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Commoner to Duchess of Cambridge: 5 Years On, A Look At Kate's Style Transformation

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Fashion is a transitory medium. Our personal fashion is impacted both by external factors, such as the shifts in society's trends, and it is shaped internally, by the individual experiences unique to us. As we move through life, we change, and this organic growth is reflected in our our style.  The Duchess of Cambridge has been in the public spotlight for well over a decade now, and we have seen her grow and navigate a variety of milestones that have shaped and changed her. This year, as we mark Kate's fifth anniversary as William's wife and as a Princess of the United Kingdom, we are looking at her fashion evolution over the past five years.

I. New Princess (2011 & 2012)

In 2011, Kate married William and as was expected, she debuted a slew of new clothes as she put together what would become her royal wardrobe. She established certain favorites, a healthy mix of Highstreet and mid-range price points like Hobbs, Reiss, and L.K. Bennett, but also expensive labels like Alexander McQueen, Jenny Packham, and Erdem. Her style was almost regimented across three distinct categories and you could quickly spot from which of the three styles she was drawing. Broadly, the categories were (1) Sheath dress, (2) Throw-back styles, and (3) Couture.

Kate has aways been a skirt girl, and she wore her fair share of dresses in her single days, but what we saw her develop in 2011 and beyond was a penchant for professional and streamlined sheath dresses.  Dresses are generally a little more polished and the sheath dresses she was favoring have a more formal and mature style than the flirty skirts and blouses she had worn throughout her twenties. A few great examples of this style include:

The sheath dresses projected her new status, but there was still some 25-year old Kate Middleton in the Duchess of Cambridge, and we saw that reflected in a number of what could be termed "throw-backs." These were ensembles that hearkened to her single days, and in some instances did come straight from her closet. They often featured High Street or Ralph Lauren, shorter hemlines, and a youthful vibe.

A subset of the throw-back is the Wickstead/Jersiré gang. To me, these pieces are all a more mature form of her Middleton days. They are her favored A-line silhouette, they are youthful, and a little boutique, but they have just a sprinkling of royal stardust that gives them a heightened refinement.

Finally, Kate, who maintained her relationship with Sarah Burton and Alexander McQueen post-wedding, was slowly starting to explore a more expensive and elite fashion strata as she began playing around with more daring, designer creations. At that time, an ensemble like the Military McQueen or the Ruffled Pique coat was significantly stretching Kate's usual style.

By 2012, she appeared to have created a pattern of wearing several mid-range ensembles and then splurging on an expensive event. Although it might have simply been a matter of her schedule, Kate seemed to shy away from pricey floor length gowns. If she could get away with a mid-length dress for an evening event, that is what she would do. Nevertheless, the Duchess had a number of evening gowns that she debuted. Some adhered to a style in keeping with her Middleton days. They were sleek and sometimes sparkly, soft and flowing.

A second group of evening gowns began to branch out into a more structured realm. She continues to draw from both styles today, and they are stunning.

Ultimately, this period was an extension of Kate's personal taste from her early twenties, and you could see that in most of her ensembles, but these three dominate sections were very marked. A big event in Kate's life precipitated the a major shift in the Duchess's sartorial journey.

II. First Pregnancy 

At the end of 2012, Kate got pregnant with George and began to navigate her first maternity wardrobe. Kate got a little lost alternatively clinging to silhouettes she preferred in her mid-twenties to new and unexpected experiments. Most prominently, her hemlines really shot up. I think she was probably uncomfortable with this tectonic shift in her body, which she had to deal with on a public stage. Her legs are stunning, and she was likely trying to balance her changed silhouette with her striking pins.

It wasn't an overwhelming success, at least in my book. This was a bumpy road, pun partially intended. Kate shied away from actual maternity wear, and instead bought regular pieces a few sizes big. Time softens most wounds, and I look back on that period with more leniency now, but I wish she had trusted the specific tailoring of maternity wear. I suspect in retrospect, she does, too. The times when she wore pieces made for her were absolute smash hits:

It has never been entirely clear why Kate resisted maternity wear. Perhaps she just liked what she saw in normal collections. It is hard for me to see her reasoning, since maternity wear really flattered her far more, and there are so many cute options. In any event, it was what it was. Theories that Kate would alter the dresses she bought for normal wear have not substantiated, or at least not in public.

Interim Period

Throughout the fall, following the summer of George's birth, Kate wore a disparate conglomeration of pieces. She was losing her baby weight and everything felt rather on hold while she worked through being a first-time mother. It has been speculated that Kate had a personal rough patch in this period, which I tend to agree with.  I think we saw that reflected in her fashion, too. We discussed this span in a post Kate's Tough Five Months.

Kate wore a few new pieces, but she recycled a lot, possibly as she anticipated her upcoming blockbuster tour Down Under, which was going to require a massive wardrobe expenditure. It was the tour Down Under that debuted the next major shift in Kate's style.

III: Confident Royal

When the plane doors opened on the grey and blustery tarmac in Wellington, the excitement to see the Cambridges emerge was absolutely throbbing. We were thrilled to see George, but certainly for fashionistas, an almost equal excitement was, what would Kate wear. She stepped out of the plane in a striking ensemble by one of Princess Diana's favorite designers that marked a new era in Kate's fashion.

That red Catherine Walker ensemble featured a retro flair that echoed Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O. All of the elements were classic Kate, but they were reordered and even more refined. To the surprise of many, Kate didn't debut a host of new labels on tour, rather she tweaked her approach to her established brands and blended her preferences more seamlessly.  Her lower hemlines were the subject of much discussion and dispute, but rather than a mandate from Her Majesty, it was a manifestation of Kate's updated identity and role as a mother and a royal. She has worn plenty of short ensembles since, and with the Queen no less; the new hemline was her own evolution.

The designers Kate did debut were not Kiwis or Australians, but American labels, probably chosen simply based upon her personal taste. The Duchess surprised royal watchers across the world by wearing a cocktail dress from a Texas label to the farewell reception the night before she flew home to the UK:

Even more surprisingly the next morning, she wore a coat-dress from Michael Kors to bid farewell to the tour as a whole!  Kate looked sophisticated and elegant, but most of all, she had a new public ease and a palpable, confident presence.

