Kate Middleton may not have been born into royalty, but she is definitely fitting in with the royal family. Middleton has lived much of her adult life in the public eye and since her marriage to Prince William, she has become a major fashion icon. She’s even created a phenomenon called the “Duchess Effect”: When Kate wears something, women have to have it! The items she wears sell out of stores immediately. Her style has progressed since she started dating Prince William, so let’s revisit all of her fashion choices!
As she started out dressing just like any other college girl (see below for evidence), Kate has definitely hit some bumps on the road to her current position as a fashion icon. You might even see a cowboy hat (gasp!) or a disco ensemble during her journey to the Duchess of Style.
Kate Middleton studied art history in Scotland at the University of St Andrews, where she met William in 2001. Back then, Kate had her own style and it was comfortable, casual and laid back. It is nice to see her as a “real” person, which is probably why people love her so much. She is relatable!
The Duchess grew up in Chapel Row, a village near Newbury, Berkshire, England. By the time she graduated with her degree, she and Prince William had been an item for about two years. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge will follow his father Charles, Prince of Wales, as second in line to succeed his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.
One of her most “scandalous” shots in a very interesting style is when she was featured in a fashion show in 2002. Wearing this very sheer, meshy frock, Kate stunned the public—and her beau. Kate strutted down the catwalk and owned this style while looking very comfortable in her skin.
The see-through black slip that she wore for her friend Charlotte Todd’s show was just two pieces of black and gold silk knitted together with blue ribbon trim. This look is by no means an everyday look for anyone, but it is nice to see her push the envelope and not be afraid to help a friend out.
In June 2003, Kate attended William’s 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle and this sparked relationship rumors. At the time, the Prince insisted in an interview that he did not have a steady girlfriend. But the media wouldn’t let his denials go that easily.
A few months later, William, Kate and their two flatmates move into a cottage in the third year and by Christmas, William and Kate are believed to have become an item after she split from her previous boyfriend, a former St Andrews student. Kate maintained her very causal and comfortable style that many women can relate to: jeans, boots and a blazer, pictured here.
In 2004, Kate seems to have upped her style with a more “regal” flare. Pictured here, she is at the Game Fair at Blenheim Place. And at this point, there was no denying her relationship with Prince William. While William wanted to maintain her privacy and their privacy as a couple, being a royal comes with a territory.
William and Kate’s relationship is revealed after they are pictured skiing in Klosters together. But while their relationship was officially public, William is reported to have said: “I don’t want to get married until I’m at least 28 or maybe 30.” They both just wanted to see where their relationship went without the constant pressure of the media.
In 2005, Kate complained through her lawyer about harassment from the media. She stated that she had done nothing significant to warrant publicity but as someone who was dating a prince, she was in the public eye whether she liked it or not.
What we love about this look is she is so human. Her appeal to the rest of the world is just that; she is relatable. She is just like everyone else. And just like everyone else, she wants to have her privacy, ride her bike, sport her simple white spaghetti strap tank top and throw on a pair of sunglasses and go. Leave our future princess alone!
In 2006, Kate was photographed several times publicly and William was photographed kissing Kate in public for the first time. Whether they were seen together, or apart, cameras were snapping. She even attended a wedding as William’s guest, the wedding of the Prince’s stepsister Laura Parker Bowles. Kate tried out an eccentric feathered hat.
In March, Kate was invited into the Royal Box at the Cheltenham Gold Cup. A month later, the couple traveled to the Caribbean hideaway island Mustique. At the end of the year, Kate made her most significant appearance — she turned up to watch William graduate as an Army officer at Sandhurst.
A Summer Stunner In 2006
Kate Middleton really pulled out all the stops when she dressed for the Chakravarty Cup charity polo match in June of 2006. She chose a red sundress that really accentuated her best assets. She looks toned and healthy, and the sleeveless style shows that she’s been out in the sun.
It’d be a lot rarer to see her step out in a style like this today, but we bet she’d look just as great as she did then.
2007 – 2008
In 2007, Kate and William were reported to have split; the break-up was apparently due to all of the media attention and pressure, which concerned William. He knows how difficult the media was on his late mother’s life.
