Ever heard of the “Kate Middleton effect”? It is said that whatever the Duchess of Cambridge wears, the piece gets identified and it promptly flies off the shelves.
Not only is the Duchess undeniably stylish, but she also uses her wardrobe to promote a greener cause by repeating outfits she had worn prior. Besides being a good publicity move, Kate is also being a good role model – especially since fashion is one of the most polluting industries.
Ahead, we analyse her style and pick out five essential items she always sports that help her re-wear outfits without each iteration looking like exact copies of each other.
The duchess first wore this gold embellished Alexander McQueen gown to a reception dinner in Malaysia in 2012 and most recently at the 2020 BAFTAs (pictured). This brings us to the point that when you have such a gorgeous dress, it can really bring you to different places and social occasion.
When picking out a similar dress, consider the balance of the details. While the McQueen design has rich details, the white fabric and simple silhouette provide a counterweight so that it can be worn in the day and night.
While a graphic print might not immediately seem like an evergreen design, this Mango dress checks the box as the colour palette remains grounded and neutral. In other words, it can easily be styled with anything from a pair of strappy heels and hoops for a formal event to sneakers and chunky earrings for a casual party.
Tweed, when not executed properly, can look rather dated. Similarly, the skirt suit can look like you’re stuck in the ’80s and haven’t caught up with the changing times and tastes.
This charcoal Dolce & Gabbana that Duchess Kate sports – first at a Mental Health In Education event in 2019 and later to the Evelina Children’s Hospital this January – falls in neither predicaments.
Why? The loose, flowy skirt (instead of a pencil skirt, for example) against the structured jacket lends a more playful air to the overall ensemble. In addition, the pairing with black stockings and pumps ensure that the look remains perennial.
We are avid fans of the tried-and-true suit. Not only is it great for work, but you can also break up the pieces and rotate them into both your professional and weekend wardrobe. This tailored Zara number actually has small polka dot details that add slight visual interest so that it doesn’t look boring nor flat. Finish with a pair of nude pumps or mules.
If you pay attention to Duchess Kate’s repeated looks, you’ll find that one of the slight differences are the accompanying jewellery that she accessorises with. The duchess has a penchant for chunkier pieces such as this pair of sapphire diamond earrings.
Statement pieces work as they add dynamism to the simplest of looks, a little black dress for example. However, don’t be tempted to pick up colourful costume jewellery. Instead, find designs that look timeless and versatile.
Pro tip: A jewellery design made with metal and precious stones will always look more expensive and elegant as compared to one made with alternative materials such as cloth, ceramic and paper. This Accessorize necklace adds colour to jazz up the outfit while not being too ostentatious and loud.
Another subtle detail that Duchess Kate changes when she repeats her outfits are her clutches. She seems to have a penchant for shiny designs made with foil, shimmer and glitter to add extra impact and pizzazz to her overall ensemble. You can also consider studs, leather and other details too.
However, in the quest of looking for new clutches to add variety to your looks, don’t fall into the trap of picking trendy colours, such as neons and hot pinks, as they’re less compatible with the mature, sleek style that the duchess is known for.
From the snake-print, contrasting gold hardware to the detachable strap detail, this Charles & Keith is a winner in our books. Perfect to stash your mobile, a few cards and touch-up powder.
Coats are an under-rated workhorse in our wardrobes. A pretty, well-made design can stand the test of time and of repeated wearing. Coats are also more than just an article to keep you warm. Through layering, these outerwear pieces can add dimension and jazz up a plain outfit.
While it is a pity we can’t rock a trench coat during the colder months like Kate, you can think of getting a thinner longline/trench coat. Else, a comfortable cardigan or a well-tailored blazer works too.
The classic black blazer is as timeless and unassuming as it gets. You have the liberty to style with whatever you want underneath – from a sexy lacy bralette for a date, a simple camisole top to a spiffy shirt for work. For the bottoms, you can go structured with a pencil skirt or tailored trousers for work, or opt for flowy silhouettes such as a pleated skirt or wide-legged denim jeans.
This article was first published in Singapore Women’s Weekly.