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New Engagements for the Duchess and Designs That Packed a Punch in 2016

We have several updates to share, and then our look at pieces by familiar Duchess designers that really stood out in 2016. First, the additions to Kate’s Calendar:     


Last week we covered the many new designers the Duchess wore in 2016. Today we look at styles from designers and retailers Kate has worn previously that packed a punch in 2016.  This group is composed of looks that made a distinct style statement for the Duchess, or perhaps prompted a “wow” upon the first glimpse. It is not a list of designs that I liked, rather, pieces that reflect a change in direction for Kate or a look that simply showed Kate’s self-confidence and ease in her role.

Our first ensemble in this category is the set of ‘Delphia’ separates by Temperley London worn to a party at the British High Commissioner’s House during the India tour.  At 99.99% of the formal functions Kate attends we see her wearing dresses and evening gowns. As best I recall the Duchess hasn’t done separates for a formal occasion, and certainly not any with a cropped top. This was a step in a different direction for Kate, indicative of her willingness to take more risks with her wardrobe; it was a choice that worked very well. The lighter weight fabric was ideal for the climate, and the intricate embroidery was perfect for the occasion.

©Nunn Syndication, Polaris / i-Images / Nunn Syndication, Polaris

©Nunn Syndication, Polaris / i-Images / Nunn Syndication, Polaris

For Kate and William’s first visit to Royal Ascot in June, we saw another lace dress. But instead of the lace sheaths we have become accustomed to, this Dolce and Gabbana dress provided a softer look, enhanced by the tiered, full skirt. The cotton/poly/viscose/nylon blend dress had lovely movement when Kate was walking, and the partially sheer bodice and sheer sleeves showed off the lace detail nicely.  Many thought Kate might have been channeling Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady, a role the Duchess played in a school play.


©Polaris / Polaris / i-Images

Arguably the look last year that may have provoked the loudest “wow!” across the interwebs: this Roland Mouret cold-shoulder dress.  The ‘Nansen’ gown features a deep vee neckline and shoulder cutouts, as well as multiple pieces of inserted fabric and darts in several places. Worn to a June SportsAid party at Kensington Palace, the dress created a much bolder impression than we generally see Kate make, one that was very much of the moment. It was on the same level as the Barbara Casasola off the shoulder frock worn in July in terms of the Duchess taking a more daring approach to fashion.



This next choice may surprise you because it is an ensemble we have seen before. We’re talking about the Catherine Walker coat and dress seen at Order of the Garter in June. The ensemble was first worn in July 2011 when Kate and William were departing Canada. The addition of Kate’s wedding earrings, red suede heels by Gianvito Rossi, and the Lock and Company hat all combined to take the look to an entirely different level, one that really made the Duchess shine.  She looked very much at ease and quite comfortable in her role after five years as a senior royal.


©Polaris / i-Images / Polaris / Splash News

When arriving at the Victoria airport in British Columbia for the start of the Canada tour, Kate wore an ensemble featuring a bespoke dress by Jenny Packham and hat by Sylvia Fletcher for Lock and Company (the blue version of the red chapeau seen above). Those pieces were enhanced by the Queen’s diamond brooch and tanzanite earrings from G. Collins & Sons, creating a look that was stunning. The Duchess looked every bit the royal. The visual impact was so powerful that several readers suggested it be added to our Iconic Looks page (it was).


©Polaris / i-Images / Polaris / Canadian Heritage

For her first solo overseas trip in October, Kate chose a pale blue belted suit by royal favorite Catherine Walker. The Duchess was visiting the Netherlands, where she would be meeting King Willem-Alexander and visiting an art gallery. The wool crepe suit looked professional; details like the peplum waist, slightly flared sleeves and oversized buttons also gave it a little panache. The Queen’s pearl and diamond earrings, combined with the updo, created an air of understated elegance.


©i-Images / Polaris / Polaris

Are there styles you think that should have been included that I omitted? Designs that are shown above that you don’t think were really that strong? I would love to see everyone’s input on this one because it is so objective.


