My Style Icons: Queen Elizabeth II
No-one does matchy-matchy like the Queen. I know matching one's outfit and accessories is often frowned upon nowadays, but I like it. It turns a collection of garments and accessories into a proper outfit. I also think it allows people to concentrate on the person within the clothes, whereas if everything contrasts people will be constantly looking at your bag, shoes, top, whatever.
Oh, how I love a good brooch. So does the Queen; it's the one really showy item of jewellery that she wears for daytime, otherwise sticking to things like pearl button earrings and strings of pearls. But then, when you've got her collection of brooches to play with, you'd want to keep the other bits simple. People have clearly cottoned on to the fact that she likes and wears brooches, as she keeps getting given new ones. (Hint to the jewel-producing nations of the world: I also like brooches, and she's already got lots...)
The blog From Her Majesty's Jewel Vault catalogues the gems which The Queen has been wearing, and has notes on all the most recent (or most important) brooches. The Queen usually matches her brooch to the colour of her outfit, and also to the occasion, so if she's meeting someone from Australia, she'll wear her Australian Wattle, for meeting Canadians she pulls out the Maple Leaf, and so on. She's been given many by her family, and my favourites are the art deco aquamarine clips her parents gave her for her 18th birthday. She got given some utterly hideous things for last year's Jubilee but, ever the diplomat, has dug them out and worn them once.
And, in case you're wondering, even if they were all sold they wouldn't fund the NHS or sort out any of the country's budget problems, the national budget is waaaay bigger than that. I'm happy to see the Queen wandering about like a little human glitterball. It's nice to see some sparkle.
The Queen will often wear gifts given to her when meeting a person from the country that gave them to her, but it goes further than that. Some years ago the Fashion Museum in Bath had an exhibition of the Queen's dresses, and among them was a stunning gown she wore for a State Visit to Pakistan in the 50s. It was pure white satin, with a ripple of deep green down the back - the colours of her hosts' flag. She's worn the lighter green of the Ethiopian flag in Ethiopia, embroidered tree peonies in China, orange poppies in California and mayflowers in Nova Scotia. She also wears colours that make her easy for people who've come to see her to pick out. Most of us will never need to go that far, but it's fantastic and fascinating to see; it's diplomacy in fabric.
The matchy-matchy, brooches and appropriateness all tie together to make a unique, instantly recognisable, look. And that is style.