In the year of her Diamond Jubilee, it goes without saying that HRH Queen Elizabeth II has had to dress up for quite a few occasions, for quite a while now. Like any great style icon, she’s carved out a style of her own – one that has been unique to her, one that she doesn’t deviate from and sticks to religiously.
As an image consultant in Toronto, I enjoy the rewarding experience of helping men and women find a foolproof approach to getting dressed. Recognize that what might work for someone else might not work for you. They key is to develop your own style. If you’d like to get pointers from someone who has mastered her style, here is a guide published by The Wall Street Journal on how to dress like the queen:
Below the knee. Please. Her Majesty (HM) never deviates from this one; neither can I find any pictorial evidence to suggest that, since being crowned, she ever has. Hemlines may have risen and fallen, but the queen’s skirt and dress length has remained resolutely and strictly the same. Very sensible: flattering and safe in one go. Hoik it up an inch and it could work for you, too. For the best skirt and dress lengths this season, try Jil Sander (pictured).
Get a day coat—same length as your dress or skirt, sometimes matching (see Jil Sander), often coordinated, always demure. The best summer coats are, hands down, Prada (pictured). OK, so Mrs. P (another style icon) showed hers mostly with crop tops. The queen won’t wear that and the chances are, neither should you, but you get my drift.
Wear sugary or strong colors. Go for something that looks deeply unfashionable and stands out. It’s a hard one this season, because everyone seems to have followed the queen’s lead (hence most colors that would have looked outmoded now appear to be the last word in style). Try Bottega Veneta’s deep purple or Chanel’s prawn-cocktail pink (pictured) for maximum standout.
If you must wear a print, make it a standout. A recent British Vogue pictorial survey of the queen’s sartorial year suggested the monarch wears prints roughly 13% of the time. And what prints they are. Think garden parties on acid. So, naturally think Christopher Kane or Marni (pictured).
White only for evening functions. OK, HM sometimes also wears a bit of ivory, but, generally speaking, keep it pale and work the older debutante look. I like what Valentino did this season—note the long sleeves. Very E II R. The queen would never do sheer, of course, but she might consider Louis Vuitton’s tweedy coat and silk/satin ¾-length dress combo for cocktails.
Black shoes, with EVERYTHING. Yes, even sometimes for the evening, the queen wears a sensible, slightly blocky heel and an oval or slightly squared toe. It works when you get your head round it, though some fashion commentators would tell you that black shortens the leg, especially when worn with a knee-length dress or skirt. But then the queen, like so many of us, requires a uniform, and shoes are almost always a punctuation mark, underlining what goes on top. Just buy black Louboutin “Pigalles” (pictured) or some Roger Vivier “Belles Viviers” and be done with it.
Sensible handbag (also black for day). Boxy, short-handled and discreet, the queen’s handbag is almost always the same shape—sometimes with a gold buckle or clasp, and sometimes in patent rather than what looks to be calfskin. Go for something English, like the bags of the newly crowned business woman of the year, Anya Hindmarch (try the “Carker,” pictured, or “Lautner”), or Mulberry’s “East West Bayswater.” At night, HM ventures into silver and gold; try Lulu Guinness’s gold, snakeskin “Fifi” clutch, or Hindmarch’s “Maud” clutch, created especially for the Diamond Jubilee, complete with a paper crown and instructions for queenly waving.
Always wear a color-coordinated hat. Nowhere is it more apparent that the queen commands the sort of style leeway that everyone else can only dream of than with HM’s hats. She has sported everything from fur, to turbans, to weird spaghetti and floral numbers—and, frankly, many of them have been hideous. No matter, because the queen is, in modern-day parlance, “rocking a regal look” and for that we will forgive her anything. You will not be afforded the same luxury. You could try Rachel Trevor-Morgan or Angela Kelly, two of the queen’s favorites, but really you should simply head to Philip Treacy (pictured), because he’s still the only milliner to whom one can totally entrust one’s headdress.
Wear a brooch, on the collarbone. The location is more important than the content; the queen switches from right to left, but she is rarely without one (if she’s being really snazzy, she clips it onto her collar). This is as far as the queen will go in terms of daytime “bling.” It’s a shame more of her subjects don’t follow her lead on this one. Brooches are best from S.J. Phillips (pictured), www.broochesstore.com, junk shops and your elderly relatives.
Red or pink lips, forever. A definitive beauty statement from which the queen rarely wavers. The red looks like a Helena Rubinstein and for the pink, which varies from sugary to fuchsia, I would try NARS or MAC (pictured)—but I bet HM wears Estée Lauder (pictured).
So what can you learn about your own sense of style from the Queen? Well, for starters if you find a style working for you, a style that people are actually commenting on and praising, you know you’re doing something right. If you’ve got a few close friends there is no harm asking for their feedback on your dress sense, or if you really want to take it to another level and make sure you’re dressing the best you can, a few sessions with an image consultant can make all the difference.
Top Toronto image consultant, Diane Craig, has helped everyone from politicians to leading executives. Contact her to see how she can help you discover your own sense of style.