Also today, a look at a photo showing a very young Kate. Party Pieces, the company Carole and Michael Middleton own, is celebrating its 30 year anniversary. As part of the celebration, the website takes a look back over its 30 years of operation, and this picture is part of that coverage. You can see Kate on the far right.  UPDATE: The Daily Mail has done a story about this photo and evidently Pippa is in the upper right (at Carole Middleton’s left shoulder) while James is to Carole Middleton’s immediate right. The story cropped out the child wearing a sweatshirt with a bear on the front.

© Party Pieces (Click photo to visit the website)

© Party Pieces (Click on photo to visit the Party Pieces website.)

Taken in 1989, the photo shows a 7-year-old Kate. This quote from Cariole Middleton is part of the story about the anniversary: “…over the years all my children have played a huge part in it from modelling for the catalogue to developing new categories for the brand.” 

Finally, one quick Sales & Savings note: LK Bennett is taking 40% off sale prices on the US site and in-store (US stores) with promo code HURRAY. Sale items that have a Kate connection include the Madison Dress, the updated version of Kate’s Agata sandals, the Cami Chiffon Print Dress and the Cami Chiffon Print Skirt. (This is the print Kate wore to church on the 8th.)

LK Bennett

LK Bennett

We will see you next week with some of our polls on styles worn by the Duchess in 2016 and coverage of her engagements on Tuesday.

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Saturday 21st of January 2017

The Catherine Walker suit and styling opted for Netherlands visit reminds me of Angelina Jolie's attire when she was made an honorary dame


Tuesday 17th of January 2017

I would love to see the Barbara Casasola outfit that she wore to the Natural History Museum, because it was such a fabulous style statement and I think a mark of her fashion confidence!


Tuesday 17th of January 2017

Great post today! I'm not sure who it was by, but my favourite new look for Kate last year was that off the shoulder cream dress she wore to a museum function. To me, I felt it was a knock out look for her.


Monday 16th of January 2017

Thanks so much for such a lovely post, it brightened up my weekend no end even though I have signally failed to get here to join in the chat. It certainly has been a fun year in terms of Kate’s fashion picks and I like looking at how she’s managed to branch out and try out some fresh ideas.

My own two big faves in this latest batch were the full-length Temperley, which could not have been more fitting in its Delhi context, and the stunning blue Mouret, again full-length. I still love that pale blue Catherine Walker suit to bits.

I was never much struck by all the frothy white lace at Ascot although I’m happy to concede that it too was good choice in its context. The Iconic blue Packham outfit for Canada arrival also didn’t spark a major reaction from me, but only on the grounds that it was so much in keeping with what Kate’s worn before. I still find the hat a tad fussy.

As to whether Kate can keep up such a pace of sartorial flair we will simply have to wait and see, especially given the hit-and-miss element of many of her outfits. But I do know that she will always try her very best and not let the side down, on top of which, if I could look half as good as she does even on a bad day I’d be more than happy!


Monday 16th of January 2017

I would include the Missoni coat and the black accessories she wore to Somme. I loved the coat and adored her hat. Despite the fact that most posters always want her wearing jewels from the vault, I like it when she wears costume jewelry, especially when it is large enough to make a statement, as the pearls were. If I have any criticisms of her earring choices it's that, no matter how pretty, they mostly fall into the small and delicate category, and are often lost in all her hair. She can carry larger earrings beautifully. Just like the Canada arrival dress, the Somme outfit was dignified and regal. She came across like Jackie Kennedy, and for me, there's no greater compliment.


Tuesday 17th of January 2017

I thought I was the only one who doesn't care a whole lot for her private earring collection (not including loaned) too small and delicate and old-fashioned next to a lot of hair. Perhaps the priceless engagement ring set the tone because the earrings fashioned to match are matronly. Because it belonged to Diana who acquired it in 1981the huge sapphire is understandable. White gold and diamonds all the rage these days. Think back to her Kiki lola blue topaz hoop earrings with that updo and fabulous make-up in July 2012. Now that's what I'm talking about

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