The original Regal Recycler: Queen Elizabeth II made a habit of re-using favourite outfits long before the younger royals caught on
- Throughout the rest of her lifetime, the Queen would often re-wear past outfits
- Her personal dresser said the royal’s repeats were always carefully considered
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Throughout her years of dedicated service, Queen Elizabeth’s wardrobe was a constant.
Sticking to her fashion uniform of a coloured coat with a matching hat, gloves and pearls, the Queen kept her signature look fresh by sporting it in every colour of the rainbow.
This didn’t stop her using the outfits to send discreet messages, from a diplomatic choice of colour to a piece of carefully chosen jewellery selected specially for an occasion.
She was, as a result, immediately recognisable in a crowd – the intended result.
Queen Elizabeth in her ‘uniform’ of a brightly coloured coat, a matching hat, gloves and pears. This bright green ensemble was seen at the Royal Windsor Cup in 2021
The Queen’s repeated outfits were often updated with a simple change of brooch or a switch of accessories. Here at Ascot in 2014, Her Majesty paired her delightful blue outfit with a multi-coloured bouquet brooch
What has had less attention, though, is how frugally she used that wardrobe.
She might have been the most famous monarch in the world, but the Queen was happy to re-use coats, dresses and hats as part of what must have been an immensely complicated wardrobe schedule.
And in doing so, she paved the way for a younger, more obviously ‘green’ generation.
Elizabeth had, of course, been born in a very different and very much more cost-conscious era.
In the 1960s, as a young queen, she regularly re-wore custom-made gowns at high-profile events.
This includes a Norman Hartnell dress made using duchesse satin purchased with ration vouchers, as was typical for brides at that time. This was in keeping with the mood of the day.
It is all the more fitting, then, that it was ‘recycled’ one more time when borrowed by Princess Beatrice for her own low-key wedding in 2020.
Queen Elizabeth remained notably loyal to British brand Launer. She used their handbags for decades and went to the length of having her favourites repaired.
She was loyal, also, to her Anello & Davide pumps, turning to an unrivalled collection of heirloom brooches to help provide some points of difference when out and about. .
Queen Elizabeth stuck to what she knew and loved, and this applied to hats, also.
The chose statement millinery designed to match specific outfits. As a result, her entire look was often repeated head-to-toe.
Queen Elizabeth’s formal personal dresser, Angela Kelly, had previously explained that the royal’s repeat wears were always carefully considered.
‘Typically, the lifespan of an outfit can be up to around 25 years,’ Kelly wrote in her book The Other Side of The Coin – The Queen, The Dresser and The Wardrobe.
‘Her Majesty is always thrifty and likes her clothes to be adapted and recycled as much as possible.’
The first time the Queen wore the lime green crepe coat by Stewart Parvin and a white dress decorated with green florals underneath was for an event marking the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in 2014
It made another appearance three years later to Ascot in 2017 with her Bird of Paradise Jubilee brooch
Showing just how third time is the charm, the Queen wore the outfit again in 2018 for a visit to Cheshire with Meghan
Always a fan of a block colour, the Queen wore this lime green crepe coat by Stewart Parvin and a white dress decorated with green florals underneath to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in 2014.
She finished the look with a matching hat by Rachel Trevor Morgan, pearl jewellery and Queen Victoria’s Diamond Fringe brooch.
Three years later she wore the same ensemble to Ascot in 2017 with her Bird of Paradise Jubilee brooch, again in 2018 for a visit to Cheshire with Meghan, and to the Royal Windsor Cup in 2021 with the Vanguard Rose brooch.
This fuchsia coat dress and purple hat was first seen in St Albans in March 2003
Sticking to her fashion uniform of a coloured coat with a matching hat, and gloves, it appeared again during her visit to the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association in London
Showing just how to pull of bold colours, the Queen wore it again the following month
She wore the same brooches in 2004 when opening the Scottish Parliament building
Clearly she could not get enough of the pink, as she wore it again for an Observance for Commonwealth Day 2005 service held at Westminster Abbey
In November 2005 she dressed in the bold look at RAF Coltishall
She wore the brightly-coloured look again in 2007 in Wiltshire with her diamond Bow brooch
The Queen put on a vibrant display when she wore this fuchsia coat dress and purple hat on numerous occasions, first seen in St Albans in March 2003.
