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. 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.
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.
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. 
“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.