Known for her suave style and glam, we've compiled a list of the Princess of Wales' most iconic fashion looks in celebration of her 41st birthday!
From the time of her entry into the royal family, to now as she moves into a more senior royal role, the Princess of Wales is known [amongst other things] for her effortlessly elegant wardrobe, one fit for [dare we say] a future Queen.
2010: Something Blue
The dress that started it all. To announce their royal engagement, Kate donned a sapphire-coloured Issa London wrap dress, one to compliment her blue sapphire engagement ring passed down from her late mother-in-law; Lady Diana. This dress started what later became the ‘Kate effect’ with the high-street outfits worn by the Princess instantly selling out and inspiring other brands to make copycat pieces.
2011: A Royal Wedding
It was arguably the most anticipated royal wedding dress, and wedding, that this generation will see; and the Alexander McQueen gown did not disappoint. It marked the start of her relationship with the British brand which still stands strong today. Kate’s April nuptials were preceded by whispers and speculation about her gown and how it would look. The reportedly [£355,000] custom gown was designed by creative director Sarah Byron and featured handmade lace and hand-cut flowers on a classic full-sleeved silhouette - finished with an 8-foot train.
2011: The Marilyn Moment
As with all newly wedded royals, the end of the honeymoon period marks the beginning of the royal tour and shows off the new family member in all their glory. Kate & Will began their tour with a nine-day journey through Canada. It was here that Kate made her first [albeit comical] faux pas. The warm climate allowed for a summery wardrobe, which is often unforgiving to wind. Kate wore a pale yellow Jenny Packham tea dress, and the wind showed more of her legs than initially intended. No stranger to royal etiquette, the princess laughed off the event, but unexpectedly it became one of her most iconic looks.
2015: The Outfit Repeater
One of the Princess’s most endearing and related qualities is that she never shies away from a re-wear, including the structured white Alexander McQueen dress coat that she wore for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele, one of her most wore silhouettes; complimenting the modest dress-code expected for senior royal family members. Kate would later re-wear this outfit to the christening of her second child, Princess Charlotte, two years later.
2019: East meets West
Many liken Kate Middleton’s ease and grace to that of Lady Diana, and following in her footsteps, she also attended a royal tour of Pakistan in 2019. Her outfits from the four-day trip paid homage to the modest traditional styles of South Asian clothing, another reminder of her late mother-in-law Lady Diana, who also donned traditional Pakistani clothing while visiting the country in 1991. Rather than donning her usual roster of British designers, the Princess turned to renowned Pakistani designers to wear on their home turf, including Élan and the iconic Maven khan turquoise salwar kameez she wore during a Quran recital at Lahore’s Badshahi mosque.
2020: The Lady in Red
Not one to shy away from colour, or sparkles, Kate wore the signature Needle & Thread Aurora Ballerina Dress to the UK-Africa Investment Summit at Buckingham palace. The gown recently entered the forefront of fashion lovers after she wore the same dress to appear in the promo video for the 2022 carol service at Westminster Abbey.
2021: Bond Girl
When Kate and Wills wed, it became clear they represented a young, socially relevant couple who bridged the gap between royalty and celebrity, often attending the London premieres of the latest blockbuster releases, as did Lady Diana. At the UK premiere of No Time to Die, she wore a breathtaking gold sequinned Jenny Packham gown with a shoulder cape detail. The centre gathering of the fabric and shape of the outfit was a nod to that worn by Princess Diana at the 1985 premiere of A View to Kill.
2022: A Shoulder Moment
On a roll with her choice of evening gowns for movie premieres, Kate opted for a daring off-the-shoulder gown for the Top Gun premiere in London. She paired the form-fitting monochromatic Roland Mouret gown with sleek hair and diamond Robinson Pelham earrings, the same jeweller who designed her wedding earrings and a favourite for her personal jewellery collection.
2022: The Funeral
Among fashion moments, 2022 also saw the solemn end of an era for the most celebrated monarch in history, Queen Elizabeth II. As the world flocked to London, or their tv screens to witness the funeral of the monarch, as with any major royal event, everyone was waiting to see the first glimpses of the family. It was the first moment the public saw Kate in her new role, which if anything, solidified her position as the family’s new style icon, a position previously occupied by the Queen. Kate stayed true to how her journey with the royal family began, with a black Alexander McQueen coat dress paired with a veiled hat and the queen's favourite accessory; pearls. The Japanese pearl choker was gifted to the Queen by Japan and was the same piece that Kate wore to the funeral of the late Prince Philip.
2022: Fit For a Princess
At a state banquet for President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, Kate made her first official appearance as Princess of Wales, in an ivory Jenny Packham cape gown, completed with embellished shoulders and a roster of royal jewels. Her earrings were a pair of South Sea pearls belonging to Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth’s pearl bracelet and Queen Mary’s ‘Lover’s Knot’ Tiara, one which has been donned by the succession of senior royal women.
Kate’s journey from a normal girl, to Duchess, to Princess of Wales has been subtle and graceful, with nuances in her fashion choices telling the story.
Explore Coco Chanel's revolutionary fashion legacy at the "Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto" exhibition, a mesmerising journey through her iconic designs that continue to influence women's style today.
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