Elizabeth Holmes is the ultimate go-to for all things royal fashion with her booming instagram account turned book, So Many Thoughts, or as she refers to it simply “SMT.” The style reporter veteran who’s fashion pedigree includes a decade at The Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth Holmes has also written for the Business of Fashion, InStyle, The New York Times, Town & Country and more.
Her first book, HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style chronicles the fashions of Queen Elizabeth, Princess Diana, Kate Middleton and Megan Markle in four sections. Holmes’s thoughtfully crafted, can’t-put-down book gives insight into the symbolism of the fashion choices royals make as well as the lasting affect fashion plays in the public being able to understand these royal women. Queen Elizabeth is consistent and classic, Princess Diana was on-trend and a risk-taker, Kate Middleton is feminine and timeless, and Megan is modern and stylish, but what does it all mean?! All four women have represented the royal family, and these tight-lipped royals are finally given a voice as Elizabeth Holmes artfully discusses who these women are through the fashion lens.
I was able to chat with Elizabeth to discuss HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style, the different styles of the royals themselves and what it actually all means. Read it below!
LAFM: Elizabeth, you’re a veteran fashion journalist that’s written (and been on staff) for everyone from the Wall Street Journal to InStyle, how does it feel to have written your first book?
Elizabeth Holmes: I was on staff at The Wall Street Journal for a decade, and that was an amazing experience as a young journalist to be with world class editors and writers and learn from them. When I left there in 2017, it was a little being a fish out of water. My whole professional identity felt very wrapped up in WSJ, and part of why I wanted to leave was because I wanted to experiment a more and I wanted to change my type of writing. WSJ has a very specific tone and approach and I wanted to meet new editors and writer for different publications.
In creating the So Many Thoughts (SMT) Instagram in 2017 and later working on the book, I was able to put my style reporter hat back on and really connect with people about what the fashion could be saying. At The Wall Street Journal I studied the business of fashion, the branding, the marketing and the messaging, and when you look at clothes through that lens, you see them through a different light. You see what an outfit is saying and what it stands for. The Royal Family puts a tremendous amount of effort in their appearance and as is is their job is to appear places while not giving any personal interviews or insightful speeches, they stand out in public, not just from their royal status star power, but also because of their carefully selected wardrobe.
I was able to merge my personal interest in the royal family and my professional background, and have some fun on Instagram, it was a dream of a side hustle!
LAFM: I love that your SMT Instagram stories turned into the IRL SMT book! Can you tell us your process of composing HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style, and some insight on which images and outfits you included and why?
Elizabeth Holmes: Sure! My So Many Thoughts instagram story really started as a way to entertain myself while I was nursing my son, I was scrolling on my phone and I saw a picture of Will and Kate and George and Charlotte and just being smitten with it! I saw that photo and thought: “I have so many thoughts on this!” When I started posting about it I realized there were other people that wanted to talk about this with me. Ever since 2011 I had always been interested in what the royals were doing and wearing, but my friend circle wasn’t as interested as I was. What’s amazing about the internet is you can really find your people that want to talk about this stuff! There’s something really really appealing with royal fashion, and I think therein lies the power in it. The economic power the royal family has-especially Kate and Megan with their choices-I mean it makes people want to rush out and buy exactly what they’re wearing! Their looks are carefully chosen for that reason, and once you really dive into it you realize that every look means something.
It’s so appealing and their fashion gets so much attention, it’s a real opportunity for them to use their clothes in a way that supports the causes or the brand or the efforts that they support.These women could wear anything, they have the world to dress them, so what they choose really matters and it really says something. The reason I wanted to expand my commentary beyond Instagram was to also understand the history around their style choices, understand the context of it. If you look at Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana and you see the choices they made and how they used their clothes, it provides so much more background and information to watching Kate and Megan today.
LAFM: How did you go about choosing which outfits you were going to include and exclude from the book? What was really important to include for you?
Elizabeth Holmes: Wrapping my arms around these women and their wardrobe was a real challenge. Queen Elizabeth has decades of public appearances, and even with Diana she was in the public eye for 16 years between her marriage and her death, and that’s a lot of clothes! I had to work really hard with my friend who served as the photo editor on the book to choose which outfits to include. We researched and looked for highlights, and from there really picked the ones that were the most meaningful.
