The Duchess of Cambridge is perhaps the world’s most famous outfit ‘recycler’ and has never had any qualms about rewearing something that she’s already been seen in.
Finally, the rest of the world is catching up and, with the overarching trend of 2019 being to rewear the things you already have, and to buy less and buy better, her fashion message has never felt so relevant.
Arriving in Scotland to attend the official opening of the V&A Dundee, though, the Duchess added a subclause to her mandate; the odd new accessory is valid and will actually serve to bring any old outfit bang up to date.
Case in point, her tartan Alexander McQueen coat dress, which was first worn in 2012 on a visit to St. Andrews and last seen in public on Christmas Day 2013 at Sandringham. A complete classic, she had obviously chosen to buy something timeless with the knowledge that it could serve her well.
Ironically at the time of purchase, tabloids may have gawped at the price tag and totted up the then-new Duchess’s expensive shopping habit- does that sound like a familiar storyline to the one that the Duchess of Sussex is experiencing now?
Yet in the long run, we can now see for Kate, it is a piece that has proven its worth in her wardrobe and looks as smart, appropriate and current now as it did seven years ago.
She has added one new thing into the mix; a green leather and suede “Micro Bold” bag comes from Manu Atelier, a relatively young Istanbul-based label founded by sisters Beste and Merve Manastir and famous for its clean, modern box bags. It’s another purchase that, while priced at £435, will become a mainstay in her wardrobe, as easy to throw on as a crossbody with jeans and a t-shirt as it is to carry case-style on royal engagements.
The application of this ‘add-one-new-thing’ formula follows an outing last week when the Duchess updated an old magenta Oscar de la Renta coat with a new pair of £425 black Rupert Sanderson court shoes.
Most of us have wardrobes stuffed full of perfectly good clothes and accidentally going ‘clothes sober’ for January is the easiest thing I’ve personally done, without even noticing I was doing it. I just realised, writing this, that I haven’t bought any new clothes this month. Ta da.
But it’s timely to be taking stock and reconsidering what you already own - the average number of wears a garment receives has dropped by 36 per cent in the last 15 years - so to see someone as high profile as the Duchess of Cambridge actually practicing the preach is important.
Perhaps declaring yourself ‘clothes sober’ might seem drastic, or just a bit worthy. Instead, on purpose, I think I’ll be adopting the Duchess’s approach this season and enjoying the things I already love, but allowing myself to buy quality, classic updates for those looks as and when I need them.