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Duchess's Déjà Vu Dress: Second Preen Finella for Place2Be

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

After an embargoed event at the Natural History Museum, Kate changed and headed to Mansion House for the second annual Wellbeing in Schools Awards for Place2Be. Kate has been royal patron for Place2Be for three years and the charity's focus on children's mental health has made it a charity to which Kate gives increasing attention. Tonight, the princess arrived in an interesting choice. The same Preen Finella dress that she wore with such success in red while on tour in Canada.


The Duchess gave a brief address to assembled guests. I like this picture that captures Kate's speech stance, weight on one hip and the right foot out just a little.




Rebecca English pointed out on Twitter, as she shared a small clip, that Kate's public speaking is getting better and better and I agree. The duchess has always been charming and well-spoken, but as the years tick by, she seems to be adding more and more polish to her routine.

Kate was joined on stage and congratulated both the runners up and the winners.

Rebecca English Twitter

This is not the first time that Kate has worn the same design in a new color. Just like the rest of us, when Kate finds a piece she loves, she will often pick up several. She has the beautiful Honeycomb jumper from Temperley in black and white and the Great Plains Cézanne dress in three separate color ways. She bought two of the same Séraphine maternity dress in different colors, too. It is less usual to buy multiple versions of the very expensive pieces which will garner a lot of press. Kate's most notable DéjaVu moment was when wore her custom "Alice" coat-dress from Emilia Wickstead first in pink and then in teal. More recently, she wore nearly identical lace dresses from Dolce & Gabbana, which were so similar as to be the same. It's an usual move. Obviously, Kate loved the dress, as did the press and public. The red version was styled with a chic side chignon and red accessories.



Tonight, Kate wore her hair down and added Temperley's bow belt to the dress. Belts are interesting things. They can really make or break an ensemble. I think tonight's belt broke it. The Finella is just a stunning gown and not only does it not require additional ornamentation, a belt actually seems to detract.



Even if the Finella were to be styled with a belt, though, this is not the right one. Somehow the diamanté detailing and thicker dimensions, hinder the elegance of the dress. This belt was initially marketed with Temperley's Noa coat, which Kate wore to Remembrance Sunday and to the ANZAC dawn serving while on tour. The crystals seem to fit the glossy panelling on the Noa coat more, plus the coat can use definition at the waist. The Finella's fitted bodice and gorgeous folded pleats adequately define Kate's slim frame without the need for a belt.

Temperley London

What this dress needs is an updo. Kate's make-up was on point--she was glowingly gorgeous--but I do wish she had put her hair up. Or, as I have begun to agitate for, she could try a big Audrey Hepburn-esque bun. That would be very striking on her.
Kate has been debuting a host of new shoes and today was probably her best yet. These gorgeous pumps are Prada and feature pointed toes and feminine cut-outs. With 3.3" heels, these are a little lower than Kate's usual 4 inchers.


That belt really draws the eye, but Kate was wearing some striking sparklers. These earrings are loaned from the Queen, who wore them in 2012 for the State Opening of Parliament. They are quite large, especially for Kate who generally favors smaller earrings. She carries them off well, though, and its likely we will see them again in the future. 


The verdict tonight is a little bit of a let down. It's a win, but not a home run. Although pretty in itself, the belt was too much for this dress, distracting from the pleating on the bodice and clashing with the asymmetry of the neckline. Although her hair was sleek, in a perfect world, this dress would be styled with an updo. Nevertheless, all around the Finella is a gorgeous cocktail dress and Kate's bold make-up and stylish new shoes went a long way to making the overall ensemble a success. 


69 comments:

  1. My thoughts exactly! Belt broke the outfit. Earings are also not helping the outfit. Otherwise I love the dress and the shoes! Shoes are lovely. Without the belt and with some other earings and a nice brooch she can rock the outfit.

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  2. . Personally I liked seeing the dress with both hairstyles (not to mention I love this particular style) and since it's difficult to see the pleats in photos on a black dress that the belt added the perfect pop to a standard lbd. The shoes and earrings made it a perfect look :)

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  3. I have already read 2 other blogs and was waiting for your opinion as usually I agree with you :) now as well.
    The belt made this special dress average. I liked the earrings and with a broch instead of the belt and a nice updo it would have been a homerun just like the red Preen was. Hopefully next time :)

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    1. Anon 03:55-I like the visual of your suggested styling of brooch and earrings without belt.
      The black was a perfect background for a brooch a la HM and Camilla. The belt may also serve as a distraction from The Queen's Earrings (!!!)
      However, those who complain of Kate's dressing too old or looking like the Queen
      would surely rise up in protest. :+)

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    2. I also really agree! The belt was a detraction and she would have done well with a brooch. Or even better: no belt, a red lip and an up-do. That would have been perfection! I like all of the pieces alone but together it's just too much. I also find the hairstyle incredibly juvenile. I agree it's a win but not a home run, while the red version was a home run for sure.

