brooches used to be considered old fashioned and now I can’t buy enough of them. They sell out very fast.”

The Queen’s clothes are not just choices of style, they are statements of the brand, steeped in meaning and impact.

Whether she’s wearing a bejeweled dress or a tweed skirt, every outfit says something about her and her role as an ambassador and actress.

“Your wardrobe is your means of communication,” says Matthew Storey, Curator of the Historical Museum of the Royal Palaces.

They should look prepared, trustworthy and traditional. And while they make the line accessible and reassuring, Holmes adds, their clothing also “must be royalty-friendly.”

“It’s part of the marvel of the crown. In the Queen’s case, her clothes are made-to-order. You can’t buy them, but that means they can be seen and admired.”

There is also a diplomatic role, subtle nods to a specific country or event in the logos or colors you wear.

“The pale pink dress she wore at the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony was chosen because it wasn’t on any of the national flags. It stood out, but it didn’t show any alliance either,” notes Storey.

Just like other popular brands, it also means many different things to people.

“As a work of art, you interpret it your own way,” says Jitinder Sedev, an author and expert on popular brands.

“Do we really know who she is? I’m not sure. But what we do know is what she means to us and the things she represents – her strength, her boldness, her authenticity – remain relevant even among young people.”

According to him, younger members of the royal family, such as Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, are clearly inspired by her, but are far outdone by the Queen.

Holmes adds that there is great affection for her appearance. She has her own style that people will always remember her.

“No one wears it anymore,” he says. “That’s her job and it’s deep.”

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