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Kate's 2014: The "Best of" List

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

This is my favorite, favorite post of the year. Tour excepted, it takes longer than any other post, but it is such a pleasure to sit down and take the time to review a year of fashion and fun with Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge. 2014 was certainly packed with many worthy highlights, and we will briefly review the past 12 months and award accolades to the special ensembles of each. 

As always, the year started softly in the royal world. Still cocooned by the warmth and joy of Christmas, most of the BRF stay out of the limelight in January. The Cambridges toasted the dawn of 2014 in Bucklebury with the Middletons. Kate's calendar was already dotted with several impending milestones, including an almost month-long tour Down Under, and the completion of her Norfolk mansion. She was spotted shopping for antique rugs in Henley-on-Thames for the latter project, and celebrated her January 9th birthday with a low-key dinner at Kensington Palace surrounded by family and close friends. Sadly, the public didn't get a glimpse of the Duchess and  so January is without a single sartorial highlight. George expresses our emotions very aptly here:



Leaving William in Cambridge where he had just started a 10-week course in agriculture, Kate started February on the front-page as she was pictured toting her infant son off a British Airways flight in the Caribbean.  The Duchess was making her way to the annual Middleton holiday on the exclusive island of Mustique, which also afforded baby George a dry-run for his upcoming trip to Australia. Any exclusive shot of Kate on holiday in the tropics makes my "Best of" list:


Glowing from her sand & sun break, Kate dazzled fans at her first public appearance of the year when she showed up at the National Portrait Gallery in a priceless necklace on loan from the Queen. The necklace alone--the single largest piece of jewelry Kate has ever worn--easily makes the grade for this wrap-up:


Valentine's Day, the Duchess promoted creativity as she opened a new studio for The Art Room at Northolt in London. Just a few nights later, she co-hosted a reception for the dramatic arts with Queen Elizabeth II. The other "Queen" was on hand, and pictures of Kate chatting with Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren remain a media highlight of 2014:


In March, the last month before what would be the most grueling tour to-date, the royals first made headlines by hiring Spanish nanny Maria Borrallo to care for George. The little prince's walks were tabloid fodder as William and Kate jetted to the Maldives for a private week away before the tour. It was their first solo trip since becoming parents in July of the previous year. 


On their return, the two made their annual public appearance at Aldershot together as they toasted the Irish Guards and St. Patrick's Day. Kate's Hobbs coat in a rich green and her recycled Gina Foster topper make the list for their polished perfection.



The Royal Trio slipped in the wedding of good friends as the month wound down. March closed with excitement high as Kate celebrated her first Mother's Day by releasing the official family portrait commemorating the upcoming tour. The literally picture-perfect family, including Lupo, makes the "Best of" 2014:



The Down Under tour of April 2014 will forever be a wonderful haze of coffee, sleep-deprivation and non-stop sartorial delight. We held weekly round-ups highlighting the bests of the tour, and honestly narrowing that many outfits to just one is really impossible. Nevertheless, I have spent some time trying to decide which single ensemble would represent a month of non-stop fashion, and it was hard. In the end, I had to go back to the beginning. It wouldn't be entirely fair to say that the adrenaline and fresh excitement of the first appearance prejudiced me, although that may play a role. I think the Catherine Walker ensemble, with its different layers, feminine lines, and bold military details, not to mention the striking and sophisticated Gina Foster pill box hat, make this a standout appearance. It wins April's Down Under slot for its iconic clout:


Making the highlight's of '14 list for "most heartwarming" moment was Kate's triumph on the waves of Auckland Harbour. The Prince and Princess's flirtatious meeting afterward had more than one heart melting:



After the rigors of April, the Cambridges were almost entirely absent the month of May as they recovered from their trip and focused on family matters. There was speculation they would both attend Guy Pelly's Memphis, TN wedding, but a media circus was averted when only Harry and William crossed the pond. Despite Kate's absence, fans were delighted when pictures surfaced from Easter Sunday in Australia, in which William and Kate tried to hunt Easter Eggs with Prince George. These easily make any "Best of" list for the delightful juxtaposition of formal, public attire and relaxed, private family life.