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    3. I am going to rise up in protest anon 11:00 am. I don't think a thirty four yr. old woman should be emulating her elderly in laws. Time enough for that when she is their age.

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  4. I think she looked wonderful and the belt was a great finishing touch.I tried to figure the outfit without the belt, and I prefer it with it! Love the sparkle! A perfect win imo

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    1. I love the different look from the red dress. I think the belt & earrings complement the dress well. The hair down is much better than an exact replica of the red dress. She looks so young & youthful with her hair like that. Well done, Duchess!

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  5. Ali said in a comment to an earlier story that she wasn't sure how good Kate's "good taste" really is. That it seemed to be the kind of good taste any of us might have and perhaps, as a senior royal, Kate needed more. She suggested, as have others, Kate would benefit greatly from having a real stylist. By the time I saw the comment it was a bit late to post on that story but I totally agree with Ali. A stylist likely could help Kate to fully develop her style. While Kate may not want to be a "clothes horse" her clothes ARE of interest to the public and she spends alot on them.  So avoiding missteps would pay off. Last night's outfit is a case in point. I seriously doubt a stylist would have added that chunky albeit sparkly COAT belt to this dress. But I can see why Kate or NA might have thought, hey, its black and the sparkles match the earrings so it's a go.

    I didn't think the somewhat adolescent pinback hairstyle was the best but at least her hair wasn't falling in her face during the awards presentation part of the event. I expect that made public speaking easier. I'm not sure how an Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany's bun would look on Kate but I would like to see a higher updo than the low on the neck chignons Kate seems to favor.

    Love the shoes!

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    1. I completely agree about the hairstyle. Was so happy to see her hair out of her face but can't wait until she moves on from this pin back phase. It reminds me of how my mother styled my hair when I was in elementary school.

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    2. Hairdo- Retro retro retro.. anyone familiar with some of the hairstyles of the 1940's knows this style was often worn by very grown-up, well-styled women of fashion of the time. Rita Hayworth? The dress is definitely 1950's Audrey Hepburn inspired-who, along with Grace Kelly, adopted this style at times- Ms. Hepburn's an adaptation to her short 'do, but definitely
      pulled back and up at the sides. :+)

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    3. I completely agree about her taste level and you've written my exact thoughts here!

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    4. Well anon 11:13 that may have been an "adult" hairstyle 70 years ago but in recent decades I've only seen it on young girls and adolescents. Maybe Kate had been trying to channel a retro vibe with that style but she's been sporting it quite often recently regardless of whether or not her outfit that day is retro. I wouldn't be surprised if she favors the style because it's easy enough for her to do herself at home but I hope she moves on from it sooner rather than later.

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    5. Retro hair with retro dress. It's called styling. :+)

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    6. Doesn't always wear the retro hair with a retro dress. It's a phase. Hope she gets over it

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    7. Which dresses do you consider retro, 11:22?

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  6. I love the dress but yes the belt was awful! Shoes were also perfect such a shame she felt the need to put the belt on!! Thank you love hearing your opinion!! X

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    1. You won't get any argument here, the belt was a real disaster, and it coat, according to another Kate blog, $1,055. For a belt!! So, an expensive disaster, which, IMO, ruined the drapery of the dress. I rather think that, deprived of a diamond brooch, Kate might've decided to compensate via the belt buckle, altho it didn't work.

      And, its now JC official, altho for awhile I dithered: Kate looks her best with her hair worn up, professionally done, or with her hair worn down, recently--given the ratty weather in the UK--professionally done. The half-up, half down style does her no favours and all too often does nothing for her apparel, as is the case here.

      Not sure about the earrings, either, loaned by the Queen. Think they're either quite old or haven't been properly cleaned, of late. But, as the Queens earrings go, not bad--meaning not too ornate or so heavy that they would elongate the ear lobes if worn frequently, as seems to have happened to the Queen over the years.

      Loved the shoes.