It was at this point that Kate began to balance her three categories more evenly. She wore a mix of sheath dresses and A-lines, we saw an uptick in recycles, and a sprinkling of new pieces, but the styles were more blended. This new, more unified style continued throughout the summer of 2014. Then, in the fall of that year, it was announced that another little royal was on the way.

IV: Second Pregnancy

Kate's second go-round with maternity wear was a success. The princess drew from a number of maternity brands, including Séraphine, Madderson London, and JoJo Maman Bébé.  These dresses, tailored to accommodate her figure, were so flattering and very popular among fashion commentators.

Kate still wore pieces she chose from regular brands, but she dialed in on the silhouettes that had worked better in the trial and error of her first pregnancy.

After the birth of Princess Charlotte, Kate disappeared to Norfolk to focus on her little family in privacy. Save for Trooping the Colour, we did not see Kate for many weeks. Unlike the events after George's birth, where Kate looked uncomfortable, tired, and wan, when the princess did begin to ease back into the spotlight she looked tanned, rested, and happy, and her fashion mirrored that tranquility and peace. 

V: Senior Royal 

When Kate returned to the scene in September of 2015 we saw what was perhaps the most important shift to-date. It was not so much a style shift as a change in her approach. Kate's (real) first week back saw her debut a succession of new pieces in very short order. Her dress from The Fold for a visit to HMP Send was the moment she truly tipped us off that there was a new modus operandi. Kate was looking beyond her usual go-to labels, in greater quantity, and in a far shorter timeframe than ever before, save the landmark Canada tour.

Kate continued to debut, rather than recycle, throughout the fall. It wasn't simply that she was wearing new pieces, she was branching out to expensive labels. The Duchess startled the fashion world by choosing to wear Italian label Dolce & Gabbana for China's State Visit, and she has worn the label several times since. In the last days of 2015, Kate recycled a number of favorites from the 2011-2012 era, but the changed approach was evident. I think the moment I knew for certain this was a new era was when Kate wore the floral Erdem to the Hundred Women in Hedge Funds gala.  It was designer, it was loud and bold, it was a risk. As she descended the steps of the Victoria & Albert, I couldn't help but think of Princess Diana.

Love this look, or hate it, it is a fresh, more liberated approach to fashion and more in keeping with an international princess. Looking at Diana's fashion today, some cringe, but it still maintains the wow factor that it did at the time Diana was a superstar.  Kate has practiced restraint over the years, but part of her job is to be glamorous and enviable, glittering and golden. A quick glance across the spectrum of European royals reveals wardrobes far more lavish than that of the Duchess of Cambridge.

For the past five years, Kate has sometimes felt like a reluctant fashion-princess. She has stayed--to the best of her ability--the girl from the Home Counties who happened to marry a prince. But, the reality is that she isn't Kate Middleton anymore. Sometimes you have to let go of the person you were, to flourish as the one you have become. After two children, and five years in the heart of the royal family, Kate Middleton has fully transitioned to Kate Cambridge and from the looks of it, she knows it.

It is no coincidence that the Duchess agreed to her first magazine shoot, appearing as Vogue's centenary edition covergirl, just as we noticed what appears to be a powerful fusion of her style and attitude. The fashion bible was just the place for Kate to publicly announce what her clothes have been telling us for some months now. I don't think it is unrealistic to hope that for fashion fans, as hard as it is to believe, the best is yet to come:


  1. Wow thanks so much for this blog. Not being a fashion person (but loving to follow the duchess) I hadn't noticed the fashion evolution. But she really has evolved, thanks again for showing this in pictures.

  2. Her fashion from her first two years of marriage was perfection. Her hair was at its best then too. Now she is dressing way too old for her age and her new hairdresser is awful and a prime example of that is the hairdo she had during the day's engagements of the 4th
    I understand she isn't in her 20s anymore but she isn't in her 50s either.
    I understand she anted to dress more her age but I think she way too far in that direction.
    It isn't as if she doesn't have help and to me lately it seems she doesn't make much of an effort to look presentable during her appearances. For example compare the first time she wore that grey dress from the 4th in 2011 to now. She looked polished and put together in 2011 and now it looks like she didn't even bother to brush her hair

    1. I don't think her hair can be blamed soley on the hairdresser. In that time she has also gone through 2 very taxing pregnancies with HG which includes dehydration (that impacts the hair) plus the normal hormonal changes. It's very possible that her hair simply doesn't have the same texture anymore.

    2. I wonder if its the bangs that are making her hair look not quite as polished. I had the same trouble with my bangs, which are now grown out and I will never cut them again.

  3. One quick comment, I do not think it was Catherine herself who had a rough patch after George's birth but I believe George was a very colicky baby. So everyone in the household was tired from dealing with George. I have several friends have had babies with true persistent colic and it is very exhausting and draining on the couple and first time parents. The help of an experienced live in Nanny or Grandmother etc for at least six months up to a year can really really help as well as a really good pediatrician to help with feeding issues. This is just my opinion of course could be all sort os things going on, maybe just the shock to both William and Catherine of new parenthood:)

    1. I think that once the full time nanny was hired, the DoC seemed to get over that difficult hump and bounce back. Im sure she was beyond exhausted trying to juggle everything without full time help.

  4. Jane, is this the project you spoke of awhile back that got interrupted by life?
    I've read and seen just enough to know I'll want to hoard this a bit-spread it out
    for appetizer,meat course, and dessert.
    Yeah, I don't get out much. ha!
    It still looks like a rich crème brûlée, not at all like a soufflé.

  5. anon 11:33- exactly right about the colic. William hinted at it at the time and later
    contrasted George's early days to Charlotte's. All my babies were colicky. It is a nightmare
    and can upset a whole household and quickly drain energy and strain relationships at a time when a family is still recovering from the stress of pregnancy and childbirth.

