Nov 302012

Kate made a savvy style statement today while visiting her old prep school, Saint Andrew’s, Pangbourne.

Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA Wire

Why is it a wise choice? Because her Black Watch tartan coat sends a message of respect for the day and the school, November 30th is St. Andrew’s Day, Scotland’s National Day. There is additional significance to the tartan on its own merit: the navy and green pattern is that of Scotland’s 3rd Battalion Regiment, known as the Black Watch. Below, a better look at the design.

It was also a nod to one of Kate’s favorite fashion houses, founder Alexander McQueen was Scottish.  More from the brand on its use of this motif:

The use of the navy and dark-green plaid of Scotland’s 3rd Battalion Regiment, the Black Watch, represents the brand’s reverence for history and tradition. The same fabric has been used in previous McQ Alexander McQueen collections and unites the label with the mainline brand.

Kate attended St. Andrew’s from 1986-1995. Among other sports, she played on the rounders team, she is seen in the front row on the far left.

©Middleton Family

The school traditionally holds special activities to mark St. Andrew’s Day, it really was an ideal occasion for Kate to visit and dedicate a new hockey field.  As one would expect, anticipation was high, students were eager to see Kate, this photo comes via BBC Radio’s Matt Treacy on Twitter.

Matt Treacy BBC Radio Twitter

Our thanks to Matt Treacy for posting so many wonderful photos of today’s events.

Matt Treacy, BBC Radio Twitter Feed (@RadioMatty)

Paul Harrison of Sky News shared pictures of Kate’s arrival and official welcome.

Paul Harrison, Sky News Twitter Feed (@SkyNewsRoyal)

More from Newbury Today:

Appropriately dressed in a tartan outfit, the Duchess was greeted by a piper at the school as she arrived at 12.40pm.

It is the first time the Duchess has undertaken an official visit in West Berkshire, where she grew up, since her marriage to Prince William…

Once inside Kate watched students performing traditional Scottish songs and dancing.

Matt Treacy, BBC Radio (@RadioMatty)

Back to the Newbury Today story:

Her Royal Highness enjoyed a lunch of Scottish beef after which she met pupils and staff. As she entered one of the classrooms, she commented: ‘It’s very quiet in here. I bet it’s not always like this.’

Kate was on hand to dedicate a new hockey pitch (field).


Kate made brief remarks before unveiling the plaque commemorating the new field, following is a portion of her comments:

In fact, I enjoyed it so much that when I had to leave, I told my mother that I was going to come back to be a teacher. While that didn’t quite happen, I was thrilled to have been asked back today on St. Andrew’s Day.

‘It was while I was here at school that I realised my love of sport. Sport has been a huge part of my life, and I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunities I had to get outside and play in such wonderful open spaces – though sadly there was nothing quite as glamorous as this in my time!

You can hear Kate’s entire address in The Telegraph’s video.

The London Telegraph

Kate then surprised everyone by picking up a hockey stick and taking to the field in her high-heeled Aquatalia Rhumba boots.

Arthur Edwards – WPA Pool/Getty Images (Courtesy Photo Provided by Aquatalia)

Kate still seems to have her touch on the hockey field.

Newbury Today Twitter Feed

The non-sporting footwear didn’t seem to faze her at all.

Max Foster, CNN Twitter

She clearly enjoyed herself, speaking with students and staff.

Via Mel Bloor, ITV Twitter Feed (@MelBloorITV)

As we mentioned, Kate opted for an occasion-appropriate coat from McQ by Alexander McQueen.

Matt Treacy, BBC Radio Twitter Feed

Kate’s coat dress incorporates elements from several of this fall’s pieces, including the McQ Alexander McQueen Black Watch Coat ($7220 Special Order at Net-a-Porter), primarily the full skirt and oversized flaps at the hips; the bodice has some similarity to McQ’s Black Watch Blazer ($879 at Zappos Couture).

McQ Alexander McQueen/ PA Wire

Here is how the coat is described at Net-a-Porter (where it is available by special order):

  • Cut from swathes of Black Watch plaid, this mohair-blend coat marries the romantic, historical and theatrical influences of the collection.
  • Epaulettes, flap pockets, flared skirt, raw hem, fully lined
  • Concealed asymmetric button fastenings at front
  • 50% mohair, 30% fleece, 20% polyamide

Kate’s coat is minimally influenced by the McQ Black Watch Origami Mini Dress (£610 at Alexander McQueen, approximately $1000 at today’s exchange rates).

