Classics rule when it comes to royal fashion. From shoes that last a lifetime to the best in bespoke blazers and handbags, clothing for Monarchs has always been a cut above
As the royal carriage procession travels from Westminster Hall to Buckingham Palace this Tuesday, the scarlet and gold livery of coachmen, walking grooms and postillions will catch the eye.
“Pretty well all of the livery will have been made by us at some time,” says Angus Cundey. He is chairman of Henry Poole, the founder of Savile Row, whose tailors and livery specialists still work on the same street. “Some of our livery that day will have been worn for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.”
Such longevity and tradition is typical of royal warrant holders. But the timeless nature of royal style should not mask the innovation behind it. For example, in 1865 Henry Poole worked with the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) to create the dinner jacket or tuxedo. The king also introduced turn-ups and the front crease to trousers.
Traditional tailoring can still leave scope for individuality, says Mark Gordon, director of Benson and Clegg. In addition to military neckwear, buttons and badges, the company is known for its classic suits and blazers. “Traditionally a gentleman’s blazer has few options, but personalisation can come from the buttons,” he says.
Younger members of the royal family are the pin-ups for a relaxed approach to classic dressing, but the Queen still reigns supreme.
“The Queen’s sense of fashion is timeless,” says royal watcher and former BBC correspondent Jennie Bond. “She knows she needs to be seen in the crowds so chooses bright colours on public engagements.”
The simplicity behind the her clothes belies their ingenuity. “Her designers have to make her clothes crease-proof and wind-proof. To ensure there are no Marilyn Monroe moments, tiny weights are sewn into the hems of her dresses,” Bond says.
The Queen’s accessories, such as her white cotton gloves from Cornelia James, are part of her signature style. The handbags are bespoke versions with lightweight linings of the Diva (£920) and Traviata (£1,020) styles from manufacturer Launer London.
“The bag has to be extremely carriable, and not too heavy, as Her Majesty is often walking around for hours at a time,” says managing director Gerald Bodmer.
Bespoke royal handbags have longer handles than other Launer models, too. “The Queen is often greeting people by hand and she worries the bags will get in the way,” says Bodmer.