Style File: Why Queen Elizabeth's Fashion Evolution Is A Lesson In Having Fun

Whether it's cultural respect or sending a subliminal message, everything the Queen wears has a purpose. Dan Ahwa explores the steadfast fashion icon's style evolution

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1947: ENGAGED

Photographed alongside her fiancé Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, Prince of Greece and Denmark, a young Elizabeth wore a simple pink day dress, a shape typical of the post-war era.

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1948: SISTER ACT

Over the years we’ve seen both Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret showcase their contrasting approach to fashion; Margaret the more ‘fashion-forward’ of the two, and Elizabeth stylish, yet conservative in comparison to her younger sister. Looking like a film still for Mildred Pierce, the sisters opt for coats, gloves and hats in Grosvenor Square, London, after the unveiling of the memorial to American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

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1953: IT’S OFFICIAL

For her coronation to the throne, Elizabeth wore a gown designed by Norman Hartnell that took eight months of research, design and workmanship. The gown included floral emblems of the countries of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, including the New Zealand silver fern.

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1965: SWINGING 60s

Queen Elizabeth II at Ventnor during a royal visit to the Isle of Wight in a much more simple, clean-cut look that defined the minimalist aesthetic of the era, celebrated by designers such as Andre Courreges and Hubert de Givenchy.

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1966: HATTITUDE

We’re seeing a more confident Elizabeth emerge during the 1960s, and her wardrobe of hats continues to turn heads, particularly this layered white hat worn during a royal visit to Clifford Park, Nassau, Bahamas.

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1971: MUMMY & ME

A young Princess Anne has always taken a few bold style cues from her mother over the years, and this time the pair take graphic, modernist, colour blocking and prints to new levels on tour in Turkey.

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1972: CONNECT THE DOTS

Adding some fun to her tour wardrobe, this matching dress and hat combination provides plenty to smile about while visiting Thailand, as Thai King Bhumipol watches on.

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1973: KEY LIME

The Queen’s penchant for bright green is no secret, and this silk coat and matching dress is topped off with a flowery hat designed by milliner Simone Mirman, as Her Majesty arrives at the polo. The white accents and accessories give this outfit a fresh look.

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1975: SUMMER FLORALS

While visiting an ancient pyramid during her state visit to Mexico, the Queen selects a light-weight floral dress for the excursion, teaming it with her signature gloves and a hat.

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1976: SIMPLE CHIC

While some of her looks have polarised opinions over the years with their fastidiousness, there are several moments where she manages to look thoroughly modern. Attending Royal in Windsor, Her Majesty selects a cream double-breasted dress with red trim.

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1977: KIA ORA

During her Silver Jubilee visit to New Zealand, a bouquet of white flowers and ferns perfectly matches this ensemble.

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1980: GREEN QUEEN

This crisp green coat dress works well with her natural surroundings at Sandringham, surrounded by her beloved corgis.

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1982: PLEATS PLEASE

Whatever they’re looking at, there is no denying the royal couple look elegant and easy in loose fitted separates while visiting the Solomon Islands. There’s something very fresh about this tone of blue matched with crisp white accessories, perfect for a hot day in the Pacific.

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1988: POP ART

This vivid paint print evokes some of the design schools popularised during the 80s, particularly Memphis Design. It’s one of the Queen’s more daring looks, worn here to the wedding of James Ogilvy and Julia Rawlinson in Saffron Walden.

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1989: RED ALERT

The Queen makes a visit to St Anne's Church in Kew, wearing all red, this time relying on her trusty sidekick, a patent black Launer top handle clutch purse, to inform her other black accessories.

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1991: TRAD & TRUE

Attending the Royal Windsor Horse Show, a cardigan and tartan skirt is how Her Majesty does off-duty fashion.

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1993: CANDY CRUSH

This skirt suit and matching hat offers plenty to smile about. The suit is by Ian Thomas and hat by Marie O’regan, worn on official duty in Budapest, Hungary.

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1993: PURPLE REIGN

This purple gown by John Anderson is a dazzling option for the Royal Variety Performance that year.

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1994: SCOTS LANDING

It’s a tartan blow-out as the Queen and Prince Philip attend the Braemar Games in Scotland, suitably wearing tartan prints.

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1996: MIXED MEDIA

This structured boucle skirt suit by John Anderson has various colours of wool embedded into the fabric, and is both eye-catching and warm during a cold February day while visiting Almshouses, a charitable Homes for the elderly, in Westminster. She tops it off with a matching hat by milliner Philip Somerville.

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1999: TECHNICOLOR DREAM

Showcasing her theatrical approach to fashion, this patchwork sequin number was a bold statement at the Royal Variety Showcase that year, and a nod to the ensuing bling generation that dominated the wider fashion scene at the start of the 2000s.

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2001: MELLOW YELLOW

Another bright hue favoured by the Queen is a saturated, canary yellow, this time worn on her Royal Tour of the Channel Islands. The placket detail of buttons at the front of the coat has a retro vibe to it.

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2002: SPRING BOUQUET

Arriving for her second day of her official tour of Jamaica, Her Majesty keeps cool in a floral print satin dress.

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2010: TRIPPING OUT

The Queen's looks during the mid to late 2000s were appropriately more sombre, so we skip to the start of 2010s for some optimism. There’s something psychedelic about Her Majesty’s floral prints here and I like how it makes a major statement. Worn during an official visit to Canada.

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2011: DEVIL IN THE DETAILS

This look, worn during a visit to the Government buildings in Dublin, Ireland, highlights why the Queen’s looks have managed to capture people’s imaginations over the years, with a focus on detail. The contrasting buttons of this boucle jacket is complemented by a matching hat and signature pearls.

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2016: RADIOACTIVE

Proving that no one can steal her thunder on any given day, this fluro green suit by Stewart Parvin and matching hat by Rachel Trevor-Morgan stood out at the Trooping the Colour marking the Queen’s 90th birthday, launching the trending Twitter and Instagram hashtag #NeonAt90 and, reportedly, triggering a 137 per cent rise in sales of neon clothing and accessories in the UK. She accessorises this with the Brigade of Guards badge.

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2017: SUMMER FRESH

Attending the Royal Ascot with daughter Princess Anne, the Queen opts for a signature sunny look.

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2017: VITAMIN C

This is a great, zesty citrus hue on the Queen, worn during a Christmas Day church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene.

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2018: SHADY LADY

Welcoming Donald Trump to Windsor castle, Her Majesty wore a blue silk paisley print coat and floral dress for the occasion. In the perfect example of how the Queen uses her clothing to signal a message, she selected a brooch given to her by the former US President and First Lady, Barrack and Michelle Obama.

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2019: SKY’S THE LIMIT

Visiting the British Airways headquarters at Heathrow Airport to mark their centenary year, Her Majesty keeps it fresh in a powder blue ensemble with white gloves.

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2020: HOUNDS OF LOVE

Attending church in Sandringham earlier this year, this houndstooth print look is rounded off with matching black accessories.

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