First Ladies Discuss Outfits With the Queen so They Match During Visits

  • Anita McBride served as first lady Laura Bush’s chief of staff from 2005 to 2009.
  • McBride coordinated with Angela Kelly, Queen Elizabeth’s dressmaker, before state visits.
  • Kelly shared what color Queen Elizabeth would be wearing so that Bush wouldn’t clash with her.

If you’ve ever noticed how Queen Elizabeth’s outfits always seem to coordinate well with other world leaders, it’s no accident.

Anita McBride, who served as first lady Laura Bush’s chief of staff from 2005 to 2009, remembers conferring with Queen Elizabeth’s dressmaker Angela Kelly before the royals’ state visit in 2007.

“I had a couple of follow-up conversations with Angela about what color the Queen would be wearing, so that Mrs. Bush would be complementing [her],” McBride told Insider. “And I just remember her saying she would likely be wearing white. And I said, ‘OK,’ which is all we needed to know.”

President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush greet Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at a state dinner at the White House in 2007.

First lady Laura Bush wore a light blue Oscar de la Renta dress that complemented Queen Elizabeth’s white gown.

Win McNamee/Getty Images


Queen Elizabeth did end up wearing a white gown to the White House state dinner. Laura Bush stood next to her in a light blue custom Oscar de la Renta dress with a matching jacket.

Before any state visit, a delegation from the visiting country’s head of state meets with White House staff to plan out every last detail of the trip, including wardrobe choices.

McBride told Insider that logistical conversations like these are held “out of great respect for your visiting guests.”

“Those kinds of behind-the-scenes conversations are really part of the larger planning and protocol and discussions that go into an event like that — down to clothing, food, menu, and flowers, and all of those things,” she said. “When it’s done right, it conveys a great sign of interest and respect in your guest and pride in how the US and how the president and first lady have welcomed a foreign visitor.”

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