    "Help" isn't there 24/7 at 2am, 10:58.
    Judging effort doesn't just involve looking at the final product. The process, including a person's desire and
    intent should be considered.
    At any rate, she still crashes designer and online sells sites- just recently we had
    a story about what happened when she simply wore a necklace-although I suspect the
    underlying plan for that story may have been to make it look as though Kate is
    accepting gifts. That talking point crops up when a negative slant is needed for a story
    about a success ful engagement (or three)
    What about the Roksanda and McQueen dresses shouts "50 years old?"
    I imagine if Catherine had to choose between reading her children just one more story or
    sitting under a hair dryer, she's gonna put the little ones first. I thought her hair
    looked youthful. That's what you wanted, right?
    I thought that country photo shoot would finally qwell expectations of turning Kate into a diva. Some ideas die hard.
    As Jane says-life changes, people change. It's called adaptation and it is necessary to survival.

  6. Excellent summary! I think you're entirely on point and it retrospect the shifts are easy to see. Even though I'm no where near as important, I wish I could have someone do this for my own style evolution as it's so insightful. And it makes the transitions seem like an upward evolution rather than some sort of gradual falling to matron status for those of us working from our late twenties into our early-mid thirties. My favorite post you've done so far!!

    1. Thank you, Amy!! I really appreciated your comment. It's very affirming to know others enjoyed the post. :)
      And I agree, I don't think it is a downward spiral!
      xoxo, Jane

    2. Fab post! Really enjoyed it Jane
      Simone xo

  7. Jane, you are absolutely correct, it is an evolution. Glad to hear someone agree on the first pregnancy fashion misses..I loved the maternity wear with Charlotte. It cannot be easy to be on point every minute in the public eye. You really do a magnificent job with this blog! Thank You.

  8. You seriously could not have written a more spot on analysis of her style metamorphosis. I've loved watching her come into her own and mature in her wardrobe choices. (Being perfectly honest, It's been nice to see her hem lines inch down and not show her bottom with the flyaways and see that she no longer feels the need to "show off" that fabulous bottom and those amazing legs.) And you are so right about the floral Erdem . I was so beside myself when I saw her in this dress. It just elated me to no end bc I knew it was a turning point for her confidence. It was like she had finally figured out how to mesh the young, active and vibrant Middleton with the mature, polished and classic Duchess. I have to add I felt the same way with the blue Saloni dress when she hosted an event at her Kensington Home. This season of her life has absolutely been my favorite! I just wish she'd gain back a little more weight. I loved her hair, skin and weight after the births of Prince George and Princess Charlotte. It just has seemed to be the healthiest look for her in my opinion. But I get being in the public eye 24/7, the pressure that goes with her busy life along with being a mom of two little ones. No matter what, she is fabulous and epitomizes grace and beauty like no other.

  9. Alejandra RamìrezMay 7, 2016 at 2:11 PM

    Love, love, love, love the post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Super mega excellent!
    Thanks for the huge work on this and your fashion views, they are truly amazing and spot on! :)
    Great recap!

    Interestingly, I have found that her first pregnancy remains more in the minds of royal watchers than the second one. But yes, you are right, the first one was more youthfull than the second one where she looked more regal

  10. Wonderful post, Jane! A great retrospective of Kate's sartorial choices so far. I am reminded of how much I love her in a sheath because she wears them so very well. I love that the range in her color choices has broadened over the years. I definitely agree with your comparison of the first pregnancy wardrobe and the second - huge difference! I have also noticed that she still likes the (IMO, awkward) pocket flaps. With this post we can really see what are certainly personal favorites. I love the lower hemlines which are much more appropriate for her job within the firm.
    I think some of the criticisms are from those who may be confusing the term maturing with aging. Nobody, let alone a senior royal, should still be dressing like a 25 year old who hits the club scene once they've been married and had two children. At some point one must grow up and Kate has done this with great aplomb.

  11. My favorite photo here is the very first one. (From the Gatcombe Horse Trials in August 2005.) I recall seeing the photos from this event and being very impressed with this young lady. From the beginning, I felt that Kate had "something" special and I could see the potential she had to offer on so many levels...both to William and the Firm.

    1. Yes, royalfan. She's the girl William grew to love. The beauty is there, but so is the strength and resolve and commitment.

      If I could read her thoughts, given that she was in the midst of the Princess Royal's
      domain, I'd say that she was thinking, "It won't be easy, the road might get a bit
      rough, but William and I share a dream and I'll walk hand in hand with him, wherever it leads."

      ok. A little schmaltzy. But I think this couple thrives on a diet of schmaltz, with
      a large helping of reality on the side.

    2. That first photo is certainly a reminder of how young they were when they met. Her softer, rounder cheeks remind me of the first photos of Diana when she came on the scene. How very blessed Kate was to be able to wait until she was older to become a working senior royal. Her natural poise has had a chance to grow and develop and she and William have really become a team.

    3. Anon 1, there's nothing wrong with schmaltz mixed with a good dose of reality. :) Clearly, it works for this couple. The strength you speak of, combined with the poise Robin referred to, was evident from the very beginning.

      People tend to point to the Middleton's bank account as the key to Kate's good fortune in meeting her prince. While it's true that their paths crossed because of it, there was a heck of a lot more involved in her being "the one" in William's eyes.

    4. Absolutely! There were a lot of monetarily suitable young women in William's circle but he fell in love with this one for so many more reasons.

  12. I think the closely-spaced pregnancies did a number on her, mentally and physically, that she really only recovered from around the recent India tour. And that's totally normal, I think, for most new mums.

    Those first two years she looked like a movie star - amazing hair, rail-thin, tanned - but I wonder, as she settled into the knowledge that this is a job for life, and involves more than just glamour and sparkle, if she has been aiming for something more sustainable? Nowadays there is less tan and hair, more eyebrows, but a lot more sense of the real Kate shining through.

    1. Think you nailed it, melissas. Kate looked great, those first two years! But her two tough pregnancies, far too closely timed, particularly considering that her first child was almost certainly colicky and the pretty obvious fact that William was rarely around to play Daddy, left Kate drained. (Thank God for Carole! who really came through for Kate when no one else stepped up to the plate and when either Kate rejected the notion of a nanny, or no one offered the money necessary to pay for a good one, a situation which existed for a full six months after George was born. I had to rethink my initial impression of Carole; she is a good mum and a terrific--not that she has any competition--grandmother, as far as I can tell.)

