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Fashion Flashbacks of the Red and Green Variety & A Royal Train Tour Poll

Hello-Hello, and welcome to a post covering three festive looks previously sported by the Duchess, and a quick poll. We begin with a design worn four years ago this past Saturday to an annual Heads Together meeting and Christmas party with Princes William and Harry.   

The red and green print dress was by a designer new to Kate’s working wardrobe, Vanessa Seward

During the meeting, the Duchess took part in a live online chat about volunteers and counseling.Kate Middleton Duchess Cambridge Heads Together Vanessa Seward Holly print dress

After the meeting ended, there was a party with staff, volunteers, and those supported by youth services charity The Mix.  
Kate working on some decorations at the party.Kate Middleton Duchess Cambridge Heads Together Vanessa Seward Holly print dress

Meeting staff and volunteers. Kensington Palace @KensingtonRoyal

More decoration work. 

The Duchess was in the ‘Cai’ dress by Vanessa Seward, who launched her eponymous brand in 2014. It was described as having “a flowing draped design.”

The piece featured full sleeves, a button front with black enamel buttons, on-seam side pockets, and a self-belt the Duchess elected not to use. Net-a-Porter

The Duchess accessorized with her Gianvito Rossi Black Suede Pumps ($486) and trusty ‘Bayswater’ Clutch by Mulberry.

She also wore what appears to be a suede version of the Alexander McQueen ‘Glossed Leather’ Belt, and her Annoushka Pearl Drops with Kiki McDonough hoops. UPDATED DEC 22: With thanks to Melissa for her comment, the earrings worn by Kate were actually the Catherine Zoraida Fern Hoops, *not* the Kiki/Annoushka set mentioned above. They are shown below when worn to another engagement.

Our next look is from mid-December 2018 when the Duchess wore a dress by LK Bennett for multiple engagements with Prince William in London

The first engagement was at Evelina Children’s Hospital. This is the day it was announced that Kate was the new royal patron of the hospital. 

The Duke and Duchess both worked on making Christmas cards with the children.

I remember really liking this photo because of the little girl’s face and her fierce concentration.

After the crafting, it appeared Kate made a new friend.

Kate delivered remarks at the event.

The hospital was also launching its 150th-anniversary commemorations in December 2018. Below you see the Duchess with 4-year-old (at the time) Cruz Brown as they unveiled a new banner at the hospital, officially marking the 150th-anniversary celebration.

The Duke and Duchess then left the hospital.

And headed to their next stop at The Passage, an organization that “…provides resources which encourage, inspire and challenge homeless people to make lasting and long-term changes to their lives.”

This was the first time the Duchess had been to the charity; that is not the case for the Duke. He first visited when he was 12, accompanied by 10-year-old Prince Harry. They were taken on the visit by their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.  

The couple took part in a roundtable discussion while at The Passage in 2018.

They met volunteers and staff, along with people receiving assistance via the charity’s resources.

And they took part in an arts and crafts workshop.

The project? Making bracelets.

Now for our look at what Kate wore.

She was in LK Bennett’s ‘Mortimer’ dress. The piece was 100% silk with princess seaming, a bow at the neck, flared skirt, gathers at the shoulder seam and cuffs, and faux pearl buttons down the front and at the cuff.   
It looks like the Duchess wore her Gianvito Rossi olive pumps ($486 at Matches Fashion and $695 at Farfetch), and she carried the ‘Dora’ clutch ($250, no longer available in this color), another LK Bennett piece.

She had on familiar earrings. 

Her Annoushka Pearl Drops and Kiki McDonough hoops.

Our final look is a repeat the Duchess wore for a December 2015 Christmas party.

The event was at the Anna Freud Centre in London. There were lots of activities at the party; one of them involved making paper hand cutouts.

The paper hands were part of a collage being made for a wall display at the center.  

The party also included a group rendition of Queen’s We Will Rock You, with Kate playing along on a Djembe drum.

When it was time to leave, one young man wanted to give the Duchess a hug.©Chris Jackson/WPA Rota/Nunn Syndication/Polaris

Now for our look at what the Duchess wore to the party, a piece familiar to many, a repeated dress by Alexander McQueen.  

The vibrant red dress was first worn to the Jubilee River Pageant in June 2012 (below right), and then again for a dramatic arts event at Buckingham Palace in February 2014 (below center).James Whatling, Splash News/PA Wire/Mirrorpix, Splash News

It is a custom version of this style by Alexander McQueen; the addition of long sleeves and a bateau neckline were the primary changes to the original design. Neiman Marcus

Kate accessorized with two oft-used accessories: her ‘Power’ pumps from Stuart Weitzman and ‘Bayswater’ Clutch by Mulberry.

The Duchess wore her Kiki McDonough ‘Lauren’ earrings (£1916, roughly $2500 at today’s exchange rates).Nunn Syndication/POLARIS

Three festive occasions and three seasonal looks from the Duchess. 

Do you have a favorite? 


Our other topic today, a quick poll on all the looks worn for the Royal Train trip last week. 

Our first look was when the couple departed London on December 6, an Alexander McQueen coat accessorized by the Grace Han Love Letter Top-Handled Bag, Ralph Lauren Collection suede boots, ‘Alice’ merino wool gloves by Cornelia James, Maple Leaf Tartan scarf, Amaia Kids mask, and Simone Rocha Faux Pearl Curb-Chain Earrings.

