DAVID GREENE, HOST:
In case you haven't heard, there is a royal wedding happening this weekend. And I know we've been hearing about the details for months now, but there's still actually quite a bit of suspense over some key details - like what bride-to-be Meghan Markle is going to wear. That's probably the biggest one. But Prince Harry's dress plan is cloaked in mystery as well.
Fashion journalist Colin McDowell has written about royal style for decades. And he has some theories about what this big day is going to be like and what we'll see. He joins me from London.
COLIN MCDOWELL: Hi. How are you?
GREENE: I'm good, although I'm a little terrified. I mean, I speak to world leaders. But I'm...
GREENE: ...Really scared to talk to you because I know nothing about (laughter) royal fashion. And I feel like that's going to be exposed here.
MCDOWELL: You're going to feel a much better and stronger man after we've talked.
GREENE: I appreciate that. Does royal protocol for this wedding really matter as much? Because the couple getting married has developed this reputation for breaking with tradition, hasn't it?
MCDOWELL: Prince Harry certainly has. I mean, he's been a tearaway ever since he came out of school. But he's absolutely, at this point, his own master. And I think it's just fabulous that he has broken all the protocol. I can imagine all of those girls in the Home Counties and in the Cotswolds and everything weeping salt tears because it's not them that were chosen. But I think he's made a damned good choice.
GREENE: Well, speaking of Meghan Markle, what...
GREENE: I know - what is she going to wear?
MCDOWELL: Well, the traditional royal dress is very traditional indeed, of course.
GREENE: Right, right.
MCDOWELL: It's long. It's white. It's often quite fussy. And it's got a train. Now, all brides want the train. But that's one of the problems to modernity. You can't have a train and come out in - I don't know - jeans or whatever. You know? I'd like to see her.
GREENE: (Laughter) That just doesn't work.
MCDOWELL: I'd love to see them both come down in jeans. No, I think she'll be very traditional and have an English designer. That is a pity because there are English designers who understand royal weddings. But there are American designers who understand modern free style.
GREENE: Do I remember the last royal wedding, that there was a princess - Beatrice, right? - who wore something that people were describing as resembling a toilet seat? Can you remind me of that?
MCDOWELL: It was hideous. It was by Philip Treacy. And I do hope he hasn't been able to get his hands on the bride-to-be for Saturday because I think that he doesn't quite understand what a hat is about.
GREENE: What was it? What was it that looked like a toilet seat?
MCDOWELL: It was a sort of twirly-whirly sort of thing, you know?
GREENE: Could someone do that at this wedding and grab the attention away from everyone else?
MCDOWELL: Well, the only thing that women really have to play with is their hat. And so we get the most fabulous hats, the most ridiculous hats and, of course, the most vulgar hats - mainly floral and all of this sort of stuff, you know?
GREENE: Well, the suggested dress code for men is morning suit or lounge suit...
MCDOWELL: That's right.
GREENE: ...And then for women, day dress with hat. What is...
GREENE: That's the more traditional stuff that we think of?
MCDOWELL: That's it. But I hope American guests - I hope they're not going to fall into that trap. I want them to be themselves, you know?
GREENE: I feel like if I were coming, I'd feel pressured to follow British rules and not want to violate anything. You're giving Americans who are coming license to wear whatever they want.
MCDOWELL: Sure. I mean, it would be disapproved of if they came down in boxer shorts or something like that...
MCDOWELL: ...'Cause there's got to be a certain amount of dignitas. But I certainly don't think that Harry will care particularly at all what people wear.
GREENE: Let me ask you about the queen. I mean, she's known for bright outfits at events...
GREENE: ...Like this. You think that will be her plan tomorrow?
MCDOWELL: Yes. She made a decision some time ago that with television being color, it was important that she stood out. What the queen has done is - all right, I want to stand out, so I'll wear purple. And when you've got white hair - I speak as someone who has - you can wear any color.
GREENE: Do you have a prediction on the color?
MCDOWELL: She doesn't normally wear red. I think she'll wear pink or pale green or blue.
MCDOWELL: Another thing about the queen - she has the most marvelously engaging smile. She might well be thinking - oh, my God, these shoes are killing me. I could kill for a cup of tea - blah, blah, blah. But it never shows in her face.
GREENE: Well, I can't wait to see that smile tomorrow.
MCDOWELL: You'll see it, certainly.
GREENE: I will - we will.
Fashion writer Colin McDowell, this has been a lot of fun. Enjoy the wedding.
MCDOWELL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.