In 2008, Kate made her first appearance at a formal event with Prince William since December 2006. She wore a simple white coat and black boots while she watched William earn his royal air force wings. This, of course, sparked reconciliation rumors. Regardless of the media attention and constant questioning about their personal life, the couple did not want to remain apart.
Also in 2008, Kate stepped out in one of her most memorable ensembles, though it may be one that she wishes she could forget today. When attending a “Go-Go”children’s fundraiser, the future duchess was snapped wearing a green sequined halter-neck top, neon yellow shorts, and of course pantyhose, which would become a staple of her future royal wardrobe.
No word on whether the Queen reprimanded her future granddaughter-in-law for such a daring look, but somehow we doubt she would have given her approval for such a revealing look. Here’s hoping we might see this outfit make a comeback someday, perhaps for a Halloween celebration?
The entire world was delighted to hear that Kate and William are engaged. Their engagement was announced on November 16, 2010. William proposed while the couple were on holiday in Kenya. Clarence House confirms the engagement and the couple were photographed smiling from ear to ear.
Kate wore the now-famous royal blue dress by London-based designer label Issa. After appearing in the dress, Issa couldn’t keep the dress in stock. Women were clamoring for this gorgeous dress. This may have been the start of “the Duchess effect” but who knows for sure! Kate is undoubtedly stunning in everything she wears.
The couple married on April 29, 2011 at Westminster Abbey, and it was quite the international event! Kate wore the infamous lace gown from Alexander McQueen pictured here. McQueen saw profits jump 30% just because Kate wore a wedding dress from his collection.
But we can’t say she didn’t look incredible in this dress! With the long lace sleeves and modest neckline, she looked so stunning. If anything, this dress choice just affirmed what women were already thinking; Kate is a style icon and always will be. Since then, her style choices support designers and push fashion trends in a regale or royal direction.
In 2012, Kate was selected as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by Time magazine. The magazine described her rise to royalty: “Kate Middleton was an ordinary college girl on a path to an unremarkable life. Then she met her Prince Charming, became the Duchess of Cambridge and in two years has emerged as a remarkable figure on the world stage.”
Well, we can’t agree that she would have lived an “unremarkable” life, but we would like to point out how spot on they are about her style: “Her elegant wardrobe has enormous popular appeal that has boosted the British fashion industry.” So elegant, like this stunning, flowing lavender gown.
And in 2013, she was selected as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by Time magazine—again! Time is quoted as stating, “The future Queen is dignified, dutiful and unflappable, with a modest reluctance to steal the spotlight from her husband, Prince William. As patron of a growing number of charities, she has embraced the royal family’s tradition of public service, whether promoting scouting around a campfire or discussing sustainable fishing with trawler owners.”
In 2013, the Duke and Duchess had their first child, Prince George (born July 22, 2013). Kate introduced the new royal family member in a light blue, polka dotted dress that was simple, traditional and yet modern, all at the same time.
2013 was a great year for Kate’s fashion and style. After a quiet summer, spending time with her new baby and William, the 31-year-old made a gradual return to the public eye. Even after giving birth and being a new mom, Kate didn’t stop with her sense of style. This simple, horizontal striped tee is a staple of her wardrobe and is still one of her go-to choices.
Later in the year, the fashionista Duchess stunned on the red carpet in October at her first official royal engagement with William and was busily scheduled in the run-up to Christmas supporting their various charities and interests. They spent Christmas with the royal family and the New Year with Kate’s family in Berkshire.
2014 was arguably one of the most fashionable years for Kate. And if you know anything about Kate Middleton, you know one of her favorite colors is red. She loves to wear red and has been seen as our favorite lady in red going about her business around the world.
The Duchess looked stylish reds dress at an Event in Norwich—and yes, she is a true lady in red when she chooses this ensemble. She is so endearing, and able to connect with both the “commoners” and the elite and it is no wonder why—she is truly personable and captivating.
Place2be—Baby Bump Watch!
Do we see a mini bump here? It looks like little Charlotte is poking through her mom’s belly! Baby bump or not, Kate Middleton always looks stunning and polished. The Duchess is ready for whatever the day has in store for her. Here, she is attending the Place2be Wellbeing in schools award at Kensington Palace and looks incredible in her sheer polka dot blouse and knee-length navy skirt.
