Dec 172016

We are back with a few newsbytes, a brief look at how Kate does her shopping for clothing and accessories, and then a quick touch of tartan. 

First, an update on the Cambridges’ plans for Christmas Day. I have received quite a few email and messages asking if a new family photo is being released, and also inquiring about the family’s plans for Christmas Day. Addressing the first subject, we will not see a new family photo released this year. Historically, the Duke and Duchess have not released a seasonal photo. In December 2014 we did see new pictures of Prince George.


TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge/WPA Pool/PA Wire

And a photo with the entire family was released last December.

©Chris Jelf/PA Wire

©Chris Jelf/PA Wire

But that was the first time Kate and William released a formal family portrait near the holidays. More about that photo from The Daily Mail:

It is the first time the family have released a photograph at Christmas and only the second official portrait of the family of four. A Kensington Palace spokesman said the photograph was commissioned for their own use but that the couple decided to make it public because they liked it so much.

UPDATE: A new photograph of HM and Prince Charles was released today by Clarence House, accompanied by the message “As a year of 90th birthday celebrations draw to a close, we would like to share this special photo of The Prince and The Queen.”

©Nick Knight via Clarence House Twitter

©Nick Knight via Clarence House Twitter

More about the photo from The Mirror:

The previously unseen picture, taken by fashion photographer Nick Knight in May, shows the mother and son in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle before the final night of the Queen’s celebrations at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.

Royal watcher Cepe Smith noted on Twitter that there was “no other royal photograph in competition for media coverage.” Clearly, Kate and William would not want to release a new photograph close to this final photo from the Queen’s 90th birthday year. 

Royal correspondents report that Kate, William, George and Charlotte will spend Christmas Day with the Middletons at Michael & Carole Middleton’s home in Berkshire. Richard Palmer notes in his story for The Express that William and Kate will join the Middletons for church services near the Middleton family’s home. When the Duke and Duchess spent Christmas with Kate’s family in 2012, they attended services at St. Mark’s Church in Berkshire.

©Jesal Parshotam / Splash News

©Jesal Parshotam / Splash News

That doesn’t necessarily guarantee there will be pictures on Christmas; photographers may not be allowed access or other unforeseen circumstances could preclude the shooting/dissemination of images. We’ll hold a good thought and hope for a picture or two a week from tomorrow.

©Jesal Parshotam / Splash News

©Jesal Parshotam / Splash News

I share both updates not to launch a discussion about the family’s holiday plans because that’s not the purpose of the site, but because of the volume of inquiries.


Also today, insight into something that is an ongoing topic of interest for many Kate fashion followers: where & how does Kate buy her clothing and accessories? We know that her shopping habits have changed since marrying William and she is not seen out shopping at her favorite retailers with the frequency of her pre-marriage days. Below, Kate leaving Peter Jones just days before her wedding in April 2011.

©Splash News

©Splash News

If not able to spend much time looking at merchandise in a retail establishment, how does one acquire the ensembles that play such a key role for public engagements? Acquiring an upscale work wardrobe without personally looking at goods in a store environment requires some different strategies. Does that mean the Duchess does research via magazines and websites, then making purchases directly from retailers’ websites? Yes, at least some of the time. Does stylist Natasha Archer help in this endeavor, and make sample requests for more upscale designs? It’s likely this happens with some frequency.

We know that designers often send garments to Kensington Palace, hoping the Duchess and/or her staff will see something that might find royal favor. In some cases fashion houses are contacted directly by the Palace with a request for sample garments. For example, Kensington Palace got in touch with Naeem Kham and requested samples of his work months before the India tour.

©Naeem Khan / i-Images

©Naeem Khan / i-Images

Are plans for high profile pieces from Kate’s upper tier of fashion houses (like Jenny Packham, Alexander McQueen, and Temperley London) discussed via email and phone, followed by a look at fabric samples and sketches? This is probably the scenario in at least some cases, with fittings at Kensington Palace or Anmer Hall. I imagine Kate is also able to meet with designers at their studios for conferences about upcoming dresses.

Bethan Holt, The Telegraph’s digital fashion editor, wrote a column this week about Kate shopping online. It was pegged to her appearance at a Cub Scout meeting wearing a sweater by Iris and Ink, the in-house brand for online retailer The Outnet.

But as well as being a lesson in off-duty styling and the timeless appeal of a brilliant cashmere jumper, last night’s look tells us something new about Kate’s shopping habits- that she’s clearly a fan of online shopping.

©Reuters, Splash News / Andrew Parsons, i-Images

©Reuters, Splash News / Andrew Parsons, i-Images

But is the Duchess still able to get out and do some shopping in person, flying under the radar? Apparently so; the story talks about two recent purchases:

…when the Duchess wore a black Preen dress, the same style she had previously worn in red during the tour to Canada in September, Bond Street department store Fenwick confirmed she had come in person to buy the first dress, then asked for the black version to be delivered.

Below left Kate wears the black Preen ‘Finella’ dress in November for a Place2Be awards ceremony; on the right, she is seen in the red ‘Finella,’ worn for a reception during the fall Canada tour. The red remains available in XS and L sizes at Matches Fashion ($1332); it also offered in XS, S, M, and L at Net-a-Porter ($1577).

©Nunn Syndication, Polaris/James Whatling, Splash News

©Nunn Syndication, Polaris/James Whatling, Splash News

Fenwick isn’t a retailer we have discussed at any length in this space. Below, the Bond Street store in Mayfair.

Fenwick of Bond Street

Fenwick of Bond Street

Founded in the 1880s, the firm is run by a 5th generation family member, Mark Fenwick. The company keeps a fairly low profile, unusual in today’s retail landscape, and stores maintain a strong local identity. Among the brands carried at the Bond Street store: Barbour, Diane von Furstenberg, Dolce and Gabbana, Kate Spade, By Malene Birger, Longchamp, Max Mara, LK Bennett, Joseph, and Bobbi Brown.

