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Kate's Lower Hemlines Down Under

Thursday, April 10, 2014

To the raging question of her hem length. I am hesitant to make a judgement on just these first few days. I still am very skeptical about the story of the Queen's mandate. Thus far, it isn't clear that this isn't simply chance. Kate has never exclusively favored one length or the other. In fact, prior to her 2007 break-up, Kate wore long hemlines with regularity. After the break-up, her hemlines went up a little and she has had a pretty healthy mix since. I addressed her shifting hemline in depth when I wrote this guest post for a fellow fashion blogger, if you want to go into a general overview of her fashion shifts.

It is also good to remember for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, that New Zealand and Australia are actually rolling into fall. So, in planning her wardrobe, Kate may have been thinking of cozier clothes choices, while to many of our minds we are thinking spring and short.

Nevertheless, I do have theories, so let's examine what we know:

I am going to break Kate's hemlines into three lengths: short, around the knee, and below the knee.  I can find you an example of her wearing every length since she married to William, and before, for that matter. Around the knee is her choice the majority of the time. Many might consider it short, but I think it is her average. Short would be...this 2007 favorite:



And an example of short from after her marriage, the Epsom Derby, which is still one of her best:


Then there is average length, above the knee or just dusting it. We saw a lot of this in Canada, and we see this most of the time. I could fill the page with outfits from every single year in this length. I think we usually call it short, but to make my ultimate point I want to make a distinction between this short, which I will term average, and the short short.  This is very professional, and Kate's favorite hemline.

Example from her single days:


And very recently in LK Bennett:


Then we have long, (excluding floor length) which we will break into two subcategories, past the knee, and long. Frankly, if it covers the knee, I feel like a skirt is "long." So, I would consider this Issa from way back in the day to be on the longer side--it covers her knees:


By the same logic, and from after her marriage, this Emilia Wickstead is also covering her knees:


And then there is the no-argument long. It jumps out at you kind of long. Kate sported the longer skirts at times:



And then of course, she wore coat (and other lower coats) long before any chatter about the Queen and hemlines began:



And just last month, this coat reignited the whispers about a changing attitude in the palace:



What do you notice about this? That her long/long looks are usually coats these days. In fact, both the long coats we have seen on the tour, the red Catherine Walker and the blue McQueen were longer coats, but the dresses peeking out were the average/short length that has already been established as her favorite and most prominent length, covering the entire span of her time in the limelight.





So, the point I am making is that no clear conclusion can be made based on what we have seen. Kate wore almost all sheaths in Canada with the occasional a-line, yet, although we recognized a shift in her style, we did not suppose her to have sworn off any other silhouette. We have really only seen one long/long hemline and two coat hemlines, none of which are firsts.

I split hairs on the two kinds of short, because I think the only reasonable argument to be made is that perhaps the Queen is not in love with the Epson Derby short. On every single occasion that Kate has accompanied the Queen she has worn her average short/professional length. If the Queen is in the background complaining about hemlines, you would think Kate would bow to her grandmother-in-law's wishes at least when out with her. To do otherwise seems a slap in the face, which we know the always politic Kate would never do. Therefore, I don't think there has been a mandate, I don't think there is tension, the only possibility being the very short looks. I think we are seeing the natural ebb and flow of a woman who has to choose a lot of different pieces for public consumption, and, as has been mentioned, lengths that are compatible with her activities, e.g. bending/squatting to chat with children. We shall see.  But, that is my over-analyzed opinion. I need a hobby, wait, this is my hobby. :)

Poll question! Picture sizes! I have been fiddling. No one likes small, but do you like giant fill the whole body of the post big or more medium? I can't decide if this new size is suffocating or good for seeing detail...

Did you catch today's wrap-up of Day 4? It's fun, find it here! See you all in a few hours as the tour continues!


22 comments:

  1. I actually do believe there could be a sliver of truth to this rumor, but I don't think we can call it a 'mandate' unless we are privy to the actual insider details. Her hemlines do seem to be a bit longer than usual. I know a lot of people don't buy these rumors of HM requesting longer hemlines, but information like that is often leaked by courtiers anyway - and by the time we're hearing about it it's probably only a shadow of its original truth. Perhaps it was more of a 'suggestion', perhaps it was only in reference to specific scenarios, or in certain company. Who knows. But I do know that HM would only have the soundest of reasons to issue such advice, if she did so.

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    1. So, yes, you are right on all counts. Courtiers usually leak and we have to peel away at the rumor to get at the original kernel of truth. I don't think the story that her average/short is true, as mentioned in the post, and I think it is possible she may have gently suggested moving away from the Epsom length. :) The rest of this tour should be interesting...

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  2. Love your blog! I really like the large picture sizes - I noticed right away, and it really allows you to see the details in the pictures... my vote is to keep them large. :) (Although, the medium size is nice too, I just prefer the larger size.)

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    1. Hi Alisha! I really appreciate the input on the pictures, it is sort of a trial and error process right now, but the resolution is so great I want to take full advantage without stifling the screen. :) So happy to hear you like the blog and hope you continue to follow the tour with me!

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  3. Long tends to be autumn/winter and mid/short is spring/summer. It is autumn in NZ and not that warm. In other words, its generally seasonal!

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    1. I agree that that is probably playing into it. Given how rainy it has been, she had good foresight.

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  4. Hi Jane I have been loving the current picture sizes they are perfect for really seeing Tue details. I think the picture sizes of kate in the blue McQueen were perfect, although I didnt love the coat!

