Royals have been influencing the nation’s style for years, long before fans could look them up on Instagram. But while Kate Middleton’s most memorable fashion moment will always be her iconic wedding dress – sparking trends for brides for years to come – it’s her more relatable looks that have cemented her as a style influencer. The Duchess of Cambridge, 38, regularly triggers brands to sell out of whatever is revealed as her latest outfit choice in what’s dubbed “the Kate effect”.
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There’s no question that Kate has good fashion sense, and it’s no wonder that her grown-up style that’s just the right side of formal is so popular.
But while Kate’s most loyal fans may be lucky enough to snap up one of her dresses if they’re fast enough, her clothes often sell out within hours – if not minutes – of her royal engagements.
So how can you dress like the royal, even if you can’t own her exact clothes?
Rich Simmons, Lead Stylist at online personal styling service Stitch Fix UK, summed up the Duchess’ signature style: “Kate is very elegant when it comes to her style, even when she’s dressing casually.
“Often, Kate is a fan of classic silhouettes – pieces that would typically transition well from desk to dinner but will bring in her love for colour to keep things feeling contemporary and fresh.
“Expect to see pussy-bow collar blouses in bright colours, pleated skirts or lace panels in otherwise minimal dresses.”
Simmons added that her mix of high street with high end fashion is also what makes her so popular.
“The best thing about her style is that she’s a fan of the high street as well as designer brands,” said the stylist.
“You might see her wearing a beautiful Temperley London dress, but that doesn’t dissuade her from pairing it with some trendy £8 earrings from Accessorize.
“Whilst her wardrobe staple is a pair of skinny jeans teamed neatly with a fitted blazer, you’ll also often see her in a striking, often patterned midi dress – it’s a versatile signature style, and one that she’s absolutely made her own.”
Rich also noted her recent support for sustainable fashion houses such as Faithfull the Brand, and her go-to shape – an A-line that nips in at the waist for graceful, flattering fit.
Kate’s style has also evolved over the years, Rich mused: “In the early 2000s, Kate didn’t wear patterns too often, unless in the case of a simple floral number.
“However, she then started to experiment with prints more, like the blue polka dot dress she wore when introducing her first born, George, to the world, which has since become one of her most iconic looks.
“More recently, striped tees have also started to become one of her go-to looks, something we’ve seen her revisit even more so since lockdown.”
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But while the mother of three’s style has changed, her influence has only grown – making it harder to copy her wardrobe.
“Her style is so admired that when she wears something, it sells out almost immediately,” agreed Rich. “That’s why it’s great to turn to personal stylists like those at Stitch Fix, as we can help you recreate your own version of her look.”
So if you want to dress like Kate but tailor it to your own size, shape and budget, here are the key style tricks the Duchess of Cambridge uses to wow her royal fans.
Pick a colour that complements your skin tone
“Kate is very often seen wearing bright colours; her favourite go-to, however, has to be green,” commented Rich.
“This is likely because it goes very well with her dark eyes and rich, brunette hair.
“She does a great job of sticking with a palette that suits her colouring, which is certainly a guide that most can follow.”
While Kate opts for bolder shades rather than pastels, you can copy the shapes of her clothes while picking a colourway that suits your skin so that it doesn’t drain you if you’re on the fairer side.
Know your Duchess-approved brands
Loyal fans will know that Kate often goes back to the same labels time and again – so depending on your budget, you can do the same.
“Alexander McQueen is synonymous with Kate Middleton when it comes to luxury fashion, if you’ve got the bank balance for it!” commented Rich.
“But luckily, she’s such a fan of the high street, too, so when my customers at Stitch Fix are requesting the classic side of Kate’s style, my go-to brands are Whistles, Marella or our own brand and in-house design favourite, Editor’s Cut.
“When they’re looking to build out those easy casual styles, I’ve found Stitch Fix’s in-house Mauvette is a great brand for those feminine touches she loves, as well as Rag & Bone or Petite Mendigote.
“I’d also recommend Spanish favourite Mango for everyday styles, and Ghost for those elegant feminine dresses. 7 For All Mankind is great for a pair of countryside-appropriate chic jeans.”
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Style for your shape
Anyone watching the royal wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William would have noticed her tiny waist, with reports that the Duchess was as small as a size 4 at one stage.
But while not everyone has the same slim frame as Kate – especially post-pregnancy – anyone can take style notes from the royal and make them work for their body shape.
“Whilst Kate is fairly evenly proportioned, which allows for her to wear most fabrics, cuts and shapes, these looks can be replicated for most body types,” agreed Rich.
“Fabrication is often the most important factor here. Some of her preferred higher necklines can work if choosing fabrics with the right amount of stretch.
“If you’re loving her tendency towards fitted silhouettes, be sure to find the shape that works best for you; I had a recent request from a customer who wanted a Kate-esque look in her dress selection but was not keen on a fitted waist.
“Being on the taller side I chose a midi length and switched to an empire line, which achieved the look but was better suited to her proportions.”
But taking style tips needn’t just be about the shape of the clothes – after all, it’s not what you wear, but how you wear it that makes a true fashion icon.
“Embracing Kate’s style can be done through wearing bright colours, polka dot prints, accessorising with some high-street jewels, or pairing simple white trainers with a striped tee and a navy blazer,” added Rich.
Whatever Kate wears in the public eye, there’s sure to be thought behind it; from meaningful colours and jewels to the rules dictated by royal protocol, you can guarantee her wardrobe choices are very deliberate.
“Kate likes to coordinate her outfits, and there’s often a notable theme to them, whether it’s by dressing George and Charlotte in the same royal blue, or wearing blue on the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the NHS,” explained Rich.
“It’s that attention to detail that always completes each and every one of her looks – something we can all take note of and learn from.”
Find your fashion comfort zone
Ultimately, Kate always looks good in what she wears because she knows what suits her, commented Rich.
“Kate is clearly adept at knowing what works for her and what doesn’t.
“She is able to switch between Parisian-inspired chic, to modern-classic styles we come to expect from royals, to a far more relaxed and dressed down preppy look with ease,” he explained.
“The ‘trick’ here is that she sticks to the fits, colours and shapes that suit her – and this principle can be applied to everyone!”
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