What the Green (pink and blue) Queen can teach Charles about recycling!
22:35 GMT, 3 May 2012
Prince Charles admitted this week that he has had his old bathroom curtains made into cushions — which scores him plenty of points with the make-do-and-mend brigade.
It’s clear the Prince has inherited the recycling gene from his mother. For when it comes to fashion, Her Majesty really is the Green Queen.
This week, she wore a plum-trimmed pink coat and dress made by Angela Kelly for a Jubilee walkabout in Windsor. Very pretty it is, too — and all the more so for having been seen at least five times since its debut, on Christmas Day at Sandringham, in 2006.
Confidence is required to recycle an outfit last worn in front of a billion people. And it was unlikely to pass unnoticed that the primrose crepe dress, which the Queen wore to church on tour in Australia last year, had its first outing at William and Kate’s wedding.
The brooch, bag and shoes had changed, and the coat had gone, but the second wearing of the Palace’s in-house dressmaker Angela Kelly’s sunshine confection made a bold statement.
Any foreign tour presents a monumental challenge of uncertain weather and multiple engagements. But the Jubilee year, which is effectively one long tour for the Queen, is her biggest sartorial, and financial, challenge yet — keeping her wardrobe fresh but under budget.
Next month we can expect some majestic new dresses in Jubilee June — gowns made at the Palace, with some taking up to two years to create.
At 86, the Queen knows what works. Shoes must have a low, square heel to help her stand for hours on end, while bright colours highlight her in a crowd.
Co-ordinating hats — usually by current favourite milliner Rachel Trevor-Morgan, or by Kelly herself — with a small brim suit her face. She favours white or black gloves, sheer tights, and light make-up: a triple string of pearls, pearl earrings, and at least one brooch.
She also likes to show that thought has gone into what she wears — hence the outfit embroidered with shamrocks she wore in Ireland last year, which was a diplomatic masterstroke.
The Queen is frugal by nature, famously turning out Palace lights, and it is the austerity of Balmoral that suits her more than anything as she was brought up in wartime, around rations not fashions.
In these straitened times, she is even more aware of costs. In the Palace, they like to call it ‘credit-crunch couture’, and although she still uses external couturiers such as Scottish-born Stewart Parvin, where the late Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies once served, most of her outfits are now made by the in-house team of four at Buckingham Palace.
They are led by Angela Kelly, a feisty, divorced Liverpudlian docker’s daughter, whose official title is ‘Personal Assistant, Adviser and Curator to Her Majesty the Queen (Jewellery, Insignias and Wardrobe)’.
Kelly has been working for the Queen since 1993, first as a dresser, and they are now close. At nearly 60, she has the intrinsic advantage of being a similar height (5ft 4in) and build to the Queen. She is one of the few people allowed to touch Her Majesty, and their trusting relationship enables the Queen to be brave in her choices.
Most Englishwomen of her age have gravitated towards navy and neutrals, not bright pink, electric blue or sunshine yellow. The Queen wears them all, although Vogue recently noted that she wears blue most often.
Princess Anne and Prince Philip share her taste for recycling — Philip has been spotted in trousers first seen 50 years previously. The Duchesses of Cornwall and Cambridge have been recycling, too. But for length of service, and barely putting a low-heeled foot wrong, the Queen tops the table for ‘dressing for less’ with success.