Queen Elizabeth II was a bright spot in the world in more ways than one. She was, by all accounts, a warm and gracious monarch who led her country through storm after storm with “timeless decency and an enduring calm,” as Australia’s prime minister put it.

Yet despite her reserved demeanor and steadfast sense of duty that harkened to a much more modest age, the Queen had what appeared on the surface to be a surprising sartorial sense. Do a quick Google Image search for “Queen Elizabeth style” and you’ll see what I mean. Her outfits...

Queen Elizabeth II was a bright spot in the world in more ways than one. She was, by all accounts, a warm and gracious monarch who led her country through storm after storm with “timeless decency and an enduring calm,” as Australia’s prime minister put it.

Yet despite her reserved demeanor and steadfast sense of duty that harkened to a much more modest age, the Queen had what appeared on the surface to be a surprising sartorial sense. Do a quick Google Image search for “Queen Elizabeth style” and you’ll see what I mean. Her outfits were often brightly colored and recognizable. Despite this, though, she wasn’t known, as Princess Diana was, for being a trendsetter, exciting fashion magazines and red-carpet commentators with “look what she wore!” moments. The Kim Kardashians of the future won’t “pay homage” to the Queen’s “iconic” dresses, thank goodness. That’s because, though vibrant, the Queen’s attire was always as classic, polished, reliable, and sensible as she was.

The author of the late monarch’s autobiography, Our Queen, quoted her as saying, “I can never wear beige because nobody will know who I am.” What a quaint thing for an uber-famous ruler to think! At a diminutive five feet, four inches tall, it was reported that the Queen purposefully wore “eye-catching colors to make it easy for crowds to spot her during royal events.” (Though seeing the off-duty Queen mucking around on-farm in Wellies or beating the bounds in a classic khaki trench coat with her kerfuffle of Corgis was always delightful, too.)

Yet once she caught your eye, in a neon green coat dress with matching hat, white gloves, and pearls, or blaze orange coat dress with matching hat, white gloves, and pearls, or hot pink coat dress with matching hat, white gloves, and pearls, or… it was a reassuring site to behold. There stood the Queen, smiling pleasantly in cheerful colors, her very presence sending the same message time and again: the monarchy is still firmly here, still a sign of hope and optimism, still steeped in tradition, and still standing in defiance of modernity’s tawdry trends.

Contrast the Queen to, oh, I don’t know… Meghan Markle, whose every seam, turn of the cuff, and length of shoelace (probably) sends a contrived message. The woman has an agenda — she expressed her preference for a particular clothing brand because it’s “highlighting the diversity of the UK and the immigrant culture and how it was part of the fabric of the nation” — and she isn’t afraid to wear it on her sleeve, literally. She is also a big fan of neutral shades, sporting beige with abandon, evidently assuming no one could ever not know who she is.

It grows tiresome, doesn’t it, always forcing everything to be a cause or campaign? Not so for dear Elizabeth II, who always appeared charmingly cute, proper, put-together, and just so, a leader embodying “strength, manners, stoicism, and loftiness.” The Queen wasn’t out to make a statement, reinvent herself with a minimalistic neutral ensemble in keeping with dreadfully banal contemporary fashion, or do anything else with her fashion choices other than let her subjects know where she was and that she was always there for them. She drew attention to herself but not for herself.

To see the Queen standing in her uniform, with only the hues varying, was like coming home. When she appeared, it was always the same happy and refreshing reminder that there existed in the world at least one noble person proud to fulfill her position of servant without making the occasion an act of showy self-aggrandizement. I aspire to grow old and be half the ladylike figure of encouraging benevolence that Queen Elizabeth II was. And I hope to be able to own a highlighter green coat dress and hat with even just a dash of the sweet, unassuming style that she did.