Kate Middleton, like her late mother-in-law Princess Diana, is undoubtedly in the spotlight, on the fashion radar, and being worshiped as a style icon. From the glossy dark locks on her head to the Jimmy Choos on her feet, the elegant Duchess of Cambridge’s every look is trashed, praised, and duplicated by women around the world harboring a desire to dress and feel like a princess. With her image splashed across every newspaper and tabloid, it’s hard to avoid critiquing her latest flawless outfit or coveting her killer head of hair, and it seems every female with even a little interest in the “who’s hot, who’s not” of fashion has an opinion to voice. “Hair up”, “Less eyeliner”, “Could she get any skinnier?” are among the most common, but more interest lies in what she’ll wear next. From tailored suits to stunning dresses that stay loyal to femininity and modesty, Kate demonstrates how to dress like royalty – and like a true lady.
“Big deal” says an exasperated friend, as I salivated over yet another fabulous coat from the wardrobe of the woman living the fairy tale. “If we had unlimited funds, we could all look that well put together, too.” Obviously. But taste cannot be bought, and no one has to marry a prince or win the lottery to look expensive. Furthermore, Kate shows by example, that more fabric doesn’t mean less sex appeal. Channeling classier eras when putting together a wardrobe meant sticking out like a sore thumb in a society embracing the mathematics short + tight = sexy, a modest style of dress was mistaken for matronly and old-fashioned (as if the latter could ever be a bad thing). Actresses, rock stars, and models perpetuated the belief that to dress revealingly is to dress young. So, while I admired the style of times past, it took me awhile to dig my beloved purchases from antique fashion stores out of the back of the wardrobe and wear them confidently. The reactions were mixed, good and bad. People who didn’t love it would put the question to me: “You do realize it’s not the 1950s anymore, right?” But I’ve never read such comments directed at Kate.Young women admire her sophisticated and practical style and are inspired to incorporate elements of her look into their own wardrobes. Allow me to be yet another woman with an opinion to share on Princess Kate’s greatest looks, and why they work well.
While Kate remains loyal to class, I remain so to color. Disputing through dress, the assumption that looking like royalty limits a woman to the hues of typical formal attire: black, white, navy, gray, and beige, the 29 year old doesn’t shy away from bold and bright even though she evidently prefers neutral colors. She does take simplicity into consideration, which is important when it comes to garments in shades that are a statement all on their own. The key to pulling off that brightly colored frock that feels fantastic is to limit hair, makeup, and accessories to the bare minimum, unless of course you’re aiming for tacky, and in that case, more is never enough, and I wish you well. Clearly, Kate recognizes less is more, and in the first look, she lets her vibrant purple Issa dress take center stage accessorizing with a black clutch and matching pumps, and her trademark thick mane restrained in an unpretentious up-do. I love how the dress is cut high enough on the chest to be modest, but low enough to look sexy, and how if the hemline had been any higher this would have been a flashy, gaudy affair; any longer and it would be at risk of looking less age appropriate. The gathered material at the waist is flattering and feminine. It’s nice to see designers who still know where a woman’s waist is, and how to emphasize it instead of the hips.
In the second look, Kate wears a Diane Von Furstenberg frock that doesn’t impress me on it’s own, and if it were a duller hue, is the kind of dress I would do housework in. (If I ignored the price tag.) But the spectacular shade of green works wonders for this dress and the neutral beige shoe is a wise choice. Kate defies the rule that applies to figures subject to public scrutiny:, to not be photographed in the same thing twice, by wearing the same simple, but lovely, shoe in the third look, with a royal blue lace Erdem dress. The lace being restricted to the neckline of this dress is what makes it fabulous instead of excessively extravagant. While I’ll never know exactly how much hair spray or hair brushing goes into it, her hair at least looks effortless and natural, and doesn’t distract from an eye catching dress, neither do the neutral accessories. On that note, Kate really does this neutral and bold combination well, and it looks stunning. The key to going bright is to avoid anything that clashes and competes for attention, and Kate succeeds at it admirably. I’m so inspired by the princess that I couldn’t imagine not owning a beige heel now when they never appealed to me before (because they look unimaginative on their own). Pick up a pair, match it with a bright outfit, and see the magic for yourself!
