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Kate's Post-Baby Debut is All Glitz and Glamour in $6,000 Jenny Packham

Thursday, September 12, 2013


[Updated]  I am going to leave the entire post below as I originally wrote it, but give an update. Although we all decided it was a cheap dress at first, Jenny Packham released that the gown Kate actually wore was a custom made Jenny Packham costing over $6,000!

To me this is good news and bad news. The good news is that Kate took this event very seriously. Her first red carpet appearance in almost a year, a new chapter in her royal life, Tusk's Inaugural Gala. All solid reasons to have a custom dress--to really shine, which she literally did. Bad news for me is that for $6,000 I would expect more. I didn't like the visible panels at all. I think it looks cheap, bare it or don't, but the nude panels make it look more like a Walmart knock-off than Packham perfection.

This does not change the fact that I think she looked great. She did. I think a deeper neckline would have helped this dress enormously, and her hair should have been up. THAT would have made it $6,000 worthy.

Original post:


I don't know about the rest of you, but I have been waiting for this date with anxious anticipation for some months! Kate's first appearance on a red carpet since giving birth to George, and her first "floor length appropriate"engagement since she made a very brief appearance at the BBC Sport's Personality of the Year Awards not long after her release from hospital due to severe morning sickness. 



This Tusk Trust Awards Gala has been on the calendar about a month and I was very interested to see if Kate's style would shift at all post-baby. Of course, she has gone through fashion fazes as we all do. While dating William, Issa reigned supreme and so Kate was often in the soft and flowing dresses for which Issa is so famous. After her marriage to William we have seen a fairly broad selection from shimmer to lace to flowing, and most recently, more structured sheaths with thigh slits. 


I predicted glitz, I did not expect head to toe sequins. This is certainly a shake-up for Kate. She hasn't worn something this sparkly since, I don't know, the black clubbing outfit (that I LOVE) or, dare I say it, the 80's rollerskating get-up:



Kate has experimented with glitzy before in a more classic Kate Middleton approach. Same designer, but more subdued, Kate shimmered in Jenny P at her first formal outing with William after their wedding--the ARK Gala:


This was a No. 1 by Jenny Packham dress, so it's kind of like when a big designer does a less expensive collection for a store, in this instance, Debenhams. I think this underscores that Kate is not willing to invest in an expensive dress while she continues to drop baby weight on her way back to her super-slim frame. I can understand that. This dress was a little over $300 as opposed to a full fledged Jenny P coming in anywhere over $1,000.


I like this dress, it is not my favorite at all, but I like it on her. She pulls it off, which is impressive. It isn't my favorite dress ever, but it has a punch. It was a hotly anticipated debut and she obviously adheres to the "go big, or go home" theory, of which I fully approve. With all that glitzy glitter going on, Kate kept it pretty simple. The dress was beautifully fitted, with a flattering bust and she was wearing that gorgeous diamond bracelet. Interestingly, she did not even carry a clutch and her hair was more layered and straight, not a single voluptuous curl in sight.  I will just note that sequined dresses like these tend to feel more substantial and structured while still giving that streamlined body fitting look. In many ways, a very clever move on Kate's part. She looks incredible. See video of their arrival here.




Although Kate probably outshone it, her dazzling appearance was not the only royal highlight of the day. Kensington Palace announced news that surprised many.  William, whose duties at RAF Anglesey are officially over, will not be taking up another post in the Armed Forces as was expected. We had hypothesized that he would take a post, perhaps in the Blues and Royals, of which he is a member, and serve in a more subdued capacity in London close to his family. Instead, he is calling this a transition year in what will more than likely end seeing him become a full-time royal.



This is much bigger news than I expected and I am sure it was a very difficult choice to come to, which may be why the announcement that was supposed to be made months ago dragged on so long before coming out. I suppose that he and Kate have decided that it's time to let go. Their "normal" life had to end someday, and as time passes it just gets more and more difficult to keep it normal and hold it all together. I imagine that with the disappointment, there is also a certain relief in resignation.  They will be full-time royals someday and they probably both felt like it was time to move forward. So many life-changing events from the end of a seven year stint in the RAF to the birth of George, the move into the permanent KP apartment... It fits, so I am sure there is a lot of peace, and probably excitement. It truly is a new chapter.



William's transition year will include more public engagements as he puts his energy toward personal causes like Tusk. We know the Australia tour is on the books, as well. All in all, for Kate watchers, this is an exciting move!


41 comments:

  1. How fast you are:-) Thanks to the great post and the summary of the day. I love every words you put down. Supriding but stunning choice for me. But she can simply get away with everything I do not know how she does it:-) My only concern is hair she has such awesome hair but never or rarely an updo. Why? Sometimes I have the funny feeling it is her shield and gives her courage. She needs more time to be smooth in these kind of situations she looks tense to me. But it must be enormous to be in the public eye all the time. Thanks again. A.