The next day started with the blue Catherine Walker coat first worn in February 2018 during the Norway tour, when the Duchess was expecting Prince Louis.  Kate carried a new bag, the Multrees Chain Wallet style ($355) by Strathberry. She wore her Ralph Lauren Collection boots (changing later to her Half ‘n Half pair by Stuart Weitzman), along with an Amaia Kids mask, a pair of UFO gloves, and her sapphire and diamond drop earrings.

Later that day, Kate switched to her ‘Bianca’ coat by Hobbs London, an off-white sweater, her Jigsaw trousers, another Amaia Kids mask, her Emmy ‘Josie’ pumps, a new Métier London ‘Roma’ bag, and Simone Rocha Faux Pearl Curb-Chain Earrings.

Monday night brought another ensemble, this one repeating the Hobbs ‘Bianca’ coat, along with a new Brora Sweater, another Amaia Kids mask, UFO gloves, and the Simone Rocha Faux Pearl Curb-Chain Earrings.

Tuesday started with the repeat of an Alexander McQueen coat, an Emilia Wickstead tartan skirt first noted at a 2018 Kensington Palace Christmas party, matching tartan scarf, unidentified black turtleneck, the Grace Han Love Letter Top-Handled Bag, masks by both Amaia Kids and Emilia Wickstead, and her Spells of Love ‘Alia’ earrings

For the final event associated with the train mini-tour, a family gathering at Windsor Castle, the Duchess brought back a Catherine Walker coat updated with a  Faux Fur Lapel Collar by Troy London. The Duchess also had on her Ralph Lauren Collection suede boots, her ‘Alice’ merino wool gloves by Cornelia James, another Amaia Kids mask, and the Queen’s Diamond Frame Earrings. She carried an Alexander McQueen black velvet box clutch. 

Now it is time to vote for your favorite overall look. 


I am sending good wishes to everyone dealing with the run-up to Christmas, and all continuing to cope with the pandemic.  I’ll have one more post this week that will hopefully brighten the day.



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Friday 1st of January 2021

Dear Susan, thank you so much for all the effort and care you put into this wonderful website. I have enjoyed reading your well-researched articles, and the many comments of the What Kate Wore family, for a long time. But in 2020 it was truly a respite from the worries and pressures all around us.

I will always remember the Whistle Stop Train Tour as the Beautiful Coat Tour. I could never pick a favorite, all the coats were so beautiful. But if I were going to buy one for myself it would be the Hobbs Bianca. It is beautiful and classic, and I am partial to navy.

Blessings in the New Year...


Monday 28th of December 2020

Thank you for the festive flashbacks and the posts over Christmas! I always love Kate's engagements in December, seeing her at Christmas parties with children and dressing in fun colours. Such a shame that the same is not possible this year – those engagements must mean a lot to the children involved. I was happy to see how Camilla managed to carry on one of her Christmas traditions, decorating the Clarence House tree, virtually.

I admit I have not caught up on all of the Royal Train Tour posts yet! So my vote may change. For now I based it off the photos in this post, and went with the Brora sweater ensemble – though it pains me to say none of the outfits was perfect in my mind because all of the coats are just far too long for my taste. However, the fair isle jumper with the tailored coat is the perfect outdoor Christmas engagement outfit. As much as I am here for the regal looks, I do also enjoy seeing Kate in outfits I can replicate in my own life, and this was certainly one of them.


Saturday 26th of December 2020

A royal poll is the perfect Christmas treat, thank you! I find it almost impossible to choose a favourite from the different coats, as I like them all. I felt the most striking image came from the new Brora jumper under her open Hobbs coat, though I'm not so fond of the coat itself, and perhaps it was just a treat to see at least one coat worn open. I thought Kate looked most majestic striding down the Euston platform in her sober McQueen, much improved with the lovely deep red tartan scarf and high boots.

And I was very taken with how she managed to dress up her Catherine Walker for the iconic shot at the floodlit steps of Windsor Castle. The use of faux fur collar and the wonderful Diamond Frame earrings was both deft and assured. But possibly the most complete expression of regal with updated style was the memorable red McQueen worn in Wales with matching tartan scarf, smart leather gloves, boots, and delicious Grace Han bag.

Such fun to review, as are the three Christmas dress flashbacks you have unearthed for us. The Vanessa Seward floral print was lovely, but I thought the fabric wrong as it fails to hang well in the skirt. The LKB green sport print was also fun, but this time the waist moved too high. So top place has to go to hardy favourite, the red McQueen, where class couture perhaps inevitably blows away the competition.

Emily Doerflinger

Wednesday 23rd of December 2020

What a fun Christmastime post Susan - thank you for putting this together! Of the flashback looks I do like the festive Vanessa Seward dress - so perfect for a Christmas party, but I always feel Kate looks especially lovely in dark green, so I think the L.K. Bennet would be my favorite of the looks. For the Train Tour looks, I voted for the navy coat and trousers with the fair isle sweater, mostly because it felt a little more casual and accessible, a little more "fun" while still being elegant.


Saturday 26th of December 2020

I think the fair isle sweater was eye-catching simply because we were treated to some pattern after all the plain coats.


Tuesday 22nd of December 2020

Susan, these fashion flashback posts have been the absolute silver lining of 2020! I hope you and your loved ones enjoy a very merry Christmas!


Tuesday 22nd of December 2020

Aww, thank you, Sarah! I'm sending the same sentiments right back to you and those you love! :)

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