Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the chicest of them all? When it comes to royals over 40 is not that obvious.
In fact, even though they are all supposed to be elegant and often subject to strict rules in terms of dressing code (both chic and modest), modern midlife princesses, queens, and duchesses are trying to break the mould in their own way, adding their unique touch.
In an exclusive world where everything should stay as it is, including style, Princess Caroline, Queen Letizia Of Spain, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden– just to name a few- are making the difference: they’ve learned what kind of outfits withstand intense scrutiny and are then perfecting the art of dressing well on their own terms.
Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, 57 years old, for instance, is a style icon in her own right. Never predictable, she often embraces new trends in a way that suits her figure. With impeccable ageless taste, she has a penchant for soft hues, floral prints and excellent matching millinery (with Emilia Wickstead and Suzannah being her go-to designers) but sometimes she also dares to wear power suits, slick outerwear and figure-flattering leather (with the help of stylists like Victoria Beckham and Chloé).
But what do these stylish royals over 40 have in common? Apart from wearing a hat (a signature accessory that always matches their outfits), for their public appearances they usually love soft, clear colours, high heeled courts, fit and flare midi dresses with a slightly raised waist, a tailored coat (according to royal etiquette, most of them cannot take their coats off while they’re in public) and a small bag for their essentials.
Basically, more than revolutionising the protocol, they rather prefer shaking it up by following a sustainable approach. Once they’ve found the fashion brands they love, they stick to the ones that amalgamate tradition and practicality, recycling those coats and dresses amongst others for more than one occasion.
In other words: wearing your outfits twice is the new chic.
What’s more, by mixing high-end labels (Alexander McQueen and Chanel) and high street brands (Zara, H&M), their style becomes more accessible and inspiring for many women who want to recreate their look.
For instance, Queen Letizia of Spain, 49 years old, is a loyal supporter of Spanish fashion and has even been known to patronize Spanish retailers like Mango and Zara. Since she is the first Spanish queen that was born as a commoner, she has a down-to-earth approach when it comes to her wardrobe. She might wear Givenchy one day but will put on a J.Crew dress the next.
On the same page, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, 50, who has wowed us wearing designers like Elie Saab, Matthew Williamson, and Escada, as well retailers like H&M or ASOS.
A touch of wardrobe wisdom
If you too admire royal outfits, Alicia Healey, who trained as a Royal Lady’s Maid at Buckingham Palace, has shared her tips on how to dress like a royal in her book “Wardrobe Wisdom: How To Dress and Take Care of Your Clothes” helping fans to create the perfect wardrobe space, effectively organise their clothing, and dress for any occasion.
According to her, if you don’t have the bank balance of a royal but want to emulate her wardrobe, it’s really important to invest in some quality wardrobe basics –like a blazer, cashmere crew neck, and tailored trousers.
Buy the best that you can afford of these classic pieces – she explains- and you’ll always have a good foundation on which to build the rest of your wardrobe. Handbags and shoes are almost always worth investing in – they stand the test of time more than clothing, and can really give a designer edge to your look, even if you’re just wearing a T-shirt and jeans.
Also, when recycling old outfits, you should never underestimate the power of little tweaks.
Changing buttons is a really easy way to update a jacket or coat. Adding a gold button to a black blazer, for instance, can really fast-track you to the smarter side of smart/casual – she says-. Another thing that is easy for amateur seamstresses is jazzing up knitwear with embellishment. If you’re tired of a certain garment and don’t know your way around a sewing machine, take it to a tailor and see what they can do to re-style or re-model it.
Last but not least, when reaching for the perfect skirts and dresses, hemlines are very important. According to royal protocols, skirts and dresses can’t be too short. For the most part, this means skirts or dresses should finish below the knee, which would also add elegance to your outfit, lengthening the legs and slimming out your figure.
Most of all, whatever you do, just don’t choose anything too bold or bright: that’s the Queen’s speciality after all, at least in the UK.