The transformation of the Countess of Wessex has been slow but nonetheless dramatic.
Royal watchers have noticed that a new and refined elegance has emerged in her style, with braver, figure-skimming fashion choices replacing the boxy skirt suits she previously favoured.
There are glamorous Emilia Wickstead jumpsuits, for example, and exotic prints in jewel shades.
Now The Mail on Sunday can reveal her secret: that she has taken the advice of not one but two fashion stylists – her close friend Georgie Pincus and Pandora Delevingne, mother of supermodel Cara.
And Sophie is not the only Royal to have sought professional help. A quiet revolution has been taking place in the House of Windsor.
The transformation of the Countess of Wessex has been slow but nonetheless dramatic (before, left, and after, right)
Sophie, Countess of Wessex, at Ladies Day Royal Ascot 2019 in an Emilia Wickstead ‘Hullinie’ crepe jumpsuit’ £1,225. Jane Taylor ‘Veil-Trimmed Halo’ headpiece’ £985. Beauchamps of London ‘Hutchinson’ clutch’ £250. LK Bennett ‘Harley’ pumps £195
A troop of discreet style professionals has begun overhauling its ladies from frump to fabulous. Gone are the unflattering hemlines, clunky colours and unfortunate millinery mishaps.
In their place are cinched waists, elongated silhouettes, metallic fabrics and occasional nods to catwalk glamour.
The outfits, whether for a charity polo match or a visit to a children’s hospital ward, offer an intriguing insight into the wearer’s personality.
Stylists in today’s industry work collaboratively with their clients, including elements of their character, a nod to the nature of an event or, indeed, to its host.
The Duchess of Cambridge is said to favour this kind of ‘literal dressing’ while carrying out Royal duties.
During her first official trip to Ireland in March, she wore emerald green to pay homage to her hosts, a strong signal that she takes her duties seriously.
Here, The Mail on Sunday reveals the unacknowledged experts breathing fresh life into their wardrobes… and the Monarchy itself.
THE CLOSE FRIENDS
The stylist and shopper: Georgie Pincus and Pandora Delevingne
The Royal: The Countess of Wessex
For years, Sophie Wessex, 55, railed against designer outfits. Before her marriage to Prince Edward, the former PR executive was a fan of practical corporate attire – no-nonsense skirt or trouser suits in navy or grey, cut sensibly just below the knee.
It took Georgie Pincus, who used to run a fashion consultancy, to encourage Sophie to embrace a more glamorous image. Pandora Delevingne, formerly a personal shopper at Selfridges, helped hone her look.
Today, the hemlines have dropped to maxi or mid-calf length, which elongate her slender frame, while block colours in monochrome or bold shades are far more flattering to her warm blonde colouring.
Cara Delevingne’s mum Pandora (left), formerly a personal shopper at Selfridges, and Georgie Pincus (right), who used to run a fashion consultancy, have transformed Sophie Wessex’s look
The expensively cut outfits, by designers such as Suzannah and Valentino, drape beautifully, making her appear years younger. The wide-legged Emilia Wickstead jumpsuit she wore to Royal Ascot last year is a case in point.
Georgie, 49, who has been friends with Sophie since the Countess’s 1999 marriage to the Queen’s youngest son, lives in Ascot, Berkshire – near Sophie’s home in Bagshot Park.
She studied fashion at the Paris College of Art and has also styled Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington, but has now given up work as a stylist to train as a yoga teacher.
THE NEW YORK GRADUATE
The stylist: Sarah Price
The Royal: Princess Eugenie
Poor Eugenie, along with her sister Beatrice, has been mocked for her crimes against fashion.
But by the time she stepped down the aisle for her wedding to Jack Brooksbank in 2018, in an elegant gown by Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos, her transformation was complete.
Now, Eugenie’s style is glamour with an edge, and uses artful fabrics, understated colour, longer lines and tied-in waists to make the most of her figure.
Princess Eugenie at the Animal Ball May 2019 in a Peter Pilotto ‘Gradient’ midi dress’ £1,900 Valentino ‘Rockstud 100’ pumps £535
It’s all thanks to impeccably connected Sarah Price, 40, a graduate of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology who worked with Hollywood stylist Rachel Zoe at US luxury brand Halston.
Now based in Notting Hill, Sarah is so discreet and in-demand that her company, Style Tonic, works only with referrals.
