The Royal Family’s Influence on Fashion

19 Dec

Its fair to assume you had an impact on fashion if an entire period is named after you. At the forefront of fashion trends England began its dominance dating back as far as 1558 to present day. From the Elizabethan, Victorian and Edwardian era, named after Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria and King Edward. English Royal’s (over the centuries) have presented grandeur, opulence, elegance and strength even at times of war. In this article we will review the English Royal Family’s influence on fashion from the Elizabethan era to present day.

Family can be a wonderful thing. However as we get older family can sometimes hold us back, keep us from taking risk or opening up to diversity. Because family sometimes can be a reminder of the fearful child that still resides within.

Elizabethan/Queen Elizabeth- Reign (1558-1603)

At the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign the majority of her family were dead or trying to kill her. She became Queen during a time when Spain (one of the richest countries in the world) was threatening England with war and the “New World” was all the rage. Considered the “Golden Age” in history books today. During Elizabeth’s reign she showed the world England’s strength, courage and diversity after defeating Spain.  Her wardrobe had a Spanish influence. She made the world pay attention to England for art and culture which previously been dominated by Spain and Italy.

Victorian/Queen Victoria-Reign (1848-1901)

If Elizabeth set the stage for diversity then Queen Victoria took up the mantle by showing England was not afraid of progress.  The Victorian era went through so many silhouette changes for women it could make your head spin. According to author Douglas A. Russell in Costume History and Style.

Feminine dress from 1848 until 1870 concentrated on the rise and then movement to the back of the figure of the great hooped skirt.”

Queen Victoria’s wardrobe was inspired by the Empress Eugenie founder of The House of Worth she was the leader of European female fashion until 1869.

Female fashions almost exclusive resided in Paris after an Englishman Charles Worth, who had become couturier to the Empress Eugenie of France. He founded the first great house of female fashion in Europe and for the remainder of the century the mark of having arrived in society was the ability to have a dress done exclusively by the House of Worth.

Edwardian/King Edward-Reign (1901-1911)

 After the death of Queen Victoria and the accession of Edward VII, the elegant Edwardian Age for menswear began. Hair was kept relatively short and often parted in the middle. The mustaches were kept small. Felt fedoras, felt slouch hats and Homburgs, deerstalker caps; straw boater or Panama straw hats became more common than bowlers and top hats. Ties consisted of the ascot, bow and four-in-hand. This period introduced the new tuxedo and became a rule that you had to wear a black bow tie. Vest for business suits usually matched the coat and trousers. The last decade of elegance and gentility began with a loosening of lines, lightening of colors, a breakdown of prescribed uniforms for function and England showed the world sporting and business clothes were acceptable for everyday attire.

Present Day: Hats instead of Crowns

Queen Elizabeth II-Reign (1952-Present)

On February 6th 1952 Elizabeth II became Queen of England. Considered as a substitute for a crown. It’s hard to talk about Queen Elizabeth II fashion influence without discussing her hats.  Since her reign it’s estimated she’s worn over 5,000 hats.[1]  What are the practical reasons for her hats? According to an article Queen Elizabeth is also the Queen of Hats by Barbara M. Neill she states,

“… hats enable Queen Elizabeth to be easily identified in a crowd, shield her from the glare of the sun, add height to her diminutive stature, and supply a bit of flair for her rather lackluster color-coordinated wardrobe. Her Majesty’s hats also act as cover-ups, eliminating the need for constant hair-tending for a woman whose existence is an endless round of appointments, appearances and activities.”

I’m sure Queen Elizabeth II was the inspiration behind Jackie Kennedy’s hats of the 1960’s.

Princess Diana

As we fast forward to the 1980’s the English Royal Family introduced the world to Princess Diana. Diana inspired so many fashion trends that are still being used today.  Princess Diana could wear jeans to gowns and show her individual style. Through her wardrobe alone, she showed interest in diversity and progressiveness.

Her most iconic fashion moment was her navy velvet Victor Edelstein Edwardian evening gown she wore to the White House state dinner in 1987 as she danced with John Travolta.[2]

Click here to view all of Diana’s Iconic Moments

From bridal grandeur, elegance and class Diana reestablished England as a trendsetter and ushered the fashion world into the new millennium.

