The seven style secrets giving the Queen a new sparkle

·5-min read
The queen - Chris Jackson/Getty Images
The queen - Chris Jackson/Getty Images

There is no formal guide to looking good in one’s 90s but, if there were, the Queen would be well positioned to write it. Her fashion formula – a singular approach to dressing consisting of a few key elements – has allowed her to stay stylish, distinctive and always appropriate through almost 70 years of tours, engagements and services. Her appearance this weekend at A Gallop Through History, staged in honour of her Platinum Jubilee, was another lesson in effortless style.

We know that Her Majesty works closely with Angela Kelly, her personal assistant, dresser and curator of her wardrobe. Although the Queen is very much involved in her ensembles, which always serve as a communication tool, Kelly’s support is vital in bringing each look, from hats to jewellery to insignia, together.

Every outing for this summer’s jubilee celebrations will have been planned long in advance, taking into account the significance of each occasion, as well as the weather and Her Majesty’s comfort.

We won’t see any radical style updates though. As a head of state, she is required to be recognisable and her image to be timeless. That she has had the same set-and-curl hairstyle for the past 30 years is no accident. It’s an image that must command authority, too.

“She is a sovereign who has often found herself the only woman in rooms full of men and whose reign has seen trends for flares, boob tubes and miniskirts come and go several times over,” says Bethan Holt, author of The Queen: 70 Years of Majestic Style. “Her opinions are rarely heard, but her image can be recognised from a mile off, synonymous with everything from colour-blocking to silk headscarves and frame handbags.”

The thing we all want to see on Her Majesty, though? A smile as broad and genuine as the one we saw during the performance in the grounds at Windsor Castle – reassuring the nation after a string of cancelled engagements, and reminding us of the power of a smile.

Her look was also a lesson in how to look effortlessly stylish, at any age. Here’s how she does it…

The vibrant pink lipstick

With 70 years on the throne, Her Majesty has a tightly honed makeup formula for public appearances, the most distinctive element being her lipstick. “Her signature shade is Boots’ £9.95 No7 Stay Perfect lipstick in Gay Geranium, a bestselling punchy coral in a semi-matte finish,” says Telegraph beauty director Sonia Haria. She’s also believed to wear lipsticks by Clarins and Elizabeth Arden. It forms part of a tonal look – a flattering approach for mature women in which a similar shade is used on the lips and cheeks. “Her placement of blush is clever, too,” adds Haria. “The Queen applies colour high on the cheekbones, which instantly lifts the whole face.”

A touch of sparkle

The Queen wore a shawl over her shoulders in lieu of her usual coats on Sunday, a stylish-yet-easy-to-wear update proving it’s never too late to refresh your style. Like most of her clothes, it was likely made especially for her; dove grey on one side and pale blue on the reverse. It’s a look that could come across as dowdy in the wrong hands, but the sparkles along the front give it a dose of joyful flair that made it perfect for a Platinum Jubilee celebration. The theme continued in the just-glimpsed silver embroidery on her dress.

A soft pastel palette

The Queen has never shied away from bright colour – neon green was trending worldwide when she wore it for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding back in 2018 – but she’s chosen an uncharacteristically muted palette of blues for her outings over the past few days. Whatever the reason – and the Queen’s wardrobe choices always convey meaning – it is far more flattering on fair skin tones than other neutrals like black, camel or white. Take Friday’s navy coat, which was teamed with a silk headscarf and sunglasses, a reliably elegant look since the Fifties. On Sunday she layered her blue embroidered dress with a matching cardigan and that aforementioned dove grey pashmina – a practical layered look ideal for unpredictable spring weather.

Pretty pearls

The Queen will have no doubt learned from her mother that pearls are flattering; that’s why her double strand necklace and stud earrings have been part of her style “uniform” for over 70 years. Pearls’ unique lustre is generated by the reflection of light through the layers of nacre which build up around any grit that enters an oyster’s shell. The result is an iridescence that has long been used to enhance complexion. Pearls are timeless, too, and transcend occasions.

Youthful skin

In a recent interview with The Telegraph, photographer David Bailey remarked that the Queen had “beautiful skin” when she sat for him in 2014. He’s right – it’s one of the reasons she continues to look so youthful. Genetics help, but so too does her lifestyle. “UV rays from the sun are the primary reason for ageing skin,” says Haria. “Although she is often outdoors, Her Majesty is diligently sun-safe, wearing a hat and probably a layer of SPF too. Her skin will also benefit from the fresh, country air, giving it an outdoorsy glow.

Comfy shoes

The Queen has been wearing the same Anello & Davide shoes for more than half a century. Each pair is handmade for her, then they are worn in by a “flunky” before they go near her feet. “And yes, I am that ‘flunky’,” royal dresser Angela Kelly revealed in her 2019 book. “The Queen has very little time to herself and no time to wear in her own shoes, and as we share the same shoe size it makes the most sense this way.”

The cleverly-treated hair

The Queen has worn her hair in that familiar set-and-curl style for decades, and it has become one of the most familiar elements of her look. The shade is important too, though: the silvery-white hue is light-reflective, a quality that is likely enhanced by toning, glossing hair treatments.

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