What does one wear to receive a Damehood at the age of 86? It’s not a style dilemma many of us will face, and yet any woman of a certain age could take pointers from the elegant ensemble put together by Dame Mary Berry for her ceremony at Windsor Castle on Wednesday.
The former Great British Bake Off judge, who was made a Dame Commander for her services to baking and charity, looked chic in a £1,750 silk crepe cowl-neck shift dress with a bow belt by British occasion wear designer Suzannah. Dame Mary completed her outfit with a coordinating rose-embellished saucer hat and block heel court shoes.
Suzannah’s designs are favourites of the Duchess of Cambridge and the Countess of Wessex who love her ladylike, timeless creations for occasions like Royal Ascot and Wimbledon. ‘It was a lovely surprise to see Mary in my dress,’ Suzannah told The Telegraph. ‘I feel privileged. She wears the shape so elegantly! Many deserved congratulations.’
Besides the 86-year-old’s inspiring achievements in cookery and charity work (she is patron of Child Bereavement UK, an organisation she became involved with after the death of her son William in a car crash, aged 19), this look is just the latest example of Dame Mary’s prowess at dressing in a modern, chic way at a time when others might be tempted to stick to elasticated waists.
In 2012, she wore a bright patterned Zara jacket on GBBO which promptly sold out. It was one of the bolder style choices Dame Mary has made over the years, usually preferring neat knitwear and tailored blazers which are eye-catching yet sophisticated and compliment her petite figure. Off duty, she’s still comfortable in jeans and loafers, a combination she wore on Countryfile in 2019.
Statement necklaces are another Dame Mary signature, an idea which she carried through with the look she wore for her investiture by Prince Charles with the dress’s cowl neckline and a delicate beaded necklace.
In typical understated style, Dame Mary said that she would be celebrating her honour by ‘going home for a sandwich’. It’s that no-nonsense attitude which appeals with her fashion choices, too.
There is nothing OTT or overly experimental about her looks – she avoids the splashy colour clashing and avant garde silhouettes loved by her GBBO successor Prue Leith, making the case instead for flatteringly soft pastel hues and just enough complexion-enhancing twinkle. Her next big new accessory? That scarlet Dame Commander honour.
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