A History of the Looks That Crowned Queen Elizabeth II a True Fashion Icon

In addition to being the longest-reigning monarch in British history and a respected global figure, Queen Elizabeth II, who died Sept. 8, was a fashion icon. Look back at her style evolution.

By Elyse Dupre Sep 09, 2022 6:00 AMTags
Watch: Queen Elizabeth II's Journey to The Throne

When it came to Queen Elizabeth II's style, it was always a case of fashion royalty meets real royalty.

While Her Majesty, who passed away on Sept. 8, will be remembered for having the longest reign in British history and a life dedicated to service, her legacy will also include her history as a style icon. Whether she was wearing a gorgeous gown and jewel-encrusted tiara for a banquet or a monochromatic coat-and-hat combination for a public engagement, the 96-year-old monarch caught the attention of fashion lovers across the globe.

"She needs to stand out for people to be able to say 'I saw the Queen,'" Sophie, Countess of Wessex, said in The Queen at 90 documentary about Her Majesty's colorful ensembles. "Don't forget that when she turns up somewhere, the crowds are two, three, four, 10, 15 deep, and someone wants to be able to say they saw a bit of the Queen's hat as she went past."

Queen Elizabeth II also knew the value of a good accessory and was frequently spotted with her signature pearls, gloves, Launer handbag and Anello & Davide shoes.

Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Philip's Romance Through the Years

Throughout her reign, the Queen was loyal to British designers, wearing pieces by Norman Hartnell and Stewart Parvin to name a few. She also occasionally used fashion to convey a subtle message, such as through the addition of a meaningful brooch or pieces selected to pay homage to a particular country she was visiting on tour.

In Her Majesty's memory, here's a look back at her fashion evolution over the years.


The then 18-year-old Princess wore a floral frock to present a trophy cup treat on the grounds of Windsor Castle in Berkshire, England.


The future Queen delighted in Christmas play for the family.


Princess Elizabeth sported a smart double-breasted coat before boarding a Royal Navy aircraft en route to South Africa.


Princess Elizabeth looked breathtaking on Nov. 20, 1947, the day she wed the Duke of Edinburgh at Westminster Abbey.


The then Princess married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in a sweeping Norman Hartnell gown. The dress featured embroidered white satin, long sleeves and a fit-and-flare silhouette.


Because England was still rationing clothing in 1947, Princess Elizabeth used ration coupons to purchase the material for her dress.


The then Princess wore an embellished gown and fur stole to the Official Postal Address of Apsley House in London.


Princess Elizabeth joined her father King George VI at the Derby at Epsom wearing a skirt suit, fascinator and ankle-strap pumps.


The then princess attended the International Wool Secretariat Exhibition in London sporting a trim skirt suit, hat and white gloves.


Queen Elizabeth II attended a Royal film performance at Leicester Square in London wearing a two-tone gown and matching gloves.


Queen Elizabeth II posed in full royal garb (scepter included) during her Coronation ceremony on June 2, 1953 at Westminster Abbey in London. She was 25.


Queen Elizabeth II wore another gown by Norman Hartnell, the designer behind the royal's white satin wedding dress, for her Coronation ceremony.


The Queen sported a waist-cinching white lace dress to a garden party in Sydney, Australia. She complemented her look with a wide-brim hat, matching white gloves and parasol.


Queen Elizabeth attended an event in Australia alongside Prince Philip wearing a peach-hued gown, crown and diamond necklace.


Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret—both wearing structured fit-and-flare frocks—left St. Margaret's church in London after attending a wedding for the Queen's lady-in-waiting, Kathryn Stanley.


Former President Richard Nixon, who was vice president at the time, escorted the Queen—who wore an embroidered gown, fur stole and white gloves—to an event during her first visit to America in October 1957.


The Queen donned a long fur-trimmed coat at Westminster Abbey in London, where she unveiled a memorial to the Civil Services of the Crown in India.


Queen Elizabeth II wore a fitted trench coat in Crawley, England after attending the opening of Gatwick Airport with her husband Prince Philip.


Her Majesty stood arm-in-arm with her daughter Princess Anne, wearing a rosy floral skirt suit, pearls and black pumps.


The Queen wore another Norman Hartnell—this time a beaded white confection—to a film premiere.


The monarch struck a pose with her pups in a smart emerald-green skirt suit.


Queen Elizabeth II took in a sporting event at the Racecourse for the Oaks Stakes in Surrey, England sporting a yellow skirt, buttoned cape and matching hat.


The Queen kept warm in a military green windbreak at an outdoor event.


Queen Elizabeth II and The Queen Mother arrived at Westminster Abbey for a wedding in printed ensembles and cocktail hats.


The Queen stepped out in royal style—donning an embroidered gown, fur stole and diamond crown—for a premiere on London's West End.


Queen Elizabeth II met with children during her state visit to Mexico in a charming, yellow polka-dot dress and matching head wrap.


Her Majesty was all smiles during an outdoor event in a printed green dress and floral-adorned topper.


The Queen sported royal garb—naturally—for a palace portrait.


Queen Elizabeth II went for a lady in red look (with a long skirt to adhere to the customs of her hosts) on an official visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


The queen donned a green coat and dress (and matching hat, of course) for a military engagement in 1980.

View More Photos From Queen Elizabeth II's Royal Style Through the Years
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