Picture Post: The Palace catwalk, 19.03.08

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The Independent Online

If the invitation from Buckingham Palace were ever to come through, you'd probably wear your Sunday best. In that respect, the sartorial choices made by those receiving an OBE or MBE are like those made for weddings or funerals. What you wear on such an occasion is a social indicator. Witness, for example, the wildly different approaches taken by those receiving investitures yesterday.

By their wardrobes at least, police officers Matthew Baggott and Amanda Mason demonstrate the diversity of the contemporary copper. Leicestershire Chief Constable Baggott, receiving a CBE, went for the proud-officer look, with a uniformed chest boasting an impressive serving of fruit salad. His colleague, Inspector Mason of West Midlands Police, looked decidedly "off-duty" as she collected her Queen's Police Medal in a fetching pink-striped wrap dress. Neither choice would have got them nabbed by a courtier – Buckingham Palace says there is no official dress regulation.

Most smart was Jasper Conran, collecting an OBE from the Prince of Wales (standing in for mama yesterday), who is every inch the dandy. As well he might be – this man is a fashion professional. One can almost imagine him wearing that rakish topper to the office every day, can't one?

By contrast, Sir Nicholas Kenyon, the former director of the Proms and manager of the Barbican Centre, aims for the subdued, respectful, pastel-coloured look often favoured by luvvies. And what of that other sartorial cliché, the architect? Well, David Adjaye (collecting an OBE), known for the dynamic, colourful façades of his buildings, doesn't wear the archetypal all-black ensemble but instead opts for a dynamic, turquoise shirt.

Top marks for guilelessness must go to lollipop ladies Lucy Vale MBE, and her daughter Mary, who came down from the West Midlands and didn't forget their hats. The most leftfield choice came from England's top pistol-shooter Michael Gault, who appears to be dressed as a nightclub bouncer as he shows off his OBE. Still, he has a lovely smile and a shiny medal.