Today the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge celebrate their eighth anniversary: eight years since Kate Middleton walked down the aisle in McQueen. It all started with fashion, so they say - Kate posing on a St Andrews runway in a sheer mini dress (which later sold at auction for £65,000). Off the catwalk, Kate’s style ran to the early noughties Sloane - bootcut jeans, fur hats, ballerina pumps and plenty of tweed. The years that followed have seen a royal style coming of age...
1. Royal in waiting
In November 2010, William proposed and the world’s style press trained their lens on the future Duchess. As the bookies took bets on who would design Kate’s wedding dress, she upped the ante on her wardrobe, sketching the rough outline for her style identity - pretty midi dresses, fitted coats, skirt suits - elegant, understated, entirely appropriate for her new status. On 29th April 2011, 22.8 million people around the world watched Kate Middeton emerge from the Rolls Royce in the McQueen dress of fairy tales, collectively we gasped at the ornate lace, the draped skirt, her teeny tiny waist. Kate Middleton became a Duchess, and a fashion icon in the making.
2. The newlywed wardrobe
The Duchess of Cambridge strode into married life in a Zara dress and LK Bennett wedges. McQueen soon became a staple, alongside dress coats by Princess Diana’s favourite, Catherine Walker. She debuted glittering Jenny Packham, sprinkled in a touch of Temperley and began her signature wardrobe rotation, carefully rewearing favourite designs. There were high fashion touches - full length Roland Mouret accessorised with Jimmy Choo sandals, cobalt blue Stella McCartney - but, ever the democratic dresser, her looks were peppered with Zara and Reiss, LK Bennett and Hobbs. Then in November 2012, Kate cut her signature locks into a Farah Fawcett style fringe and announced her first pregnancy...
3. Pregnancy dressing
Pregnant with Prince George, the Duchess navigated the tricky waters of maternity dressing for the first time. Save the odd appearance in Emilia Wickstead, she played it safe, shelving runway designers in favour of Whistles, Hobbs, a touch of Joseph. A-line coats and empire line dresses were a regular feature. In contrast to her sister-in-law, the Duchess of Sussex, who’s pregnancy style favours big ticket designers and high-impact ensembles, Kate kept things understated.
4. The postnatal refresh
On the steps of the Lindo wing, Kate accessorised bespoke Jenny Packham with her perfect blowdry. In her first months as a mother, she tweaked her style formula - sleeker silhouettes, sharper accessorising. Then came the Antipodean tour and a suitcase (or four) of immaculate looks - Roksanda to celebrate her British roots, Zimmermann and Rebecca Taylor to nod to her host countries. Whisperings began, had Kate hired a stylist? The Duke and Duchess’ PA, Natasha Archer, had turned style advisor, curating Kate’s wardrobe and no doubt responsible for assisting with the string of style hits.
5. Pregnancy dressing, again
Tackling pregnancy dressing for the second time, with Archer’s help, Kate hit her maternity style stride. Dedicated maternity labels Seraphine and Jo Jo Maman Bebe became day-to-day staples, and she turned to Jenny Packham and McQueen for bespoke evening creations. After nine months of elegant pregnancy looks, Kate once again appeared on the Lindo wing steps, babe in arms in bespoke Jenny Packham.
6. Post Vogue
In April 2016, Josh Olins photographed the Duchess for the cover of British Vogue, cementing her position in the annals of style history, and buoying her fashion confidence. In the following months, she appeared in a Roland Mouret blue column sheath with on-trend cutaway shoulders, then donned a pleated red and white McQueen design that felt fashion-forward. Dropped waist Barbara Casasola, an Audrey Hepburn-esque asymmetric Preen dress (in red and black), and floor length Self Portrait (label of that moment) followed. And then, to the delight of the watching fashion press, in 2017, the Duchess added a classic Chanel tweed suit and retro-inspired Gucci to her wardrobe.
7. Veteran maternity style
Days after the Duchess of Cambridge toured Diana’s memorial garden, looking totally at ease in floral, vintage-inspired Prada, her third pregnancy was announced. Now a veteran of maternity style, Kate breeze through nine months of previous looks and a smattering of new pieces, as her fashion evolution inspired her maternity choices.
8. A fresh fashion edge
History doesn’t relate exactly when Vogue almuna and old friend, Ginnie Chadwyck Healey, started advising the Duchess on her style. My money’s on October last year, when Kate slipped into an Erdem SS18 runway piece - inspired fittingly, by a young Queen Elizabeth - that perfectly tapped into the tailored heritage trend.
The looks that followed felt sharper, cooler - an Emilia Wickstead tartan skirt, paired with a buttoned-up cardigan, a sleek Mulberry caped coat and, for Prince Charles’ 70th Birthday portrait, polka dot Alessandra Rich. New accessories, too, have edgie - a Manu Atelier micro bag, Prada-style padded headbands - the overall mood is altogether more fashion. Eight years in to her royal duties, the Duchess carries it well.