The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee: 60 Years of Style

The unwavering style of Her Majesty.

It’s not easy doing anything consistently for sixty years, particularly if it’s presiding over a country. When Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne in 1952, she became the head of not only the United Kingdom but of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon as well. She was a mere 25 years old.

The world has changed immensely since then, but one thing has remained constant: the Queen’s unwavering and self-aware sense of personal style. While the Queen’s granddaughter-in-law has been the recipient of most royal fashion praise recently, it’s worth remembering that Her Majesty has been at this a lot longer, with thousands of public appearances all over the globe. So as the Brits bring out the patriotic bunting and Pimms cocktails to celebrate the six decade reign of their monarch today, EcoSalon takes a look at the style signatures of a truly formidable woman.

Her Majesty truly is a tomboy at heart. Her love of racehorses and riding in the countryside (sans helmet) are well known. During the war, 16 year old Elizabeth worked in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service, training as a car mechanic and truck driver. Nowhere is this tough girl style better reflected than the ensemble she favors when she’s romping around the country or at Balmoral Castle: an elegant silk scarf tied over her hair with a pair of rubber rain boots, or ‘wellies’ as they are called in the UK. In addition, British clothing manufacturer J Barbour & Sons, which holds the royal warrants to supply Her Majesty with protective and waterproof outerwear, has recently seen a surge in trendiness. With high profile Brits like Madonna and Kate Moss favoring the company, the Queen has proven that she is not just a monarch but a trendsetter as well

Just when you think the Queen is all about sensible overcoats and comfortable shoes, you notice her undeniable penchant for not just wearing, but utterly rocking, the color fuchsia. The queen’s fondness for wearing a full spectrum of bold colors like lime green, orange sherbet, lemon yellow and electric blue – she’s done them all – is a welcome respite from those who play it safe with neutrals and subtle pastels. She has an apparent aversion to anything beige, and we like that. Really, how many people do you know who can simultaneously wear fuchsia and black fur and still look distinguished?

The Brits are known for their hats, but with the full range of top British hat-makers at her beck and call, Her Majesty has pulled off a range of hats far wider than anyone else can attempt. Rarely straying in the way of frivolity or going over the top, the Queen’s color coordinated hats have included turbans, pill boxes, furs, and florals; it’s estimated that during her reign the Queen has worn more than 5,000 of them. But, always staying true to her practicality, she has worn many of them more than once.

Many people describe the Queen’s fashion as foolproof. Somehow, she’s managed to go 60 years without any major wardrobe malfunctions. However this reputation is no accident; practicality and frugality are at the core of the Queen’s style sensibility. During the war, she is said to have had her mother’s clothes altered to her frame to avoid wasting fabrics that were in short supply. In 1947, in the run-up to her marriage, she used ration coupons in order to get the silk for her wedding dress. Today, it is well-known that Her Majesty has small fishing weights sewn into the hemlines of her dresses and skirts to avoid them blowing up in the wind. In another nod to multi-functionality, the Queen almost invariably carries a black hand bag and wears black shoes, though we suspect she might own quite a few of those.

No matter how sensible or thrifty a monarch you are, you still have to wear the royal jewels from time to time, which is not exactly a subtle look. True to form, the Queen reserves the crown for state events like the yearly opening of parliament, which she has done every year of her reign except the two when she was pregnant with her children. For low-key events like state banquets and balls, Her Majesty goes with the more subtle tiara. Otherwise, it’s brooches pinned to the collarbone for day time and not much else in the way of royal bling.
Image: Telegraph
Rosie Spinks

Rosie Spinks is a freelance journalist from California with a degree in Environmental Studies. Her work has been published in publications including Sierra magazine, GOOD magazine, the Ecologist, and the Guardian Environment Network. A passion for travel, running barefoot outdoors, and reconnecting people to what is good dominates most of her thoughts. You can follow her writing on Twitter and Tumblr.