While quiet, Kate was reported to be putting energy into Anmer Hall as the Georgian mansion crept closer and closer to completion. The Cambridges just barely squeaked in a public engagement before the month was out, by traveling to Scotland for a day of appearances on the 31st. This ensemble had not a shred of competition for May, and so makes the list by default. Not the way most of us would like to win, but a win is a win... 


In June, the Duke and Duchess made their first official visit to France as they travelled to Normandy (pardon, Normandie) to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Not long after, Kate had hearts racing in a white and navy Jaeger dress when she attended a Greenwich brunch in aid of Ben Ainslie's push to win back the coveted America's Cup trophy.  The white and navy trimmed dress against the lush green lawns of the National Maritime Museum's lawn scored the morning a win on my list:



The princess made an unexpected appearance the same afternoon at one of the Queen's Buckingham Palace garden parties. June was a busy month, and there were many worthy contenders, but the finest formal appearance was easily at Trooping. The suit, in a McQueen pattern of the palest of icy blues and taupe champagne, was figure flattering, unusual, and striking. She paired it with a bespoke Jane Taylor percher. It easily scores a spot on the "Best of" list...



Also making a splash in June was the family's charming afternoon at polo on Father's Day. It had been a while since we had snaps of Kate at polo and her little prince made a rare appearance, too, taking his first tottering steps in public:


July saw a mix of public and private events. Winning a coveted spot on this "Best of" list was the geranium-hued Goat dress that Kate wore on a visit to Blessed Sacrament School in London:



Sporty Kate was in the Royal Box at Wimbledon more than once in July. Despite her pleas to heaven, Federer lost, but she rocketed a recycle onto the 2014 list in her Jonathan Saunders from the South East Asia Tour:



The family was spotted at the Natural History Museum's butterfly exhibit with a photographer, and royal watchers correctly hypothesized that the couple were getting official snaps of George in the run-up to his birthday.  These photos of the tiny prince interacting with the natural world won "Best of" before they were even released:


The birthday bash at Kensington Palace boasted guest of honor Great-Grandmother Elizabeth II,  making the afternoon tea extra special. Around the same time it emerged that Kate took George for a weekly swim at the private pool in Buckingham Palace--a unique detail of her royal lifestyle that made up for the sparse calendar.  Kate closed the month with two days of appearances at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland. This makes the list both for the impeccable Stella McCartney  dress and Smythe blazer, and for the Duchess's joyful participation:



In the first half of August, the Cambridges focused on World War I, representing the Queen in Belgium for the official commemoration of the start of World War I. Kate's custom Alexander McQueen effortlessly scores as a highlight of 2014. It was busy, yes, but it was also perfection. The pinky neutrals alone, complementing Kate's brunette locks and even tan, warrant a mention.



Breaking with precedent, an "event/venue" rather than Kate's ensemble makes the list in August. The stunning poppy display at the Tower of London (Blood Swept Lands & Seas of Red) was a highlight of 2014 and provided the most powerful visual of all the World War I centenary tributes. 


And then they disappeared...just in time for us all to take uninterrupted holidays. There is a method to the madness... We did get a brief glimpse of the two right at the close of the month, though. Having left George in London, William and Kate absconded to Norfolk to give their Anmer Hall mansion the final touches and indulge in what appeared to be a very romantic date. Perhaps, they were sharing a special secret...



September began almost as quietly as January. William and Kate had a joint engagement to open the Dickson Poon China Centre at Oxford on the 8th, but on the morning of the event, it was announced that only William would make the appearance. Kate had been desperately sick for more than a week, and the palace officially confirmed she was pregnant with the couple's second child...The royal reporters around the globe fainted while fans went wild. (You guys are going to be ok, April will be so much gentler than July.) Unfortunately, as we are all aware, Kate was down for the count thanks to hyperemesis gravidarum. She spent all of September in her bed and we experienced our second month of 2014 without a single sighting. George, get out here buddy:


As we rolled into October, we began to hope that Kate would be on the mend soon. Her second tangle with HG was a little tougher than the first and she did not recover as quickly as had been hoped. Several engagements were cancelled, including an event with Ben Ainslie at which it was announced Kate had accepted the role of Royal Patron of The 1851 Trust. To our delight, however, she was snapped on October 15th looking blooming at an evening visit to Dr. Farthing for her 12 week scan. 