      Have to disagree with your take, Jane (Barr). Think this was a classic case of *Girl Interrupted*, and that IF Kate and William had been given permission to marry five years sooner, Kate would've been the main beneficiary. Yeah, given the HG, it still would've been a struggle to get through those two godawful pregnancies and Georges colic, but...Kate wouldn't have felt so under-the-gun to reproduce, to present the UK with two healthy heirs, free from the plethora of birth defects which too often occur when the birth mother is over the age of 35.

      Kate is now, finally, ready to assume the fashion forward status in evidence in her first two years. What remains to be seen, IMO, is whether the Windsors will sponsor her, financially. (It was in their best interests to do so in and through 2011-2012, to carry the Queen through her Jubilee Year.)

      By the way, just as my opinion of Carole has shot up, exponentially, the same cannot be said of the Queen or Charles; both of the the latter two strike me as being akin to the marital plague; they might as well wear a sign around their necks declaring: All outsiders, those not born of The Blood Royal, cannot be expected to be treated with respect. And they wonder about their 75% divorce rate...(Charles, Anne, Andrew).

      I think Kate ALWAYS possessed the ability to be fashion forward; Girl Interrupted--and quite likely to be yet again, interrupted.


    2. JC do you think Kate will have a 3rd child?

      Also I suddenly am reading everywhere that George was a colicky baby. Why didn't we know this back then? Or did I miss that tidbit?

      Also I too am in the Carole fan club. I totally believe that without her Kate may have burned out. I cannot imagine having HG with a rowdy toddler running about. One thing is for certain in that the Middletons are indeed a real family ! United in all!

      Though in defence of the Queen it seems she has embraced the Middletons like no other family before.

      Always fun to read your posts!

    3. Diane, that is my question exactly! When did it become a "fact" that George was colicky? There has never been an official statement or even an overheard comment directly from any member of the family. William stating that they weren't getting much sleep is what every first time parent says.

      I think the Queen has done a much better job of embracing Kate and her family than she's done before. Camilla, on the other hand, seems to be a bit jealous of the Middletons and Kate. Her smiles always look so fake. Although, in my opinion, she is an imposter so that's probably why. I have always been in the Carole fan club!

    4. A little harsh I think JC. I don't think William and Kate were forbidden from marrying earlier. I think that was entirely their decision (maybe more William's decision). But in any event, getting married at 29 is about right for today's couples. Mine were both exactly that age when they married and my older son and his wife were together since they were 15! So they married after being together 13 years. But they wanted to finish school, she wanted to get a masters degree - etc. I also don't think anyone put any pressure on Kate to have two babies so close together. I think that was all her and William. I remember reading once that she wanted to have her babies before she turned 35 and she wanted them to be close in age, so this also seems like the time table they both worked out. I like your comments JC, I do, but I do think that you are a little hard on the Queen and William sometimes. I don't think there's any evidence that William was an absentee father (more than any other father that is) and that anyone refused Kate a nanny for financial (or any other) reasons. I just don't agree with you on those points. I do agree about Carole though. She's my kind of mom. Now that my children are about to have children, I hope I can be as supportive as she appears to be (while still working full time myself).

    5. Ladies, I read a lot of *speculative* comments about George being a colicky baby, but beyond that I am unaware of a reliable source for the claim.

      And I'm with you on Carole...she is someone I'd want in my corner.

    6. JC, I think the spacing between George and Charlotte had more to do with W&K's own individual experiences as children, and the desire for their children to share a similar bond. If they truly felt rushed, it's likely that their first child would have come along sooner in the marriage. I actually believe they held off on having a child until Kate had a year in the Firm under her belt. This also enabled them to participate in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations without diverting the focus from it.

      My guess on another Baby Cambridge...yes, sooner rather than later.

    7. True but often colic is used to describe any baby that has difficulty getting into a sleeping or eating routine accompanied with more than the usual crying. This site is full of speculation based on looks a few words here who was included or excluded in an event.

    8. Agreed as to baby 3.

      I do not believe they were kept from marrying. I think William had some responsibilities with the military and I think he also needed to 'fly' a bit ergo the nanosecond breakup in 2007. I also do not believe that she was forced to have the heir and spare so quickly. I agree with Jane in Canada that she wants her children to be close in age.

      I do very much enjoy your comments JC .... though I don't always agree. You do make one think which is fun.

    9. Agreed as to baby 3.

      I do not believe they were kept from marrying. I think William had some responsibilities with the military and I think he also needed to 'fly' a bit ergo the nanosecond breakup in 2007. I also do not believe that she was forced to have the heir and spare so quickly. I agree with Jane in Canada that she wants her children to be close in age.

      I do very much enjoy your comments JC .... though I don't always agree. You do make one think which is fun.

    10. I too enjoy JC's comments and frequently agree with them. But I am not seeing Will as an absentee father when George was a baby. He gave a CNN interview on Aug 19 and said jokingly he was looking forward to going back to work "soon" so he could get some sleep because George didn't sleep much (which can mean anything including nothing very unusual) That comment suggests he wasn't working the first month of George's life. It was then announced less than 3 weeks later on Sept 12 he was leaving the military and had flown his last mission the week before. So maybe just maybe he wasn't very available for about 2-3 weeks from late Aug to early Sept. KP announced the following year would be a "transitional" yr. During 2013 the court circular says he did 62 events including lunches etc. Even if he did all 62 from Oct-Dec 2013 he would have been absent far less than most fathers can manage given work responsibilities. Have I missed something about his availability?

      I had also read lots of places W&K initially did not want a nanny. I am sure Will could have afforded one (given his inheritance if nothing else) if they had wanted to hire someone sooner.

    11. Re George colic- saying "I believe," "William hinted at," and " almost certainly,"
      is giving an opinion, not stating a fact. Look for the qualifiers. Yes, it lies
      in the speculation zone, but so does a lot of other material here.