The book is divided into four sections and done chronologically because I wanted to tell each woman’s story. Each woman gets her own section that starts out with a personal essay mixing their biography with the way in which they wore their clothes. It then goes into a series of photo pages for each woman, which are designed to have a theme. It was really important to me that this book be a mix of part coffee table book, part non-fiction book and as a writer that was difficult because I wanted it to function where you can just pick it up, turn to any page and dive right in, which is how it came out. It’s structured so you can pick it up and learn something about that woman and that outfit in that moment!
LAFM: There are so many amazing outfits these women have worn that you feature in your book, is there a specific outfit that’s your favorite?
Elizabeth Holmes: I would say the section on Princess Diana is my favorite. She was the newest to me, she brought freshness to the royal family in terms of her fashion and her charitable ways that was new and exciting to watch! The ways in which Diana made royal fashion exciting and emotional, she really was able to wear anything and make it work and amid her disastrous divorce when the institution was really challenging for her, her fashion statements helped to reclaim her voice. I think that was really inspiring me. If you look at the period of Diana’s life in the Royal Family and public eye, you start to see that her clothes represented a lot. She got married as a 20 year old, and her first fashion choices show that she was really trying to look the part of a grown up, a senior working royal. She wore very modest clothing like hats, high necklines and long skirts, and was very much trying to play the part.
Certainly as her marriage was falling apart, her fashion was saying ‘look at me,’ she was trying to get Charles’s attention, when at the same time the whole world was paying attention to her. Then Charles began to use her fashion against her, which is just awful to me; he used it to criticize her and depict her as shallow or frivolous.
She began to get more sophisticated and streamlined as you can see in the early 90s, her looks were getting much more grown up with shorter skirts and sophisticated suits for public appearances, but after her divorce she shed it all. She auctioned off some of her most famous gowns for charity-imagine Kate or Megan doing that today! She transitioned into this woman who wasn’t just a fashion icon, but she used fashion to tell a story. One of the most iconic pictures of Princess Diana is her walking through an active mine field in Bosnia and Herzegovina in a button down shirt and khakis, it’s not really fashion at all but it tells an amazing story. To know Diana through her clothes and to see her that way I think really speaks to the power of fashion and what it can say.
LAFM: As a veteran fashion and style reporter, what advice would you give to people looking to get into fashion journalism?
Elizabeth Holmes: I’m not one of those people who set out to be a style reporter. Early on in my career I was covering local news for a small television station and a newspaper in Chicago. When I got to the Wall Street Journal in 2007, I was assigned to cover the 2008 Presidential Campaign, something I was at first reluctant to do. But once I was on the campaign trail, I was able to see how much goes into representing a candidate-male or female through fashion. The amount of work that goes into crafting the visuals of a candidate-the visual staging-has helped me understand hoe the Royal Family coordinates all of that too. In 2009 when I came off the campaign trail, the Journal asked me to cover the retail side of fashion because the economy was falling apart. I suddenly had to jump in to looking at supply chains, and understanding how people were selling clothes and making clothes after the economy crashed. Covering all of this really gave me the lens to view the world from.
I see fashion as an art and as a business, and I think that’s what makes it so interesting to me. I love a good red carpet gown or very cool runway shows, but I think working as a style reporter and retail reporter I really got a deep understanding of it all, and can have a conversation about that. I really see fashion as a chance to represent ourselves and to understand that there is an opportunity every time we get dressed to wear a favorite color or an accessory that really means something to us.
Fashion is fun but it’s also very meaningful. I live in Silicon Valley where people act like they don’t choose fashion, but they’re really choosing anti-fashion, which is still a fashion choice. Every time you get dressed, you are projecting an image. I think fashion comes in many different forms.
LAFM: Tell us, what has inspired your personal style? And which of the Royals would you say your style is similar to?
Elizabeth Holmes: Now I’m a 30 year old mom of 3, what I need to wear and what I want to wear is very different, but I would say in general I gravitate more toward Kate’s style when it comes to a member of the royal family, though I have moments and outfit choices that feel like all of them! I’ll wear something a little bit modest and feel like the Queen, or something fun and exciting and feel like Diana, or more modern and feel like Megan. But for me my day-to-day is more Kate!
Which Royal has your go-to style?! Are you a Queen Elizabeth, a Princess Diana, a Kate or a Megan? I’m totally a Megan, but I definitely have my Princess Diana moments! To purchase HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style by Elizabeth Holmes and read all the goodies on your favorite fashion-friendly royals, head here! Did I mention it’s also the perfect gift for your BFF, Mother-in-Law and the fashionista in your life?! #LAFMApproved #SMT #RoyalFashion