      JC

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    2. I've heard of being long in the tooth, JC, but-..long in the ear lobe?
      Occupational hazzard? :+)

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    3. Anonymous, Nov. 24, 2016 at 4:20 PM, obviously, you didn't read the same porn as I did, as a kid--National Geographic, which my father had collected over the years. So you can be forgiven your state of ignorance, but, yes, there are/were certain dark-skinned tribal women who wore heavy pierced earrings which were gradually replaced with even heavier earrings and which stretched their ear lobes to amazing lengths, which was the purpose, I suppose to signal their husbands wealth and standing.

      National Geographic was a great source of natural wonders; I generally skipped over those lower in the food chain and concentrated on we humans. It was there that I learned that female breasts came in many shapes, sizes and colours. NG was an absolute godsend for me, since my father didn't object when he caught me with a copy, yet blew his top when he caught me reading a Harold Robbins novel, snatched it out of my hands, and promised to replace it with something better, which was okay with me since there were quite a few words I had never heard of before, and which weren't in my dictionary, leaving me in a state of confusion.Keep in mind that I was 10 at the time. And my father was as good as his word--he replaced said book with Lord Jim, by Joseph Conrad---thankfully, any words I didn't understand, could be found in my dictionary.

      JC

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    4. HaHa!, JC. You mean anon 4:02? I stand corrected. Although, were your NG ladies (and men, as I remember) elderly? I was referencing age-related long earedness.
      My son's wise grandmother contributed to his edification with years of NG subscriptions. The cats, however, disapproved and I had to dispose of many of them.

      Glorious photography, by the way. I can imagine Kate in another lifetime, happily clad in her boots and leather jacket, roaming the earth and capturing its wonders on
      film. :+)

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    5. Not the cats. The magazines. Ha! :+)

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    6. Of course I meant Anon 4:02, Anonymous November 27, 2016 at 9:01 AM--dear god, can't you ante up with a couple of initials, making it so much easier to reply?

      Yes, the photography was stunning, and to this day, I miss those NGs a whole lot more than I miss Lord Jim,
      which was destroyed in a flooded basement. And, I am happy to announce that I finally own the COMPLETE set of the Oxford Dictionary--much more satisfactory than the crappy Concise Oxford Dictionary I borrowed from my father, and which still happens to be in my possession--funny thing is, my careful father must have noticed its loss, and must have known where it went, but never voiced a complaint. But then, I didn't complain when my son--I know in my bones it was him, not my daughter--borrowed my complete set of Shakespeare, which I don't expect him to return. Clearly, I need to bequeath my Oxford to him, someone else who enjoys words. ( I wonder who my father borrowed those NGs from.) :))

      JC

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  7. I actually love the dress with the belt but totally agree about the hair. Overall this look is a huge win

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  8. I'm shocked at your negative verdict, Jane! I thought Kate knocked it out of the park with this entire ensemble. I agree that these accessories would have never worked on the red Preen but in a black material, all the little details that make this dress special (the draping fabric, the pleats) just don't show up especially from far away or in most of the hi res photos I've seen of the event. If she hadn't worn the belt, I think we would all have been disappointed that she hadn't (as has happened with several of her outfits;) While this dress is of course gorgeous, in black it simply can't stand alone whereas the bright red fabric showed off the all the details needing no assistance. Her shoes and earrings are just so stunning too!

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    1. Agree with everything you said. The sparkling belt is a nice addition as it breaks up what would have been a solid wall of heavy black fabric. This style dress can "wear" a brooch well and, in a sense, this belt is a brooch at the waist.

      I agree that it would have been best if her her was off the neckline as that is the focal point of the dress.

      All in all, I like this version of the Preen because it was accessorized in a better way than the red.

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    2. I too loved the sparkling belt---just right for the black dress.
      When I first saw it I thought she had really been raiding the Jewel Vault. Queen Mary haad some enormous stomachers. Hopefully next time.
      We seem to be in the minority liking this outfit.
      I hope she does not employ a so-called stylist; much better to see what she herself likes, than what someone else thinks she should like.

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    3. Faith- "...a brooch at the waist." What a great phrase! Watch for it to be copied in
      other formats. :+) Astute observation.

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    4. I agree that this whole look was a win! I loved the belt and, like Jean, thought of Queen Mary's stomachers. The Queen's pendant earrings were quite the sparklers as well. My favorite thing - the shoes!! I have been dying to see Kate in some lovely Prada cut-out shoes and they are the perfect compliment to this dress!

      I can see what some people are saying about the pleating, etc., not showing with the belt but I agree with those who say that it just isn't going to show up on the black the same way as the red. I also think that, because it's a "little black dress" she can change it up many different ways and probably will in future. I don't think we can rule out future brooches, different statement earrings, an updo, and any other wonderful change-ups. For me, this is a spectacular outing!

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    5. Does anyone else see a resemblance between her belt and the Lord Mayor's emblem? :+)

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    6. I also love the look, from head to toe!!

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    7. I concur with this look being a home run in every way. The belt really pulls it together as do those yummy Prada pointy pumps. I'm so sick of the constant complaints about Kate's hair - probably made by women who've always had short hair! Her gorgeous hair is an accessory in itself and the style is perfect for this dress, and showcases those beautiful earrings.

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    8. Sorry Jeanne I've never had short hair and I have commented that I dislike this particular hairstyle. I think it's juvenile and she has many other ways that she has styled her hair that looks fantastic.

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    9. Anon 12:27, I also saw the similarity between the Lord Mayor's emblem and Kate's belt!

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    10. It's kinda funny. :+)
      I think Kate did it best.

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  9. I'm shocked at your negative verdict, Jane! I thought Kate knocked it out of the park with this entire ensemble. I agree that these accessories would have never worked on the red Preen but in a black material, all the little details that make this dress special (the draping fabric, the pleats) just don't show up especially from far away or in most of the hi res photos I've seen of the event. If she hadn't worn the belt, I think we would all have been disappointed that she hadn't (as has happened with several of her outfits;) While this dress is of course gorgeous, in black it simply can't stand alone whereas the bright red fabric showed off the all the details needing no assistance. Her shoes and earrings are just so stunning too!

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  10. I so disagree regarding the belt! I love it! I do agree with the idea of an Audrey Hepburn bun, however.

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  11. I think Kate looked great and the belt was a nice addition to the dress. She usually lacks in sparkle and the belt added some interest to an already spectacular black dress. If Kate actually busted out a bracelet or two along with the gorgeous earrings, I might feel differently about the belt, but as usual, not nearly enough in the jewelry department. The earrings are stunning and it's very nice to see that Kate has access to the Queen's jewel vault.

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  12. I'm team updo for this dress. And when I first saw it, I thought, "a stomacher"! There's probably a wealth of stomachers in the vault. She should start a trend!

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    1. Paula, should have read your piece before I added mine above!

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    2. Me too, Paula and Jean. I read Jean's comment and commented there but we were, all three, on the same wavelength! :-)

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  13. I've said this before, but I absolutely love that Kate and PW have taken up mental health as their cause. I really, really hope they keep at it. The influence they have is amazing.

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    1. Can you elaborate the influence you mean? Thank you.

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    2. anon 9:09- interesting, yet somehow familar question.

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  14. I loved the earrings, but I do agree with you about the belt. It's great, just not the time/place for it in my opinion. Would've looked even better with an updo, but her hair looked healthy and fabulous (it has been worrying me lately!), so I'll give her a pass. ;-)

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  15. Hello! Love your blog and your observations on fashion. Kate the Great. Love that!

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  16. Initially I liked the belt with the dress but I have come to agree that no belt or a more sophisticated belt would be better. Agree the earrings and shoes are great. The hair not a good style. I think she can wear it down and pulled back but a more sophisticated style is needed. This pull back to me looks to young teenager. lizzie had quoted me above about Kate's taste, I just want to clarify it is not that I do not think Kate does not have taste I just am not sure she is so in love with fashion that her choices are consistent or always thought through from a design esthetic:):) Oh one other thought I like the NOA coat better with the belt:) ali

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    1. Sorry if it seemed I misquoted you Ali!

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    2. Hee hee, no you did not misquote, my text always just reads more harshly than my thought process.

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  17. Where I live, it’s fashionable to wear black all year round. However, I’ve never been all that crazy about black. I tend to like colorful clothing. Yet for some reason, I actually prefer the black version of this dress over the red she wore in Canada. Kate looks so very elegant! I don’t think I’ve ever bought the same dress in different colors. But if you can afford to, why not?

    I don’t agree that this outfit is calling out for an updo. In fact, I usually like it when Kate wears her hair down, rather than up—although I have to say that Kate’s hair does look a little flat here. Honestly, I really don’t like the earrings all that much, even if they are on loan from the Queen. I prefer more delicate jewelry, which seems to be Kate’s usual preference, too. I’m in the minority, but I actually like the belt. I think a narrower belt would have been better. Nonetheless, I like the sparkle that it adds to the outfit. And I love the shoes. They may be my favorite Kate shoes ever.