On October 21st, the Duchess made her comeback and her ensemble was well worthy of this list. Alexander McQueen got the nod as she stepped out of the car to welcome the President and First Lady of Singapore:


Kate quickly followed up the State visit appearance with two more public engagements: an evening at the Natural History Museum and a night out for Action on Addiction. After her universally applauded return, the family slipped away for a much needed holiday in Scotland at the Queen's Balmoral Estate. 

The Princess was still getting her feet in early November when she spent a day in Wales with William, but she seemed back in the swing of things by the time she made a visit to a SportsAid facility in a plum Goat dress. The month's highlight, however, was easily her stunning, stunning appearance at the Royal Variety Performance in a black, lace DVF gown. She set heads spinning, and "broke the internet" in this sensational get-up.


While not a mile-marker for everyone, From Berkshire to Buckingham experienced the greatest blogger vs. reader schism ever when the Duchess mixed Hobbs and Jenny P for an event at Kensington Palace. This was such a rift, it makes the list entirely for the dramathon is created. To remind you...you hated it. ;)


Far from winding down the year, December brought with it an abundance of holiday excitement as the Cambridges crossed the Atlantic for their first dedicated trip to The United States of America. It was only a two day appearance, and several of her ensembles will be highlighted very shortly, so those two pieces excepted, I give the highlight to the cerise Mulberry. Kate wore muted colors the majority of her visit to the Big Apple, but this bright and flattering coat brought a welcome pop of color to the tour. Because of its unusual hue, it stood out from the sartorial crowd, and symbolically clashed with the weather's rain and the gloom of our hearts as she visited the 9/11 National Memorial. This moving and gracious appearance was easily a highlight of the whirlwind trip:


The Royal-Watching year closed with a special Sandringham Christmas that saw Kate's family join the Royals in Norfolk. Pictures of James and Prince Harry playing soccer warmed hearts before both families were pictured attending the morning service at St. Mary Magdalene. It was a perfect end to an exceptional year.



Now we get to the really important stuff. Designer of the Year and Ensemble of 2014. Obviously, with the Down Under Tour, Jenny Packham and Sarah Burton put in some significant work, but I am giving Designer of the Year to Séraphine.  Her flawless first appearance in New York was made perfect by a custom maternity coat in which she simply stunned the city and the country. I hope we see more Séraphine in 2015 as Kate completes this pregnancy, but in any event, this is certainly a well-deserved win for the luxury brand. Séraphine has never let Kate down:


Ensemble of the Year was a no-brainer. Kate looked like she had stepped directly from the pages of a lavishly illustrated fairy-tale when she ascended the steps of the Met in her three-peat Jenny Packham. With her hair in a chignon and dripping with priceless jewels, she left no room for argument on who rules the royal world. Well done Jenny Packham and well done Kate:


I am instigating a new honorable mention, and that is for Jewelry of the Year. It would be reasonable to assume New York would sweep the awards with those emerald earrings, but Kate's Annoushka Eternity ring wins. Kate debuted it in February and it has been a snuggled next to her wedding band ever since. I suspect it will be a staple for years to come:



It was the year of the Royal Recycle. From our star, ink-blue evening gown that had already been worn twice, to the Stella McCartney first debuted in 2012, to Rebecca Taylor in New Zealand, to the Jonathan Saunders and more, Kate dug into her closet to remind us she is the element that really wows. 



As always, a big thank-you goes out across the world on this New Year's Eve. To each one of you checking in to follow Kate at From Berkshire to Buckingham, it has been a pleasure to share this year with you. 2014 was an exciting and productive one, and I am more than thrilled to announce that on Kate's birthday, January 9th, I will unveil a project I have been working on for some time. Although it will not launch until the New Year, it is fully the fruit of 2014's labor and belongs to this wrap up. Check in on the 9th, I hope you will enjoy the surprise!