She has been credited with introducing both Eugenie and Beatrice to pared-down, less famous labels – such as the metallic ombre Peter Pilotto dress Eugenie wore to the Duke of Edinburgh Awards at Buckingham Palace in May 2019.
THE TATLER TWINS
The stylists: Lady Emily Compton and Olivia Buckingham
The Royal: Princess Beatrice
The Philip Treacy headpiece Beatrice wore to William and Kate’s wedding became an internet sensation for all the wrong reasons. It was not the first – or last – time the fashion world has been unkind to Beatrice.
She has stylist Charlie Anderson to thank for helping guide her towards a more stylish look.
Princess Beatrice at the Garden Bridge dinner 2015 in an LK Bennett ‘Susan’ floral skirt’ £175 Bottega Veneta ‘Knot’ clutch £1,260 Jimmy Choo sandals £525
She was behind the A-length metallic maxi skirt with sharplycut blazer Beatrice wore to a Harrods gala in 2015 – creating edge and showing off a slimmer figure.
From that the 32-year-old has gone on to win serious plaudits for her sartorial choices after style duo and close friends Lady Emily Compton and Olivia Buckingham took her in hand.
They helped her choose a navy sheer lace Self-Portrait gown for Lady Gabriella Windsor’s wedding in May 2019 and have been on the payroll since then.
Lady Emily Compton and Olivia Buckingham (left) helped transform Princess Beatrice while Sarah Price (right) worked on Princess Eugenie
Lady Emily, 40, a former society editor for Tatler magazine, is the daughter of the Marquess of Northamptonshire and his third wife, Rosie.
She teamed up with Olivia last year to form style consultancy, Emily & Olivia.
The duo don’t believe in a ‘one-size-fits-all service, or creating identikit looks directly from the catwalk’.
THE AUSSIE ADVISER
The stylist: Annie Miall
The Royals: Zara Tindall and Autumn Phillips
Neither Zara nor Autumn are officially working Royals – but both have struggled in the fashion spotlight.
Olympic medal-winning equestrian Zara, 39, was more comfortable in jodhpurs topped with shapeless coats.
Autumn Phillips at the Royal Ascot 2019 in a Claire Mischevani bespoke jumpsuit’ £995 Sally-Ann Provan ‘Greta’ hat £450 Emmy ‘Rebecca’ pumps’ £395
Zara Tindall at the Ladies Day Cheltenham 2020 in a Laura Green ‘Josephine’ coat £2,900. Juliette Botterill Millinery ‘Bow and Arrow’ hat, £490. Emmy ‘Rebecca’ pumps £395. Laurence Coste ‘May’ earrings £95. Aspinal of London ‘Mayfair’ bag £650
Canadian Autumn, 42, who is set to divorce Zara’s older brother Peter Phillips after a 12-year marriage, came from a corporate background in management consultancy and at times struggled to co-ordinate her formal outfits.
Step forward Annie Miall – the down-to-earth Australian with a background in psychology who understands better than most that fashion can make a statement.
The former HR professional, who charges nearly £600 for an initial session, encouraged Zara to go for sharply cut pieces that skim her figure by designers such as Laura Green – who earned her spurs at Princess Diana’s favourite brand, and Catherine Walker, who designed the houndstooth coat and silk shirtdress Zara wore to the Cheltenham races in March.
Annie Miall (pictured) has guided Zara Tindall and Autumn Phillips
Still country-style – but more chic.
Annie is also behind Zara’s dramatic percher hats by Rosie Olivia, Sarah Cant and Juliette Botterill.
Autumn, meanwhile, has been advised to stick to block colours such as the blue jumpsuit by Claire Mischevani she wore to Royal Ascot last year.
THE DARING COMPANION
The stylist: Natasha Archer
The Royal: The Duchess of Cambridge
She is a global style icon. But it took stylist Natasha Archer years to guide Kate away from her ‘safe’ girl-next-door wardrobe towards something a little more daring.
The knee-length hemlines, blazers, nude court shoes and block colour dresses have been dumped in favour of wide-legged trousers, silk pussy-bow blouses, on-trend prints and peplum waistlines.
Married to Royal photographer Chris Jackson, mother-of-one Tash has worked for Kate since 2011 and guided her towards fashion-forward pieces by Gucci and Tabitha Webb as well as the stunning Alessandra Rich gown she wore in Dublin in March.