Headbands. Square necklines. Statement necklaces. Big sleeves… Anne Boleyn is the inspiration behind some of 2019’s biggest fashion trends, and here’s the proof.
Anne Boleyn is the feminist icon that history often misunderstands, thanks to so many people focusing on that ugly ordeal with Catherine of Aragon.
But now, in 2019, things are changing. Far from just being the “beheaded” wife in the old rhyme about Henry VIII’s six wives, Boleyn’s real story is finally getting the recognition it deserves – with many recognising her as a smart, ambitious and fearless woman, who claimed the throne in a world of men who were waiting to see her fall.
Earlier this year, the former queen took on a starring role in Six the Musical – a modern retelling of the Tudor queens through pop music inspired by contemporary artists. And a new book, Anne Boleyn: 500 Years of Lies by Hayley Nolan, is set to expose the queen’s true tale when it is released in December.
However, Boleyn’s influence in popular culture doesn’t stop there. Her celebrated fashion choices in the 16th century court – inspired by the refined French court, a far cry from Catherine’s Spanish wardrobe of huge gables and high necklines – is making a comeback, too.
Don’t believe me? All you need to do is look at what you’re wearing, right now, to see how Queen Anne continues to inspire the nation some 500 years after her execution.
Think of the opulently coloured velvet headbands currently reigning on the high-street. And the sweetheart and square necklines favoured by Rixo. Ridiculously big and puffy sleeves are also the silhouette du jour. And Stylist’s fashion news editor, Billie Bhatia, is the proud owner of a ‘B’ necklace.
Confirming that Boleyn is back in a big way this season, Billie explains: “Move over Kate and Megan, Anna Boleyn is the unsung royal style icon of 2019. The infamous wife of King Henry VIII, Boleyn was frequently represented wearing a padded headband of sorts and a ‘B’ necklace with pearl trim. Tell me that’s not 2019?
“In fact, I would go so far as saying that’s Boleyn’s influence on our accessories game went as far back as 2018 when the fashion world clambered for Phoebe Philo’s last offering for Celine: gold, heavy set alphabet necklace charms.
“For those not able to get their hands on the deisgner version, there was high street offering in abundance and you were hard pressed to find a millennial not sporting an alphabet necklace. That coupled with our desire to be more Blair Warldorf saw many an Anne Boleyn wannabe walking the streets of London – myself included.”
And just this morning, Stylist’s writer Megan Murray dazzled us all with an Anne Boleyn-inspired dress, which she bought from Mary Benson London.
“As women become a more powerful presence in our society I definitely feel more empowered to express myself flamboyantly, and as the queen I am, in the way I dress. I first saw Mary Benson on Instagram after Fearne Cotton posted about one of he dresses and was struck by the uniqueness of her style,” says Megan.
“An independent East London-based designer, she makes all of her designs to measure from recycled materials meaning there’s only a few of every run, they fit you perfectly and have big sustainability points, too. Although she plays around with different styles, the Anne Boleyn-esque square neck and princess-like exaggerated sleeves are a reoccurring theme.
Megan adds: “I feel absolutely amazing wearing this dress. It’s got a big energy and I can’t make my way around the office without being complimented in it, either. I just think, why save fun clothes for special occasions? I prefer to make every day feel special and wear something fabulous that makes me feel like fashion royalty whenever I feel like it.”
Kate even recently paid the ultimate homage to Boleyn’s style by wearing a red headband at her nephew Archie’s christening.
With party season ahead, we can only see the thrills and drama of 16th century court outfits continuing to rule. Let’s just all try not to lose our heads about it (sorry).
Images: Getty / Lead image design: Alessia Armenise