      William repeatedly spoke of George's healthy lungs and loud cry. When Charlotte was
      born , he made multiple remarks alluding to how much easier things were with
      Charlotte. I don't think he has ever remarked about Charlotte's cry or difficulty
      with her, although she most certainly must cry at times. The high, shrill, keening
      and persistent wail of a colicky baby is not your normal "fussy baby cry."
      That is just one of the clues I, and apparently others, picked up on -as one who
      knows a thing or two about colicky babies, both personally and profesionally.

      Given the devastation dealing with a colicky baby can wreak, I think it is just as possible as hinting at post-partum depression, which was a popular rumor at the
      time on various blogs. Colicky babies recover and thrive; sufferers of post-partum depression sometimes don't. Although it is a vastly unfair assumption,as is evidenced by the stigma mental illness still holds,the hint of any kind of mental problems is enough to ruin careers,including political ambitions and reputations of competence
      to handle stress.So excuse me, if I prefer my speculations to center on a colicky baby rather than post-partum depression. I wonder if vestiges of those rumors
      don't still linger with some.

      As I remember, William was away a lot, with extended on-duty hours, among other

      By pressure to have a family-any woman who has plans for a family, upon reaching
      age 30 starts to feel the biological clock ticking. The incidence of birth
      defects and peri-natal complications also increases with each year.
      I doubt anyone can verify this specifically, but the anticipation and joy at least one commenter expresses here about grandchildren
      should serve as an example of the subtle influences any prospective grandparent
      can exude. Now, imagine that grandparent is the heir to a thousand-year dynasty.

      Those premarital virginity exams that brides of royals once endured also served to
      insure that the woman was likely able to conceive and bear a child.
      So yes-Kate undoubtedly felt some pressure. With only a possible five-six year
      span to conceive and give birth to at least two children, the window of
      opportunity was closing. Also, not only are eggs aging, there are fewer of them.

    12. It is also the case when W&K left the hospital with George Will referred to George's "set of lungs." George may have just been an active non-sleeping baby with a loud cry...not necessarily colicky. It is true George is STILL described as active, naughty, and loud compared to Charlotte by both W&K. Maybe the children are just different? And W&K were more relaxed the second time around as is common? And having a "night nurse" for Charlotte from the start made a difference? Sure George could have had colic but most here seem not to have ever heard that in nearly 3 yrs.

    13. A really great piece as usual Jane. I also love the way you write and that you choose to mark the evolution of our Duchess this way.

      As to baby number 3, if they want one, I'm sure they will have it soon, but I wouldn't be surprised if their medical team is counselling against it, given the HG. They do make lovely children though, so time will tell. But I must say, I would not look forward to the incessant whining about her "maternity leave" again. Twice was too much as it was.

      Nice to see that Sophie is taking on a significant challenge for the DofE Awards Diamond Challenge. 445 mile ride from Edinburgh to London. That's impressive given that she says that it is completely outside her comfort zone. When your children get a little older and are less dependent, some women really come into themselves. Sophie is the breakout Royal these days and I give her a lot of credit. She'll never have the responsibility or garner the spotlight the way Kate does and will, but she really has blossomed in the last few years.

    14. Well, if some have never heard of a detail of the Cambridge's private life, as
      reported in the tabs, then I'm sure it didn't happen.

      Just because the press preferred to concentrate on the post natal depression story for obvious reasons, doesn't mean the colic didn't happen. At least George having colic doesn't provide an opportunity
      for more aspersions being cast on Kate, or William and/or the RF, for that matter.

      Everyone agrees Carole is a gem.She proably is. But the evidence for that is just as circumstantial as it is for colic or PPD.

      What night nurse for Charlotte? Did that person nurse her, too? Every 3-4 hours?

    15. Just because we didn't hear about it doesn't mean it didn't happen of course. But it seems the colic story certainly has sprung out of nowhere to many royalwatchers here and is rapidly gaining a life of its own in this comment section.  Simply because some speculated Kate was having some sort of difficulty based on her tired appearance soon after the birth doesn't speak to colic anymore than to anything else including ordinary exhaustion from dealing with an active healthy fussy baby. 

      From the time George was hours old Will talked about his strong lungs. (And colic doesn't begin at birth) And George continues to be rowdy and loud according to his own parents.

      I don't know what their night nurse did other than deal with night crying, diaper changes, and soothing (one would expect) and this easily could have made Charlotte seem quieter OR she was just a quiet baby. Royals and other upperclass folks used to use wet nurses but since you asked anon 1, I would expect Kate pumped for some nightfeedings.

    16. Out of no where? There was speculation about the months after George's birth, what Jane called Kate's "rough patch," I believe.

    17. One more thought, lizzie- how much actual education/experience have you had about colic? Colic begins with the feedings. I assume Kate started in hospital.

      This night nurse business has come out of nowhere-never heard of it before.ha!

      I won't even speculate about the details of Kate's lactation.

      I agree. Her tired appearance doesn't necessarily prove colic. It certainly doesn't disprove it, either
      Ok lizzie. Let's call it a draw and give peace a chance I read that somewhere
      recently-the peace thing. Similar situation.

    18. GEORGE'S COLIC DISCUSSED in Vanity Fair August, 2014 issue celebrating his first birthday. Based on information from "palace insiders." Yeah, I know.

      Someone here said no reliable source had mentioned it. I knew I had read it.
      I don't make these things up. Honest!
      Just because one is ignorant of something does not mean it should be scorned.

    19. Anon 1 @4:15, if you're referring to my comment, I stated that I was *unaware* of a reliable source; not that "no reliable source mentioned it."

      And my reference to speculative comments was not meant derogatively as you may have taken it. I simply meant speculation (discussion) vs. William or Kate mentioning it at some point.

