A Royal Dress Code

Meghan Markle has been all over the news this week, between announcing her second pregnancy and opting out of royal duties. Despite this break from tradition, public appearances are not unusual for anyone in the royal family. Elizabeth, Diane, Kate, Meghan—they’ve all had their moments when the whole world was watching.

Sometimes the only reason people tune in to royal events is to see what everyone is wearing. There is a strict set of fashion rules royals have to follow, especially when it comes to public appearances. I mean, come on, we’ll never see Kate Middleton in a crop top and blazer, though we’re sure she could work it!

Let’s take a look at just a bit of the royal family’s dress code:

  1. Handbags are carried in the left hand, which frees up the right hand to wave, shake, and greet the public. Handbags and clutches can be held in both hands in front of the body if the royal wants to avoid shaking hands.
  2. Dresses and skirts should be kept around knee-length, never more than a few inches above the knee. No minis for royalty!


  1. Jeans are allowed but must be worn very casually…like to walk the dog.
  2. If you’re a royal bride-to-be, the Queen herself must approve your wedding gown, which sounds super chill and not intimidating at all.


  1. No colorful manis for royalty. Only subtle pinks or clear polish are allowed.
  2. Tiaras are for married women only—and only for the most formal events.
  3. Handbags are used to send signals to staff. If the Queen is ready to leave dinner, she sets her bag on the table. If you’re talking a bit too much for the Queen’s liking, you’ll notice her switch her bag to the opposite hand.


  1. Hats are worn at formal occasions such as weddings and christenings.
  2. Royal family members must pack a spare black outfit for every trip, in case someone dies.
  3. For young boys, it’s a long-standing tradition to wear shorts until they reach about eight years old—the proper age for trousers.


  1. Weights are sewn into the hems of dresses to prevent any wardrobe malfunctions.
  2. Gloves and pantyhose are not required but are highly encouraged.
  3. While abroad, fashion should honor the country the royal is visiting. That can mean donning a national color or wearing a designer from that country.
  4. Royals know to wear fabrics that don’t wrinkle easily. This way, in photographs, they appear even more polished.
  5. Heels shouldn’t be too high for two reasons: one, so royals don’t walk sloppily and, two, so they don’t appear as though they’re “too tall.”
  6. Hair should be kept neat and natural-looking, so no crazy cuts or colors. The same rule applies to makeup, meaning we’ll never see a full contour or a bold lip on a member of the royal family.



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