After 3.5 weeks of immobility, I finally gave in and subscribed to Netflix - mostly to catch up on The Crown. They don't call it a "Costume Drama" for nothing. The Queen keeps her mouth buttoned in almost every situation - she's no mouth breather - but her clothes speak volumes.
She wears yards of super-expensive fabric in every scene. The show must have at least 4 or 5 people on set just to iron her skirts. Even when she's traveling in Africa, she is never sweat-stained or wrinkled. Didn't Marjory Post maintain that the secret to looking upper class is taking perfect care of your clothes? I would add to that: stick with natural fibers. Elizabeth favors very structured cotton and silk dresses. Everything has a combed smooth surface. Even in her nightgown, she is never casual.
Her pearls are an important supporting character - you expect to see them in the credits. Weird fact: most pearls are not expensive. You can buy the cultured kind on eBay for less than 50 bucks. The Queen's pearls are different from eBay pearls. They definitely came from Tahitian oysters. In season one, she wore a single strand, but she's graduated to three strands in season two. Prediction: the pearls themselves will grow much bigger in Season 3.
I can remember only one scene on the show when the Queen went shopping. She didn't seem to take much pleasure in it. Are we supposed to assume that other people pick out her wardrobe? That doesn't ring true - the formal gowns, maybe, but the cashmere sweaters and pleated skirts are all her. She must choose them. Here's how I imagine the Queen shopping: she turns to her lady-in-waiting, and says, "ring up Harrods and have them send over another handbag exactly like this one, but slightly larger and in navy."
Why has the Queen always carried a handbag? She goes everywhere with a huge team of servants. I can't imagine her opening up her purse and taking out a charge card. Maybe there's a lipstick in there? Emergency pair of hose?
Claire Foy is a really interesting actor. The only thing I've seen her in before was "Little Dorrit" on Masterpiece. In the original Dickens novel, Little Dorrit is sickly sweet, but Claire Foy found the steel in her. She was no cardboard saint. How does an actor that young manage to be so guarded and subtle? She was really born to play the Queen. I'm kind of disappointed that they plan to replace her when the show moves on to the royal couple's middle years. However, the mood of the show is not especially theatrical, and fake-aging her might be too stagey.
Although The Crown puts the Queen in some spectacular gowns, sashes and tiaras, my favorite clothes are the ones she wears in private. You forget that back in 1955, matching suits and handbags were extremely chic. She isn't frumpy at all. It's a conservative look - but it's got panache and authority. Her sister, Princess Margaret, looks a little overdone by comparison (although I love her clothes too - especially her pants).
I just watched the first episode of Season 2 of The Crown this afternoon. The Queen takes a pretty serious personal hit - then she tells absolutely no one about it. She is more than her own emotions. She has a job.
The dress above could be worn today. Who doesn't love a good shirt-waist dress? I would jettison the pearls and the handbag (too on-the-nose) and replace with woven sandals and a brown leather cross-body. The confidence I would keep.