Rule: Your choice of outfit can be a lovely compliment to your hosts

In Celebrities, Famous people, Hats, Older women, Royalty on June 10, 2011 at 9:45 pm

I’m very grateful to Arjie for her comment on here, telling me to loosen up and not feel I have to do set things on set days… 

It’s just all those years of deadlines and production schedules bearing down, but here we go, caution to the wind with a Rule from a while back. It’s been a while since the historic state visit to Ireland, but these pics still make me smile.

Plus, I just love Her Maj. She’s been the Queen all my life and her style which used to seem so fusty, has become iconic. She’s living proof that by choosing a look and sticking to it, over time you come to own it.

Putting aside, for a moment, personal opinions about the role of Her Maj in relation to Australia (which should be a Republic, oops, I said it) and just looking at her as a random head of state: didn’t Queen Elizabeth totally nail it in the clothes department on her recent trip to Ireland?

When I saw the footage of her in the St Patrick’s Day special pictured above, visiting a market in Cork, I whooped with delight.

Not only is she wearing Kelly green, her hat has more than a nod to leprechaun couture. No wonder she got such a great reception. She got off the plane wearing green from head to toe and back on it four days later in an outfit that wouldn’t have been out of place in The Gnome Mobile.


Good on her for seeing an opportunity to make a grand sartorial gesture and grasping it. I’ve been entertaining myself ever since imagining the pre-trip conversations with her dresser, Angela Kelly.

Ms Kelly: ‘I’ve starting laying out some outfits for the tour of Ireland, ma’am, and wondered if you had any preferences?’

Her Maj: ‘Well, one thought it would be rather fun if one were to give a go to the wearing of the green…’

Then off to the Royal couturier Stewart Parvin to order a wardrobe of bright green coats and to Rachel Trevor-Morgan for one’s Kermit-coloured hats. Stellar stuff.

As well as a master class in colour blocking – a trend we’re all just getting the hang of, Her Maj has been working it for years – it was a reminder of just how powerful a gesture the choice of clothes can be.

Way beyond referencing the latest looks from the Paris catwalks and celebrity styling, or showing your financial status, these very deliberately chosen outfits show how a few metres of fabric can instantly broadcast a message of intention.

And when you’re one of the most recognised people in the world and know that images of the outfits you’ve chosen for the occasion will be beamed all around it – it becomes seriously powerful stuff.

In this case: “I’m really thrilled you’re giving me the opportunity to visit your lovely country and try in even the smallest way to make amends for all the years of cacky cacky mine visited upon you.”

That’s a much bigger statement than any of us normal citizens will ever be in a position to make (which is a relief…), but it’s an object lesson in how our choice of clothes are telling the host of any event about our attitude to them, from the moment we arrive. Even before we’ve even opened our mouths to say, Hello, how are you, where’s the bar?

It’s something to bear in mind on the days when it seems like a massive effort, if not a gross imposition to have to get changed at all, let along comb the hair and scrub the food stains off the front of your t shirt.

So when someone makes the effort to invite us to an event, be it a morning tea, or a historic reconciliation between two sovereign states, it’s worth remembering that we can pay them a lovely compliment simply by turning up in something that shows we appreciate being asked.

  1. Yay for Queenie! I just LOVE her, always have. And I am for a republic here in Oz (you’re right Maggie, it has to be said). She always gets her look right for the occasion, and is the only person I know (of) who looks totally amazing in yellow. This is going to sound saccharin but it’s absolutely true IMHO – when she wears yellow and flashes her 100 watt smile, it truly is like the sun coming out. My friend in Ireland told me they all love her now, she’s everyone’s new favourite granny!

  2. I so agree with you re dressing to show you appreciate being asked. I have an ongoing argument with my husbands best mate, who once showed up to a Black Tie Wedding in an open necked shirt and suit (and he owned a Dinner Suit). His argument was that his Dinner Suit had been bought before a slew of 21st birthday celebrations, quite cheaply, was poorly cut and very old etc etc. His (brown & casually cut) suit, on the other hand, was expensive and new. He stated that the dress code was a “guideline” to ensure someone didn’t turn up badly dressed. I told him he was rude, and it showed the bride and groom he didn’t care enough to make the effort to wear what they wished their guests to wear. 5 years later we still argue about this from time to time (although he has never worn a suit to black tie again). I’m not sure why people now seem to think that if something cost a lot of money it renders it appropriate for every situation. Dressing casually is almost a weapon to show that you are too cool to care maybe? As you can see, I’m rather passionate about this subject……!

  3. Fabulous Style Note! (as always)

    I think it is not only important to respect others when dressing for an occasion but how about yourself! Making an effort in your appearence is a reflection of your own self respect.

    I am with you Heidi! Very passionate about this subject!

  4. These are really lovely thoughts, Maggie. I enjoyed reading this. Daisy

  5. Thank you, thank you for reminding me of The Gnome Mobile! Like Adventure Island (a tv series made by the ABC in the early 70s), I had almost convinced myself I’d dreamt it up. No-one I know remembers seeing it. I’m going to hunt it down and convince my six-year-old to watch it with me. It looks a bit creaky but the song is just as I remembered it – and I’m sure Russ Tamblyn is hiding amongst the gnomes somewhere.

  6. I absolutely agree with Kathryn. I remembered every word of the Gnome Mobile Song as soon as I saw it!! I also have a vague memory of doing a dance in Year 1 dressed in tulle to the tune. I’m going to find it for my annual god daughter afternoon tea (I have 10 ranging in age from 2-16!)

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