Royal festive fashion with Elizabeth Holmes
So Many Thoughts founder talks us through a royally seasonal wardrobe
Tis the season to be merry – and to marvel at the royals and their fabulous festive outfits.
And who better to talk holiday style with than one of royal fashion's leading commenters, Elizabeth Holmes. In a Royal Club special, Elizabeth sat down for a cosy chat with HELLO! US's editorial director and honorary Royal Clubber, Justin Ravitz.
The pair took a deep dive into royal Christmas style over the years, with Elizabeth spotlighting the fashion of the Princess of Wales, the Duchess of Sussex, the late Queen Elizabeth II, and more.
Many of you may be aware of the American journalist behind the uncommonly astute, comprehensive and addictive Substack, So Many Thoughts.
Elizabeth spent over a decade on staff at The Wall Street Journal covering multiple beats. Her focus on the royals was a slow build at first. She got married in 2011, the same year as Prince William and Princess Kate. "That's when I really started paying attention. What Kate has done is she has made the royal conversation relatable," Elizabeth told Justin. "It's not just a commoner marrying a Prince, that fairy tale, but also the way that she has presented herself in a very accessible way."
By 2017, Elizabeth had become a freelancer, relocated from NYC to LA with her family, and just had her second child when she noticed, and then obsessed over, a holiday card of William and Kate. That yielded a viral Instagram post, then the So Many Thoughts Substack and a New York Times-bestselling book, HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style.
"I don't think there's any fashion quite like royal fashion," said Elizabeth. "There's a lot of beautiful clothes that celebrities wear on the red carpet, but royal fashion really has to speak. It's an integral part of the job."
What makes her So Many Thoughts Substack so indispensable is her expansive, expert-driven approach to analysing every royal outing and every outfit — and her frequent tips for her readers on recreating some looks themselves.
"I have bought a couple pieces that the royals have worn," she said. "It's a very fun and special thing to wear something that they have also worn, and there's no other fashion that's like that. It feels different when you're wearing the J Crew cardigan that Meghan Markle wore — through that, they've made people feel like this very fancy, ancient and formal institution is approachable and interesting."
Read on for Justin's chat with Elizabeth…
Justin: It's Christmastime! There's something quintessentially British about the aesthetic and vibe of Christmas. Agree? Why do you think that is?
Elizabeth: I do. For starters, the sovereign is the head of the Church of England, so there's a very strong religious element to it. I also think that London at Christmastime is the most magical place. And the royal family goes out of their way to make themselves visible on this holiday in a way that always surprises me.
The Christmas Day walk has become a thing to watch, for them to head to church and greet the crowds and have their pictures taken. Those pictures spread all around the world in seconds. It's a glimpse into their personal and private traditions, and that's very exciting.
Justin: What makes a royal holiday look? Let's talk colours, patterns, textures and accessories — and how folks might recreate these looks for themselves.
Elizabeth: The royals love literal dressing, So if you're looking to dress like a royal during Christmastime, embrace those Christmas colours: red, green and some metallics. It doesn't have to be a fiery cherry red or a bright emerald green. It can be something a bit more muted. It can be a cranberry hue Kate really loves, or a darker green is very chic too.
And then on top of that, you can layer in some really delightful textures. The late Queen was wonderful at this; she would have a little fur cuff or a fur hat. She would put feathers in her hat, something to make it more special. Don't shy away from metallics; add a little bit of sparkle. It's never too much, though the royal family do keep it quite proper. Kate and Diana embraced plaid, in a way that was very Christmassy. Some reds and some greens in there. That speaks to that wintery country vibe.
Justin: So, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex. We won't see her at official events, but we might glimpse her over the holidays depending on what she and Harry choose to do. But what has generally been her holiday style vibe?
Elizabeth: What we saw from Meghan on her Christmas Day walks when she was a senior working royal, she embraced neutrals; sometimes it's not all about red and green, and you want to stay truer to your personal style. And so that first time, she wore tonal browns and camels. Very chic. She also wore an all-navy look which is a great classic neutral and goes with just about anything wintry for Christmas.
I will say for their Christmas cards that we've seen from the Sussexes, they have had a more casual vibe, which is always a delightful thing to see from the royal family. When you see a distressed jean or cuffed sleeves on a collared shirt, it's so relatable, and feels much more intimate than a proper dress and suit.
Justin: How would you advise anyone that wanted to recreate these more traditional royal Christmas looks from Kate et al?
Elizabeth: There's something for everyone out there. You don't have to run out and buy new things. You can look at what's already in your closet and then style it with a little something. You might get a new hat, a headband, a statement scarf, something like that. Kate, I believe it was in 2020, accessorised with a beautiful scarf. Layer on to your existing outfits — and don't be afraid to go all in.
For instance, don't be afraid to wear head-to-toe red — I recently did that for a holiday party. It takes a minute to talk yourself into it, 'Am I walking out like this?' It's just so bold, and that monochromatic look is obviously very royal so that you stand out. But Meghan, Kate, the Queen, and Diana have all worn red head-to-toe.
Well, we don't know about you, but we can't wait to see what festive looks the royals pull out on Christmas Day at Sandringham this year. And no doubt we'll be tuning in to So Many Thoughts to read Elizabeth's royal style expertise.
Have you say, Royal Clubbers!
We love placing bets with each other at The HELLO! Royal Club, but we'd love to hear your predictions on what colour or colours you think the Princess of Wales will step out in this year. In the past, she's worn red, green, grey, tartan… let us know what you think she'll go for in the comments.
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Last week Emily's newsletter focused on the show of unity from the senior royals following the Endgame drama and controversy, as well as Queen Camilla's touching Christmas engagement at Clarence House, which is, incidentally, one of Emily's favourite events to cover in her busy diary.
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