The Duchess of Cambridge

You could say, Catherine Middleton’s love of hats mirrors that of Queen Elizabeth II. Her wardrobe and sense of style is a nice blend of classic and contemporary silhouettes that highlights her strength, confidence and whimsy that people have come to admire. She has independently revived the women’s millinery industry today.  Here’s an excerpt from the Grazia’s Hatwalk event that took place in 2012. [3]

Today sees the launch of Grazia’s Hatwalk – a millinery extravaganza of a lifetime. London’s streets have been turned into one big catwalk of hats; designed by the planet’s most talented milliners and showcased by the latest in fashion supermodels… the capital’s statues! From Stephen Jones to Kate Middleton’s current favourite, Sylvia Fletcher, the millinery community were up bright and early to see their pieces crane-hoisted onto the likes of Nelson, Shakespeare and Queen Victoria. Onlookers were surprised and snap-happy, with many already hopping onto Boris Bikes to cycle the Hatwalk circuit!”

Milliners look to Kate to usher in a new era.

63 Responses to “The Royal Family’s Influence on Fashion”

  1. parisienne December 19, 2012 at 9:04 PM #


    Excellent and informative article! I am enjoying it very much. In the section about the queen why does the author say that she has a lackluster color co-ordinated wardrobe? The Queen has always worn colorful outfits not just neutral colors. That’s what I think of when I see lackluster color co-ordinated. Drab neutral colors.

    • Open Book December 20, 2012 at 12:20 PM #

      Thank u Paris. I’m glad u liked the article. I had a lot of fun putting it together. The periods I selected are my favorites. So I’m a little bias. Plus it really shows how dynamic, strong and influential these women are. It was very empowering.

      U said: “Why does the author say that she has a lackluster color co-ordinated wardrobe?”

      I imagine she stated this because her wardrobe is very monochromatic.
      Meaning her color schemes are derived from a single base hue, and extended using its shades, tones and tints. As a result, the energy is more subtle and peaceful due to a lack of contrast of hue.

      • parisienne December 20, 2012 at 5:50 PM #

        The Queen does come across as peaceful. 🙂 I never knew any of the info you told me. Thanks!

        • Open Book December 20, 2012 at 6:02 PM #

          : -)

  2. Open Book December 20, 2012 at 12:30 PM #


    I put up a video of Queen Elizabeth II hats up above. I hope u get a chance to view it. Her hats are beautiful.

  3. Open Book December 20, 2012 at 2:45 PM #

    The Queen of Hats has had many designers so I did not include them in the article. However, The Royal Milliner since 1990 to Present has been Philip Somerville.

    • ozzie20 December 20, 2012 at 7:34 PM #

      I love her hats! Even though she is in her eighties every now and then she influences the fashion here. A year or two back it was head scarfs! I also like Kate’s too. Princess Beatrice and Eugenie are also ones to watch!

      • Open Book December 21, 2012 at 2:44 PM #

        Ahh! Yes,

  4. Open Book December 20, 2012 at 2:49 PM #

    So I have to post this.

    • littlebells December 20, 2012 at 7:52 PM #

      Beautiful! And I do like the idea that a woman’s message or attitude about marriage is shown through her gown. I think it also tells us a lot about them in general. I absolutely loved Kate’s gown. Simple yet elegant.

      • Open Book December 21, 2012 at 2:41 PM #

        Yes, Kate’s gown was elegant and very complimentary to her. I love the sweetheart neckline,fitted bodice with the lace overlay it really kept the focus on her face. It was a very 1950’s inspired silhouette, I say a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II.

        Here are some examples.

  5. Open Book December 20, 2012 at 3:01 PM #

  6. Open Book December 20, 2012 at 3:05 PM #

  7. Open Book December 20, 2012 at 6:05 PM #


    Remember today is an open discussion. Please leave me any questions or answers u might have and I will get back to u.

  8. Comic Relief December 20, 2012 at 6:53 PM #


    I’m glad you finally wrote another garment driven article. This piece was a well worth the wait the wait.

  9. Comic Relief December 20, 2012 at 6:59 PM #


    I agree Queen Elizabeth’s hats are as subtly humorous as they are diverse.

    • Comic Relief December 20, 2012 at 7:01 PM #

      ….though I think the top hat foundation, still reinforces authority and commands respect.