    I was actually starting to believe the hemline rumour but now I think I will wait and make a judgment at the end of the tour. It's highly possible that the longer hemlines recently are a reflection of kate wanting to look more regal, more mature and more like a senior royal. Perhaps she felt she needed to upgrade her look for this tour and chose outfits to suit that. This could have been her own decision based on how she wants to be viewed, perhaps since becoming a mother. I am not so sure anymore that it was the queen I think kate is very smart and has really grown I'm her role and is at an age where she knows the image of herself she wants people to see, so maybe the change is to do with this. So excited for later! :)

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    1. Hey Simmy: I agree that waiting to see what happens is probably best. A lot of factors play into choosing a wardrobe for a tour, from planned perceptions, to wether, to host country traditions or moods, etc, etc. Once the tour is complete we may be able to make a more sound guess. I am so excited, too. Almost more excited by the day!

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  5. I tend to think Catherine looks fine in all the lengths and has been smart not to get stuck wearing any one length all the time (and is fortunate to be in a clothing era when you can wear all dress/skirt lengths).

    As for the length of the short/short skirt, I've never seen the problem myself. If you google Princess Anne and 1968 (there's a picture of her in a yellow dress if you follow this link to the daily mail http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/05/17/article-2145520-12FD0913000005DC-349_634x609.jpg), you'll find plenty of pictures of her wearing dresses as short as the Epsom skirt above (and Anne had and still does have great legs like Catherine) that she wore for family photos and at public events until the early to mid 1970s when the hemlines started to change.

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    1. Ooh, that's cute! Yes, Kate does like to switch it and I think we are just sort of seeing that. I will say that Anne wearing a certain length does not preclude the possibility of the Queen disapproving. I know my mother quietly (and sometimes very vocally) frowns on some of my fashion choices. :) It just is hard for me to believe that the Queen would interfere with Kate on such a frankly personal topic. I don't think William would like it... Anyway. You are totally right in your points! Looking forward to more Kate fashion very soon. Just saw she is wearing jade and a hat today for the service. See you soon!

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  6. She wore many short dresses when she was pregnant - I was surprised. But, it was spring/summer in the last months of her pregnancy. It is approaching autumn and is cold/rainy so the longer length works....in my humble opinion.

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    1. She did wear a lot of short dresses throughout her pregnancy. That was rough patch for me, I didn't love everything, but I certainly agree that these longer coats are looking lovely, even though I love her in short. That Epsom dress... So good.

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  7. Dress for the job you want.

    Kate is brilliant, she got the job.

    Would like to know a lot more about her mom. She's magic too.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

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    1. I do post on Carole and Pips sometimes. I will look around for some posts, and there will be more in the future. She is a cool lady, I am a big fan!
      Thanks for reading!! :)

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  8. Hi Jane, I am a fan of the larger picture size with medium ones mixed in. The larger pictures allow us to see some of the smaller details of Kate's outfits. Thanks so much for asking about this!

    On to hem length. While reading your post, it hit me that it is fall where William and Kate are at, not spring. I knew this but somehow it didn't sink in. So while I've been waiting for dresses similar to the ones she wore in Singapore, she is dressing for rain, wind and chill. With that in mind I can understand why her hem lines have been a little longer. Personally I don't think the Queen said anything at all about Kate's choice of clothes, as she has always dressed very appropriately, with very few fashion missteps. I remember seeing the pictures of her at Epson and thinking wow, that skirt is pretty short, right after the Queen called for longer hem lines at Ascot. While she was pregnant her hem line was much shorter than normal but I think that was an effort on her part to still feel young and vibrant. it can be so difficult to dress your bump fashionably and fun when you are feeling a bit large.

    So I guess my take on the hem line debate, is that the Queen hasn't said anything, but that the rise and fall of the hem line is all about the weather, the event and the look that Kate is going for on any given day.

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    1. I think we are of one mind. :) It is hard to navigate the whole pregnancy thing, and I think she struggled a little, but your point is very good about a higher me line making her feel more comfortable.

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  9. I love reading your blog! I agree with Tara's comment. I would love to see Mrs. M interviewed by Oprah or someone.

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    1. Good! That is what I like to hear! :) The Middletons are awesome. I don't expect an interview from Carole anytime soon, if ever, but we can certainly wish.

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  10. Thank you, Jane! You have summed it up most eloquently. I agree with Heather that there may have been a gentle suggestion about the practicalities of a longer hemline but Catherine's fashion history clearly depicts varied lengths. The juxtaposition of the short/average dress length with the longer length of the coat on the previous two engagements should have been enough to put those rumors to rest as I felt they disproved them instantly (I was feeling a little bugged about their persistence as someone who has been interested in her fashion choices for some time and could see the variety of lengths). It will be interesting to see the remainder of the tour.
    In my humble opinion, I think the lengths are perfectly suited to the weather as we're in Autumn and it's starting to get chilly. I've been across the 'ditch' to Windy Wellington and it's very wet and cold! The Duchess chose well. It will be interesting to see what she wears to Brisbane where it will be slightly warmer and looking at mid to high 20 degrees (Celsius) which I'm sure will be a welcome change.
    Hopefully we're just getting all of the rain out of the way before they arrive and can turn on the sunshine for the Royal family!

    Kind regards,

    Nerida

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    1. You must be so excited for them to arrive! I am hoping for some sunnier weather, but in the meantime, loving the umbrella photos. :) I just don't see anything that really suggests--yet--that she has changed her usual varying length. Stoked to see the clothes for the rest of this tour!

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  11. Medium like at the bottom of this post. The larger at the top don't fit on the screen without scrolling. Thanks!

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    1. That was my concern. That the scrolling would be a problem. I will work on making them a little smaller!

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