Moving along, past color that pops, to the fourth look, and a return to subtle shades that are no less stunning. Yes, there’s those beige shoes again, and I can vouch for the fact they’re addictive. You could wear them to bed and no one would blame you. If they were permanently glued to my feet, it wouldn’t be terribly upsetting. You get the point. They go with everything, and look great, what else could you want in a shoe? In this look, Kate combines the neutral shoe with a neutral frock, proving these beige beauties are incapable of ever looking out of place. The olive green waistband delivers this Malene Birger dress from drab and transforms it into fab. There’s no sin in not dressing up beige. There’s a beautiful softness about it and it’s encouraged me to stop looking at all neutral as bland, but natural.
Outfit number five makes me weak in the knees. There’s nothing I love more than a smart looking tailored coat dress in black or navy. As Kate shows here in Alexander McQueen, it looks absolutely smashing. Some women’s eyes are immediately drawn to the top of her head and argue “Only she’s in the position to wear that!” to which I respond “that’s crap!” No one says you’re not allowed to wear a fascinator but yourself. They also double as fancy wall hangings for when you’re not wearing them, ha! It amuses me when people immediately look at my collection of these weird and wonderful hats and hairpieces and conclude I’m wearing them to the grocery store. Obviously there’s a time and a place, and most importantly an outfit for it, but they’re wonderful, and fun, and though I liked wearing them long before millions more women were inspired by the Duchess, I’m pleased they are making a comeback. They’re an instant glamour pick-me-up. The gold buttons are a gorgeous touch and I love how she kept it all a bold color.
You didn’t think you’d never see those beige shoes again, did you? A friend and I argued about the outcome of mixing “elderly lady chic with beach wear” over cappuccinos. While she loved the beige shoes and matching hat, she said the coat and skirt are decent pieces on their own, but together are a hideous mismatch. I agree they’re a mismatch but that’s precisely why it appeals to me. The off-white coat borders on matronly and looks like something pulled from the Queen’s closet, but the brighter white flimsy skirt looks young and flirty. It’s a daring, and unconventional look that shows personality with the top half saying conservative royalty and the rest saying laid back lass. Sometimes the best outfits look like they were thrown together without too much thought. This is an example of that. To me, there’s always been something cool about not following the rules and an outfit reflecting that. I’d only apply “hideous” here if there was a matching knee length, boxy looking skirt in the same fabric.
The next Catherine Walker dress is utter perfection. Gray has the potential to be dreary but this is the ideal shade. Not dull and not too super shiny silver. If it were the latter, the shiny pantyhose would be a monstrosity. But because the rest of the look is reserved and basic, they can be forgiven. Hell, I like them. When did pantyhose become such a fashion faux pas? I remember a time they were the sexiest thing a woman could wear. Regardless what the fashion blogs and magazines are preaching, I think they look fantastic, and can really finish a look. The princess is the picture of sophistication in this frock. This is the kind of dress that can be converted from office wear to evening wear, and though Kate kept it simple with the black touches, bold and bright colors always complement shades of gray. Lastly, Kate is wearing the kind of shimmering exquisite gown you’d expect a princess to glide around gracefully in. The dusty pink and silver number isn’t upstaged by Kate’s choice of hairstyle, proving once again that a spectacular dress calls for simplicity. When I was a young clueless high school student, had this been my prom dress I would have accessorized with a sparkly, obnoxious tiara nestled in a hair-sprayed stiff, and sprinkled with glitter, four foot up do.
I don’t worship trendsetters on my hands and knees, but I applaud Kate Middleton’s style. She keeps it elegant, while keeping it young, and that’s a balance that can be hard to maintain. A world of young girls emulating classy royalty over classless pop culture influences can’t be a bad thing. And it’s not just females that admire the polished Duchess for being feminine and sexy minus the low necklines and high hemlines. My eighteen year old brother exclaims “Why did girls ever stop dressing like this!?”
Blair Adele - sometimes better known as Vanity Blair has had a love affair with the art of writing since she knew how to hold a pen properly. While girls studied Seventeen magazine, she studied the dictionary, infatuated with expanding her vocabulary. Since the tumultuous teenage years, she has viewed trends with disdain, preferring to embrace individuality when it comes to style. “The Blair Necessities” is where she combines her objective: expressing femininity through fashion, and encouraging what sets a woman apart from the rest, with her passion for the written word. Let she who is without fear of fashion, cast the first stilletto.