Queen's personal dresser gives sneak-peek inside royal style secrets
The Queen's personal dresser since 1994 has given a fascinating insight into the intricate planning that goes into clothing one of the most famous women in the world in a new book that has been recently published.
Angela Kelly demonstrates how the cut of a collar, the shade of a umbrella handle and the bead-count on an evening gown take on incredible significance under the scrutiny of millions, at events like the Diamond Jubilee and the opening of the Olympic Games.
As the Queen's top designer, Kelly sketches at least four different designs for a particular piece of fabric, from which the Queen can choose. A fan is employed to test how lightweight materials like chiffon, organza or silk will move in a breeze.
Up to 12 people staff the Queen's wardrobe department for big occasions, including Angela, a personal assistant, three dressmakers, a milliner and four dressers, who, as their name suggests, help the Queen get dressed as well as keeping clothes in pristine condition.
After initial discussions, Angela makes notes of the Queen's wishes and ideas for alterations before producing a final technical drawing from which the pattern is cut, the Daily Mail reported.
Once the fabric and the design sketch have been approved, a prototype or toile, is made from rough cotton so that the finer details of design can be tweaked before moving onto the chosen fabric.
Everything is cut and shaped to match a mannequin to the Queen's size and body shape.
Once the final fabric has been cut and pinned to the mannequin, the dressmaker is briefed on the details like buttons, trimmings, collars and cuffs.
The designers follow a similar process for hats, with the prototype made from straw.
Designers like to give names to the Queen's outfits for reference purposes. It's vital to have a detailed log of outfits, for example, if Her Majesty wore red on a visit to the South of England, then that colour will be avoided for several months, even if the design of the outfits is completely different.
To keep track, all dressers have their own individual handwritten wardrobe diaries noting the details of each outfit and the event at which it was worn, and rotating them accordingly. This also helps if an outfit is lost or damaged.
In these austere times, the Queen will occasionally recycle outfits, but again these are staggered strategically throughout the year.
It's important that the colour chosen suits not only the Queen, but also the occasion and ensures that she's easily seen.
The dressers pick striking colours to ensure maximum visibility. If the Queen is planting a tree in a setting with a predominantly green background, for example, then that colour is avoided for aesthetic, and photographic reasons.
For a school, designers pick bright, jolly colours and use details that will appeal to children like feathers, twirls, twists, flowers and ribbons. Colours can also hold symbolic meaning like black for condolence and yellow for happiness.
When travelling by car and sitting down for long periods, the Queen's coat or jacket should not crease, but has to be both comfortable and practical, and must fall appropriately as she steps from a vehicle.
The same rules apply to her eveningwear - too much fabric makes manoeuvring difficult, and heavy beading can be uncomfortable.
Daywear is usually designed to stop just below the knee, whereas a cocktail dress tends to be just below or ballerina length.
Stairs can be problematic in long, fitted dresses, and to combat this, splits and pleats are always fitted into designs.
With sleeve length, Her Majesty prefers three-quarters and definitely not too wide as royal cuffs in the soup will never do.
Fitting sessions with the Queen can typically last half a day and Angela likes to ensure that the team has produced at least four or five outfits ready to be fitted at any one session to make the most use of the time.
Other than an occasional visiting corgi these sessions are strictly private and the design team are the only people present.
The Queen rarely changes her mind about an outfit at this stage, sticking with her initial decisions made at the sketch stage.
When a hat is part of an outfit, dressers must provide a matching headscarf in case it gets wet or damaged in the rain. Umbrellas are always transparent so spectators can still see her face, but come with a co-ordinated coloured handle and edged trim.
For her footwear, no matter what the occasion the Queen favours a 2in heel, though for uneven surfaces like cobbles, gravel or grass, she will wear flatter shoes.
The weight of her handbag is vital given the length of time she may be required to hold it. Longer handles are chosen, so the bag hangs from her forearm without catching on her cuff.
On the actual day of wearing, a team of three designers will prepare the outfit and a choice of accompanying brooches, shoes, gloves and headscarves.
Kelly concluded that months of planning comes to fruition as the Queen steps out and smiles.