by Jade Beer
‘For me a quintessentially British sense of style means dressing formally but simply. It’s quite relaxed, not fussy, more an understated elegance. The Queen has the most amazing collection of jewellery so for me the clothes are always a foil for what she might put on it. That’s the way a lot of grand English ladies are. Using the clothes to show something else off is very important for me.
The ability to be able to wear something again is very important. I make very few outfits that are only worn for one occasion. You will be able to wear them to another wedding, with a change of accessories. Different shoes, another hat and bag can change an outfit hugely – or you may wear it to a different type of occasion, maybe Ascot or a christening. It’s much better to invest in a piece that you wear and wear and wear. If you have a coat with a plain dress underneath it, change the dress to one with a print. Wearing something in a different season will naturally make it feel very different too.
We probably won’t see my vibrant green, double wool crepe dress and coat on the Queen again on the Buckingham Palace balcony, but you will see her wear it again. Historically she has always worn things more than once. She has re-worn the iconic outfit I dressed her in for Meghan and Harry’s wedding multiple times, including at high profile events like Chelsea Flower show.
You have to have something that is perfect for the photographs. Always consider that in the UK the weather can be anything, whatever the season. It means if it’s a blistering hot day, you may have to suffer for five minutes as you’re arriving but then you can go into the church, which is normally quite cold and feel fine, then when you arrive at the reception you can take the coat off. That makes your outfit very adaptable for the day. This is when you want to look immaculate; for the photographs when you arrive at the ceremony, when you leave the ceremony and when you arrive at the reception for the first drinks. Those are the most important times to look perfect. Be dressed for the right part of the occasion. When it’s 2am and you’re doing the highland fling, it doesn’t really matter what you’re wearing.
I would say mums should never wear white to their daughter’s wedding. There are thousands of other colours in the world you can wear. Leave white for your daughter. You can wear a pale pink, a cappuccino tone, black and white or navy and white. I think a white dress at a wedding should be worn by one person and one person only.
I’ve spent so much time with mothers of the bride who feel because the flowers are crimson, they have to wear something that colour. You don’t. Even if you have the most elaborate flower arrangements in the world, it’s still just one part of the entire day. If puce isn’t your colour, don’t wear it just because it matches the flowers or bridesmaid dresses. I think it’s nice if the groom can wear a little something that connects with the colours but really what you want is something you’re going to wear again, everyone to be comfortable and wearing something that suits them.
Even if your bridesmaids are wearing dresses they’re happy with in the same colour range, there is always a compromise involved. Because of that, the chances of them wearing it again are going to be limited so whatever you do, I would be inclined to think of it as a one wear garment.
If you are going to a party, you want the host to say in advance, I’m wearing this, do feel free to wear this, this or this. But don’t tell your guests to wear anything they like which might mean a denim mini skirt when you’re intending to wear a full length, fully beaded gown. That is not acceptable.
What the male guests are wearing is more defining. If they are wearing beige linen suits that sets a tone. If it’s white tie, that sets a completely different tone. If it’s black tie, you know as a woman that places you in a cocktail dress or evening dress. But going to a party of any sort with no guidance whatsoever is very difficult.
For a venue like Tythe, there are certain looks I know I wouldn’t choose. Avoid the really formal fabrics, the high-necked, long-sleeved, the very cathedral-orientated gowns. From my collection, I would be looking at the separates, a big full skirt, a camisole, a lace jacket that you can belt. That kind of thing would be beautiful. Think about texture too with silk faille, silk satin and lace or any of the dresses that are made with a dupion because that’s a light, slightly less smooth textured fabric – a touch more rustic. You want to avoid a shoe that’s all beads and crystals and very high glamour. Eschew the very structured formality.
I’ve got a really beautiful dress called Love The One You’re With which has a tiny shoe-string strap, a draped chiffon bodice and tiny lace waistband and then a big full chiffon skirt which is two layers of chiffon and two layers of charmeuse, and that sort of thing would be beautiful for Tythe. Then keep everything else very fresh and fun.’
Head to the feed here to hear how Stewart felt the moment his green coat and dress were worn by the Queen for her balcony appearance on the Platinum Jubilee weekend. Plus, more on his sources of inspiration, the Queen’s favourite colour, what she never wears and his favourite milliner.