McQ by Alexander McQueen

A reminder of Kate’s “Origami Coat” in white, worn most recently for Order of the Garter in June of this year, today’s piece has none of the folds or inverted pleat seen the dress above and the white coat.

PA Wire

The Black Watch is a popular pattern, actress Marion Cotillard wore the dress on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno back in early November.

Alexander McQueen Facebook

As mentioned, the Fall 2012 McQ collection showcased this tartan, more from Women’s Wear Daily review of the McQ runway show (subscription req’d.) back in February:

The polished, elegant clothes popped with McQueen signatures, including Black Watch tartan for coats with cinched waists and full skirts, as well as kilts for men.

McQ is the brand’s hipper, edgier arm, there were multiple pieces of in this tartan.

McQ by

Above we show the Bustier Dress ($4795 by special order), Straight Leg Trousers and the Buckled Shoe ($535). Not shown is a Mini Slash Neck Wool Dress.

Many will have already noted that Kate was in her Aquatalia Rhumba boots when she took to the hockey pitch.

Aquatalia/PA Wire

The oft-seen black suede clutch made a return today, as did Kate’s sapphire and diamond earrings.

One aside that may prompt a smile, during the visit Kate shared what her nickname was at school, more from the Daily Mail:

The Duchess of Cambridge today paid a visit to the beloved prep school where she spent nine happy years – and revealed that as a pupil she was nicknamed Squeak – just like the school’s pet guinea pig.

Kate, 30, who ‘adored’ her time at St Andrew’s in Pangbourne, Berkshire, confessed to the moniker when she was chatting to a group of young children in the pre-Prep part of the school.

She asked them if they kept pets at school and told how when she was at St Andrews, the school had two guinea pigs. ‘There was one called Pip and one called Squeak, so my sister was called Pip and I was Squeak,’ she said.

The Duchess appeared to be enjoying herself a great deal.

Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA Wire


One other morsel to share, and it is great news: Russell & Bromley has finally opened its ecommerce site.

Russell & Bromley

This is ideal for fashion fans looking for Kate’s favorite pieces online, like the Muse clutch or Park Ave shoe.

Russell & Bromley

Currently the company is only shipping to Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but there is word that will be expanded in 3 to 4 months.



  67 Responses to “It’s McQueen for Kate on Saint Andrew’s Day”

  1. She never has a bad day, ever. She always looks great and carries herself so well. What a kind, lovely person she is.

  2. I found a Repli-Kate :) For any of you interested in a similar dress, there is a Brooks Brothers coat dress, wool and rayon blend for sale on eBay from a reputable seller. For fun, I got on eBay and searched for Black Watch Plaid to see what I could find, and the U.S. Size 2 coat dress is one of the items. It is being auctioned for $36.39; the auction closes just after 9 o’clock at night on December 9th. I will never be a Size 2, so I thought I would pass on this info and wish you well.

  3. I just adore the Florence maternity dress. It is stunning!

  4. Kate is pregnant!! I’m so happy it’s official best news so happy for the duchess and duke.

  5. I just read the Palace has announced Kate is expecting and is now in the hospital due to severe morning sickness. I know we all hope Kate feels better soon, and we send her and William our very best wishes and happiest congratulations.

  6. I like the content on your blog (love Kate!) but your use of run-on sentences is driving me NUTS. has anyone mentioned this to you? Here’s just one example from this, your most current post: “Among other sports, she played on the hockey team, she is seen in the front row on the far left.” The second comma is used incorrectly. You should use either a semi-colon or a dash instead. You make similar errors all throughout your posts. I’m telling you about this not to be nitpicky but because I really want to like/read your blog but the bad grammar is tripping me up!

    • Who are you – Lynne Truss?

    • As an academic, I am fussy about grammar and punctuation in formal writing, but this is a fun and informal blog about fashion. I think the Admin has enough to do without dealing with comments like of this kind.

    • I’ve got to stand up admin here… this comment is is not really appropriate. One of the wonderful things about blogs is that the author can write about whatever he or she wants however he or she likes. Telling a blogger that you don’t like the way she writes is like telling someone you don’t like her personality. …probably better to say nothing.

    • That is the equivalent of walking into someone’s home and telling them you don’t like their furniture.

    • Why is the A. not capitalized in your name? For dramatic effect? Spare us the bother, don’t post here again or else give admin her due credit. :rolls eyes: Some people are just trolls.

