What we can learn from the Duchess of Cambridge's stick-to-what-suits-you style strategy

The Duchess of Cambridge has a signature silhouette.
The Duchess of Cambridge has a signature silhouette.

For a woman in the public eye, reinventing the fashion wheel for each new outing can seem part of the job. There is an expectation that these women will keep ever abreast of the latest trends, colours and designers, adjusting their hemlines and hairstyles so as to always look up-to-date. 

For the Duchess of Cambridge, that public expectation is a constant. We expect our royals to be ever-appropriate, but the younger generation is also expected to set the fashion agenda and influence trends. It is a line that Kate, after eight years of practice, now seems to tread with ease. She incorporates diplomatic nods into her wardrobe seamlessly, champions British design, highlights sustainable labels and dips into the accessible high street. 

Fashion week favourites Alexander McQueen, Erdem and Emilia Wickstead are behind many of her most-worn pieces, though Kate is careful never to veer into fashion victim territory when shopping straight from the catwalk, always erring on the side of timelessness.

On Thursday, Kate attended the launch of the National Emergencies Trust in London wearing a cobalt-blue belted dress by the aforementioned Wickstead. It was a new addition to her wardrobe; so were the black patent Gianvito Rossi pumps that she wore with it. But you'd be forgiven for thinking that you had seen her wearing it before, so similar was the look to the blue belted coat dress by Eponine that she wore on a visit to South Yorkshire nearly a year ago. Or, apart from the differences in colour, her lilac Emilia Wickstead dress, or those green and grey Catherine Walker coats...

The Duchess of Cambridge wearing an Eponine dress Credit: Getty

Over the last year or so, since her return from maternity leave with third child Prince Louis, the Duchess seems to have subtly shifted her wardrobe into Queen-in-waiting territory, taking her cues from her grandmother-in-law Queen Elizabeth II.

The Queen has developed a foolproof outfit formula, and sticks to it. Her personal uniform of brightly coloured coats layered over a dress in either a matching shade or complementing floral print, accessorised with a coordinating hat, Launer handbag and Anello & Davide pumps,  is instantly recognisable the world over. It also removes any risk of a sartorial misstep (and must shave time off her morning routine, too).

The personal uniform isn't only employed by royals. With the fashion world at her fingertips, American Vogue editor Anna Wintour still sticks to floral dresses and her favourite Manolo Blahnik heels; her equivalent at Vogue Paris, Emmanuelle Alt, feels similarly about slim-fit jeans and blazers. In politics, Angela Merkel has ensured that her outfits stay out of headlines by never straying far from those three-button jackets, while Nancy Pelosi's preferred fuchsia suits do the opposite - and help her to highlight issues that are important to her at the same time. 

Kate's new dress may not reinvent the fashion wheel, but there's a lot to be said for sticking to what you knows suits you. It's great to push yourself out of your wardrobe comfort zone from time to time, but when it comes to buying pieces that you know you'll wear for years to come, sometimes it makes more sense to opt for the new-season colourway of your favourite pair of trousers, over a bold print or cut that will look dated in six months, and won't go with much else in your wardrobe. Fashion's obsession with the new can overshadow the appeal of timeless design - but if it ain't broke...

For more news, analysis and advice from The Telegraph's fashion team, click here to sign up to get our weekly newsletter, straight to your inbox every Friday. And sign up for royal fashion updates direct to your phone by joining our WhatsApp group here.