Whether she is visiting a prep school, hospital, shaking hands with dignitaries—or she’s being seen with commoners, hurdling a stack of tin cans, in wedge heels, performing philanthropic work to the far reaches of the globe—she is always ready and able to take on a job. No matter what, she does it in style, with her signature smile on her face.
A Favorite of 2014
So we know Kate loves red, and simple looks that she personally takes to the next level but that doesn’t mean that she dislikes prints, patterns or shapes. Sure, you probably haven’t seen her in anything too “loud” or tacky (and there is a reason for that) because she sticks with the motto “less is more.”
This dress is a favorite look of ours from 2014. Here, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge is wearing the Temperley London Emblem Flare Dress. She was attending the Action on Addiction Autumn Gala Evening at L’Anima on October 23, 2014 in London, England. Could she look any more gorgeous?
On May 2, 2015, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, who is fourth in line to the British throne, was born. And leave it to new-mom-of-two Kate to impress the world with her grace and poise even after giving birth. She is able to effortlessly mix high end with high street easily.
Kate is often seen recycling old outfits to demonstrate her thrifty skills, which is relatively unheard of for royalty. Here, while presenting her new baby girl to the world, she is wearing a simple, sweet, yellow dress with a simple print and nude heels. Yes, heels—after just giving birth. She is a fashion champ!
2015 in Lace
Later in 2015, Kate was back at it again with her timeless style. To mark the second day of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan’s visit to Britain, Middleton slipped on an eggplant colored Dolce Gabbana dress that looks absolutely gorgeous in general but especially with her hair color.
This little lace number featured a high neckline and sheer sleeves—which believe it or not, is considered to be quite risqué for the royal’s standards. Her fall-ready dress was matched perfectly with pumps, a clutch, and a pair of delicate drop earrings. And her hair was kept simply down like Kate always does it.
Kate Middleton has rarely put a foot wrong when it comes to her sense of style. The Duchess seems to favor British talents including Alice Temperley, Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen and Jenny Packham. Kate’s fashion choices always fly off the shelves minutes after she’s first photographed wearing them.
Which brings us to Wimbledon 2016. Who can forget the infamous Red LK Bennet Kate wore that sold out within four hours!? That is the power of Kate Middleton style. And who can resist this lady in red? She stuns fashion lovers over and over again and she does it so effortlessly. It looks like that is the key to being a princess!
End of 2016
The Kate Middleton style evolution has been one transformation we’ve been glued to watching over the last decade. From a smart, young woman who is journeying from a university student to a stunning Duchess of Cambridge in one seemingly effortless move, she has truly dazzled the world.
Most recently, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been on an epic royal tour. But this doesn’t mean Kate’s style takes a backseat; Kate’s overseas wardrobe has been nothing short of perfection, with her chosen brands ranging from Thornton Bregazzi to Alexander McQueen. And most recently, Kate wore a stunning Catherine Walker powder blue peplum suit.
Kate Middleton is Timeless
Kate maintains her own sense of style while gaining experience in the way she carefully chooses outfits that respond to the reality of being permanently photographed. As a royal, she conveys a sense of modest elegance, while as a fashion icon she bears her own fashion mark.
We can’t help but love all of Kate’s style choices and the Daily Mirror said it best. “Some critics believe that the Duchess of Cambridge’s new style proves she has ‘come of age’ and found her place with the Royal hierarchy,” wrote the Daily Mirror. “She isn’t afraid to walk in her own light and out of the shadow of William and the royal family.”
A Vision In Red at Buckingham Palace
On January 20, 2020, Kate Middleton attended a reception at Buckingham Palace ahead of the UK-Africa Investment Summit. The Duchess of Cambridge wore a stunning red dress made by Needle and Thread.
She completed the look with a red clutch and matching red heels. Kate’s look stood out in a sea of men in tuxes who attended the event. The event was among the first for the royal couple after celebrating the holidays but Kate looks plenty cheerful in sparkling red.
Traditional Western Style in Calgary
When the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the rodeo in 2011, they dressed the part. William and Kate appeared at the rodeo in Calgary, Canada clad head-to-toe in traditional Western-styled clothing. Both of them wore a white cowboy hat and brown leather cowboy boots (Wiliam’s were presented to him by the Canadian government.) Kate looked natural in her Alice Temperly blouse tucked into dark flared Goldsign jeans.
