This article originally appeared on Southern Living. For more stories like this, visit southernliving.com.

SouthernLiving.com/Meghan Overdeep
Jun 11, 2018 @ 6:00 pm

When it comes to making public appearances, Queen Elizabeth is nothing if not predictable. You can always count on the British monarch to be wearing a bright, monochromatic ensemble and carrying a matching purse in her gloved hands.

We know why she opts for bright clothes (to stand out in a crowd) and the important reason she carries a purse (to send subtle signals to her attendants), but what’s the deal with the gloves?

To find out, Reader’s Digest recently spoke with the Queen’s longtime glove maker, Cornelia James.

Genevieve James, creative director and daughter of the founder, told Reader’s Digest that the Queen wears gloves for a number of reasons. Not only do they complete her outfits, they also protect her hands from dirt and germs when shaking hands all day. “I imagine she always has two or three pairs in her handbag to spare,” said James.

The Queen is also exceptionally practical when it comes to her gloves. According to James, instead of tossing each $140 pair out when they show signs of wear, her majesty will opt to have them washed and repaired. “I think the royal family wants to be seen as being economical, not wasting money on things like that,” James noted. “She’ll wear her gloves for 40 years and will pull some out from a long time ago.”

And they’re not just any gloves. Queen Elizabeth typically wears the gloves from the Francesca or Regina collection, but with a bit of customization when it comes to their length and fabric (Swiss cotton jersey). James said that her custom gloves stretch five inches from the base of the thumb up the arm.

“When you’re the queen and you’re shaking hands, you don’t really want to show your arms,” she explained to Reader’s Digest. “The glove goes a bit under her [sleeve], so you don’t actually see any arm.”

Cornelia James’ other royal clients include Kate Middleton and the late Princess Diana. Middleton is reportedly a fan of the merino wool gloves with a bow from the Imogen collection.

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