    • I agree, and this is one reason I don’t read this blog very often. This is not a run-on sentence but a comma splice — a comma connecting two independent clauses. Comma splices are more annoying than you think to a lot of people. They should be replaced with a period, a semicolon, or, only occasionally, a long dash.

      Why are people so critical of those of us who, only out of generosity and a sincere desire to see improvement, point out errors like this? This is a well-researched blog; its only failure being the constant comma splices. I’m glad someone finally spoke out about this; it gave me the courage to do so as well.

      By the way, it’s not about the blogger’s writing style and whether one likes it or not. A comma splice is not an issue of style, it’s an issue of usage. In English, it’s just plain wrong; it renders the sentence grammatically incorrect. It’s about proper use of the English language, which is what readers of a blog of this caliber deserve.

      Bash me all you want — I don’t really care. I see grammatical errors everywhere in the English language; and yes, I am rather like Lynne Truss in my life. It’s my job. When I see a well-researched blog like this, I just want to help the author make it as perfect as possible. There’s no need for people to get defensive on the author’s behalf.

      By the way, I just love this coat! It’s the entire reason I came here today.

  7. I must be the only one who doesn’t like this… :( She looks beautiful, as always, but there’s just something about the dress that throws it all off for me. I hate the pointy shoulders, for one thing, and I guess I just feel like she’s too covered up, if that makes sense. What is the dress made of? It looks like it would feel like wrapping paper… Must just be me. Anyway, it fits, people loved it, and that’s all that matters. :)

    • I had the same opinion until I saw the video of her playing hockey (if you click on the Telegraph photo it will take you to the video). I really didn’t like it either, but for some reason when you see it in a video it actually looks great! I actually don’t like a lot of the outfits she’s worn lately, but I now wonder if it’s just the way they look in photos?

  8. I think suede photographs as more scuffed than it really is, especially if it is not brand new.

    • Agreed—I have several suede boots and shoes, and they tend to photograph in a strange way, as they have a “pile”, just like carpet—-in other words it all has to lay one way or it looks like it is scuffed, even though it isnt.

      Love this dress/coat, and think the idea of trying to match the school uniforms was lovely and thoughtful. The boots are great!

  9. Gosh, I’m looking at the close up photos of her boots and they don’t seem so scuffed to me. I”ve also heard complaints about other shoes looking scuffed and tired and I just don’t see that. Perhaps I’m remembering my own situation where I wore a pair of sandals to my son’s wedding and getting out of the car I got a black mark on one. Couldn’t do a thing about it.

  10. Fabulous outfit, fabulous look …Absolutely Fabulous, and so very cool!

  11. FYI that old team photo is a rounders team, not hockey – obviously she was on the hockey team too, but they are holding rounders bats. It’s a game that’s pretty common in schools for children that age.

    Good job the pitch was astroturf – you couldn’t get away with those heels on a soggy field!

  12. I loved this look for Kate! And she is so agile; it is wonderful to see her playing hockey all dressed up. She knows how to play the “wow” factor too!

  13. I absolutely love this coat! Does anyone know where us mere mortals can get a cheap version of it? :)

    • Well, no. This is a custom design made just for her, on the basis of some other, already existing McQueen designs, which are also very, very expensive.

      However, there are lots of items in Black Watch plaid; try googling “Black Watch” plus “plaid” or “tartan”. And it’s possible that someone will come out with a cheap knockoff of this dress, though it will not look quite the same or fit most customers as the Duchess’s dress fits her.

      • Yeah, I knew that it was a custom-made design, I just wondered if there happened to be any similar coats out there. Thanks a lot for the suggestions!

  14. Love it, love it, love it.
    I think this is the first time she wears a full tartan dress or coat right? I was looking forward to it, it’s so beautifully British. And Voilà, and other custom made coat. So much better then the previous one off the rack from MaxMara.
    I am currently making myself a Tartan dress coat, the model is inspired of the Aubergine coat (under construction since last month) and I just found out as we speak that my obligations have been cancelled this weekend so I can finish it on time for the cold weather months, what a coincidence.

  15. She looks so classy. Always Elegant and refine

  16. I don’t know how I feel about this one. She looked beautiful – nice hair today, pretty as always. Just a little too plaid for me. ;)

  17. Now we know why the Duchess wears so many dresses with loose-fitting waists – it’s just in case she can get her hands on the nearest hockey stick. My – what a wonderful mover she is!

    And I love the dress – the tartan is gorgeous and such a neat match with the school uniform kilt skirts. The whole coat-dress is tailored to perfection on Catherine, resolving problems of wide shoulders, long waist, and narrow hips in its excellent cut. The colours are fabulous on her.