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    1. I agree she seemed a little tense. She should have carried a clutch, I am not sure why she did not, but that would have made her arms look more natural instead of a little tense. I imagine she was a little uncomfortable because she is not currently at the weight she is comfortable with. We can all say she looks gorgeous until we are blue in the face, but her confidence can't be 100% until she feels like her body is back where SHE wants it to be. I can guarantee you she isn't there yet.

      She stays very true to her own style, and she has been wearing her hair down forever. I feel like she has worn it up a lot in the past few public years, but I think it really is very much her preference.

      So glad you liked the post!

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    2. I think u are right about her weight but she looks stunning. She will ease into her role sooner or later. See u on Saturday hopefully:-)A.

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    3. She doesn't seem overly tense to me; however, I think it is do to leaving George for the evening. Especially, since this was the first night with the nanny.

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    4. Yes, I am sure that was a factor as well, and William even bought it up in his speech.

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    5. a $6,000. Jenny Packham dress????? THATS a shocker, there is no way its worth that much! and i agree with that ugly panel. it was the FIRST thing i noticed how ugly that was, AND her hair DOES NOT LOOK anything special!! THAT does not look like a $6,000. dress to me at all! her hair should have had more curl like it had in the pass or like it was mentioned before it should have been up. her useless hands in front looked like just as i said, useless. she acted like this was her first time ever in public view. the other thing i did not like is that you could see everything through that dress, like as if it did not have a slip you could see every bump and shape too much, i don't know if im describing it properly. she looked very good but i think it could have been better.

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  2. I wonder about your take about Williams decisions regarding his professional life and military life. Any military family will tell you that the hours away from the family are tough and this decision coincides with the birth of his son. Perhaps he has simply decided his joy is in being a hands-on father and welcomes the opportunity to fully participate in the upbringing of his children rather then let the military dictate his schedule. Military life is not "normal" -- he has actually moved to a more "normal" setting - A permanent home, a country house (Sandringham Property), a wife, and children. He's now free to set his own schedule so that he can spend more time as a family man. There is nothing sad or disappointing about it.

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    1. Well, many of my friends are in similar positions. Young, married with a new child and spouses actively serving. I understand the strains, but serving actively doesn't always mean deployment. THAT is a major strain, 6 months in a submarine away from your family, multiple tours in the middle east with dangers that accompany a war zone, those are neither normal nor easy. William was living a normal life in that he was serving like plenty of other average men, fulfilling his rotations, etc, etc. That is normal compared to full-time royal life. I don't doubt that there is a sense of relief. I think the tension of balancing his public obligations with his job was growing. But, he has left something behind that he will never get back, and we know he loved the military, he loved to serve. Despite hardships and inconvenience it was an honorable pursuit and I am sure there was a certain sadness in letting it go. But, that too is life and now he is in Scotland enjoying his family, which is also precious to him. I think we are agreeing mostly. I don't assert that he feels bitter to leave, or doesn't cherish time with his family. Just that he did love his job as well, he loved the sense of average guy he got from it, and that is most definitely over.

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  3. Thanks for a great post Jane!! I agree that this isn't her best look to date but for being a new mom she looks great. I thought the dress was beautiful until I saw the side and back panels, they just don't thrill me.

    My thoughts on her hair, she is still going through the changing hormones from giving birth and breastfeeding, it looks like her hair was curled and styled but didn't hold well. My hair did the same thing after having my kids, I could put pin curls in and within a half hour it would be stick straight!

    I do wish she would quit holding holding her hands in front of her like that, to me it feels as though she is nervous or self-consious. I like it better when she has a clutch and her arms are at her side.

    I am sorry that William won't be able to persue his military career as it meant so much to him. but I think having the ability to focus on his passions such as conservation and Africa will take some of the pain away. Of course, I'm thrilled that he and Cathering will be doing more engagments in the future, more fashion to see!!

    Again, thanks for a great post!

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    1. Hey there! So glad you liked the post! (Hope you see the updates on the dress.) I really disliked the panels as well, and I dislike them even more when realizing it is a $6,000 dress! Still, she did look glamorous and beautiful. I like the dress a lot, it's just a little off.

      Your comments on her hair are helpful, I think you are right that it probably just fell out. You can see the remnants of curls. It is awkward to have nothing to do with your hands in these situations. Ah well.
      I am very excited for what the future holds for the Cambridges!!

