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The Princess of Wales in the Pink

The Princess of Wales in the Pink

Hello, and welcome to an August post as the Wales family enjoys some down time. It is the summer of Barbie – the film is a smash hit.

Along with the movie’s popularity, we are seeing the color pink. Everywhere. Below, Margot Robbie at the London premiere of the movie.

We are also seeing many of the Princess of Wales’s ensembles referred to as “Barbie Pink,” like these separates worn to the Foundling Museum in May

More from British Vogue’s May article about the museum visit. 

In fact, it seems that even the Princess of Wales can’t resist this summer’s candy-pink mood. The royal stepped out for an engagement at London’s Foundling Museum wearing a pastel-pink suit from Alexander McQueen, which she paired with a matching blouse underneath and a pair of white pumps (a shoe choice that’s become a new summer staple for Kate). Finishing off the look? A statement white belt featuring a pearl buckle that’s reminiscent of the kitschy accessories worn by our favourite Mattel doll.

Many articles related the Princess wearing pink to the popularity of “Barbie pink.” That made me do a little digging in the WKW archives to see just how much pink the Princess of Wales has worn over the years. It is not one of her most-worn colors, but it is a shade we have seen several times a year in most years, albeit in different versions of the color. Here is a look at some of those styles. 

On several occasions, we saw bright, vibrant pink tones. On the left, the Alexander McQueen design worn for Trooping the Colour in 2017 with its pleated neckline and paper-bag waist. Next is the RIXO “Izzy Dress” in a pattern called pink marble zebra, worn on the final day of the 2022 Caribbean tour. Many will recognize the ME+EM Colour Block Silk Shirt Dress initially worn when the Duchess of Cambridge met 5-year-old Mila Sneddon in May 2021, seen a second time at a children’s picnic this May at the Chelsea Flower Show. On the right, the pink Runaway Belted Coat by Max & Co. and the Hambleden Scallop Sweater by Boden seen at a March 2021 school visit.

In some cases, the Princess opted for softer shades, with some in what I would call powder pink. Below left, the Beulah London “Ahana Crepe Midi Dress,” described as “blush hued” by the brand, seen here at this June’s reopening of the Young V&A Museum. First worn to Wimbledon in July 2021, the dress features a loop and button front closure and self-belt. Second from left, the Alexander McQueen “Wool Cashmere Peplum Dress,” initially worn during the 2014 Australia tour and brought back for a 2016 National Portrait Gallery engagement. The dress has a vee-neckline, full skirt, and structured peplum at the waist. Next, the Lela Rose “Double-Faced Twill Elbow Sleeve Dress” worn in 2016 for a day of engagements in Cornwall. The fit and flare style showcased seaming details at the sleeve and upper portion of the skirt. On the right, the McQueen maternity-style coat which was first worn for Trooping the Colour 2013 and then brought back for the 2015 Commonwealth Day service. The bespoke design showcased an oversized collar, large pearl buttons, flap pockets, and bracelet-length sleeves.

Two more ‘pretty in pink’ looks: the Alexander McQueen design worn for a May 2019 garden party at Buckingham Palace, featuring a double-breasted silhouette with pleats falling from the pocket flaps, and a version of Emilia Wickstead’s “Alice Dress.” This design was first worn for the Queen’s Sovereigns’ luncheon in May 2012 and then again for a 2012 garden party. The dress has a squared neckline, set-in waistband, and pleated skirt.

The Princess has opted for rich berry hues. On the left, you see the “Light Sleeper” dress by the Vampire’s Wife, in metallic pink with a fitted bodice and flutter sleeves, worn for a March 2022 reception in Belize. For the final day of Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June 2022, the Duchess chose a modified version of Stella McCartney’s Wrap Front Twill Midi Dress with a draped bodice and bias-cut skirt. In November 2021, the Duchess sported separates by Hobbs London: the Tilda coat and Lara Merino Roll Neck Sweater. When attending the October 2018 wedding of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, the Duchess chose a bespoke Alexander McQueen dress with pleating at the neckline and skirt and a paper bag waist.