That, kids, wraps up 2014!

Happy New Year!



46 comments:

  1. Happy new year Jane and thank you for all your work on this blog!

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    1. Thank you for coming and reading, Anna! Happy New Year in Austria!

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  2. Thank you Jane for all your hard work. This blog is absolutely the best!!! Cannot wait for January 9, 2015. Happy New year Jane. God Bless!!!!! <3

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    1. Thank you very much! I think you will approve on the 9th! :) Xoxo, JB.

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  3. Many thanks for all of your work in reporting this year! You do a wonderful job of weaving facts, photos and commentary into a witty blog that is a treat to read every time. Happy New Year!

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    1. Much appreciated; thank you so much for reading! Looking forward to 2015!

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    2. I can fully agree with this. Thank you Jane for your blog, it's a unique combination of fact, admiration and criticism in the Kate-world and thus the most interesting of all blogs that deal with the Duchess.

      Happy New Year!

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  4. Happy 2015! Now I'm excited for the 9th - thanks for the great work Jane!

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    1. Good! I am very stoked for the 9th, too. Happy New Year!

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  5. Dear Jane,
    Thank you so much for this year in review, much enjoyable as usual! Wish you a festive NYE! Talk to you next year ;-) !
    Hugs and Kisses from France
    Sophie

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    1. Merci beaucoup, Sophie! Bonne Année!
      Looking forward to all 2015 has in store!
      xoxo, Jane

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  6. Happy New Year to you and the readers as well. I hope the new year holds happiness to the Cambridges as well and more engagements and less controversy.

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    1. Lovely to hear this; thank you for taking the time to comment. Happy New Year!

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  8. Well done as always. Thank you for all of your hard work! xo lulu

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  9. Thanks for reminding us of some of Kate's best fashion moments. I absolutely loved the cerise Mulberry coat Kate wore to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, nor did I think the colour inappropriate for the occasion. And who couldn't like the black lace DVF evening gown she wore to the Royal Variety Performance?--In fact, DVF never fails the Duchess; I very much liked the geometric blue and white DVF dress Kate wore Down Under.

    I seem to be in a clear minority, but I also loved one outfit you didn't mention in your post: the Lela Rose cream dress Kate wore in Australia. It had everything; fashion-forward, with a hint of funky, yet elegant and demure. Hope to see Kate in more Lela Rose and DVF in the near future.

    As for jewellery of the year, I have two things in mind: her new watch, which, altho (expensively) casual, matches her engagement ring, and those incredible diamonds and emeralds she wore in NYC; they are obviously expensive, but very tasteful, and they just scream * I am a Duchess.* Whoever gave Kate the latter is to be congratulated; he/she/they got it right.

    Now for my future fashion hopes, just two really: 1) Bring it on, Kate! More Lela Rose, DVF, Mulberry--and why not try Burberry? 2) St. Andrews plaid--slacks, short skirt, long skirt, scarf (this isn't the right Scots word for it), diamond shoulder pin, and accessories--jackets, blouses,etc. (I would love to see William and Kate dancing to a Scots reel at Balmoral--not that I would want or expect to see William in a plaid, but I sure would like to see him in a modern tux which actually fits. A new pair of shoes, leather loafers, maybe, would not go amiss, either, Will. Neither would smaller, neater black bow ties.)

    Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year, especially Kate.

    JC

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    1. I paused over the Lela Rose. It really grew on me, but I decided to highlight only one ensemble from April because so many were so good. I also loved the Michael Kors, and of course, the pink McQueen.
      I am looking forward to seeing where her fashion goes after her second child; should be a great year.

      Thanks for reading, JC! Happy New Year!

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  10. I LOVED the Hobbs and Jenny P ensemble from November! But that's mainly because I was so so so happy to see her back out and looking well, and also because polka dots are my all-time favorite pattern.
    So excited for the 9th! I know you've been hard at work prepping! :)
    -Tess

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    1. We were alone on that one. :) I liked it, too. I feel like I have seen that mesh look a lot this winter...
      Happy New Year! Sorry it took me an age to respond!

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  11. Thanks Jane. I really enjoy reading all of your blogs. Keep up the good work. You do have a fan base.

