queen elizabeth II: an icon of style


Queen Elizabeth II pictured here in 1959. This photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

On Sept. 8, 2022 Queen Elizabeth II peacefully passed away at the age of 96. After acceding to the throne on Feb. 6, 1952, her 70 years as queen placed her as Britain’s longest reigning monarch. Her legacy is one that will never be forgotten. It was under her rule that she became the first British monarch to address the U.S. Congress to pay mutual respect between the two nations after the gulf war. She raised nearly $1.4 billion in charity to help support communities in need. She addressed racism to a certain extent within the Commonwealth when she danced with the president of Ghana in 1961 even though she was heavily advised to do otherwise—though it’s important to note that she was still an active participant in British colonialism and worked against colonies that tried to gain independence.

But it was not just her accomplishments that made her such a beloved figure, but the way she carried herself. Queen Elizabeth II always walked with confidence, and her authority was not one to be questioned. All it took was a single glance towards her, and it was clear that she was royalty.

Her strong sense of identity was also solidified with her impeccable sense of style. Her legacy not only lies in her actions, but her exquisite taste in fashion. While her style evolved over time, her wardrobe was something to be noticed since the beginning of her reign. Perhaps what makes the Queen’s fashion particularly interesting were the strategic and thoughtful thinking behind garments that she wore.

Simply think back to her wedding in November 1947, where she had British designer Norman Hartnell design her 13-foot-long intricately detailed wedding dress. What made the gown so different from other royal wedding dresses is that the Queen paid for it with ration vouchers to help acquire the fabric that she wanted. The subtle yet impactful decision to utilize a resource that every other bride in England would have used gave her a sense of relatability that is typically not found within a monarchy.

In 1953, the Queen commissioned Hartnell once again to design a gown, but this time it was for her coronation. It took nine separate design suggestions before the Queen made her choice, and just like with her wedding gown, she inserted her own unique twist within the design process. She was crowned in an exquisite white gown that was embellished with embroidered floral emblems that were representative of the national and Commonwealth. However, instead of incorporating the standard silver embroidery thread, the Queen made the decision to use both gold and silver thread and also wanted the adornments of seed pearls, bugle beads and diamantés. The ravishing coronation gown was truly a one-of-a kind dress that wouldn’t have become what it was without her contribution.

Her smart style sense didn’t only apply to extravagant events, but was applicable to political affairs. In her 2011 travels to Ireland, she wore a green and blue floral knee-length dress with a matching jade green coat and hat. The careful choice of green symbolized respect to the “Emerald Isle” and that her presence served under peaceful intentions.

Considering the endless amounts of events and appearances that Queen Elizabeth II was expected to partake in, some of her outfits didn’t necessarily have a deeper meaning behind them, but showed off her own personality channeled in a timeless aesthetic. Her inclination for bold colors did not go unnoticed, and she was constantly seen donning a bold outfit of some kind. Though most of her silhouettes leaned more conservative—such as the knee-length hemlines, the higher necklines and the low-heeled pumps—that did not mean her outfits were uninteresting.

Every brooch, brimmed hat, pearl necklace, tiara, clutch and coat dress were styled to perfection. The Queen wasn’t one to shy away from trying something daring (or rather, daring for a royal) such as when she was dressed in a head-to-toe green and white floral dress at the 1977 Silver Jubilee Year Tour in New Zealand. Or think of her multicolored sequined top styled with a bright yellow striped maxi skirt that she wore in 1999 at the Royal Variety Performance at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

What put Her Highness at fashion icon level is that as she got older, her fashion sense never died out. She wasn’t someone who tried to dress like somebody she wasn’t or hop onto trends to try to appeal to a younger audience. She stayed true to who she was. The bold colors, playful prints and classic accessories didn’t go away with age. Queen Elizabeth II found a way to abide by her distinct sense of style, whilst simultaneously showing up in something fresh and exciting. The Queen was a true embodiment of authenticity, sophistication and elegance. She was proof that no matter your age, there’s no excuse to become invisible but rather embrace your style to what feels right for you.

Her commitment to fashion will be forever intertwined with the legacy she created.

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Hi! I’m Catie Pusateri, A Magazine’s editor-in-chief. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine.