Kate Middleton is usually noted for her impeccable fashion sense. In fact, the Duchess has had such an impact on the fashion world that any clothes worn by her tend to sell out incredibly fast, leading to what’s been dubbed “the Kate effect.” And she’s also prone to sensibly recycling outfits when the need arises. So these two factors combined led people to watch her very closely at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Of course, the royal wedding was a dream for fashion fans. Rich and famous people from all over the world attended, including Oprah Winfrey, David and Victoria Beckham, George and Amal Clooney, tennis champion Serena Williams and actress Priyanka Chopra. And all of them brought their A-game when it came to their wedding outfits.
Oprah, for instance, wore a pink Stella McCartney dress with matching hat and shoes. It wasn’t her first choice, though. Initially, she wore a beige dress but realized at the last minute that it would look white in photographs, and only the bride at a wedding ought to wear white. So the Stella McCartney fashion house quickly whipped her up a new one.
This was a wise choice because the bride outshone everyone, as is expected at a wedding. Indeed, Meghan Markle wore a Givenchy dress designed by the label’s artistic director, Clare Waight Keller, for her walk down the aisle. It was classy and modest, and it certainly seemed to impress the groom. After all, Harry was thought to have mouthed “You look amazing” to Meghan as she joined him at the altar.
The bride’s dress naturally gained a lot of praise from fashionistas, with particular attention paid to how it mixed styles. “It brings back that non-fussy, refined simplicity. I am calling it the ‘last word in first lady dressing,’” Emma Meek, head of bridal company Miss Bush, told the BBC. “It also has a very American feel to it, quite preppy.”
But a royal wedding involves more than just one dress, and the second outfit Meghan wore that day was also white! After the wedding ceremony, then, the bride changed into a silk Stella McCartney dress for the reception. This one was a little sexier: it had a high neck, no sleeves and a more form-fitting silhouette. The newest member of the royal family looked absolutely fantastic in it.
Just like Oprah, the other wedding guests stayed away from white or any pale color that could have been mistaken for it. Except for one person, that is. And it was a very surprising person indeed: Kate Middleton. Yes, when the mom of three appeared at the ceremony with her children, she appeared to be wearing a white coat dress. The internet was thoroughly shocked.
However, the dress wasn’t actually white; it was pale yellow. But it looked white in front of the cameras, and people weren’t impressed. “Kate made the poorest choice available to her, inviting more headlines than her outfit was worth,” wrote Melissa Singer in Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald. “People watching television even thought that the pale yellow looked cream, another major faux pas for anyone attending a wedding.”
And worse criticism was yet to come. People wondered, had Kate recycled a dress for the wedding of her brother-in-law? Had she not even bothered to buy a new one? Opinion was very much divided. “Kate wearing a dress she has worn TWICE before. Charlotte’s christening and the Queen’s birthday,” wrote reporter Elizabeth Holmes on Twitter. “Truly the nicest gesture that she could show her now sister-in-law. Absolutely nothing to see here! Focus on the bride!”
However, one of the replies to Holmes read, “Really? My interpretation is that Kate is saying, ‘I don’t care enough to even get a new dress.’ I think it is a diss.” The British media seemed to think the same, too. “Thrifty Kate Middleton wears the same outfit,” the Daily Express newspaper announced after the wedding. “Kate Middleton wore this stunning outfit on four occasions before the wedding of Harry and Meghan,” the article explained.
But… had she? It was true that Kate’s wedding outfit looked very similar to outfits that she had worn on four separate occasions: her daughter’s christening, the Queen’s birthday, the Battle of Passchendaele anniversary in 2017 and the Trooping the Colour event in 2016. So maybe she just really likes pale yellow?
Except the wedding outfit wasn’t, in fact, the same recycled dress. Eagle-eyed Kate fans spotted a telltale sign: the dress she wore for the wedding had buttons on the sleeve, but the “identical” dress had none. Many fans subsequently pointed this out, and the website What Kate Wore even went into careful detail about it.
“The fact that there were buttons [on the dress] didn’t automatically mark this as a new garment in my mind; it is the additional fabric required to have the fabric overlap at the cuff that was a deciding factor,” wrote the admin of the What Kate Wore blog. “There would not have been enough fabric in the seams of the christening coat to have the overlap.”
Many people commented on the post, some adding their own insights about how Kate had just given birth to a new baby. “Kate is less than a month out from having her third baby, a baby that sure seemed bigger than [those] before in her pregnancy photos!” one person wrote. “That made me think that she had a new dress, as it seemed that there would be an awful lot of tailoring to do on the old one to let it out.”
Kate’s tendency to reuse outfits has previously been discussed and discussed, too. For a lot of people, it’s quite refreshing to see a royal appear to use a washing machine and wear her favorites over and over. She’s worn her red Luisa Spagnoli skirt-suit at least three times over the years, for instance, and her blue Stella McCartney dress a minimum of four.
So it’s not surprising that the subject should also come up at the Harry-Meghan wedding, the royal event of 2018. And yet Kate might not actually recycle her clothes in the same way that non-royal folk do. Indeed, in 2017 the Daily Mail reported that the Duchess did something entirely different regarding her wardrobe.
The paper argued that Kate had just bought multiple versions of the same outfits. And fans had observed how, despite Kate’s penchant for light-colored clothes and shoes, none of them ever seemed to get grubby over the years. “Kate has a signature style and knows what she likes. It wouldn’t surprise me if she gets a few of the same outfit made and has them ready to go, even if it is the same style,” Rochelle White, a British stylist, told the newspaper.
Still, What Kate Wore concluded that Kate’s wedding outfit was most definitely a new one. “The other major factor: seeing what Kate wore side-by-side with her outfit at Charlotte’s christening in 2015,” the blogger wrote. “This should have alerted me that it had to be a new coat; there just wouldn’t have been enough fabric to accommodate the changes in Kate’s size and shape between 2015 and now.”
So it seems that Kate had avoided committing a fashion faux-pas after all! And now that the wedding is over and Harry and Meghan are returning to London after their honeymoon (it’s still unconfirmed as to where exactly they went, and no one can blame them for wanting some privacy) a whole new chapter has opened up for the royals.
And Kate will be embarking on it as a mother of three young children. As all moms know, it’s very hard indeed to balance parenthood with a stylish wardrobe. So hopefully fashion followers will be able to forgive Kate if she recycles more outfits for special events. After all, there’s more to royal life than just clothes…