Bright colors, elaborate tights and hats: deciphering the choices of royal fashion


TORONTO – The newly released fourth season of “The Crown” has fans interested in its drama and history, and others in fashion. The new season features some of the most iconic royal looks, including Diana’s 1981 wedding dress, but style journalist Elizabeth Holmes says the late Princess of Wales’ style was just the tipping point of the royal fashion.

“Diana made royal fashion exciting. She brought a trend and a daring that we had never seen before, and this was a time when the media landscape was really exploding, and her fashion kept her in these glossy pages ” Holmes told CTVNews .ca on Monday.

She explained in a phone interview from California that other royal women have since followed Diana’s lead, drawing more attention to what they wear.

When the royals go out in public, she knows all eyes are on what she’s wearing, and Holmes says the outfits she chooses reflect conscious choices to support a country they visit, one of their charitable initiatives or a specific clothing brand. .

In Diana’s case, the late princess made royal watchers care about fashion and turned clothing into a talking point when discussing the royal family, according to Holmes who offers sartorial commentary on the royal family. through his Instagram Stories series “So Many Thoughts” and his new book “HRH: So many thoughts on royal style. ”

« [The fashion] is kind of a flashy, shiny, and fun thing to watch, but also a chance to have a deeper conversation about what they’re doing or events they’re attending, ”Holmes said.

While Diana may spark an interest in royal fashion, Holmes said the original royal style icon was actually the Queen.

Holmes explained that since her accession to the throne in 1952 at the age of 25, the Queen has approached her clothing “like a uniform”, prioritizing function for the day-to-day while also appearing presentable.

Holmes said every detail of the Queen’s outfits is used to show her to the public.

“These bright colors that she wears are devices that allow her to be spotted in a crowd. She’s often pictured on a balcony or at a garden party, and people want to see her and those vibrant colors make that happen, ”said Holmes.

She added that the Queen’s hats are large enough to make a statement, but never so large that they would obscure her face. In addition, the armholes of her dresses and coats are cut so that she can wave and shake hands.

“It’s all very thoughtful and I think that’s an important thing to remember about royal fashion is that it’s a work wardrobe,” Holmes said. “Appearing in public is a big part of their job, so their clothes have to work with them. ”


Holmes acknowledged that the public will never know exactly what the Royal Family is trying to say with their clothes because the Royal Family does not give interviews or speeches that disclose personal information.

However, Holmes is working to connect the dots, which she says has become easier following the additions of Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, to the Royal Family.

With so much public enthusiasm for what Kate and Meghan are wearing, Holmes says it gives the two women the opportunity to showcase certain brands. She added that the royal exposure for any brand has a major impact on their business.

For example, Meghan sported a military-style coat made by Canadian fashion label Mackage in 2018 during a public meeting in Nottingham. Five hours after being seen in the jacket, the garment was exhausted.

When Kate officially became a member of the royal family in 2011 by marrying Prince William, Holmes said she brought royal fashion to a new generation.


Holmes said Kate made royal fashion relatable.

“She wore ready-made styles for anyone to go out and buy,” Holmes said. “Suddenly there was a woman who could be told in the royal ranks. If you could see yourself in Kate’s clothes, you could see yourself in the royal family. ”

When Meghan arrived at the scene, Holmes said the former actress was “several steps ahead” of Kate and Diana in her fashion choices.

Holmes explained that as an actress Meghan has worked with costume designers whose job it is to tell a story through clothing. She says it helped Meghan understand the language of fashion before meeting Prince Harry.

However, Holmes says Meghan has been able to bring a ‘more modern aesthetic’ to fashion after joining the royal family.

“When we talk about the royal family, we are working within certain security barriers; it tends to be a rather formal and old school elite… What Megan did was not outrageous, but seeing more pants and daywear for example – it’s not something we’ve seen before, ”said Holmes.

Holmes said Meghan also entered the royal fashion scene already knowing how the paparazzi covered the King’s clothes, particularly online.

“She figured out that people glue pictures together, they put them together in a slideshow, they like to compile the looks so we can all flip through them and squirt on them and she dressed very methodically that way,” Holmes said. .

With that understanding, Holmes said Meghan has displayed a ‘visual progression’ from outfit to outfit and has remained committed to this way of dressing even in her new life outside of the royal family.

“She preferred certain styles, such as a boat neck or cape details, and that just helps create a visual brand so the viewer knows a bit about what to expect and then gets excited when they see it,” Holmes said.


While 2020 has been running out of memorable royal-style moments due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Holmes says there is a lot of inspiration that can be drawn from the thought that these royal women are putting on the the way they dress.

Holmes said “The Crown” is a good starting point for royal inspiration. She explained that the show takes previously seen royal looks and gives them a modern twist that current observers could see themselves wearing.

While some elements of the royal family’s wardrobe may seem dated, Holmes said there are aspects that can inspire everyday women to choose clothes that not only look good, but are personal to the wearer.

“I think for the more important moments… if you add something – a color that means something to you or you’re wearing a designer you admire or has an enduring philosophy – putting that extra amount of thought into your clothes really is. empowerment, ”said Holmes.


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