Palace cover up

Actress Emma Thompson raised a few eye brows at her recent investiture at Buckingham Palace to receive her Damehood when she paired a classy, smart blue trouser suit with white trainers. Putting comfort before royal protocol might seem sensible but trainers – even designer ones – are a fashion faux pas in royal circles.

While cosmetic entrepreneur Charlotte Tilbury, above, looked absolutely stunning darlings when she picked up her MBE from Her Majesty The Queen, she came in for a lashing in the press for wearing a rather revealing black dress. Like the white trainers, the plunging neckline is not fitting with royal protocol.

Should you be lucky enough to receive a letter inviting you to an investiture to receive your honour, you will receive instructions about the dress code, which should be read carefully.

The dress code for recipients is formal. For men, that is morning dress, military uniform or lounge suits. National dress is also acceptable. For ladies, hemlines should be on the knee, dresses should not be too low and small hats are de rigueur. Fascinators are out – apparently the Queen doesn’t like them. Revealing, transparent fabrics, too, are definitely a no-no.

For both men and women, your suit or outfit has to stand the test of time. Remember, your family will be looking at the photographs for decades to come and, if you are a celebrity, a bad choice of dress will haunt you and reappear in the press time and time again.

Joyce Young, a designer of special occasion outfits, has been dressing ladies for their investiture for decades. Her advice is: “It is a formal occasion and the look must be smart, elegant and simple. Go for plain colours rather than patterns. It’s not a wedding, so hats should be unfussy and small. Look at the sort of outfits Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, wears and copy her style.”

From receiving a letter from the Cabinet Office asking you to accept an Honours Award to attending your investiture normally takes about six months giving you plenty of time to choose the perfect outfit that looks good and is comfortable.