The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
When The Royal Family released an official statement saying doctors were concerned for Queen Elizabeth II’s health, I knew it must be truly bad. I was refreshing their pages all day, waiting for another announcement on the queen’s health.
When the news broke that the queen passed away, I was aware that this was a historical occasion due to the queen’s long reign, popularity and the fact there will likely not be another queen of England in my lifetime, only kings.
When I think of Queen Elizabeth II, I think of the grandmother-like figure she has recently been. This had me wondering more about her past and how she displayed herself to the public.
She stepped in as head monarch during the post-war period as all of Europe was struggling and ended post-Brexit. She dealt with a struggling United Kingdom and took care of everything in between.
Queen Elizabeth II always had to be careful about her style and convey just the right message. Her attire had never failed to convey stability and diplomacy.
Throughout her 70 year reign, Her Majesty and her style both went through many changes.
When she became queen at 25 years old, she was surrounded by men like a fish in a school of sharks. Her early outfits reflect this dynamic as she was pictured wearing darker dresses to fit in with the sea of navy blue suits of her colleagues.
In the immediate post-war years, the queen had simple, disciplined outfits reflecting the mood. Then, transitioned into a more elegant 1950s featuring lace, white gloves and the nipped waist. In the following years, her color experimentation began.
In recent years, the queen’s outfits were all in the same formula: a body skirt suit with a matching hat, pearls and a handbag. Her signature bright colors also come to mind; apt as the point is for the crowd to always recognize her. In fact, colors such as gray were forbidden for her to wear as they were too dull and black is restricted solely for mourning, as currently seen in the royal family.
According to the queen’s personal assistant, Angela Kelly, the queen herself would pick out the fabrics for her clothes, working alongside Kelly. And, more surprising than the fabrics, the queen did her own makeup for events; the only exceptions were her highly popular Christmas speeches.
As the queen was closely involved in her fashion choices, her messages can be seen through them. To work with the country and show her dedication to Britain, she used rations like the rest of the public to make her wedding dress in 1947.
It was in times like these where matters of the state were inserted into her fashion. Along with the rations used, the silk for her wedding had to be from China, not Italy. At the time, it was too soon after World War II ended and tensions were still high with the traitorous Italy.
Brooches were also common, such as a ruby brooch gifted to her by her husband, the late Prince Phillip, frequently returned to on their wedding anniversaries. Her true lover’s knot brooch has been worn on many occasions, most importantly the royal weddings of the Prince and Princess of Wales, and of her sister, Princess Margaret.
Local cultures have been incorporated too, as Bethan Holt shared in her book, “The Queen: 70 Years of Majestic Style.” When the monarch visited Canada in 2010, her lace gown had Swarovski crystal maple leaves across her shoulders. When visiting Ireland in 2011, she wore green and had a dress adorned with over 2,000 small shamrocks.
Her coronation dress not only highlighted Britain, but all of the commonwealths. Her gown featured symbols of the English Rose, Irish shamrocks, Scottish thistles and Australian wattles along with wheat ears and olive branches to symbolize prosperity and peace.
As expected with her extensive reign, the queen’s style has inspired many throughout the world, especially other females in high positions. Sending messages through small symbols has flourished and expanded. For example, First Lady Jill Biden recently wearing a sunflower on her blue dress to show support for Ukraine as well as her infamous bright suit skirts being seen worn by figures such as Hilary Clinton.
Queen Elizabeth II accomplished all this while being the Head Monarch of a nation, a position where fashion would be thought to be outside the realm. But instead, she had caused iconic looks to be placed in museums for people from all over to marvel at, relics to be preserved.
Her signature style was a constant for Britain in times of turmoil. Their queen also had her looks and presence for them to look towards for comfort and hope.
Her passing may signal a shift in the monarchy in Britain, but Queen Elizabeth II and her fashion are timeless.