The Royal Family Dress Code Rules You Didn’t Know About

The Royal Family Dress Code Rules You Didn’t Know About
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Photo: STYLECASTER/Getty Images

Pretty much everyone knows who the British royal family is, and us Americans are especially obsessed. There are the dresses, the events, the scandals being resurfaced by Netflix’s The Crown. But what goes on inside their well-guarded, iron-gated castle is still a huge mystery. We know Queen Elizabeth, we watched Prince William and Kate Middleton get married, and we were there when Prince Harry proposed to Meghan Markle, but a lot of what makes the royal family so intriguing is that they’re an elusive, unreachable group with tons of well-kept secrets. (Don’t expect a “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”-style show with The Queen anytime soon.)

MORE: Why Meghan Markle’s Latest Hairstyle Is Such A Big Deal

One of the secrets we’re dying to know about is the rhyme and reason behind some of the royal family’s most talked-about outfits. Yes, we’re talking about the royal family dress code. Because we couldn’t just waltz inside Kate Middleton’s closet or talk to a royal family stylist ourselves, we scrounged up seven rules (from U.K. sources like The Sun and BBC) that give us a glimpse into what the royal family is thinking when they walk into their closets every morning.

From why you’ll never see Meghan Markle in colored nail polish again to the reason you’ll never catch Prince George wearing shorts, here is your inside look to the royal family dress code.

A version of this article was originally published in December 2017.

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Kate Middleton Hands
No Colored Nail Polish

Unless you're eagle-eyeing the royal family's hands, you might not notice that the women are never spotted with colored nail polish. According to OK! magazine, the royal family—particularly women like Kate Middleton, Queen Elizabeth, and now, Meghan Markle—are prohibited from wearing non-natural-looking nail polish, which is why they often stick to nude and taupe colors. In fact, according to Refinery29, the royal women swear by Essie's $9 nude nail polish. Middleton's favorite shade is Allure, while The Queen is known to sport Ballet Slippers. Only time will tell what Markle's go-to shade will be.

Photo: Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth
The Reason The Queen Always Wears Hats

Queen Elizabeth is a trendsetter with the fabulous, colorful hats she sports on the daily. But there actually might be a reason behind her extravagant fashion fixation. According to Diana Mather, a scholar of English etiquette, The Queen is frequently seen in hats because of an old tradition prohibiting women from showing their hair—thus the purpose of hats.

Though the rule is now clearly outdated (as proven with Kate Middleton's drool-worthy locks), The Queen—for the most part—still stays true to it, choosing to wear hats for formal occasions.

"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," Mather told BBC. "But all that has changed and hats are now reserved for more formal occasions."

Photo: Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth Spice Girls
Why The Queen Always Wears Gloves

Once a fashionable accessory, gloves now protect The Queen from germs and outside bacteria when shaking hands with dozens of people a day. (Yes, even the Spice Girls can hold nasty germs.) And while The Queen doesn't live in gloves (it really depends on who she's meeting that day), you'll be hard-pressed to see her at a public event without them.

"Let's not forget she doesn't always wear gloves when meeting people, therefore it depends on what she is wearing, where she is and what she is doing," British etiquette expert Grant Harrold, told BBC.

Photo: Getty Images
Prince George
The Reason Prince George Is Only Seen in Shorts

Even in cold weather, you'll see Prince George, Prince William and Kate Middleton's son, in shorts, and here's why. According to a Sun interview with William Hanson, a British etiquette consultant, pants on young boys are considered "suburban," whereas shorts are indicators of a higher class.

Further, shorts also differentiate royal children from "men," who are allowed to wear trousers without the same stigma. Hanson estimated that George will begin wearing pants at "seven or eight years old."

According to Harrold, the rule comes from another rule in the 16th century permitting royal sons to only wear dresses and gowns until the age of 8. In the 20th century, the rule was amended to include shorts. "Thankfully in late 19th Century and early 20th Century this developed into shorts. This tradition is carried on by the Royal Family to this very day," Harrold told BBC.

Photo: Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth
Why The Queen Always Wears Bright-Colored Outfits in Public

Other than living life on the vibrant side, there's a reason The Queen is frequently seen in bright-colored outfits. According to Harrold's interview with BBC, The Queen wears vibrant articles of clothing to stand out in crowds when she's in public. The expert credits the move to The Queen's personal assistant, Angela Kelley, who recommended bright colors to differentiate The Queen from commoners. After all, The Queen did reportedly say, "If I wore beige, nobody would know who I am."

Photo: Getty Images
Prince William Kate Middleton
Why You'll Rarely See the Royals in Jeans

Though it's more lax nowadays, there is a rule preventing the royals from wearing jeans—most of the time. According to Mather, there is a specific protocol for the royal family if they want to dress casual. Women are steered toward wearing day dresses or trousers with a jacket or cardigan, whereas men are recommended to wear chinos with a collared shirt or blazer. However, there are exceptions.

"Many places will not allow jeans as they are still seen as very casual wear, so it is better to play safe for both sexes," Mather told BBC.  "But if the duchess is outside walking the dogs for example, then jeans are fine."

Photo: Getty Images
Kate Middleton
When Kate Middleton Is Allowed to Wear a Crown

You'll be hard-pressed to find a picture of Kate Middleton wearing a crown before she was married, and there's a reason why. According to Mather, crowns, tiaras, and the like are reserved for married women and members of the royal family. Harrold also adds that the headpiece also communicates to single men that tiara-wearing women are off limits.

"For married ladies it was a sign of status and would show you were taken and not looking for a husband," Harrold told BBC. "For the gentleman it was a clear sign not to make advances toward the lady in question."

Photo: Getty Images

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