Seven style lessons to take from Denmark’s new Queen Mary

Queen Mary
The new queen's style treads the line between traditional protocol and current fashion

While the previous queen of Denmark, Margrethe II, was famed for her eccentric sense of style, newcomer Queen Mary is all about elegance.

Margrethe was a queen who relished wearing neon-bright clothing at every opportunity, who was inspired by the art world and designed her own jazzy raincoats. Her daughter-in-law, by contrast, is immaculate – the archetypal Scandi minimalist.

That’s not to say that her wardrobe is boring, though – far from it. Australian-born Queen Mary, 51, is widely credited as the ultimate royal influencer, the leader of a modern generation which is gradually now taking over the thrones of Europe. Her style treads the line between traditional protocol and current fashion, in a way that has been supposedly used as a template by others – from Queen Letizia of Spain to our own Princess of Wales.

“Queen Mary’s style is simple, very Nordic and elegant,” says Soeren Le Schmidt, the 35-year-old Danish designer who created the white dress worn by Queen Mary for her husband’s proclamation (the Danish equivalent of a coronation) on Sunday, as well as several others in the past. “Often when I have designed for her it has been very graphic and architectural. That style I think suits her very well.”

Queen Mary Denmark fashion
Queen Mary of Denmark after the proclamation - Getty

Le Schmidt had 14 days to turn around the bespoke look, commissioned after Margrethe abdicated on New Year’s Eve. “I am very grateful, it is such an honour,” he adds.

Le Schmidt is just one of the young Copenhagen-based designers that the new queen counts as a go-to. But she isn’t a shopaholic and has worked consistently with her stylist Anja Camilla Alajdi, ever since her 2004 marriage, to re-wear her clothes in new ways.

She added 70 new items to her public wardrobe in 2023, according to the royal fashion tracking website UFO No More, almost half that of the Princess of Wales.

Now that Mary is queen, there was an expectation that she may step up that pace a little – however in her first outings this year, she has reworn pieces by Birgit Hallstein.

Queen Mary's style 'treads the line between traditional protocol and current fashion' says Leaper
Queen Mary's style 'treads the line between traditional protocol and current fashion' says Leaper

“Reusing and rethinking is a key concept in Scandinavian fashion, so I think it’s also very modern and relatable that she has worn the same styles in different public appearances over the years,” says Thora Valdimars, co-founder of the Copenhagen label Rotate.

After the then-crown princess attended the brand’s sophomore fashion show in Copenhagen in 2019 to show support, Valdimars and her business partner Jeanette Madsen considered themselves fans for life. They sell a “Mary dress” in her honour.

“What I love about her is that she’s always pushing [the types of fashion] you could expect from a royal,” adds Madsen. “She has an incredibly elegant take on emerging Danish designers, and every time we see her re-wearing Rotate it feels like a dream.”

Here are the seven style tips which anyone could take from Queen Mary.

Liven up your basics

Queen Mary has an extensive collection of black polo neck knits and classic white shirts – yet she never looks boring in them. Her trick is to use them as layering tools, adding an extra dimension (and crucial warmth) to her outfits, particularly during the winter months. This look here works because of the black base knit – even though the grey Mark Kenly vest is the first piece you look at.

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark in black polo under vest
Black polo neck knits are an essential layering tool for your wardrobe - Getty Images Europe

Elegance comes from accessories

The queen is rarely seen without a sharp and high pair of pumps on her feet – her collection includes styles by Prada, Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik. The style elevates every outfit she wears, and as such she rarely deviates from it. Mary’s other tricks include adding glossy leather belts to define her waist, as well as carrying top-handle and box bags exclusively, owing to their neat, no-mess shape. Her favourites include Bottega Veneta’s Intrecciato Knot Clutch, and Carlend Copenhagen’s envelope bags.

A sharp pair of high-heeled pumps and an envelope bags are signature Queen Mary accessories
A sharp pair of high-heeled pumps and an envelope bags are signature Queen Mary accessories - Getty Images Europe

Inject newness into your look

Queen Mary typically values style over trends, yet she makes an effort to stay alert to what’s new. There is barely a designer label in Copenhagen that she is yet to try (and she gamely attends the city’s fashion week shows). She clearly likes to support and promote national talent on the world stage, but equally in doing so she is introduced to new ideas, prints and cuts. Rotate was founded in 2018 – the Queen bought this dress in 2019, and was last seen wearing it in April 2023.

Queen Mary supports Copenhagen designers in her sartorial choices – such as this Rotate dress
Queen Mary supports Copenhagen designers in her sartorial choices – such as this Rotate dress - Getty Images Europe

You can make high street buys look expensive

Much of the tailoring in Queen Mary’s wardrobe is in fact from the high street. She’s a fan of Massimo Dutti and Zara, yet shops and styles her hits using a strategy that makes them look far more expensive. Firstly, it’s all about colour choices. The queen selects trouser suits in dark green, burgundy, navy and other rich tones, that can never look cheap or garish. Secondly, she always pairs the lower priced items with something more expensive to lift the look – be that snakeskin Gianvito Rossi heels or heirloom brooches.

queen mary in green suit
Pair high street tailoring with more expensive items for a polished look - Getty Images Europe

You don’t have to wear jeans

Mary is the queen of alternative casualwear – we almost never see her in blue jeans. When she is leading a more casual engagement she sometimes dresses in a palette of khakis and brown tones, which feel a little less obvious. That, or she will wear a denim Ralph Lauren shirt with black bootcut trousers – flipping the more “casual” element to the top for a change.

Queen Mary Denmark fashion
Mary is 'the queen of alternative casualwear' says Leaper - Getty

Buy occasionwear separates

Rather than always wearing a new dress, Queen Mary is known for wearing (and re-wearing) separates on formal occasions. Case in point, on January 4, she wore a Jesper Hovring black velvet jacket, last seen in public a decade ago, with a Rachel Gilbert satin skirt that she had also worn before.

It’s a tip that anyone shopping for a wedding guest look this spring might adopt; separates can be mixed and matched again and again. Mary could also dress down that velvet jacket with black trousers.

Queen Mary Denmark fashion
Formal separates are much more versatile than a new dress - Getty

If in doubt, add statement earrings

Almost all of Queen Mary’s outfits are finished off with the addition of drop earrings. Depending on how loud the rest of the look is, they may be chandeliers in scale, or pretty little pearls. Either way, it’s an easy one to try at home when dressing up any look – whether you’re off to a state banquet, or out for dinner at your local.

Queen Mary Denmark fashion
Drop earrings can dress up any look - Getty

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 1 month, then enjoy 1 year for just $9 with our US-exclusive offer.