Of course, the outfit would not be complete without a traditional belt buckle! Wiliam and Kate watched the rodeo that boasted over $2 million in prize money, making it one of the richest rodeos in the world and were seen having a great time.
Polynesian Wear in Tuvalu
Kate Middleton and William toured Asia and the Pacific in 2012, including the Polynesian island nation of Tuvalu. The couple stayed at Tavanipupu resort where they received the full island experience, complete with pina coladas, snorkeling, and traditional Polynesian dancing. Of course, they were called on stage during the performance to take part in the dancing.
Again, Kate wore an outfit by Alice Temperley; an elegant long flowing white dress and a flower headdress that they gave her. Being the good sport she is, she donned a grass skirt and gave an attempt at dancing on stage.
What Does Green Mean?
Kate Middleton always gets a lot of attention for the stunning fashions she wears. When she appeared at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in February 2018, however, her outfit led to more gossip than usual. Kate chose a deep green gown to wear to the event and stood out against the sea of black dresses that were worn as part of the “Time’s Up” movement.
But the dress had a black sash, leading many to theorize that she was subtly showing support of the movement, which aims to end sexual harassment and discrimination. The royal family is not supposed to comment publicly on political issues. Heavily pregnant Kate might not have had a lot of black options for the ceremony, either.
Return To Their Roots
In 2011, Kate and William visited St. Andrew’s University in Scotland where they famously fell in love. In theme with their love, Kate returned in red. She wore a stunning scarlet peplum coat with a black belt, leather gloves, and purse. This was right before the couple married, too!
At St. Andrew’s, Kate studied Art History while William studied Geography. Both stayed in a house with several friends. While she attended university, Kate told the campus’s paper, The Saint, that she wanted “to get an overall education in all aspects of life.”
Fun In Florals
In 2014, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge set foot in Australia for their nationwide tour. Kate Middleton pulled out all the stops for this visit, but one of her most unique was a blue and white floral gown designed by high street retailer LK Bennett. She completed the look with navy blue stilettos and a matching blue rectangular clutch.
Kate wore this outfit to the Royal Australian Air Force Base in Brisbane, Australia. If you look closely, you may notice that the outfit matches her sapphire wedding ring. Imitations of this ring cost anywhere from $2,000 to $6,000 online.
Spotted In Dalmation Print During Her Pregnancy
Here’s a unique piece from Kate Middleton’s maternity wear. She wore this Dalmation-printed Hobbs dress during both of her pregnancies in 2013 and 2015. The royals seem to love animal print; everyone from Kate to Princess Diana to Her Majesty has worn leopard print at one point or another.
Kate often paired the $265 Dalmation print dress with other black accessories. In 2015, she added black pumps and a black clutch, both by Stuart Weitzman, to the look. Why waste a great maternity dress by only wearing it once?
A Website Crashed Over This Dress
In 2016, Kate and William began their royal tour of India. On their first day, Kate played cricket at a charity march with India’s cricket legend, Dilip Vengsarkar. She wore a beautiful “Gulrukh” dress made by Mumbai designer Anita Dongre. A few hours after these photos appeared, Dongre’s website crashed.
The designer was flooded with calls and emails of customers from the US, UK, Australia, and Canada asking to buy the same dress. And we can see why. Today, Dongre offers an adaptation of the dress for $210.
Archery Outfit In Bhutan
At the end of their India tour in April 2016, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Bhutan. When there, the couple visited a sporting field where both attempted archery, Bhutan’s national sport. Although her arrows landed nowhere near the target, Kate’s outfit still looked stunning.
She wore a flowing purple skirt made from material in Bhutan. She topped it with a Paul & Joe top and matching purple belt. Her $5,000 lavender pearl drop earrings and Kiki McDonough nude heels complemented the look.
Blue And Beaded On The Red Carpet
When Kate Middleton attended the Bollywood charity gala in 2016, she dazzled the red carpet. Her floor-length sapphire blue dress was made by designer Jenny Packham and sewn by hand. Silver beaded ran through the top, flowing cape, and matching clutch. The matching earrings came from Indian jeweler Amrapali.
