Crowning of a style queen: From haute couture to the High St, Kate hasn”t put a foot wrong in the fashion stakes this year
Just over a year ago, the Duchess of Cambridge appeared alongside her Prince to officially announce their engagement.
She wore a stunning royal blue Issa jersey dress. It was to be the first of many pitch-perfect fashion moments.
Kate’s style has come a long way in the nine years since she was catapulted onto the fashion catwalk at St Andrews University, wearing a 30 dress designed by her friend Charlotte Todd.
As the then girlfriend of Prince William, Kate’s sartorial choices came under much public scrutiny — and she made mistakes. Some thought her skirts were too short, and her country tweeds too old and frumpy for a young woman in her 20s.
Katherine Hooker tweed coat (500), Vivien Sheriff fascinator (450), Russell & Bromley ankle boots (235), – lifeboat launch in Anglesey, February
Cream frock coat by Alexander McQueen (2,290), Phillip Treacy hat (840) – Trooping the Colour, June
Navy military coat, Alexander McQueen (1,395), Rachel Trevor-Morgan hat (525), Prada shoes (500), Anya Hindmarch clutch (995) – Irish Guards ceremony, June
Claret Ami coat, LK Bennett (345), Reiss belt (69), Stuart Weltzman Zipkin boots (409), clutch bag (241), Unicef visit in Copenhagen, November
High Street hits
Beige Shola shift dress, Reiss (175), LK Bennett shoes (160), Anya Hindmarch clutch bag (259), meeting the Obamas in May
Lace dress, Zara (69.99), Ralph Lauren jacket, Gary Barlow charity concert at Royal Albert Hall, December
Chiffon dress (195), Joseph jacket (495), Whiteley hat (99), LK Bennett bag (140) and shoes (180), the Epsom Derby in June
But since the couple’s engagement last year, Kate has found the confidence to develop her own style. It’s never been confirmed whether the Duchess has a stylist, but her look is thought to have been greatly influenced by Nikki Pennie, ex-public relations manager for the Issa label.
This year has seen Kate complete her transformation into the archetypal modern ‘Sloane Ranger’.
It’s a look that is much copied — High Street labels Reiss and LK Bennett have enjoyed a record year of sales thanks to Kate’s support — and one that has propelled the Duchess to the top of numerous Best Dressed lists, including those of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Vanity Fair magazines.
Kate is also responsible for the year’s ultimate fashion moment with her incredible wedding gown, and has helpedshine a light on British designer brands like Erdem and Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton (designer of said wedding dress).
Kate favours unfussy, fitted styles that accentuate her athletic frame. She keeps detailing, such as embroidery, to a minimum and has tended towards a muted palette in recent months.
Her style evolution is arguably at its most heightened when it comes to dressing for black-tie galas and her choices have shown a remarkable maturity and an intuitive knack of dressing impeccably for each occasion.
But undoubtedly the most striking thing about the Duchess’s style is the way she has brought a dashing sense of frugality to the Royal family. With her love of chains like Reiss, LK Bennett and Zara, Kate has opted for clever combinations of accessories to elevate her thrifty choices — Anya Hindmarch, Mulberry and Prada are all favourites of hers.
Black hat by Jane Corbett (350), Remembrance Sunday, November
Red maple leaf hat by Sylia Fletcher at Lock & Co (285), Canada Day in Ottaway, July
Hat by Gina Foster (410), wedding of Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall, August
Pale lilac pleated silk gown by Alexander McQueen, Jimmy Choo shoes (435), Jimmy Choo clutch (295) – BAFTA gala in LA in July
Red silk maxi dress by Beulah (565), Wilbur & Gussie Edith clutch (160) – 100 women in Hedge Funds gala, October
Embroidered and sequinned roase gold gown by Jenny Packham (3,835), LK Bennett Agata shoes (175), Prada clutch bag (350) – charity gala, June
Black velvet gown by Alexander McQueen (4,000), Pretty Ballerinas velvet clutch bag (99) – military awards evening, December
If there is one thing the newest member of the Royal Family has to master it is millinery, but Kate has triumphed, ditching the fascinators that she used to favour and, instead, commissioning bolder pieces.
Despite fashionistas yearning for herto be more daring, our future Queen has remained true to her own style while rising to many varied occasions. For this, she should be applauded.
Next year, as the Duchess turns 30, we expect her fashion evolution to continue. As she grows in confidence,she may return to some of the bolder colours we saw before her engagement.
The Duchess has also pledged to champion lesser-known independent British designers — something she put into practice with her mulled-wine coloured coat on Christmas Day.
Of course, there’s one style avid royal watchers would like to see Kate in next year — and that’s maternity wear. But of that prediction, only time will tell…
The Big Day
Evening dress by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen – post-wedding party, April
Blue chiffon by Zara (49.99) with black jacket by Ralph Lauren – going away outfit, April