    Nancy in Alabama

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    1. Thank you, Nancy! Appreciate your kind words. Many apologies for taking so long to acknowledge. Hope you are well and continuing to enjoy the blog!

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  12. THANK YOU for your hard work Jane! Your blog is lovely! Can't wait for the surprise, I'm sure it's gonna be amazing :-)

    Happy new year from Germany! I hope 2015 brings you joy, happiness, health and love :-)

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    1. Loved getting your message, Johanna! Thank you so much! Hope the year is off to a good start in Germany for you! I am working hard on the surprise...should be ready within the month! xoxo, Jane

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  13. Carmen, The NetherlandsJanuary 1, 2015 at 4:35 AM

    Thank you for this post and all the other great pieces you wrote! I hope 2015 has many great things in store for you!
    (By the way, I can't wait until the 9th now. You've made me so curious! :D)

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    1. Me, too! I think 2015 will be a very exciting year for me. Wishing you health and happiness this year, too! xoxo, Jane

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  14. Great work, and cheers to past posts and the new ones for 2015!!

    The Annoushka ring is great, but truthfully confuses me. Didn't Annoushka state that Kate bought the ring while shopping in store one time? So it doesn't sound like a gift from William, it sounds self-purchased, which seems a bit odd to put next to your engagement and wedding rings. The timing of the debut (February) was a bit odd, but perhaps it was a January birthday gift we never saw before. I always assumed it was from William, until they said Kate bought it herself. Or am I confused and missing a part of the story?

    Amanda, Canada

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  15. Très belle année 2015 Jane! Qu'elle t'apporte petits et grands Bonheurs! Merci de tes vœux! Looking forward to January 9th ;-) , best wishes until then! Sophie xxx

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  16. Jane thank you much for all your work to bring us Kate fans this great blog. It is the best along with Ms. Lulu's.
    And thank you for being here when I get off track. You know how to bring me down I can not wait until the 9th of January to see what surprise you have for us.
    Well have a blessed Happy New Year.

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  17. Dear Jane,

    Thank you so much! Your wit, intelligence and breadth of knowledge about fashion and culture are a constant delight. All the best for 2015 and for your new project which I look forward to checking out on Jan. 9th!

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    1. This was so kind, thank you!! I love having equally awesome readers! Always appreciate your input! Looking forward to all this year has in store!

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  18. I know I'm a bit late chiming in here - but thank you Jane for all the wonderful effort you put into your blog. It's one of my faves - I just love how you offer a different perspective on everything to do with Kate. Keep it up and Happy New Year!

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    1. Well, if you are late, I don't know what I am. So sorry it took me this long to reply. Thank you for reading, Nala, and for your sweet comment!

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  19. Happy New Year and thank you for your dedication to this wonderful blog! This past year I always looked forward to reading your insightful posts and I look forward to the same in 2015 :) Anyway, I really liked this Best Of post and the different spin on Kate's year-in-review such as highlighting the close relationship with Seraphine and noting Kate's candid spottings.

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    1. Hi Jenny! I just let this comment go live, not because I was deliberately ignoring it, it just hadn't shown it to me. I am so sorry. Thank you for your comment--it was a lovely moment in a stressed afternoon!

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  20. I love all your posts over the years. Hope you have the best in 2015. All good wishes from San Diego, CA , USA

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    1. Thank you, Anna May! I am always excited when someone says they are a new reader, but equally delighted to hear from someone who has been with me over the long haul. Looking forward to fun years in the future! Thank you for royal watching with me!

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  21. I always enjoy reading your blog. Thank you and happy 2015.

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  22. Lovely summary thank you for making me smile as I read & enjoyed this post. Theresa, Australia

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    1. Happy you enjoyed it, Theresa! Hope all is well in your part of the world. xoxo, Jane

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  23. Thank you for this incredible write-up. It was great to look back on so many wonderful events from the past year. This is by far one of my favorite blogs - you are awesome. :)

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    1. Thank you, Miss Zoe! This was an awesome comment. :) Always happy to hear from you!! I am looking forward to a packed royal year!

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