    20. GEORGE'S COLIC ALSO DISCUSSED on a site devoted to colic discussions and a homeopathic site.

    21. P.S. I should add that based on what W&K have stated, and what we have observed of the little man himself, George may be a mini-William. He appears to have the same fireball personality. :)

    22. Just doing my version of a victory dance, royalfan. At my age, one grows rather sensitive to memory issues. ha!


    23. In the US colic is not diagnosed by the vast majority of doctors until a baby is at least 2 wks old Anon 1, not hours old although feeding obviously begins earlier. I tend to agree with royalfan that George probably has Will's personality...and he had it from the very start! But if we are to assume a Vanity Fair article  (published when George was a yr old) spoke the truth because the writer had inside info, fine. It is a fact--George had colic. But just in case Vanity Fair publishes something less acceptable in the future,  let's not forget its role here as a "truth-teller" Also Anon 1 you were the one who asked whether the night nurse was nursing Charlotte so you brought up the lactation issue, not me.

    24. Noted, Anon 1. Look out for the coffee table... :)

      Lizzie, from what I recall reading about William back in the 1980's, I do believe George has a very similar personality. William always appeared to be a very curious, determined, and aware baby/toddler/child. Similarly, I do not sense even a wee bit of wishy-washy when I look at George. :)

    25. lizzie-there were George colic reports on colic and homeopathic sites as well.

      Are you saying a person can't have an illness until a doctor dianoses it?
      Interesting concept. Good news for those with advanced cancer at diagnosis.All gone.

      The symptoms Nanny Webb reported are not caused by a determined personality. Colic is not a behavioral disorder.

  13. Brilliant post, Jane! Thanks for all the work you put into this spot-on analysis.

    1. Thank you! Super pleased so many have enjoyed the post!

  14. I really enjoyed reading this post, Jane. I like retrospectives that are content rich with an interesting perspective. Wonderful interpretation of the different phases of her public life.

    I'm with Alejandra, preferring the DoC's fashion choices during her first pregnancy rather than her second. I thought they were more modern and youthful with the occasional 60's mod vibe. Her choices were always interesting imo. When she was pregnant with PC, the maternity clothing looked wonderful on her but the non maternity pieces she
    insisted on wearing were huge, bulky and shapeless. The ivory and blue MaxMara coats as well as the pink Mulberry swam on her and the lengths were unflattering. I just think she was so over being pregnant well before PC was born.

    Like many others, I think 2011-2012 were her best years style wise. She rocked the sheath dresses during the day and rolled out some pretty nice evening gowns at night glowing from head to toe. I hope she finds that sparkle again.

    I loved many of her choices when she returned to public life after PC was born and thought that she had found her sartorial stride again but aside from
    the India tour, most of her choices have been not all that interesting, unfortunately. Even the recycles from 2012 have not knocked my socks off the way they did originally. Yet, I look forward to what the future holds and hope to be wowed again at some point.

    1. Faith, I too LOVED the first phase, if you will. This new era will be very exciting, too, though. I think that every season has its virtues. :)

  15. Victoria, OregonMay 7, 2016 at 11:27 PM

    Jane, I love how you write posts that compare/contrast or show pictures over the years. I can't believe how fast five years has gone!

    1. Neither can I! I truly feel like she just married yesterday. Time has flown, but how fun it has been!
      Thank you for royal-watching with me!
      xo, Jane

  16. Hello! Long time lurker here. I love this blog and I think this post in particular is excellent. I don't have an eye for fashion, so seeing your commentary has been great. One thing I wanted to clarify. Is Kate actually a princess? I don't think she is (yet). My understanding is that to be a princess here in the UK, you have to be born one, or marry the Prince of Wales. The Monarch can award you the title, but with Kate the Queen didn't do that, she made her a Duchess instead. When Prince William becomes Prince of Wales, I think Kate will then become the Princess of Wales. Our peerage system is ancient and rather archaic, but i find it fascinating. Keep up the great work! x

    1. Hello! I love to hear from lakers. :) Thank you for reading the blog!
      The question about her status is a frequent one, but the quick response is that she IS a princess. She holds the corresponding ranks to that of her spouse. He is a prince, she is a princess. He is a duke, she is a duchess, and so forth. You are correct that her styling is different. She is technically Princess Catherine, because she is a princess by marriage not by birth. She is Princess William. However, I often refer to her as Princess Kate, because that is how many think of her, especially little ones. When she arrives at an engagement he kids are often calling for Princess Kate, just as they called Diana Princess Diana. The styling isn't correct, but it is substantially true, since she is a princess. Note both birth certificates (George and Charlotte) mark Kate as a "Princess of the United Kingdom" under occupation. You can read more here:
      The British peerage system is complicated, but I think it is fascinating, too. You have a beautiful and rich heritage!

    2. Jean from LancsMay 8, 2016 at 6:59 AM

      It is unfortunate that when it became known what Prince William had put on George's birth certificate, someone at Buckingham Palace contradicted it and then had to put out another statement, correcting them selves. It is rather sad that spokesmen(or women) at the palace do not understand these things.

    3. Interesting! Thanks! So... I wonder if when William becomes Prince of Wales, Kate will become Princess Catherine of Wales? I am sure I have read somewhere that the styling for the Prince and Princess of Wales is particular to that title because it is the title given to the next in line to the throne. I have a book on old laws of England, perhaps it is in there. I'll look it up. Something else I learned recently, although have yet to check whether it is correct, is that there is an ancient law that says the Prince of Wales is not allowed to work and that is why the Duchy of Cornwall was set up, to provide an income for him.

    4. It's my understanding she can never be properly addressed as "Princess Katherine" even if Will is the PoW. "Princess" precedes the given name only if born royal like Princess Charlotte.

    5. Sophie is technically a princess. Camilla by marriage, the Princess of Wales, and I guess Princess Charles. Princess Michael-although I
      think that involved a different set of circumstances.

      Little girls have always dreamed of princesses-even before Disney.
      Cinderella is an old tale.
      I'll never forget,during the Aus./NZ tour, on a walk-about, that group of little girls in their
      princess finery and tiaras calling out, "Princess Catherine! Princess Catherine!"
      They knew what William knew- Catherine/Kate has the heart of a princess.

    6. But Lizzie Diana was styled as a Princess of Wales when she was married to Charles. Why wouldn't Catherine be as well when William becomes PoW?

