The Queen at 90 has a thing or two to teach even the most nubile and youngest of the crowd. Talking of which, I suspect that the former Kate Middleton has been taking a lesson or two both pre and post her becoming a Duchess.
So often those who do not know how colour works and thus how they can make colour work best for them make the mistake of reaching for beige or taupe to make sure that they blend into the background or black which, the older we get becomes less chic and more the uniform of the Alpha Mater. The past it, sexless, post menopausal woman. (Heaven help the early menopausers!)
Not so for the Queen. She has been perfecting the art of colour over many decades now – and quite simply the more practice she gets the better she looks. She knows that the better the colour – the healthier and more dynamic she will look. She will draw people to her. So very different from Queen Victoria who used dour colours to push her subjects away.
Take the lime green coat and hat resplendant with a white and yellow flower at its brim that she wore to cut the birthday cake baked for her by Nadiya Hussain. The cake itself had three layers: the bottom – soft purple, the middle –broad stripes of lilac, mauve and gold and the top layer – pure gold. Nadiya is a fine looking young woman but her outfit of black and khaki though chic did not enhance her cake nor enhance her own colouring. The Queen? Well, POW! Lime green and purple!!
For Trooping the Colour, she did it again. A neon green outfit this time that just sang out against the red and gold uniforms. The hat accessory of purple-pink and lime green feathers was a triumph too. As were the silver buttons and brooch and the white pearls at throat and ears and the rose-pink lipstick.
By contrast, the Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice looked autumnal rather than spring like and the Countess of Wessex looked positively bridal.
She did it again on Ascot Ladies Day ….. tipped to wear purple she turned up in orange and blue. As a cool undertone most oranges would be a disaster, particularly worn so close to the face BUT – experience and knowledge is power.
The orange was soft both in shade and because the fabric of the hat made it less intense too. Put together with a bright blue and she had another winner.
As Coco Chanel said, “The best colour in the whole world, is the one that looks good, on you!”
The Queen has taken heed. She knows that “I have to be seen to be believed.” And she works it magnificently.
In 2012 Vogue tracked the bold spectrum of colour that she wore over the year. The results? 29% blue, 13% pink and 11% green. None of it deep and dark, none of it pale all of it working for her as a COOL undertone, SOFT/MUTED clarity and MEDIUM to light in depth.
The Queen THINKS about what colours she is wearing …. if she is to be photographed against a lawn or woodland she won’t wear green but it is the colour she wore when she visited Ireland. All the time she is aware of the effect that colour has on both her self and those she meets. Visiting Ireland in green made sure that she started on the right foot despite the shaky ground she was treading upon.
She displays a highly logical and very formulaic attitude towards her public clothing (deeply coloured tweeds etc are kept for her private life in the country).
More than that it is a sophisticated understanding of the power of colour.
There aren’t many people who will take time out to develop such an understanding – but they should.
You don’t need to be the main attraction at a Royal Performance or appear on the Palace Balcony to benefit from knowing how to use colour well. You just need to be interested enough in your own effectiveness and the response of those around you.
The Queen isn’t interested in fashion. If she were she would ditch the black handbag and shoes and the white gloves. If she wanted to be chic she would ditch wearing quite so many accessories a la Audrey Hepburn.
The Queen appears though to be interested in the pleasure of being effective, shaping her look to be so – and to speak without saying a word – about her vibrancy and positivity and strength. It’s catching! Enormously liberating!! And you don’t have to be a Queen to achieve it……..