The dress worn for Princess Eugenie’s wedding appeared almost identical to 2017’s Trooping the Colour dress seen above. The most notable difference between the two frocks: the berry-colored dress had distinctly puffed sleeves.

Other vivid pieces include the Alexander McQueen “Leaf Midi Pencil Dress” in a color officially called “dahlia pink,” with pleats at the round neckline, short structured sleeves, and a self-belt; it was worn for a 2021 joint engagement with US First Lady Dr. Jill Biden. In the center, the vintage Oscar de la Renta dress worn for a March 2020 reception in Dublin, which featured a pie crust collar, jabot trimmed in black velvet, double-banded cuffs also trimmed in black velvet, and a black velvet belt. On the right, the Mulberry Double-Breasted Cerise Coat first noted during the 2014 New York visit and worn again in March 2015 for her last day of engagements before Princess Charlotte’s birth. The coat was seen a third time in January 2018 for a day of engagements in Coventry.

A look at the Mulberry coat as worn over the years. 

Evening gowns have been more in shades of rose and blush. We begin with the much-loved Jenny Packham style described as “pearlescent rose” that was first worn at a June 2011 dinner gala, and again for a June 2016 dinner. Second from the left, the Gucci gown seen at a February 2019 100 Women in Finance gala dinner; it showcased an off-the-shoulder design with an intricately ruched bodice and a floaty, flowing skirt in layers of pleated tulle. Two more recent styles are from this June’s royal wedding in Jordan. The Elie Saab design (third from left) featured a high neck, intricate pleating and floral appliques, and a full sweeping skirt. The sequinned Jenny Packham (far right) worn for the formal wedding reception was accented with crystal embellishment on the bodice and at the waist.

A look at the Jenny Packham gown as worn in 2011 and again in 2016. 

And a closer view of the neckline and bodice detailing both years. ©Splash News/Splash News

There is an evening gown we’ve only had a glimpse of that was worn for Prince Charles’s 70th birthday party in 2018. Hopefully, we will see the full gown at some point in the future.

Some designs had just the barest whisper of color. Below, the Alexander McQueen cape-effect gown with embellished neckline worn in 2018 for a black-tie dinner in Oslo and the much-debated dress by Alexander McQueen that was worn for Pippa Middleton’s May 2017 wedding. On the right, the Joseph “Scala Stretch Crepe Dress” seen when the Duchess of Cambridge and the Queen previewed the Buckingham Palace exhibit showcasing her wedding gown, with its deep vee-neckline and three-quarter-length sleeves.

On several occasions, the Princess was in shades leaning more toward the salmon/coral/peach family. Here you see her (from left to right) in an Emilia Wickstead coatdress at a 2022 Buckingham palace garden party; the Goat Fashion “Scarlett Pleat-Front Dress” (in a color officially called geranium) worn for a July 2014 school visit; a Stella McCartney dress seen at the July 2019 christening of Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor; the floral motif Orla Kiely dress worn at Paddington Station in October 2017; the collarless cotton twill Tara Jarmon coat worn when visiting Naomi House Children’s Hospice in April 2013

There have been some print pink prints over the years, although not many. Here you see the Jenny Packham dress worn when arriving in Singapore in 2012; the “Madison” silk chiffon dress by LK Bennett seen at a July 2019 polo match; the Kate Spade “Encore Rose Chiffon Dress” seen at an engagement marking World Mental Health Day in 2016; the bright orange and pink hand-dyed batik print dress worn for a dinner in the Solomon Islands during the 2012 Jubilee Tour.