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  18. I usually agree with you Jane, but not this time. I thought the belt really made this dress. In the other version, the wow factor was achieved by the color - red. It didn't need anything else. This one needed something and the belt was perfect I thought. It added a punch in the front and then the fabric around the waist blends in with the dress, so the emphasis is simple and elegant. This dress without the belt, in my very humble opinion, would just be another little black dress like all the other black dresses I saw at that event last night. Kate stood out, no doubt about it. Love the shoes. I love her hair no matter what she does with it. If I had hair like hers, I'd be in heaven. I do like the updos, but I would comment that a higher bun would likely be too heavy. She has long, thick hair and wearing it higher on her head would likely be difficult to do without giving her a major headache. Having said all of that, I love the focus of the event and that she made a speech. The rest is window dressing for me.

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  19. Is there a chance it is the same dress but dyed? Or do people not really do that anymore :)

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    1. Mich- I wondered, also. I always thought the pink/aqua dresses were one.
      Perhaps the red dress suffered the results of a welcome home Mummy hug by sticky little hands. Dyeing it black would cover a stain nicely and provide an essentially new dress.
      With the potential of encouraging spendthrift remarks. I just can't imagine her
      buying two of this dress.:+)

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    2. It was reported in the Telegraph she ordered the dress two weeks ago. That may not be reliable info but I sort of doubt this is the red dress dyed. It would be hard for even a professional to dye over red. Black dye often doesn't cover as well as it seems like it should and can look "flat". That's not as big a deal for shoes (or "widows weeds") but I think dyeing over bright red would not look as "smooth" as the satin in this dress does. (Smooth isn't quite the right word..) 

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    3. I was thinking the same thing, lizzie. Dying black over bright red would tend to look a little bit muddy.

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  20. Commenting before reading, so please forgive if this sounds like an echo. I'm getting to the point that, if I don't say something when I'm thinking it, the thought flies from my mind.:)

    In the second photo- of Kate at the podium, I noticed that lines and creases shown are not in the on-screen projection behind her. This must be a DM photo. :+)

    The belt: she also wore an incongruous large belt at her first appearance at that event.
    Of course, she was pregnant then and may have been deflecting from a lower area.
    Also, I think the large sparkly disc clashes with the large black buttons on the Noa.
    This is a designer's/runway-type modeling and may not have been appropriate for an appearance at a memorial ceremony. Perhaps Kate liked the coat but saved the belt for a more
    appropriate cocktail gown use.
    At least, that's how I see it.

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    1. I don't see those extra lines on her face in the video, either. :+)

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  21. Why, why, why does the Duchess insist on adding a belt to her outfits - all the dress needed was those beautiful earrings, shoes and an up do - the dress is gorgeous on it's own without any embellishment!

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  22. Jane, I agree with every bit of your analysis on this outfit :)

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  23. A wonderful evening for a wonderful cause. I loved her compassion and sensitivity with Ceri. Kate is just a lovely and beautiful woman. I loved the Preen in red, and I loved it tonight. I thought the belt, shoes and earrings added pizazz. She looked sensational.

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  24. Love your point of view!
    I really liked the belt, but now that you point it out, it may have not been the best choice :(
    She looked great though!
    Great job!

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  25. For the first time I actually don't agree with you. I like the dress more with the sparkly belt, and I really like it with her hair down. I usually love her updos but I really thought the flowing hair balanced the flow of the dress. In any case, I sure do enjoy the updates and pics on your blog, thank you.

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  26. First off, I think her excitement and obvious interest at this event was the highlight. She truly has a passion for this movement, and appeared strong and confident in her speech. She is learning the ropes nicely. My attention was directed here, not to what she was wearing, which to me is a testament to her powerful presence. I'm so impressed.

    As for her dress, the girl looks lovely no matter what she wears, but I loved the dress and the shoes, I don't hate the belt, she probably just thought it would sparkle nicely with her earrings, and it does.

    She is beautiful inside and out, but I do miss her bangs :p

    Belle

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  27. I would have bought this Emilia dress 20 times in all available colours, because it is in heavy silk...it must be very soft on skin...If i had sie of them in black....next time i would change something so that it would not look the same, so people can guess...alpaka and silk all all time favourites...

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    1. According to the Preen website it is "heavy satin" and while satin can contain silk this dress seems to be made entirely of synthetic materials. I like the style but I'm not sure how comfortable the material is.

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  28. I like the belt. I think without the belt it would feel like a plain black dress and you wouldn't notice the lines quite like you do in the bright red. I love the earrings. I wish she would wear big sparklers like this more often. :)

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