At the state banquet on Monday night, the Queen, the First Lady, Princess Anne and the Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge were all in white or shades of cream. There is no official dress code for the event that might mandate what they wear, so all of them matching is surprising, and fans are wondering if it’s intentional and if yes, why?
It is too unlikely for this to be a mere coincidence, but we have gotten no response from neither the royal family nor the White House on whether the choice of outfit was arranged beforehand. What we know for certain is that the stunning white dresses were not a requirement.
At a state occasion such as a banquet, “there are no colour requirements for women, and ladies have indeed worn all sorts of bright and muted colours,” writes Isabella Coraça, an assistant curator at Historic Royal Palaces of the Royals’ ensembles, in an email to Town & Country.
“Her Majesty the Queen usually favours white, but not as a rule. Similarly, there are no requirements for attendees to coordinate their outfits.”
With that confirmed, maybe the reason behind the abundance of white gowns at the event might have something to do with the colourful accessories usually worn by the royal women at such events.
“The Queen and the Duchess of Cornwall more often than not wear white for a state banquet, which works best with sashes and jewels,” observed Joe Little, the managing editor of Majesty Magazine, on Twitter.
“There are no hard and fast rules. In the past, the Duchess of Cambridge has worn red or blue, but now she has a Royal Victorian Order sash to wear.”
It would make sense that the Duchess of Cambridge would want to show off her new order against a black canvas, but even with the sash in consideration, wearing white is not compulsory. For example, Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, combined the symbol of the Royal Victorian Order with a pale blue gown on Monday night.
There has been no official statement for First Lady Melania Trump’s fashion choices either, but it is clear that whoever choose the wardrobe for her for the trip put much care and attention to detail in it. From the very start, her outfit choices were made to honour the country she is visiting, wearing a shirtdress printed with British landmarks, including Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, when she departed for Britain. She also brought along an ensemble of well-tailored silhouettes and hats in a mix of British, American, and European designers, her choices are a scrupulous example of sartorial diplomacy.
The First Lady, Melania Trump has had some trouble with her outfits in the past, causing some controversy with her choices, and it seems she doesn’t want to repeat them again. It is very likely that she consulted with the State Department’s Office of Protocol before selecting the items she would be bringing with her on the trip.
“The office carefully… prepare our President and first lady (and delegation) [for] what is expected all before the moment the door of Air Force One opens in England,” Pamela Eyring, the president of the Protocol School of Washington, shared in a recent interview with CNN. “This will include cultural customs and courtesies of the UK, arrival, motorcade route, security, media, weather, which could affect dress and attire at different events.”
During the preparations, she must have looked back at past events and seen that the Queen frequently wears white to State banquets, as well as other first ladies(Michelle Obama wore a white gown in 2011, and so did the Queen). So Melania Trump would have known that it would be a safe and respectful option, one very unlikely to cause any controversy.
“Historically, courtiers would use dress as a means to show their social status and wealth. White clothes, especially when made of fine materials such as silk and heavily decorated, were particularly useful for these means. White is not a very practical colour—it stains easily and shows even the smallest imperfections,” explains Coraça.
“That meant, its wearer did not have to carry manual labour and could afford to have different clothes for different activities. We have to remember that before the industrial revolutions, textiles were extremely expensive. So much so that in the 18th century, there was no invitation system at court; as long as you were dressed accordingly, you were let in.”
What we can say for certain is that all ladies looked absolutely stunning in the white gowns at the event. The men were pretty good as well, I guess.