    And at long last, her hair is beyond wonderful again.

    But what on earth is her problem with footwear? This is the latest in a series of shoes and boots that look as if she couldn’t give them away even if she tried. I remain completely mystified by the lady’s ability to wear new clothes with four-figure price tags and then come close to jeopardise the effect with scuffed and worn out old shoes.

    • I completely agree with you! I love her Auquatalia boots, but she always pairs them with styles that don’t seem to go together.

    • I’ve noticed that about her shoes, too. Do you think it might be deliberate on her part? If she’s wearing brand-new clothes and shoes from head to toe to every event, people might start to criticize her. It could also create the impression that she’s too busy to repair or replace new shoes every time there’s a scuff.

      • Doesn’t feel deliberate to me — more like someone can’t spare the time to update. But you mention her being criticised and I guess that hits the nail on the head — whatever she does someone is sure to complain! In my case it’s just I can’t quite square that amount of “old” in the footwear department, with that amount of classy, tailored “new” in the wardrobe.

        I like best that she just remains herself!

  18. Hockey in heels = awesome. Splendid job Kate. You are going to be a wonderful, absolutely delightful Queen one day.

  19. Has anyone been able to identify her earrings? Are they the same emerald ones she wore a few days ago with the unfortunate Mulberry dress?

    • I think they are Diana’s sapphire earrings that where modified into drop earrings.

    • I thought she was wearing the sapphire and diamond earrings that are thought to have been Diana’s and that the Duchess seems to have had converted to drop-style. They look blue to me, not green.

  20. Outfit? Love. Perfection.

    I also think she is the COOLEST princess ever, who else dares to play field hockey in a dress and heels! Too cool. :-)

  21. Radiant….immediately loved the Black Watch. And yes, a flavor of Diana though Kate is very much making her own way.

  22. Perfect 10! Homerun!… how many sporting metaphors can I fit in one comment? :-) The plaid is a somewhat bold AND conscientious choice for the occasion, and the tailoring is impeccable. I just adore that she picked up and played in her heels. Such a candid moment. And of course, a broad and genuine smile is her best accessory. Just lovely!

  23. gosh, how much do i love kate?! i’m loving her bangs more and more with each day and i really love her spirit (especially that she played field hockey in her heels!) i love the other mcqueen jackets you showed as well!

  24. Kate’s McQueen coats are so much nicer and flattering than the runway pieces. Some of those things are down right weird. (Sorry). I like all of the things Kate has by McQueen but few of the runway things.

  25. I love the dress, it is absolutely beautiful and so well made. I have to go against the trend here, however, because I think the boots look terrible with the dress. They look too casual and clunky for the dress. Maybe a pair of leather boots with a more slender heel would look better?

    • Hmm, I’m not sure that’s quite her style. She prefers suede over leather (unless it’s patent) and with boots favors a chunkier heel. They’re more comfortable, and more youthful! I am a huge fan of this outfit; she looks sleek and elegant. I hate to wade into the speculation (and have always ignored the rumors), but I’m becoming convinced that she and William have good news coming down the pike.

      • I wonder if Kate has the same problem as I do with boots. So many I’ve tried on (all prices) have way too wide a circumference at the calf that any boot that fits is the right boot to wear???? Seriously I’m going to buy the aquatila boot this month after my bonus!!

  26. Smart, well-tailored, looser-fitting outing, possibly as necessity demands. There has been a change in Catherine’s choice of outfits very recently. Even the belt on the Mulberry dress was raised a bit.

  27. I quite like this coat dress, but I think I am on record as liking pretty much anything that the House of McQueen puts out. always a bit surprised to see the Black Watch tartan though on St. Andrews day or anything else celebrating Scotland given that it was the uniform of a regiment raised by an English king to sudbue the Scots.

  28. Now I know why her shoes are scuffed. Wow – very cool.

  29. Absolutely fabulous outfit. Those boots seem to be quite versatile and I’m pleased to see her wearing them with that beautiful dress. It’s already one of my favorite dresses on her of all time! Catherine looked so happy to be back at the school she attended for nine years. It must have been a fun day for her. :)

  30. I love this look! I think it’s so redeeming considering what she’s worn at her last few appearances. I love this coat dress so much. This is one of those Kate looks that reminds me why I am so obsessed with her style. I love the boots with it as well. This is a slam dunk in my book.