As far as knowing precisely where and how the Duchess acquires all the parts and pieces of her enviable wardrobe, that is something known only by a very limited cadre of staff and perhaps family members. It is likely to be a combination of the varying means mentioned above, augmented by other methods of which we are unaware. But it is a fascinating topic, one we may explore at greater length in a future post.


Now to our little gift guide. Many readers were fond of Kate’s bespoke coatdress by Alexander McQueen that showcased an elegant Black Watch tartan. First seen in November of 2012 when Kate visited her old prep school,  the piece was seen again on Christmas Day 2013

©Splash News/PA Wire/Aquatalia

©Splash News/PA Wire/Aquatalia

That got me thinking about some of the goodies available for holiday gift giving.

Starting at the top, and going clockwise: 1-a perky Hair Bow ($8.99 at etsy seller VirginaBows); 2-Personalized Phone Case ($59 at Minnie and Emma); 3-Barbour’s Blackwatch Scarf in a snuggly blend of wool and cashmere ($49 at Tuckernuck); 4-Lauren Ralph Lauren Gloves ($35 at Dillard’s); 5-Tartan Mug ($14.50 at Talbots, not available online); 6-Wool Tartan Pumps ($178 at Brooks Brothers); 7-Sabrina Cosmetic Case ($50 at Tuckernuck); 8-Le Kilt 01 in Black Watch (£405, about $500, at Le Kilt); 9-Grace Bow Blackwatch Plaid Flats ($71.40, online & catalog only at Talbots); 10-the Kate Coat ($568 at the Scotland Shop).



A couple of notes:

  • Not every item is a 100% authentic black watch tartan, but I thought they were all close enough that you might enjoy them
  • Be sure to check for additional discounts, free shipping/free returns and other promotional perks at each retailer, especially the mass merchandise department stores like Dillard’s and Macy’s. Their promotions are changing daily, if not hourly, so look for the every best deal you can find.

We will see you early next week!

  17 Responses to “The Cambridges’ Christmas Plans, A Bit of Black Watch & How Does Kate Shop?”

  1. I loved the Black Watch roundup at the end of the post – fun idea, and now I’m wishing we could get one for the wonderful Maple Leaf tartan as well – WKW was my first introduction to that particular tartan, and it is such a gorgeous autumnal mix. I would love to find those Brooks Bros. pumps in it!

  2. Cambridges’ and Middletons’ (s apostrophe, not apostrophe s, when plural). Sorry, it’s the English teacher in me.

  3. Have I missed HM’s annual Christmas Luncheon at Buckingham Palace? Has it happened yet?

  4. J Crew sells a Black Watch coat and blazer. I’m hoping to buy the coat soon.

  5. Jcrew has a really nice black watch gloves — black watch fabric on the back of the hand and black leather on the palm.

  6. Does anyone know what department store Fenwick compares to for USA stores. Is it more a Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus level. Thanks.

    • I don’t know your department stores but it’s pretty high end

    • My local Fenwicks growing up was in Newcastle in the North East of England. They were particulary known for their wonderful Christmas windows – beautifully themed and executed, going to see them was reason enough for an excursion, and even in the early hours of a Saturday and Sunday morning you’d see all the nightclubbers taking the time to enjoy them too. I’d say they’re definitely at the Nordstrom level. Maybe because it was in the friendly NE, it always felt very accessible, in comparison with how us locals viewed say Selfridges or Harrods ‘down south’.

  7. That is one truly striking portrait of the Queen and Prince Charles, thanks for including it. Am I allowed to find it a bit odd that Charles is shown wearing a bow-tie? Like a small whiff of the debonair against his ever-majestic mother in her formal brocade-style dress.

    At risk of getting thrown off the page I was secretly rejoicing that the Cambridges weren’t going to do the Sandringham thing this year. If there’s one day of the year I feel I have to stay off-line it’s Christmas Day. I’m afraid I’m a little disappointed at the prospect of them being snapped on their way into the local church as it sounds like I will have some catching up to do after all!!

    I like the theory that Kate had access to The Outnet for her Iris and Ink jumper It’s fun to speculate on how she gets ideas on what to wear and I can imagine Natasha Archer being kept pretty busy scouring websites for inspiration. And good to see dear old Fenwicks getting a plug – it’s a hardy standby for those living in London.

    I love the little Black Watch round-up. I must admit I sometimes look for what I think of as little ‘souvenirs’ of Kate outings, a single bangle with some Williamson beading, an Orla Kiely keyring, just fun things to remind me of favourite Kate designers without cramming any more clothes into my wardrobe or busting my wallet!

  8. I love the Black Watch pattern. I also love kilts but do not wear anymore as they are not as cute on me as when I was younger. Trying to convince my 19 year old to wear. I might get the scarf.

  9. As always, thank you for the diligence and detail in your posts. Great job!

  10. Just tacking a comment onto Brenda’s, that Prince Charles is also the Colonel in Chief of the Black Watch (Royal Highland) Regiment of Canada.

    Very nice collection of bits for which I thank you. I wonder if Kate misses being able to pop out to shop.

  11. Fenwick is a beautiful store. There’s one in Bond Street, and it’s a pleasure to dart in and take a look at the latest goods. I’m not a bit surprised to hear Kate shops there. Bond Street is a low key, high quality shopping street, and the end where Fenwick is located is not on a tourist path. Kensington High Street has gotten way too crowded for her to pop in and out of shops unnoticed.

    Since Black Watch is my favorite tartan (and regiment) I’m glad to see you feature it. Prince Charles (the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland) is its Royal colonel.

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