      • parisienne December 20, 2012 at 7:05 PM #


        IA. Although if a man or woman were to dress as they did in the 1900’s today I think they would be comitted to the nearest institution. It would look so out of place.

        • Comic Relief December 20, 2012 at 7:32 PM #

          I guess I agree regarding the women, corsettes probably hurt. But I don’t know Paris; I’m not very fashion adventurous but if someone gave me a boller I think I would try to rock it. I think those Hats are really hot.

          • parisienne December 20, 2012 at 7:40 PM #

            Cool hat CR. I do agree though mens fashion hasn’t really changed very much.

            • ozzie20 December 20, 2012 at 8:22 PM #

              I really like men’s hats. I have a trilby but I don’t get to wear it often. I used to like putting on my Grandpa’s flat cap when I was younger. I’ll have to get one!

              • Comic Relief December 20, 2012 at 8:47 PM #

                I like your taste in hats.

                • Comic Relief December 20, 2012 at 8:49 PM #

                  I had one of those when i was a child.

                  • ozzie20 December 20, 2012 at 8:57 PM #

                    Lol! I really want one now! Those are nice hats.

                • Open Book December 21, 2012 at 2:56 PM #

                  I love, love these hats.

        • Open Book December 21, 2012 at 2:52 PM #

          Paris & CR,

          The Edwardian period is the foundation for what we know of menswear suits and sportswear today. Before the 1900 men wore frock coats with a waistcoat. Let me just say, I’m a sucker for men in morning coats and waistcoats with pocket watches. Hahaha!

  10. parisienne December 20, 2012 at 7:01 PM #


    Given the fabric that Kate’s dress was made from are any of those fabrics very heavy?

    • Open Book December 21, 2012 at 3:04 PM #


      Dutchesse Satin is pretty weighty. Duchesse satin is shiny, heavy, and luxurious. Often used for couture wedding gowns or extravagant home decor, it has been around since ancient China. Silk weavers made this textile with many layers of delicate fibers that created a soft texture with a lot of body and sheen. It is a popular choice for wedding gowns because it drapes well, helping to create full and beautiful skirts.

  11. Comic Relief December 20, 2012 at 7:17 PM #


    This might help out your speculation. In this survey of royal dresses (not all English) the last one of the survey is Kate.

  12. ozzie20 December 20, 2012 at 7:23 PM #

    Hi everyone!

    Cool article OB! I can say with out a doubt that anything Princess Diana wore sold out very quickly! It’s the same with Kate. They are definately big trend setters, although my Mum insists she had Princess Di’s hairstyle long before her, LOL!

    • Comic Relief December 20, 2012 at 7:33 PM #

      Hi, Ozzie.

      • ozzie20 December 20, 2012 at 7:36 PM #

        Hi CR! How are you?

        • Comic Relief December 20, 2012 at 7:45 PM #

          Great! Thanks for asking.

          • ozzie20 December 20, 2012 at 7:52 PM #

            That’s good to hear! 🙂

    • parisienne December 20, 2012 at 7:35 PM #

      Hi Ozzie!

      Why are Di and Kate such trendsetters?

      • ozzie20 December 20, 2012 at 7:46 PM #

        Hi Paris!

        I think it’s because they are young and the younger generation can identify well with their styles. Plus they have access to any of the latest clothes from fashion houses so they tend to be somewhat ahead of the trend. I say somewhat because with today’s economy they don’t splash out much and wear outfits more than once (although I can’t remember if that was the case with Diana). Kate and the other young royals wear alot of highstreet brands too which aren’t too expensive and also help connect with everyday people.

        I’m sure there are more reasons why but I can’t remember them at the moment, lol!

        • littlebells December 20, 2012 at 7:55 PM #

          I agree with you ozzie. Especially with Kate. She’s young and hip, and other than coming from an affluent family and marrying into the royal family, is a very normal person. Just like Diana was. Again it’s the average girl getting the prince. They are relatable and with fashion stylists able to recreate wardrobes so quickly and inexpensively, we can all look like them.

          • ozzie20 December 20, 2012 at 8:12 PM #

            Yes! You said it better though! I was off on a ramble there, lol.

        • Open Book December 21, 2012 at 3:22 PM #

          Great, assumption Ozzie & LB.