The sari-inspired look gave a nod to Bollywood’s host country, India. Kate seems to enjoy wearing culture-inspired looks, as she has done so during her many international trips. This charity event took place at the Taj Palace Hotel, the perfect setting for such an elegant dress.
The Royal Ascot Dress
In 2019, Kate Middleton attended the Royal Ascot in a never-before-seen dress: a sheer lace periwinkle dress with a bow collar. She had attended the Royal Ascot in 2016 and 2017, both in white dresses. After missing 2018 for maternity leave, Kate returned to the royal family horse race in a high-society gown.
The dress was designed by Elie Saab, and its lace bodice complemented matching sleeves and a slip. The sheer outer layer of the dress showed small polka-dots. Kate’s matching floral hat came from designer Philip Treacy. Such a beautiful look!
Exquisite In Emerald
Prince William and Kate had a busy year traveling in 2016, and Kate opted for some casual outfits during their Canada tour–well, casual for her! This emerald Dolce and Gabbana dress costs around $2,600. It has a bow at the collar bone and large golden buttons snaking down the middle.
The dress originally had an applique pocket watch design on the right shoulder. However, Kate opted to remove that design. This makes her dress custom compared to the standard Dolce and Gabbana gown.
Striped And Casual At The King’s Cup Regatta
In 2019, Kate competed at the King’s Cup, which raises awareness for the royal family’s patronages. Both the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge jumped on a boat to race against seven other teams. Before getting wet, Kate arrived well-dressed for the event.
Her striped Sandro top has frilled sleeves and tucked-in hem. At retail price, it costs $95. Her navy sailor-style pants are from L.K. Bennett; she wore the same pair at a previous King’s Cup. Kate then topped off the casual sailing outfit with white Superga sneakers.
Classy Cowboy Boots
Kate Middleton doesn’t need to attend a rodeo to go cowboy. During her Canada tour, Kate changed into a more casual outfit. She ditched her heels for a pair of R.Soles London cowboy boots. These brown suede boots cost $385, but they still sold out overnight after Kate wore them.
Kate completed the look with a grey wool jacket, black shirt, and dark navy skinny jeans. She has always kept up with the skinny jeans and boots trend. Judy Rothchild, the boots’ designer, told People that Kate used to shop with her before she got married.
Kate Middleton Wears Kate Spade
Kate frequently speaks out on World Mental Health Day, telling inspirational stories and advocating for the normalization of mental health. During the Heads Together initiative, Kate joined Princes William and Harry in a stunning Kate Spade gown.
The dress, called the Encore Rose Chiffon Dress cost $498 and features violet flower patterns over a light pink fabric. The Duchess completed her look with suede Gianvito Rossi pumps and an LK Benett Nina clutch. At the event, Kate aimed to “change the conversation” about mental health in our everyday lives.
How To Fashionably Stay Warm
During Kate Middleton’s visit to Manchester, she and Prince William visited the National Football Museum. Kate wrapped up in a blue and pink Erdem coat. Underneath, she wore a black lace shirt, and she matched her heels and clutch to the blue of her coat.
When the couple arrived, they encountered a cute surprise. A group of school kids came wearing masks of the royal family, including William and Kate! The couple spoke to the kids before entering the museum, where they learned how football became part of England’s history.
Sparkling After Marriage
In June 2011, Kate and Prince William attended their first public event together as a married couple. They arrived at the 10th anniversary ARK Gala, a charity that helps children overcome hardships in their lives. Kate wore a shimmering pink dress from designer Jenny Packham.
The sequined gown featured translucent sleeves, shimmering silver and pastel pink, looking like a rosy pearl. At the time of its release, you could have bought it for $3,523. It’s a truly unique dress that worked well with Kate’s Prada rose clutch and LK Bennett Agata pink heels.
In 2017, Kate Middleton arrived at the Royal Gala wearing a unique Gucci dress. The beautiful tweed dress came in black and white with white-gold buttons. The pockets, sleeves, and waistline were outlined with red and navy blue stripes. As with all the Duchess’s dresses, the gown sold out immediately after she wore it.
The look cost over $2,600, and that doesn’t even count the matching red clutch or navy blue heels. The event took place at the Victoria & Albert Museum, and Kate would eventually wear another Gucci dress there in 2019.