    • I agree!! This look redeems the past couple of missteps! She hit all the right notes with this look today, great, simple, understated and a salute to the day and to Scotland! She looked right in her element and not as stiff as she has at the last couple of engagements!

  31. How I would like to raid her closet!

    A thought I had while looking at the new Russell and Bromley site. That black suede clutch she has… could it just be the Muse? She might have bought it in both colors. Could be wrong…

  32. Beautiful. Perfect. Exquisite. And I mean this both in terms of her appearance and her stellar way of handling herself at these events. She knows how to maintain the balance between being personable (Squeak!? How cute!) and professional.

    When I first saw this dress, my gasp was so audible that my friend in the office next-door stopped by to see what had happened. “LOOK AT THAT DRESS!” was all I could manage. I think my favorite detail is the shoulders… Is there a term for that delicate puffiness? I’m also in love with the other Alexander McQueen pieces the admin included… Since wearing McQueen is no where on the horizon for me (the lottery or marriage to a very wealthy individual would have to be involved), I have my fingers crossed that the Duchess steps out in one of those lovely creations at a later date. (The Black Watch coat may be my most favorite piece of clothing that I’ve ever beheld…)

  33. I just love anthing made in black watch….so I have to love this dress coat, too! :) I just bought a trench topper with the same tartan print from J.crew this year. Otherwise I would want to cave in ….

    • That was a cute little topper, I must say. J. Crew offers many things that suit the tastes of people who also like the Duchess’s style. I bought a pale-blue herringbone J Crew blazer earlier this fall because it strongly reminded me of one of the Duchess’s Katherine Hooker jackets.

  34. The cut of this dress is so very flattering on her! I really like the longer length and full skirt. She always looks great in McQueen. I do think a bit of contrasting trim or piping along the collar or the cuffs would be nice, though.

    I know we aren’t supposed to compare Catherine to Diana, but I am sure this dress is very Diana-esque.

    • I thought of Diana too. Very much like something she’d wear. And why’s a classic, elegant look. Kate looks beautiful!

    • Diana wore plaid now and then, though the examples I recall were not nearly as successful as the Duchess’s dress, which is far better designed and tailored. You can see one on the site below, which is all about comparing Diana and Catherine’s clothing. I believe that Diana gave that plaid dress to Sarah Ferguson, whom it suited even less well.

      • I loved most of what Diana wore but it does seem that Catherine’s clothes are much better tailored than Diana’s….which is surprising to me. We have to remember that when Diana married she was only 20 and probably had not yet developed her own sense of style (I’m remembering the sweaters and floaty skirts she wore as a kindergarden aide). At 30, Catherine has had plenty of time to develop her style, plus with a stylish mom and younger sister with which to compare notes, she has had other women to give guidance. I don’t remember anything about Diana spending much time with her mom or sisters either before or after marrying Charles. She had consultants from Vogue but that came after her marriage. Also, the passage of time makes some of Diana’s choices look outdated where all of Catherine’s are quite up to date. Two different women in two different times. Both were/are lovely. Both influence how thousands of women dress.

    • Yes. Diana did wear dresses very much like this one when she was first married.

    • I always loved that dress that Diana wore, which I believe was to her first Balmoral games outing, although I see now that it could have been better fitted. this dress of Kate’s does remind me of it, although of course with that incomparable McQueen tailoring.

      • I think what it reminds me of, even more than the plaid specifically, is that Diana was very good at paying homage to her hosts through her clothing….and this is a fine example of Catherine doing it as well.

        The tailoring might be superior to what Diana wore early on, but I still find this quite youthful and even ageless. It is a great choice for her.

  35. I celebrate St Andrew’s day myself, being of Scottish ancestry, and am currently wearing my “Kiss Me, I’m Scottish” button and a scarf in the Dress MacDonald tartan.

    I like this Black Watch tartan coatdress very much. The lines instantly made me think of the red dress worn for the Jubilee river flotilla (that was McQueen, wasn’t it?), but I prefer the plaid to the red because the skirt is a bit longer and simply more substantial. I’m on record as not loving full skirts, and I think this close-fitting design wouldn’t flatter a “hippier” woman, but on the Duchess it looked quite nice.

    The boots looked great with it — just right — as did the sapphire earrings. And it was a very good choice for a school visit.

    Though I’m partial to the Dress MacDonald tartan, I have to say that the Black Watch tartan is very attractive.

  36. I really like the look!

  37. What a wonderful outfit! So right for the occasion and the design so suits Kate.

    How grand to see the future queen of England running round the hockey pitch in heels. Priceless! Good for her :)

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