  13. littlebells December 20, 2012 at 7:41 PM #

    Hi everyone!

    let me get caught up. 🙂

    • ozzie20 December 20, 2012 at 7:48 PM #

      Hi LB! How are you?

      • littlebells December 20, 2012 at 7:56 PM #

        Hi Ozzie!

        Better. Now I’m just back to coughing and being tired. How are you?

        • ozzie20 December 20, 2012 at 8:11 PM #

          Aww, I glad you’re feeling better! Hopefully that cough and tiredness will go away soon. I’m tired too but not as tired as I was on Tuesday, lol!

    • parisienne December 20, 2012 at 7:56 PM #

      Hi LB!

    • Comic Relief December 20, 2012 at 8:05 PM #

      Hi LB!

  14. littlebells December 20, 2012 at 7:59 PM #

    I miss high fashion, that is to say dressing up in an elegant manner to go to the theater or dinner. I miss class styles that are elegant, trendy, and MODEST. People rarely dress up anymore or have an excuse to dress up. I feel our fashion is either too drab or too flashy. I don’t know. But I would totally step out in any dress from 1900-1940s in a heart beat if I could. Some of the lines are just so beautiful and flattering.

    • ozzie20 December 20, 2012 at 8:17 PM #

      I know what you mean, LB. I still get dressed up to go to a ballet performance at the theatre. I haven’t been to one for years but the last one I remember, the other attendees were either in plain casual everyday clothing or all tarted up. There was just my party and a few other guests that were dressed in a classy way.

      • littlebells December 20, 2012 at 8:48 PM #

        I still remember when you dressed up to go to the airport!!!

        • ozzie20 December 20, 2012 at 8:55 PM #

          I always do smart casual looks for airports, lol!

      • Open Book December 21, 2012 at 3:10 PM #

        Hahahaha! “all tarted up” Hahahaha! Ozzie this is will be my new saying. Love it!

        Ozzie-What silhouette do u prefer for evening wear? Long, or tea length gowns?

    • Open Book December 21, 2012 at 3:16 PM #


      What was good about the 1900 structured clothing.It helped our posture. It gave people the modest and graceful movement that we no longer see today. The unstructured casual clothing we wear today don’t do much to support or force people to stand up straight.

      • littlebells December 21, 2012 at 10:53 PM #

        Oh my gosh! That’s IT! I didn’t even think about it that way. Add that when we dress well we walk a little taller and act better. Great observation!

    • Open Book December 21, 2012 at 3:26 PM #

      ITA the 1900-1940’s are wonderful periods for women clothing. Especially, the hats of the 1940’s.

  15. parisienne December 20, 2012 at 8:13 PM #


    ITA about people not being modest anymore. Modesty no longer exists. However, someday soon I think someone is going to bring it back to HW and hopefully popular culture.

    • Open Book December 21, 2012 at 3:20 PM #

      Structured clothing would create modesty. It would force people to move more gracefully. Instead of letting it all hang out or like Ozzie said, “all tarted up.” Hahahaha!

      • littlebells December 21, 2012 at 10:54 PM #

        (I think it would also promote better behavior)

  16. littlebells December 20, 2012 at 8:45 PM #


    Does royalty or ur British/European/Hollywood celebrities have more influence on fashion?

    • ozzie20 December 20, 2012 at 8:54 PM #

      Good Question! Hmmmmm… I guess they do. Some designers do design with their attributes in mind but I wouldn’t say it’s every season. It happens normally around an important event. I think it’s mostly the public trying to copy the look, which is more constant that what a designer would be.

      • Open Book December 21, 2012 at 3:06 PM #

        Ahh! Very interesting perspective Ozzie!

  17. Comic Relief December 20, 2012 at 8:55 PM #


    Why don’t young women wear hats any more?

    • Open Book December 21, 2012 at 2:29 PM #

      IMO wigs and hair extensions are the reason hats aren’t as popular. But I think they are making a come back.

      • Comic Relief December 22, 2012 at 1:57 PM #

        I never thought of that.

  18. Open Book December 21, 2012 at 4:36 PM #


    Thank u for indulging me once again. Thanks for asking such wonderful questions.

    Ozzie-I hope I did not disappoint…:)

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: