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Kate's 2013: The "Best Of" List

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It is New Year's Eve! Hopefully the champagne is chilling, but before you put your party dress on and pop the cork we have to announce the "Best Of" 2013 list!  (See last year's here.)  It was an odd year because in one sense it was incredible, but also very stop and go. The joy of George's birth, though, made up for the patches of inactivity. In terms of fashion, it was a year of many first's but also successful recycles. As usual, I have linked to all stories that won a mention, and we will now have two award categories at the close of the post: Best Dress of '13 and Top Designer of '13. I know the champagne is on your mind, so we will get cracking here.

January: The year had a slow start, but I think we could all say as William said in the engagement interview, "we're like ducks sort of, sort of very calm on the surface, but little feet going on under the water." Our feet were definitely paddling madly as excitement about the royal baby kept everyone's spirits high. Kate was released from the hospital in December, but it seemed her extreme sickness continued throughout her first trimester. Although, not a fashion moment, since we could barely see what she was wearing, fans everywhere were thrilled to see some photos of the Cambridges enjoying a performance with the Middletons for her 31st birthday. Her birthday scores the first "Best Of" moment of 2013:

Later in January, Kate and William were present for the unveiling of Kate's official portrait at the National Portrait Gallery. Although, there really weren't any other outings that month to give this dress any competition, I genuinely like it and it makes the "Best Of" 2013 list. You certainly would have no idea that the Duchess was pregnant in this slimming Whistles number in deep maroon. The delicate and feminine sleeves, v-neckline, and graceful skirt are all perfect complements to Kate's personality.

January closed with a  fashion first for Kate: a cape! She was popping out for a treat in casual skinnies and her Really Wild boots, and wrapped up in a Zara cape. Since she was still far from showing, this was probably more to stop the belly zoom-in photos than anything else. This makes the "Best Of" list because any time Kate wears a staple from the old days (Really Wild) I am excited! 

Baby fever was high, but the first few months of 2013 were very slow on the outside. February was no exception. She seemed to be spending more time in London, probably to be close to creature comforts and the doctor. We saw candids of Kate shopping here and there, but all in all, it was pretty quiet. Highlights that merit "Best Of" were the paparazzi shots of the pregnant Princess on her annual family holiday in Mustique in the first weeks of February looking relaxed and in love:

Rested from her tropical vacation, Kate's first official engagement in 2013 (I think I counted the Sports Award event as her first post announcement because it was more a celebrity appearance than a scheduled visit for a charity) was a major success and her MaxMara wrap dress warrants a place on this list. Again, despite the lack of competition, since she had no other formal engagements, this dress was a big hit. I thought then, and still do, that the way for Kate to handle her pregnant figure was to stick to slimming knits and figure flattering silhouettes like this once. She was off to a strong start:

Royal activity started to pick up in March. As the world geared up for spring, Kate seemed to be feeling better, too, and there was a steep spike in her activity. She was spotted looking glamorously international in her Givenchy shades and LK Bennett coat on the slopes in Switzerland. Due to her pregnancy she was sledding, not skiing.  

The couple were in the Swiss Alps for the Tomlinson wedding, and her ensemble for the occasion easily makes the "Best of 2013." The barely-there pink of her coat, the dusty brown of her animal print dress peeking out, and the rich deep brown of her fur collar and hat were a perfect combination. The fur, which Kate doesn't usually wear, added a sense of luxury and occasion. She looked fantastic. 

Kate's recycle of her rusty colored Hobbs coat was not a hit with me at the time, but this list is about things that stand the test of time, and this outing certainly did. I look back at the photos of Kate from Grimsby and find them particularly striking. Kate had colored her hair and had teased her crown for dramatic lift. She looked amazing. This also proves that the same item that looked drab styled one way, can be transformed by a few tweaks. This certainly merited a "Best of 2013."

To close the month off, Kate spent time with the scouts. In her Barbour, le Chameau, and Really Wild baker boy cap, she was at her best. This might have been my favorite event in March. 

William and Kate were still in Anglesey in April and were spotted attending Easter services together at their local church. They traveled to Scotland for a two day visit, the second of which they were joined Prince Charles. The rumors that Kate and William had their eye on Amner Hall were only intensified when she was spotted shopping for antiques near the Queen's Norfolk estate, although it is more likely anything she purchased was carted back to KP. Easily scoring a place on the Best of '13 list for March was this beautiful Mulberry coat that Kate wore to the Review of the Queen's Scouts. Kate made a lot of fashion choices throughout her pregnancy that I was not wild about, but when she got it right, she got it right. This was picture perfect from head to toe.

A baby blue Emilia Wickstead won the next "Best Of" when Kate wore the custom creation to an event at the National Portrait Gallery. The Empire waist and beautiful line of the skirt were both fancy and flattering. This dress beautifully acknowledged her new curves without making her pregnancy the eye-catching center of attention.

The visit to Warner Brothers makes this list for content, rather than fashion. As they toured the Harry Potter studios, we had William, Kate, and Harry at their relaxed best. Laughing and fooling around, they were clearly having a ball. Somewhere a PR exec was gleefully rubbing his hands together...

Several days before the second anniversary of their wedding, William and Kate were spotted enjoying a quiet dinner out. Many speculated they were celebrating early since William was on duty in Anglesey on the 29th and Kate was at Hope House...and scoring another spot on the "Best of 2013" list. When does this lady wear apricot? Beautiful color combos and flattering lines, not to mention her lovely hair. Well done, Your Grace.

Then came May. Oh, May. We were like the Israelites wandering in the desert searching for the Promised Land. It was brutal. To jog your memory, there are only three posts on this blog from May. Yes, that month. William and Kate attended a wedding, Kate went shopping for home goods, but the third post dings the bell and makes the "Best Of" list. Kate accompanied Charles and Camilla to one of the Queen's garden parties at BP. The yellow Emilia Wickstead was bright and cheerful, but more importantly, the right silhouette.

June was Kate's last month out and about before the highly anticipated royal birth. Not all items that make the "Best Of" list are created equal. It would be far too complicated to have a hierarchy within this post, but if there were, this absolutely stunning Jenny P for the Coronation Ceremony event would be the top, the gold standard. My gosh. Kate blew us all away in this custom masterpiece.

Also making the list for 2013 was the out-of-left-field full Dalmatian print Hobbs coat she wore to christen the Royal Princess cruise ship. Wow. Daringly done. It was a smash hit, no pun intended, but totally welcomed. :)

Although Kate skipped the Order of the Garter a few days after, she was present for the Trooping. The very pregnant Duchess was spotted a few more times in June shopping and getting her hair styled at her new salon favorite. And then came July.

Kate disappeared almost without a trace. And we waited. And waited. The couple never gave an exact due date and the media campout began at the hospital on the 1st. Seriously, I was laughing, but there was a nervous edge. After all, you never know. I stayed strong the first week and a half, and then I started sleeping with my phone. By mid July, as I dusted off my passport for my trip to France, I started praying the royal baby would make an appearance before I left. July 22nd: I woke up in my Paris hotel room and reached for my phone as I had been doing for almost three weeks...and there it was. At last! Kate had been spotted an hour before, in the early grey light of morning, entering St. Mary's by a back entrance. Wow. What a wonderfully exciting day! By afternoon, William and Kate announced that  their baby was a boy, but we had to wait to learn the name. The new little family made their historic appearance on the steps of the Lindo Wing the next afternoon. Um, this WAS the best moment of 2013. She was wearing Jenny P, but honestly, for once the clothes totally did not matter. This was pure joy.

The announcement that the Cambridges named their little man George certainly also makes the list. What an awesome name. Hello, Downton Abbey! I know they didn't name him after George Crawley, but let's be honest, it is a sweet, sweet coincidence. The couple whisked the little prince to her parents' home in Bucklebury and that was pretty much it for July. But what a month!

In August we were all just basking in the glow of the excitement of July, and maybe recovering from the stress of the Great Kate Wait. Seriously, it was exhausting. William ran around playing polo and telling us stories of nappy runs and baby George. The Cambridges were very generous and released a few intimate snaps taken by Papa Middleton in Bucklebury. This make the "Best Of" pretty easily.

After a few weeks in seclusion, when William returned to work from his paternity leave, Kate followed him to Anglesey with George. William, Kate, and George were spotted at a local Waitrose in Anglesey, although only Kate was photographed. Wills and George chilled in the car. Closing the August category in this "Best Of" list was the Cambridges farewell to their Anglesey home. It was an appropriate goodbye; natural and relaxed, a perfect overcast day along the stunning and rugged coast.

September continued much the same as August. Lots of stories and rumors, not a lot of actual action from the new little family. Kate was spotted popping into a McDonalds as she drove with George and Nanny Webb back to London and I LOVED this sighting. Casual Kate, you can't beat it. Her skinnies, Sebagos, and green jacket were the height of perfect relaxed chic. Plus, I am wild about the Ralph Lauren jacket.

Honorable mention to Kate's appearance at the Tusk gala. She was sparkling.

Shortly after, the Cambridges flew to Scotland to introduce the little heir to the Duke of Edinburgh. The month closed with the release of William and Kate's conjugal coat of arms. From an historical perspective, certainly a big deal.

By this time, we were like women who have been on a diet so long we had forgotten what real food tasted like. We'd been so starved for Kate that two appearances in month was putting us on a sugar high. While she may have seemed uncomfortable at Tusk, Kate was 100% back in her element on her first engagement in October.

By far the highlight of the month, and one of the top highlights of the year was the christening. In McQueen, she was a fashion grand slam. We can only hope that this gets a recycle soon!

The official photographs were released not long after.

By this time the Cambridges had moved into KP and life seemed to be hitting a steadier stride. Kate hosted a gala at Kensington Palace and chose...Jenny P again. This dress was simple sophistication. Easy win.

Kate's recycle of her gorgeous Orla Kiely makes the list in November. Kate looked rested and youthful after a few rough public engagements at the start of the month.

But Kate's best of the month was the perfect mixture of Orla Kiely and MaxMara when she visited Place2Be. The entire ensemble was a risky move that she pulled out. Fashionista fabulous.

Kate had us all gasping with delight in December when she debuted her first tiara since her wedding day. The breathtaking and mysterious Lotus Tiara was not as visible as we would have liked, nor was the lace McQueen dress, but we hope to see more of both in the future!

December is the month of gifts and Kate did not disappoint. Also making this year's list was her casual outing with George in his Silver Cross pram in Kensington Gardens.

Her recycle of the French Roland Mouret gown at the Mandela premiere was breathtaking. The simple change of hairstyle and the addition of her low-cost bling made this entire look pop. Wow, wow, wow.

She surprised us all when she recycled the drop-dead gorgeous lace Temperley for a third time. That doesn't happen with Kate often, or certainly not in just two years. The coat she has worn to so many weddings has made its appearances over literally almost a decade. We were also seeing that for the time being, Kate was sticking with her new straighter hair, which is certainly a shift for a woman whose bouncy curls are famous around the globe.

Closing the year, and this "Best of 2013" list, was another recycle: the McQueen tartan on Christmas Day. The bright green of the hat pulled out the lighter shades in the dress and made her eyes pop. The fantastic pictures of the new parents proudly walking hand in hand to the church could not have ended this wonderful year any better. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, this summed up 2013!

Top Deisgner of 2013 goes to...

Jenny Packham! Kate turned to our favorite designer time and time again for some of her biggest moments of this year. The lace Coronation, the sparkled Tusk dress, the Lindo Wing Presentation of George, and the sleek, inky blue 100 Women in Hedge Funds gala dress. Kate knew who to trust for her most stressful and historically significant events.

Best Dress was hard to narrow down. It was a tough choice between the McQueen christening, the lace Coronation, and the Roland Mouret recycle. But I surprise even myself when I say the winner of 2013 goes to...

The Roland Mouret. I am completely in love with this entire look.

Well, that is it! I always wonder how many people will stick with me through this whole list. My sister does a lot of complaining when the post is this long; it is only once a year!! This blog has grown significantly in these past twelve months, and as we sustain our numbers and continue to grow, I want to thank all of you, because you are driving the success of this space. As I post and glance at the stats showing the little points checking in all over the world, I am truly overwhelmed. Cambridge and London, Chicago, Charlotte, Vegas, Arlington, Los Angeles, New York and Houston, Tel Aviv, Pamplona, Dubai, and Izmir, Sydney, Cologne, Jeddah, Szeged, Geneva, Nellore, Bermuda, Brest, Gaillac, Lille, Paris, Prerov, Recife, Sri Lanka, Wroclaw, and St. Louis, Santiago, Innsbruck, Calgary and Toronto, Zelhem, Limerick, and many more. More truly makes it merrier. I wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year! It has been an absolute delight to spend so much of this joy-filled 2013 with this blog's royal-watchers and the greater Kate-Community, and I am very, very excited for all that 2014 has in store!  Bonne Année à tous!

Christmas Highlights Kate Has Come Into Her Own As a Full-Fledged Royal

Thursday, December 26, 2013

There was some very interesting footage from yesterday morning, view it here. As the "tape rolls," the Queen steps of out of St. Mary Magdalene Church and is shortly followed by Camilla and Charles. Harry walks out, inelegantly but charmingly struggling into his coat, and William and Kate directly follow together, as William adjusts his tie. Other members of the family pour out behind them. They all sort of mill about slowly making their way toward the steps and the waiting crowds as the cameras click furiously. Oddly enough, none of them seem sure what exactly to do. The Queen starts to move toward the waiting line of children anxious to present their Christmas flowers to the monarch. Then she turns and calls one of her family members, a very particular royal, to come down and mingle with the crowd: Kate. 

Just last week I stumbled upon an article at The Telegraph reporting that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had joined a board meeting of their foundation this month, and I was about to click away because that is old news when I noticed the next line:
The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry was established in 2009 as the main vehicle for their charitable activities, but it has enjoyed a dramatic change in its fortunes since Kate Middleton married into the Royal family in 2011, with donations shooting up almost tenfold.
The foundation raised £4.8 million in 2011, compared with just £629,000 in 2010, before William and Kate announced their engagement. Almost £1 million more was raised by the American wing of the charity, most of which is not included in the figures.
The foundation's donations have increased tenfold since Kate joined the royal family!! Incredible.  As Kate continues to touch greater numbers of people her popularity continues to skyrocket, taking William, Harry and the whole British Royal Family with her. Richard Palmer, of The Express reported from Sandringham that there was an even bigger crowd gathered at the church than the first year Kate joined the royals and that police were expecting 5, 000!  

At Sandringham yesterday, the Queen called Kate over and sent her off to accept flowers. It is not clear to me if the Queen had been told the flowers were for Kate, or whether as the shrewd keeper of the Windsor brand, she knew on her own part of what was generating the buzz and excitement of the gathered crowds. What struck me even more in the video was how the others grouped about by the foot of the steps and talked and watched as Kate worked her magic on her many admirers, accepting flowers, laughing, chatting, and wishing "Happy Christmas" to person after person. William was teasing Harry about his beard, Sophie and Eugenie stood behind the Queen helping her with the bouquets she was receiving. But, they all watched as the stars of the show took center stage. The morning certainly seemed to be all about two popular and powerful women. The second longest reigning monarch in British history and the girl from the home-counties.

Popularity is power. That is part of what makes the British Monarchy so much more impressive than any other monarchy still in existence. They are the most popular monarchy! It must be a little surreal to be Kate, the relative newbie, the daughter of self-made millionaires, to be more royal than her fellow royals. In just two short years Kate has really stepped confidently into her role as wife and partner of the future king. Kate fits like a perfectly cut puzzle piece because she isn't the outsider anymore, she isn't the commoner struggling to keep up, she truly is William's Princess. 

William and Kate take a Christmas morning walk arm in arm.

Royal Christmas: Sandringham 2013

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

I love that on Christmas Day we are always guaranteed wonderful royal sightings.  William and Kate accompanied the Queen and senior royals to the morning communion service at 9am. This service always includes great light for beautiful shots of the family relaxed and outlined by the early glow of the sun on the trees and grass. Kate was wearing the (unidentified label) pinkish white coat that she wore in Switzerland, with a beautiful red plaid scarf casually wrapped around her shoulders. She opted for her Aquatalia boots, just as she did her first early Christmas morning with the Royals.

Kate (L) Christmas Morning 2013, (R) Switzerland Wedding

Kate walked most of the way with Sophie and Edward, while William and Harry appeared to be having some boy time as they trailed Charles. Harry was still sporting his beard from the North Pole trek. I wonder if they told George that Uncle Harry had been off visiting Father Christmas? 

Later in the day, we all got a Christmas treat when William and Kate walked hand-in-hand to the church for the 11am service. Kate changed into the McQueen tartan she wore to St. Andrews school right before the announcement she was expecting George. 

I thought she might change into booties or heels, but she stayed with the rhumba boots and added a beautiful green Gina Foster hat that pulled the lighter shade of green from the tartan out very well. I thought this was a beautiful coat when she wore it the first time, and it was a fantastic recycle today as well.

Kate (L) December 2012, (R) December 2013

Victoria Murphy from the Mirror, herself a new mother, was tweeting great shots this morning from St. Mary Magdalene of William and Kate:

Kate Accepting flowers after the service

I was glad Kate switched up her colors, this year. The darker blue and green were a nice change after her last two Christmases. She wore a (beautiful) maroon for her first year as a royal in 2011.

And she was again in deep red in 2012 as she left her Berkshire church with her family looking delicate after her stint in the hospital.

The couple were wreathed in smiles this morning as Kate told well-wishers that baby George had opened his presents already, but was more more interested in the wrapping paper than the actual gifts. 

The Royals gather around the television at Sandringham to watch the Queen's Christmas broadcast with the nation. We were all in for a treat, because in the course of her recollections this year, the Queen of course mentioned the joy that George's birth and christening has brought...and we got some footage from the photo-shoot. Kate can be heard cooing to George, encouraging him to smile as William holds him for the four generation shot. It truly is Christmas!

A very, very Happy Christmas to you all and to your families!

P.S. One of you really wanted to see her re-wear this dress. We were chatting in the comments in the past month. This must have been a particularly good Christmas for you! :) I wasn't expecting this at all, but it was entirely perfect for Christmas morning.