They say fashions come and go, but style lasts forever. That’s certainly the case for the Queen, who has stuck to a tried-and-tested wardrobe formula for more than seven decades.
The Queen, who celebrates her 96th birthday tomorrow, has become a master of what stylists call ‘colour block dressing’ – wearing a single shade from head to toe.
The eye-catching colours help the diminutive 5ft 4in monarch stand out when she is meeting her subjects. Even those stuck at the back of a crowd can’t fail to miss their Queen when she is standing in a tangerine orange coat with a hat to match.
As she once said: ‘If I wore beige, nobody would know who I am.’
At international events, she chooses colours that imply no allegiance to a single flag because she believes it is her duty to remain respectful to all. When on a royal tour, she might give a nod to her hosts by stepping out in their national colour.
In the pink! The Queen steps out in a soft rose dress and matching floral hat on the royal tour of India in January 1961
Simply dotty! The Queen in a polka dot yellow dress and matching turban in Mexico, 1975. Right, going to church in 1989
True blue! It was a blue tweed suit and coordinating hat for an outing to the San Souci Palace Berlin, Germany, in 1992
Purple reign: The Queen opted for a subdued mauve shade for George W. Bush’s visit in 2003. Right, in London in 2018
A tribute to Prince Philip: The Queen wore her husband’s livery colour for his service of thanksgiving in London last month
In her youth, Her Majesty was more experimental in the styles, shapes and fabrics she selected, from turbans and opulent furs to short-sleeved dresses cinched tightly at the waist.
Today she relies on simple, shin-length coats, often worn over a dress.
Over the years her tastes may have changed with the times but she has always been immaculate. You will never spot her with a hair out of place, a wrinkle in the fabric of her outfit; no dropped hemlines, visible hat pins or scuffs on her heels.
The woman behind this meticulously considered kaleidoscope of colour is the Queen’s dresser Angela Kelly, who has been by Her Majesty’s side for 30 years. As she told the Daily Mail: ‘The Queen loves clothes and is a real expert on fabrics. It’s not been me teaching the Queen — it’s the other way round.’
Monochrome Majesty! The Queen’s best colour block looks
A bit of all white! The Queen in a slim-fitting white dress at a garden party in Sydney, Australia, on the 1954 royal tour
Blue beauty: This stunning portrait by royal photographer Cecil Beaton was taken on the day of Princess Margaret’s wedding in 1960, less than three months after the Queen had given birth to Prince Andrew. The full skirt emphasises the monarch’s small frame, while the lace on the bolero jacket is feminine and delicate
Golden girl: The Queen at a costume parade in Karachi in 1961 (left) and in pink with Nixon and Prince Charles in 1969 (right)
Dressing for summer: A rare glimpse of bare arms and another above-the-knee dress in this all-white outfit by royal couturier Norman Hartnell. Worn on tour in Mauritius in 1972, the crossover waist showed off her slim figure, while the yellow flowers on her hat were a nod to her sunny surroundings
Off to the races! In a green silk frock with matching hat at Ascot in 1973. Right, in purple polka dots in New Zealand in 1977
Pink perfection: Queen Elizabeth wore a bright pink coat to meet German president Walter Scheel in May 1978
Bright and beautiful: The Queen in red on a tour of Switzerland in 1980. Right, in lilac at the Braemar Games in 1983
Magenta majesty: The Queen in a vibrant purple coat and matching hat as she visits RAF Marham in Norfolk in 2000
50 shades of pink! The Queen in fuchsia in Southampton in 2004 and a soft powder pink at Westminster Abbey in 2008
Ray of sunshine! The Queen wore an elegant yellow coat and hat for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s 2011 wedding
Eye-catching ensembles: The Queen at Buckingham Palace in 2017, left, and in aqua at Windsor Castle in 2020
Utterly blue-tiful: The Queen arriving at Westminster Abbey for a Service of Thanksgiving in October 2021