The look / style queen
Although she began her reign in a sculpted 1950s dress, in the years since, the late Queen Elizabeth II has refined a public look that in some ways has become its own genre (writes Sophie Grove). Catchy, wise, bold; it is said that she wore bright colors by optics: her subjects needed to spot her in the crowd.
For more than 70 years at the helm of the royal family, his ensembles have become familiar and reassuring: sorbet suit paired with white gloves and feathered hats. Few could wear a full flea-green outfit and matching hat, but she did — countless times. A pearl necklace around her neck and a “Traviata” (handbag made by British leather goods company Launer) on her arm, her sartorial continuity was as unwavering as her public profile.
Although she appeared in a myriad of colors, frock coats and square hats were her uniform. It’s perhaps unsurprising that as the leader of the armed forces, she wore her brooches and ancestral jewelry with military precision. In a world where female leaders were endlessly scrutinized for their wardrobes, Queen Elizabeth II’s costume was beyond analysis. It can be said that it was imitated by Margaret Thatcher as an office uniform.
Evening wear has always been laced with glamour. In 1983, for a state dinner with US President Ronald Reagan (illustrated), she wore a voluminous sleeved dress, a tiara and glasses. Off duty, there were quilted waistcoats, waxed jackets, and a silk scarf tied under the chin. Like many British aristocrats, muddy shooting weekends on country estates required practical outdoor clothing. Carefully planned and written in protocol, some of his maxims have ruffled the feathers of young royals, who would have resisted calls to wear knee-length skirts and nude tights.
Norman Hartnell, one of the monarch’s favorite fashion designers, once spoke of her “unsensational elegance” and her ability to stay on top of trends. Dress-wise, that’s what she’ll be remembered for – and that inimitable mix of restraint, rules, maximalism and wild color.
Sophie Grove is Monocle’s senior correspondent and editor-in-chief of ‘Konfekt’ magazine, our sister title.