A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

10 Dress Code Rules Everyone in the Royal Family Must Follow

From facial hair to hats, find out all the fashion rules for British royals.

1 / 10
Trooping The Colour 2018
James Devaney/Getty Images

Natural-looking polish only

Forget flashy colors or glittery polishes—natural-looking polish is the mani of choice for the royal family. Queen Elizabeth II is noted to favor Essie’s “Ballet Slippers,” a pretty polish with a soft pink hue. According to the Essie website, back in 1989 the “Queen’s hairdresser sent the brand a letter requesting a bottle of the polish as it is ‘the only colour Her Majesty would wear.'”

However, when it comes to the royal tootsies things may be a little more lenient. The Duchess of Cambridge, sometimes referred to as Princess Kate Middleton, was spotted going au natural on her toes when she took off her shoes during a visit to the Gandhi Smiriti museum in India. However, according to Everythingbritish.blogspot.com, Kate attended a London premiere a few years back, rocking a dark red shade of polish from her peep toe heels. Perhaps there’s a tad more “toe” wiggle room when it comes to pedicures. You can buy the nail polish the Duchess of Cambridge wore on her wedding day.

2 / 10
Tim Rooke/REX/Shutterstock

How to clutch

Meghan Markle will need to learn the subtle art of “clutch” speak now that she’s joining the royal clan. Like its own private language, using one’s clutch is the key to getting out of awkward social moments and so much more. For example, Queen Elizabeth uses her clutch to signal everything from when she wants to leave an event, to when she needs to be saved from a tiresome conversation. If that clutch is down at her side it might be time to go. Lady Diana Spencer was known to use her clutch as a clever way to block her cleavage from photographers when disembarking from vehicles. And the Duchess of Cambridge now uses her clutch to avoid awkward social situations as well, “(Kate) holds her bag in front of her in both hands when shaking hands might be awkward,” Myka Meier, founder of Beaumont Etiquette, told Good Housekeeping.

3 / 10
Alan Davidson/SilverHub/REX/Shutterstock

Gloves are for germophobes

Up until the ’90s, gloves were still a common accessory for the royal family. Although according to Vogue former deputy editor Anna Harvey, she once ordered a dozen suede gloves for Diana, but she never wore them. “She wanted flesh to flesh contact,” Harvey said. Today gloves are no longer necessary at black-tie events, but the Queen still favors them, especially if she has to shake a lot of hands. If you were to don a pair of gloves for a royal event take note of these rules according to Bustle.com: Wear them en route to the event, when shaking someone’s hand, standing in a receiving line, or dancing. You have to take them off when you’re eating (even if it’s just a quick canapé or nosh), and they’re forbidden at the dinner table. To take them off, you have to pull them finger by finger, and then rest them on your lap underneath your napkin. Here are 14 inspirational Princess Diana quotes that have withstood the test of time.

4 / 10

Facial hair faux pas

When Prince Harry showed up at a Remembrance Day parade event with a full out beard while wearing his senior Blues and Royals officer uniform, some said he was violating British military law even though he’d long been retired from service. According to the Daily Mail, as long as it’s all “neat and tidy,” facial hair is A-okay. As it turns out Harry’s grandfather Prince Philip sported a beard while serving in the Royal Navy, and the Queen became besotted with him back in his beard wearing heyday. However, Vanity Fair reported, it’s the Queen who isn’t a fan of her grandson’s hipster look. She said that she “intensely dislikes facial hair,” and expects her grandson to remove it “sooner rather than later” according to the Telegraph.

5 / 10
Tim Rooke/REX/Shutterstock

Hats on or off?

It’s no surprise the royal family likes their hats and a stylish hat can certainly steel the limelight. The Queen’s closets must be filled with hat boxes, but it’s not because she’s a hat fanatic—it’s plain old tradition.

“Up until the 1950s, ladies were very seldom seen without a hat as it was not considered ‘the thing’ for ladies to show their hair in public,” says Diana Mather, a senior tutor for The English Manner etiquette consultancy, according to the BBC. “But all that has changed and hats are now reserved for more formal occasions.”

Lady Diana was noted to eschew wearing a hat and it wasn’t to make a fashion statement rather, “She also stopped wearing hats because she said, ‘You can’t cuddle a child in a hat,”‘ explained Eleri Lynn, curator of an exhibition Diana: Her Fashion Story, to People.

And the Duchess of Cambridge has used her hats to honor the country she is visiting, says Bustle.com, like when she was spotted in a Maple Leaf number when on a visit to Canada. Check out some of Queen Elizabeth’s wackiest hats.

6 / 10

Stand out in a crowd

Queen Elizabeth is easy to spot in a crowd as she wears bright colors on every occasion. And that’s on purpose. The Queen knows that the public is there to catch a glimpse of her and those bright colored dresses and suits make her easy to find. “She needs to stand out for people to be able to say ‘I saw the queen,'” daughter-in-law Sophie, Countess of Wessex, explained in the documentary The Queen at 90. “Don’t forget that when she turns up somewhere, the crowds are two, three, four, ten, 15 deep, and someone wants to be able to say they saw a bit of the queen’s hat as she went past.”

7 / 10
Members Of The Royal Family Attend Events To Mark The Centenary Of The RAF
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Pantyhose are a must

Pantyhose definitely made a comeback, thanks to Duchess Kate and her barely-there hosiery. According to Fortune, sales of sheer nude pantyhose had a surge in popularity after her engagement announcement in 2010. Whether it’s Kate’s own fashion choice or a chill in the air, Harper’s Bazaar confirms that the Queen expects all female family members and guests to keep their gams covered up in some type of tights.

8 / 10
Tim Rooke/REX/Shutterstock

No mini skirts allowed

The Queen is supposedly not a fan of the short skirt and made sure that her granddaughter in-law, the lovely but much younger Kate, get her gams in line with longer hemlines for a trip to Australia according to Elle. Knee-length is what the Queen favors and knee-length is what Kate now wears (give or take a few degrees and a brisk wind).

9 / 10
Tim Rooke/REX/Shutterstock

Tiaras are not for every day

Playing dress up like a princess without a tiara would be like dressing up like a cowboy without the hat. But when it comes to being an actual princess, wearing a tiara isn’t always a given. In fact, there are rules about who can wear a tiara and when you can strike a pose with a tiara on. According to Forbes in the past, “It was the event and not the status of the wearer that signals whether or not tiaras will be worn,” says Geoffrey Munn, author of Tiaras – A History of Splendour. Usually, tiaras are worn at formal events, etiquette expert Diana Mather tells the BBC, “The old rule is that hats are never worn indoors after 6 p.m., because that is when the ladies changed into evening dress, and tiaras and the family jewels would come out.” In addition, she explains that, “Flashy diamonds and tiaras are not worn during the day, and only married ladies wear tiaras.” The Duchess of Cambridge did not wear a tiara until she was officially part of the royal family.

You’ll want to steal these style tips from Princess Diana.

10 / 10

For the boys

There might be a chill in the air or a rain cloud overhead, but little Prince George will still be wearing shorts. Harper’s Bazaar explains that it’s tradition to dress young royalty (below the age of eight) in shorts. “It’s a very English thing to dress a young boy in shorts,” etiquette expert William Hanson told to the magazine. “Trousers are for older boys and men, whereas shorts on young boys is one of those silent class markers that we have in England. Although times are (slowly) changing, a pair of trousers on a young boy is considered quite middle class–quite suburban. And no self-respecting aristo or royal would want to be considered suburban. Even the Duchess of Cambridge.” Read on for 14 etiquette rules everyone in the royal family must follow.