The following month it was a mirror of the original look at Tower Bridge, this time with her Jardine Star brooch and again the same year in December at Windsor Great Park with her Flower Basket brooch.
She wore the same brooches in 2004 when opening the Scottish Parliament building and in 2005 for a service at Westminster Abbey.
In November 2005 she dressed in the bold look at RAF Coltishall and again in 2007 in Wiltshire with her diamond encrusted Bow brooch which dates back to 1858.
The Queen first wore this floral and butterfly print dress in 2005 during a trip to Malta
The Queen added a jacket when the dress made a second outing at the Singapore Turf Club just a year later
Queen Elizabeth was in full bloom without the jacket in June 2006 for a Buckingham Palace reception. She used the same white accessories
The Queen wore the summery floral ensemble again in July 2006 for a trip to the Albert Hall with the Duke of Edinburgh
Florals reigned supreme again in 2009 at Buckingham Palace as the Queen met with Governor-General of Grenada and his wife Lady Glean
The Queen first wore this floral and butterfly print dress in 2005 during a trip to Malta, later adding a white jacket and matching white accessories and hat for an appearance in Singapore in 2006.
She was in full bloom without the jacket in June 2006 for a Buckingham Palace reception with the same white accessories, before bringing it back out the following month minus the hat and with a sapphire brooch.
Florals reigned supreme again in 2009 at Buckingham Palace, this time without her Cornelia James gloves but still her same favourite pearl jewellery.
Tiffany Blue Coat
Her Majesty wore the same Tiffany blue coat, white pleated polka dot dress and matching hat four times, the first at Royal Ascot in 2006
The Launer bag and shoes were swapped from white to black and her brooch updated to review the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery in 2007
The ensemble appeared with the same black accessories and another new brooch for the Queen’s first garden party of the summer in 2009
The Monarch arrived at Wimbledon wearing the bright blue ensemble in June 2010
Her Majesty wore the same Tiffany blue coat, white pleated polka dot dress and matching hat four times between 2006 and 2010.
On its debut at Ascot in 2006, the accessories were white to help pick out the c edging on the coat.
In 2007 her Launer bag and shoes were swapped from white to black and her brooch updated to review the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery. Queen Elizabeth before swapped back to her original City of London Lily brooch for the Buckingham Palace garden party in 2009.
For a rare appearance at Wimbledon in 2010 the ensemble was paired with the same black accessories and another new brooch.
Cobalt Blue with Contrasting Collar
The Queen’s cobalt blue boucle Angela Kelly designed coat with black collar and coordinating hat was worn three times, including here at the Royal Maundy Service at St George’s Chapel in March 2018
Royal blue was a mainstay in the Queen’s wardrobe. The ensemble made another appearance at Wellington Barracks in 2019
In 2021 it was recycled for Champions Day at Ascot, this time with a navy dress underneath
Royal blue has always been a mainstay in the Queen’s wardrobe and this cobalt blue boucle Angela Kelly designed coat with black collar and coordinating hat was worn three times.
First spotted at the Maundy service at Windsor in 2018 with Cornelia James gloves, Launer handbag and Anello & Davide shoes, the same ensemble was worn again in London at Wellington Barracks in 2019 with the addition of a sparkling brooch which was a wedding gift in 1947.
In 2021 it was recycled for Champions Day at Ascot, this time with a plain navy dress underneath and the Pearl Triangle brooch which has been in her wardrobe since the 1950s.