We wrap up with two sets of separates; the Alexander McQueen “ice pink” jacket and trousers first noted during a June 2022 Early Years roundtable and seen again this May for London engagements, and the Marks and Spencer pieces. The separates were first seen during a March 2020 engagement at a London Ambulance call center and repeated in a photo released by Kensington Palace, with the trousers worn again for a September 2020 engagement.

This was a lot of fun to put together. There were more pieces than I expected, including several I had forgotten, like the Lela Rose and RIXO dresses. I am going to be doing a piece on the most polarizing looks worn by the Princess; if you have any that come to mind, be sure and leave a comment with suggestions for that post. 

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Maylis Atik

Monday 4th of September 2023

Nice post!!! What about the Marchesa dress worn for the Spanish reception?


Friday 1st of September 2023

The pink, one shoulder frock worn to Charles' 70th birthday is most likely McQueen. Similar to white gown worn to 2019 BAFTAs. Kate's other McQ BOGOs: 2017 Trouping (pink) & Brooksbank wedding (raspberry). Charlotte christening (off-white) & Sussex wedding (lemon). 2019 diplomatic reception (black) & coronation (white)


Sunday 20th of August 2023

Great post Susan, thank you so much, well done. I am late to the party but what fun reading the post and all the comments from your lovely readers. The debate has commenced already (very politely of course!) and you have not even put up the 'polarising' post yet! We eagerly await it, clearly!! I have to confess two things. Firstly, sorry to be so negative, but much as I admire and respect the POW, I am not sure what on earth Sweden did to be the recipient of those two Erdem floral 'frocks' that have been already discussed below. The long gold/yellow one and the blue above the knee. So bad, in my humble opinion, almost a diplomatic incident! However, the POW was quite pregnant and still gracefully doing her duty, so I hope she was comfortable. And secondly, what a joy to see again several photos of the Jenny Packham pink dress worn in June 2011 and June 2016. Massive thanks for that. Still my all time favourite, and love both hair styles, quite different but both stunning. And if you don't mind me over-sharing, can I please tell your readers that I was in Paris in March this year, walking down a street, walked past a shop window and there was that dress!! (Not the original - a perfect replica). I literally gasped, I may even have squealed, and leapt in the air. My husband was wondering what on earth was wrong with me. I told him it was my favourite POW dress ever. Quite lost on him of course. I looked around, it was the window of an actual Jenny Packham boutique, cleverly located near the British Embassy in Paris. Fabulous moment!


Thursday 17th of August 2023

This is really outside the issue, but I think Catherine's up-do is one of the prettiest I have ever seen on her, in the picture of her and William on their way to Charles 70th birthday. It really suits her profile well and makes her look SO regal.

I think it's a shame that up-do's have sort of gone out of fashion. To me a lovely evening gown loses something when worn with hair hanging down. It looks to me as one is not properly dressed, it's like wearing the gown with flip-flops instead of heels.

But then, seeing Catherine taking part in the wedding in the Middle-East recently, I must say she looked lovely. But the she had a tiara in her hair which normal people don't have, so the hair was dressed up even when it was down.

The dress is a pretty mid-pink and seems to be a one shoulder thing. It would be lovely to see it properly.

Sue V

Thursday 17th of August 2023

Pretty much most of Catherine’s Erdem collection is ‘polarising’ imo! Honourable exception is the tweedy asymmetrical shoulder/hem one from a long ago visit to the V&A.

Also a fair bit of the Alessandra Rich collection - mostly way too fussy, too many features. The yellow/white Caribbean tour one springs to mind - although in a weird way it suited geographical area, the same as it would probably hold it’s own in pretty much any of the African Commonwealth countries. Something to do with the way vibrancy, a bit of theatricality, ‘out of my comfort zone’ seems to wear better in places with brilliant sunshine, where the style/pace of life is different. Though I think it wouldn’t work as a re-wear in Europe even with sweltering temperatures.

When the polarising post is up I am sure many, many of us will be going ‘oh, my gosh, I had forgotten about that ‘monstrosity’!!!

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