In her 70 years on the throne, the Queen has witnessed huge social change, previously unthinkable scientific and technological breakthroughs, and – inevitably – the emergence, decline and re-emergence of countless fashion trends. Some of these she has helped spark: it could be argued that Her Majesty pipped Billie Eilish to the post in the pioneering of neon green, popularised the Gucci horse-bit loafer, and set the ultimate standard for British countryside chic. Others, like the refined New Look of the 1950s championed by Christian Dior or the bold prints of the 1970s, she has wholeheartedly embraced. But, for the most part, she has carved out her own, singular visual identity, aided by a host of advisors, stylists and designers.
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Today, monochromatic co-ords and matching hats form the basis of the Queen’s quintessential ensembles, with accessories spanning silk scarves, pearls and Fulton umbrellas, through gloves, brooches and her beloved boxy handbags. Robin Janvrin, her former Private Secretary, tells BBC Culture, “I have always been struck by the Queen’s very practical approach to what she wears. She dresses to stand out so that people can see her – bright colours and a hat, with gloves useful when being handed all sorts of things on walkabouts.”
Yet, the monarch also has a soft spot for sartorial surprises, from her love of colour, to her zeal for zippy prints. “I think the Queen has very much approached her clothing as a uniform, but she keeps it creative and interesting within those guidelines,” Elizabeth Holmes, the author of HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style, tells BBC Culture. Her style is also faultlessly considered, paying subtle homage to countries, cultures, people and occasions both at home and abroad. In celebration of her Platinum Jubilee, we explore the emergence of the monarch’s inimitable aesthetic, and the ways in which she has harnessed fashion as a powerful and playful tool across the decades.