Teal Blue with Blue Collar
Elizabeth pictured in shades of blue at Manchester Piccadilly station in 2013
Paired together with her Launer top handle bag, Anello & Davide shoes, it made many more appearances. The Queen is pictured at Waverley Station in Edinburgh in September 2015
The ensemble was tweaked with Queen Victoria’s Bow brooch for a visit to Canterbury Cathedral in 2015
The late Monarch shone among the crowds at Newbury races in 2017
Jubilant crowds in Harpurhey, central Manchester, welcomed the Queen to a factory youth centre in 2013 where she chose colour blocking in shades of blue, together with her Launer top handle bag, Anello & Davide shoes and Jardine Star brooch.
The same outfit was repeated from head to toe in three subsequent outings, simply updated with different brooches.
At Ascot in 2014 she chose her multicoloured bouquet brooch, it was Queen Victoria’s Bow brooch for a visit to Canterbury Cathedral in 2015, and at Newbury Races in 2017 she chose one of her most sentimental pieces, the Flower Basket brooch which had been given to her to celebrate the birth of Prince Charles.
Pale Pink Coat
The Queen chose to wear this pale pink wool coat with pearl buttons six times over four years, starting with a visit to Liverpool in 2008
She wore the same coordinating flower detail hat and Launer black bag, but this time with white Cornelia James gloves in Slovenia a few months later
In Leicester in December 2008 it was adorned with her Grima gold and ruby brooch
The same accessories stayed on the coat at the Derby in June 2009 when it made another appearance
The pale pink look appeared again when visiting HMS Ark Royal at Portsmouth docks in 2010
The ensemble was freshened up for a final appearance in spring 2012 with her white gloves again
Famously fond of pastel shades, the Queen chose to wear this pale pink wool coat with pearl buttons six times over four years with the same coordinating flower detail hat and Launer black bag.
It was first spotted in May 2008 in Liverpool and again the same year in October in Slovenia, this time with white Cornelia James gloves.
In Leicester in December 2008, it was adorned with her Grima gold and ruby brooch which stayed on the coat at the Derby in June 2009 and again when visiting HMS Ark Royal at Portsmouth docks in 2010.
In March 2012 the ensemble was freshened up for spring with her white gloves again and a different gold and ruby brooch.
Queen Elizabeth looks elegant in one of her favourite colours at St Pauls Cathedral in 2005. The bold blue coat is adorned with floral applique at the collar and cuffs
A year later the same ensemble was spotted at the BBC during her 80th birthday tour
The Monarch wore the floral coat again in 2009 for a visit to Gloucester with the Nizam of Hyderabad brooch
She wore the outfit for a final time on a visit to Wales in 2010,
Looking elegant in one of her favourite colours at St Pauls Cathedral in 2005, the late monarch’s bold blue coat was adorned with floral applique at the collar and cuffs and was layered over a floral print dress in coordinating tones.
A year later the same ensemble was spotted at the BBC during her 80th birthday tour, once again with a matching hat and black accessories, but this time with the Carrington Feather brooch, and again in 2009 for a visit to Gloucester with the Nizam of Hyderabad brooch, before swapping her brooch again in 2010 for a visit to Wales.
Pale Pink with Black Buttons
Queen Elizabeth steps out at the Women’s Institute in Norfolk in January 2018 wearing a Stewart Parvin pale pink coat with black buttons
She added the Queen Mother’s Palm Leaf brooch to the outfit for a decommissioning ceremony for HMS Ocean in March 2018
On a visit to King’s College, London in 2019
The ensemble made a fourth appearance as the Queen attended the opening ceremony of the sixth session of the Senedd in October 2021
Giving monochrome a colourful twist, the late monarch stepped out at the Women’s Institute in Norfolk in January 2018 wearing a Stewart Parvin pale pink coat with black buttons together with a matching hat.
During a decommissioning ceremony for HMS Ocean in March 2018 she added the Queen Mother’s Palm Leaf brooch and when visiting King’s College in 2019 she chose her pink sapphire and diamond brooch. In 2021 during her final visit to Wales, she gave a nod to the nation through the addition of her Daffodil of Wales brooch.
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