      Perhaps at this point she cannot be or wouldn't be called Princess but once Charles is King and William moves up to Second and Prince of Wales then Catherine will be Princess of Wales.

    7. She would be the Princess of Wales but she would NOT be "Princess Catherine of Wales" which is what Anon 7:35 said. Diana wasn't technically and properly called "Princess Diana" either.If I am remembering correctly she was HRH Diana, Princess of Wales. The only women who get princess before their names are those born royal.

    8. Ok ... semantics aside. She will be a Princess of Wales whether her name is first or after the title.

    9. Apparently the placement of a word like princess and titles vs occupations ARE a big deal in the royal rules and not just mere semantics as we Americans might think! :)

    10. I am not trying to be rude Lizzie when I say, speak for yourself. Plenty of Americans understand that these differences ARE a big deal while still appreciating that practically speaking they don't translate to the public at large. We aren't ignorant Americans, maybe we recognize that Kate will be PoW and that is what people are wondering.

    11. She will only be - in one styling or another - Princess of Wales once the title of Prince of Wales is conferred upon William. He does not automatically become the Prince of Wales upon Charles succession to the throne. Charles will have to confer the title upon him. At that point Kate will be styled the way Diana was, HRH Catherine, Princess of Wales.

      Interesting tidbit about the Duchy of Cornwall. I had never heard that before.

    12. Let me jump in here briefly and say that the article I linked to--the post I wrote earlier--should answer most of the questions zinging around here. I will add, though, that you all have made good points. The distinctions are important, however, I am not sure everyone appreciates the distinction being made. Kate is a princess. It isn;t just a job title, I actually don't know how that would work... The important thing is that Kate is a princess, and the styling (i.e. what do we call her) is important to keep track of which royal ladies are born royal and which married royals. It is true that it would be technically incorrect to ever call Kate "Princess Kate" or "Princess Catherine" while it is correct to call Charlotte or Eugenie Princess Charlotte or Princess Eugenie. However, I think the fundamental truth that some Americans are trying to point out is, Kate married a prince, the two became one, she is a princess. She is styled differently, but she is a princess. I would very vehemently disagree with any suggestion to the contrary. She is an HRH. Some people like to call Kate Princess--perfectly truthful, others are sticklers for protocol, which is also perfectly acceptable.
      Hope that is helpful! As I mentioned with another reader, it is a fascinating topic and I love the intricacies. I also encourage everyone not to get too lost in the basic fact that Kate is a royal now, not a second class citizen in the BRF.

    13. Not to further muddy the waters- I believe the new succession laws allowing the
      eldest child of the monarch to succeed, whether son or daughter, also would allow
      the female child of a monarch's daughter to be titled princess. As I understand it,
      previously only daughters of sons could be titled princess.( which doesn't make sense as ,when George VI was king, his daughter Elizabeth's daughter was called Princess Anne- but then Elizabeth was also his heir)
      The history of the British monarchy has been all about having a male heir; the paradox is, three of the greatest monarchs of Britain were Queens.(female)
      Kingdoms won and lost; heads lost- Remember Henry VIII's dilemma and how the whole future of England turned on his quest? (an over-simplification)

      In this context, one can certainly understand why such details as titles are a big deal in a monarchy near the thousand year mark. Less than 250 years ago most
      citizens of the United States of America were subjects of one monarch or the other.

    14. Kate's title(s) do have a lot of intricacies, and I think I decently understand them. But what I personally go back to is how their children's birth certificates have been filled out: Kate's listed occupation is "Princess of the United Kingdom".

      ~ A

    15. Me thinks we can all agree that the press should not refer to her as Kate MIDDLETON. :)

    16. Oh yes royalfan! 5 years on now they need to get on with it and learn to type her real name!

    17. THAT is the real issue, royalfan! She is no longer Kate Middleton!

    18. Exactly, Diane and Robin...because what is technically correct is a separate issue from what the press does. As I stated before (and I realize Anon 1 disagrees with me on this), I would be happy with "Duchess Kate". For me it boils down to their intent.

    19. And there it is royalfan!

      Their INTENT! Many of us know exactly what they mean and how they are INTENT on dragging her down as long as they. Theven press need to put their big girl panties on and grow up! And that goes for the male members as well. They tend to be the biggest whiners so I suspect they have some 'panties' under those pants. LOL

    20. Thanks for the giggle, Diane. I laughed out loud at your last statement. :) How true!!

    21. If you want to address her correctly as a princess: she is princess william since not born royal.

  17. Dear Jane,

    Do you think the pearl drop earrings in the first photo (in which she is wearing her leather hat a light turquoise sweater) are the Kiki hoops and Annoushka pearls? They look like the same earrings she wore for her St. Andrews university graduation, but I thought she purchased the Kiki/Annoushka set much later.

    Any insights welcome and thanks for the blog!

    1. Hi there! Sorry for the delay in respond. I don't think they are the Annoushkas. Those earrings are smaller than the Kiki/Annoushka set--both the base and the drop pearl, which would make sense, as you note, given how much later she began wearing Annoushka and Kiki.

      Thanks for reading! :)

  18. Dear Jane, what a wonderful post. Absolutely love that you've highlighted how much she has learned and grown and just moved up to the next level. Thanks!

    1. Thank you, Lydia! This was so fun to write and so nice to reflect. It is amazing that five years have passed. I am so happy others have enjoyed the post!