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  4. This is not my favorite look on her, but I think she was very smart in her choice in regards to the dress really being more of a talking point than her weight. The dress is so eye-catching that the 'body after baby' talk really fades into the background. I also like how she clearly chose something that would flatter, but wasn't overly extravagant in price when she is in the midst of getting back to the weight she is confident and comfortable at. I can't even imagine the anxiety of dealing with the world media focusing on my body all the time, let alone 7 weeks after I'd given birth, so good on her. I am looking forward to when she is out and about more once her and William become full-time. I think she will relax more at that point and look more 'natural' in the role. However 'natural' one can ever be when the glare of the camera anyway.

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    1. Yes, I think that she will lose more weight and once she does I think her confidence will skyrocket again. I just got a tense sense from this appearance. The dress was a smart move, as you pointed out. Now it turns out it was a custom creation, and so it was tailored made to flatter her body. That certainly paid off, since it really did make her look great in many, many ways. Obviously, she is naturally gorgeous. :)

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  5. After looking at the pictures of Kate on the Daily Mail site, I noticed that when the picture was taken looking straight at her, she looks very trim and the dress looks wonderful, but when the picture is taken from slightly off center or a side view, she looks "thicker" and the dress looks frumpy. Does anyone else notice this?

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    1. Oh dear, I don't know many women looking that stunning only a couple of weeks after giving birth. She well chose that dress as the glittering doesn't shows directly that she is still having some extra weight and the stomach is not yet as flat at it has been and if she is breastfeeding what I assume, her breats are well hiden in that dress and while brestfeeding you couldn't be that strict on a diet!!!
      Leave her enjoying motherhood and the the effects all women have to bear. It is great she accompanies William and both are looking "glamours" as new parents.

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    2. Yes, I noticed that, too. That's just life, I think. We all have good and bad angles, which is why I wish more women would take advantage of the multi-sided mirrors when shopping. She did look slimmer from the front than the side, but I think that is simply because she is still losing her baby weight. Given how recently she gave birth, she is looking pretty remarkable. Rest assured, Kate will be back to whatever weight she chooses as soon as it is reasonable for her to kick up her fitness routine. The Middleton girls have plenty of discipline in that department.

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  6. Here we go again, commenting about Kate's weight. Can women be more than their weight? Just think about it: would you want to be defined by your weight? Instead, talk about Kate's accomplishments or duties.

    Just as you wouldn't comment on Queen Elizabeth II's weight, you shouldn't comment on Kate's

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    1. I know this might come off as sarcastic, so let me preface my question by saying that I am being totally honest and sincere here - what accomplishments does Kate have that we could talk about? She was an impressive and driven woman during her high school and college days, but post-college her life revolved around William, leaving no room for career development or charitable involvement. Since becoming a royal she's kicked the charity work up a notch, but I still wouldn't say she's 100% focused on those duties. There may be many reasons for her slow start, but it's clear that she is far, far from being the public servant that Queen Elizabeth has been for decades. Given that state of affairs, it really only leaves superficial things to discuss when it comes to the Duchess. When she takes on a more active public role, I do hope the conversation shifts.

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    2. Dear Anonymous,

      I remember reading that Diana used to complain about the same thing, people only saw her as a clothes horse and always commented on her weight.

      I too hope that once she takes a more active and vocal role, the focus will shift from her weight to the things she says and does. However, I don't think the focus on her great fashion sense will ever change!

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    3. I absolutely agree with you about her accomplishments, let's hope she will have a lot one day. You described her totally well since college she was revolving around William. I hope one day she will be more confident in her role nowadays she looks anxious to me. She has to get used to this for sure.A.

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    4. AnonymousSeptember 13, 2013 at 6:24 AM

      I know this might come off as sarcastic, so let me preface my question by saying that I am being totally honest and sincere here - what accomplishments does Kate have that we could talk about? She was an impressive and driven woman during her high school and college days, but post-college her life revolved around William, leaving no room for career development or charitable involvement. Since becoming a royal she's kicked the charity work up a notch, but I still wouldn't say she's 100% focused on those duties. There may be many reasons for her slow start, but it's clear that she is far, far from being the public servant that Queen Elizabeth has been for decades. Given that state of affairs, it really only leaves superficial things to discuss when it comes to the Duchess. When she takes on a more active public role, I do hope the conversation shifts.
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      I completely agree with that comment.

      I am not being mean, but what accomplishments or duties should we talk about??????

      She is not a full-time royal and her charity involvement is at minimum because she is not a full-time royal. I feel the fact that William is so reluctant to being a full-time royal has left Kate in bad position, but she has obviously made William her priority and it is what it is.

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  7. I thought Kate looked pretty good, I do love her in Jenny Packham. It must have been SO nerve-racking for her to step out last night, knowing that the whole world is going to be scrutinising you even more than usual.

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    1. I LOVE Jenny Packham, too. So does Kate, apparently. :) Yes, it was an event with very high expectations, and I am sure she was feeling the pressure, but if she is one thing, it's a pro with the scrutiny. I think she did very well, as usual.

