Dressed to impress: The fashion at the Queen’s 1954 Shepparton visit

Latest fashion: Nancy Vibet, the wife of Shepparton’s Mayor, wore a Christian Dior New Look-style dress during the royal visit in 1954. Photo by Gabriel Garcia

With fashion and royal events being synonymous, The News looks back at what people wore during the 1954 royal visit.

It’s not every day you meet the Queen of the Commonwealth.

And it’s not every day that the Queen visits a city in regional Victoria.

But the 1954 royal visit to Greater Shepparton was one such day.

And for the locals, it was a day to get dressed up in their best.

Ken Cuthbert remembers the day well.

Aged only 14 at the time, he lined the street along with his peers from his school to greet the Queen and her husband, Prince Philip.

“People were dressed up, proper clothes and school uniforms,” Mr Cuthbert said.

For him and his classmates that meant tidy and pressed uniforms. The boys all had to wear their school caps and the girls, straw hats.

As for the rest of the public, they wore their best clothes, with hats and coats aplenty.

Fashion for the men entailed suits and ties.

For women, the early 1950s was the time of Christian Dior’s New Look.

This new fashion entails trended wearing dresses that were tight at the waist and emphasised the hips and shoulders. To achieve this look women wore petticoats under the dresses. The dresses finished below the knees as social conventions required.

Indeed, for the public, tidy and conservative dress was the order of the day.

As for members of the local military units and the police who lined the street, they were required to be in their parade uniforms.

The officials of the day were also dressed to impress.

At the official ceremony at Deakin Reserve the Queen was welcomed by Mayor Vincent Edward Vibert and his wife and daughter, as well as other local dignitaries.

As is customary at official events, the mayor wore the regalia of his office.

His wife, Nancy Vibert, wore a grey silk dress in the New Look style with a matching hat, both of which were custom made for the occasion.

As it was quite a sunny day and Mrs Vibert’s hat was wide-brimmed.

Not to be outdone, Queen Elizabeth II wore a Hartnell green paper shantung coat, over an orchid pink floral frock patterned with a deep blue convolvulus flower design. The coat featured soft revers and elbow-length sleeves with a knife-pleated skirt.

Both women wore white gloves, a common part of conservative female attire.

Prince Philip wore a suit and tie.

The importance of fashion was a theme that carried on throughout the royal tour both before, during and after the Shepparton visit. As it was the Queen’s first time in Australia, the desire to impress her Australian subjects was paramount and fashion was and still is considered a medium to convey positive messages.

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