  19. This is exactly why I read this blog:) thanks Jane!

    1. Thank YOU. Your sweet comment is very appreciated!

  20. I so love your posts Jane! I would pay for a book of yours for sure!!! And now on to my thoughts for our favorite Kate! Yes, she has honed her skill in choosing her wardrobe and yet the kernel of the true Kate style is still there. I look at the Vogue shoot as sort of the ending chapter of Kate of the Home Counties. Those are photos her family would say are the true Kate and I am sure she is happy with how they turned out. But I also suspect, through her worldwide exposure and her college education, that she is a sophisticated city girl too. I think as her role increases in importance and scope within the Royal Family, that sophistication will shine through. I am sure she looks at her media coverage on occasion, and muses "Damn I look good" or sometimes "What was I thinking?". There will be plenty of times for tiaras and ballgowns soon as well as more Vogue portraits. I agree with Jane-- her apprenticeship is over and we're onto a new Kate phase. What was most striking to me about this last tour, was the thoughtfulness she took with her clothes. Wearing the earrings she bought in Bhutan to the Taj was showing her hosts "Thank you". Wearing the necklace the Queen of Bhutan gave her on her farewell was touching. Wearing the kira inspired ensemble while shooting an arrow-beyond impressive. Wearing a culturally appropriate and "cheap" dress while touring the slums in India also very sensitive. The woman understands the importance of her clothes and yet stays true to her inner style self. That tells me she wears the clothes, and not the clothes wear her. It will be an interesting next few years. Meanwhile, I am starting to save for my trip to the next coronation.... I'll be camping out on the sidewalk to see Kate in all her glory!

  21. Sonja from BavariaMay 9, 2016 at 12:06 AM

    Well, Kate alsways looks pretty (of course!), but I preferred her style during the first 2 years of their marriage. I also think she wears beautiful clothes now, but these were just so sophisticated and youthful back then. They just had a Kate Middleton feeling to them.

    I think she looked radiant during her pregnancy with george and I have to admit that I preferred her choices of clothing during this pregnancy rather than charlotte's :) but the 2nd also had great highlights - the blue jenny p gown, the navy beulah coat, the asos black and white dress,...

    I really hopevwe'll see Kate more often in evening gowns, she seems to habe a stunning collection (except the floral erdem)!

    1. The fabric in that floral Erdem was so gorgeous. If it were restyled to get rid of the hug ruffle I think it could be stunning.

    2. I loved the Erdem fabric too. She could cut it at the ruffle and then it would have the A-line flair she prefers in her day dresses. Pair it with a red or her trusted navy blazer and voila- a recycle but with a twist!

  22. Those structured ballgown examples from the beginning of her marriage are stunning, and are why I still love Kate even though her fashion hasn't inspired my own as much during the past few years. She's gorgeous and classy in those dresses but still glamorous. And that hair! I'll miss that phase. Thanks for the blog!

  23. I also preferred the stylings of the early years and including the first pregnancy. I'm disappointed that the hemlines have come down and the hair is shorter. If it truly is her preference to be dressed with longer hemlines then OK. If however, there is a subtle pressure to do so, then I am unhappy. Except for the recent India/Bhutan tour I have found her recent styling to be staid and matronly. I contrast the look with both Queen Letiza and Queen Maxima; always interesting, stylish and espousing personality. Queen Letiza in particular demonstrates that a pants suit or separates is entirely appropriate for official functions.

    As with Anon 6:02, I will miss that phase. One last point on the evolution of hair, the part changed pre and post...The college and 20's part was on the left, now when there is one, it's on the right.

    1. 7:27, there was a great deal of fuss over some of Kate's shorter hemlines. Personally, I think she's young, in good shape, and a shorter length is perfectly fine for the right setting. (Although fabric and cut play a huge role.)

      But the comparisons to Letizia and Maxima are tricky. Before Letizia was crowned Queen, her wardrobe was very conservative. Today, her style is beautiful, but in prior years she seemed to have the monopoly on navy pants suits. And Maxima is Maxima. Her style matches her personality. I really enjoy her bolder look, but it would be totally inappropriate for Kate to follow her lead. Different women, different positions, and VERY different in-laws! :)

  24. Jane, honestly, you are the best royal watcher I've ever encountered. Trust me I've been watching forever, but you fill in the gaps. :-)

    1. This just makes me smile--and energizes me! Thank you!!

  25. @Diane Brown. Sorry to reply so late in the game, but here goes. No, I don't think Kate will have a third child, altho she may well have had three had she and William married five years earlier. But thats water under the bridge.

    What I have fun speculating upon is when or whether Harry will marry. If he decides he prefers his bachelor status (and I think thats a definite possibility, made worse as time goes on and he grows bald--just my opinion, but I rather think that his fans are, for the most part, young and foolish girls who see only a pretty prince with hair, in sharp contrast to the British aristo set, who see a life of servitude if they were to marry him.)

    `In that case, Kate might find herself under-the-gun to produce another Windsor child. It would be my hope that she would find the intestinal fortitude to say NO! Then, it would be Harrys turn to be under-the-gun, as it should be, given the choice between the two.

    As far as I am concerned, Kate has fulfilled her duty to the crown. Why on earth would she want more than two at this stage in her life? Never mind the HG, what about her age and the potential for birth defects? complicated by centuries of inbreeding, on the part of the Windsors, and some of that might well be lurking in Williams DNA.


    1. Thank you JC!

      I just saw your comment on the next post and thought? Who? What? Help me ..who are you? Then it hit me! It's JC!
      So I checked here.

      I think you may be right. She had done her duty. But I still think the burning desire for 3 will perhaps make it so? I think she in some ways wants to replicate her own family. William too. I think that is the goal for both of them. That family of 5. Safe. United. Us against them. I worry about the HG. As to birth defects; I had my last child at 35; today is her 23rd birthday btw. I think there is still time. If they proceed ? Who knows? Personally I want another for selfish reasons. You know.. stalker royalist Lol.
      They do make beautiful children.
      Anyway who knows and thank you for your reply! Always enjoy your insight :)

  26. Oh dear, Diane! You seem a bit confused; Kate is now 34 and-a-half and her birthday is January the 9th. It is, IMO, too soon for a third pregnancy and she is very close to her 35th.

    I am well aware of the fact that many women have children at 35 or later, but stats tell us that the incidence of bith defects increases post 35. And altho I don't know you, it would be rather odd if you or your spouse were the result of centuries--think about it; centuries!--of inbreeding. And you don't have to look very far to find birth defects in the current BRF.


  27. Yes I will be polite by truthful. Kate is loved by her husband. It is very plan to see. Diana was not loved as a wife has a right to expect. She was a wonderful mother despite her unhappy situation. Being loved as one should> brings out the best in a woman>>as one can see in Kate.


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