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  8. I just noticed Kate did not have a handbag... She usually have it for every sort of event... For a gala it should be a "MUST" don't u think? She looks gorgeous but you can see something is missing...

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    1. Hi Martina! Yes, thought it odd. Maybe she forgot it at home? In any case, she could have held her hands a little more naturally, but I think she was a little tense, as is understandable.

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  9. Hi Jane!

    I'm new to blog and I love it already! Thanks for the great post on Kate. I must say she was certainly glowing yesterday. The dress was nice but not one of my favorites but I feel it still looked good on her. I also noticed like everyone else Kate didn't carry a clutch or evening purse but I guess she felt she was comfortable without one.

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    1. Welcome, Nala! I am so glad you found us and that you are enjoying the blog! I am always excited when new readers chime in! That was my exact feeling. She looked great, but I am not in love with it. Not the way I loved her "Greatest Team Rises" dress, or the black McQueen at the Millies, etc. Ah well, can't wait for the next appearance! Hope you'll be reading...:)

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  10. Kate looks great. I love that she now has hips :) Hope she doesn't lose much weight (although I am sure she is anxious to get back to her fitness regime and tone her body).

    I really liked the dress. The more I see it, the more I like it. I don't like that she had her hair down (I saw a picture of the model with her hair in a bun and the model wore the dress better, because of the hairdo).

    Hope William takes on more royal duties. I'm sure the Queen would be pleased, since the palace always mentioned 2 yrs before we could expect to see more of them, and it would be nice to see them step up given the queen's age and Prince Phillipe's recent health issues.

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    1. Hair up would have made a significant difference, I agree! It would have glammed it up even more and given her a more polished look. Oh well, she does love her hair down. :)

      Yes, I am sure the Queen is happy that he will be joining the firm soon. :) The Cambridges are such an asset to the BRF and she knows it. The sooner the better in her mind, I would think.

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  11. I thought she looked great but I wish she would've worn her beautiful hair up.

    On another note, I love this blog. I'm a looooooooooong time lurker!

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    1. Hi Rina! So glad you piped up! There are a lot of lurkers out there, but don't worry, I know you all are there and I appreciate your presence! I wish her hair had been up. The Greatest Team Rises event comes to mind. THAT was stunning.
      http://www.bygonelondon.com/wp-content/plugins/RSSPoster_PRO/cache/ceab2_edbf0d9a934f446db75eb4777c2f2344321957b8.jpg

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    2. Yes! I love everything about her appearance there. The dress is to die for!

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  12. Wow, $6000 for that dress!!! I was pretty shocked as I don't think it was any nicer than the one retailing for $300. I understand that she wanted to look her best for her first offical engagement since the birth of Prince George, but really $6000?

    I agree with the hair up vs down posts, I think if she had worn it up it would have given the outfit a little more pizazz!

    Lastly I read a great post on the Daily Mail, they were saying that for all we know she was pumping breast milk just before heading out the door and was maybe worrying about leakage during the event. Reading this really brought home for me that we are talking about a living, breathing human being who just gave birth to her first child. After reading that I stopped and thought Wow, if I was in her shoes (Jimmy Choo's of course)I would have been a basket of nerves!

    Thanks Jane for the great posts!! Keep up the great job!!

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  13. I wish we'd (saying that as a general whole) not comment so much on her weight either. She looks great and has clearly not gained at whole lot of baby weight to begin with. I try to imagine if people always worried about my weight and how much it would bother me. I agree that we don't really have that much else to talk about yet but as true Kate (and Will, and the Monarchy) fans perhaps we should be the ones to stand up for them and showcase the types of topics that should be discussed and by extension won't be tolerated. Perhaps it will help in the grand scheme of things with the larger newspapers and such.

    On another note - the dress was WAY nicer for $300. I like it. She looks great in it. BUT at $6000 I think the tax payers got ripped off ;)

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  14. Gotta agree with you -- this wasn't her best look (the side panels are yuck). But I agree as well that she looks great. She is entitled to a less-than-perfect choice now and then. I appreciate your honest, non-fawning approach!

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  15. The dress was not bespoke. According to a response on the Jenny Packham Facebook page, it was not bespoke and was available, but that it had sold out before she was seen wearing it.

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    1. This was the most confusing dress in a while...

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  16. I love this blog. I've been a long time lurker. Jane, I also love Pippa's book. Keep up the good work!

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    1. Ahhh, thank you! Love to hear from the lurkers. :) Glad you read, even when silent; I know you all are out there and it keeps my enthusiasm high to continue writing the blog!

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  18. Jane, I'm one of your long time lurkers. I just posted on Monday, so you're welcome! I love this blog. And I'm so glad you mentioned Pippa's book. I don't know why it got such bad press. I love it.

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