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The Countess of Strathearn Wears Jonathan Saunders and Goat For Day in Scotland

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Earl and Countess of Strathearn were in Scotland today for a busy day of public engagements, in what was their first joint appearance since their fabulously successful tour Down Under in April. This was a fun visit because they weren't just in Scotland, they were in the area of Scotland in which their title is rooted, so that added a special touch to the day.

They began at the Strathearn Community Campus before moving to MacRosty Park, and in both places met with locals.

When the Countess of Strathearn is in Scotland, she often holds or wears the tartan-scarf with the Strathearn plaid. The silk scarf retails for close to $500 from D C Dalgliesh. I can't say I love the colors of the pattern, but Kate always coordinates beautifully with it. Here she carries it at William's installation into the Order of the Thistle in July of 2012:

In London for the Thames River Pageant in June 2012:

Again in Scotland in 2013 with Charles and William:

Although Kate did not opt to wear her scarf today, she was presented with a large bear wearing a kilt in her pattern. William suggested the kilt might fit George.

The little prince won't have to steal mummy's teddy's clothes, though, because he was gifted his own Highland wear:
@ianvogler Twitter Account
Probably the more highly anticipated stop was their visit to The Glenturret Distillery, Scotland's second oldest distillery dating from the late 1700's, where Famous Grouse is produced. William and Kate both partook in the strong spirits, but I think perhaps William enjoyed his just a little more.

The Famous Grouse Facebook
I understand that in Scotland, fine whiskey is the thing, but one of these days someone needs to take these people to a Champagne cellar or something. The royals always seem to be swigging hard alcohol and I think it is time for a change...for Kate's sake.

Kate was wearing Kiki McDonough earrings, LK Bennet pumps and clutch, and brooch that she received as a wedding gift, purportedly from William. It is a Celtic design with some fun background provided by My Small Obsessions:
The triscele is commonly found in late Celtic art and is thought to have some Roman influence, although fine examples are found in the native art of Ireland and Scotland. It is thought to represent the three realms of Celtic lore: the past, the present and the future. One of the most popular of Ancient Celtic designs, it survived well into the Christian period, probably because it could also be considered to represent the Holy Trinity.

Kate was wearing a Jonathan Saunders coat with a Goat dress underneath. We will get to Goat momentarily. When I first saw pictures this morning, before I knew the label, I thought the color changes on the coat were ribbing. (You have to forgive me, I had just woken up and was looking at an iPhone screen.) I immediately thought of Kate's Jonathan Saunders jumper, but once I realized it was a mohair pattern I no longer saw any resemblance, despite the fact that it actually is a JS! How strange are whims. Anyhow, Jonathan Saunders makes another appearance on Kate today in a red and pink blend:

I am torn on today's choice. I like it, but I am not in love. Ultimately, it feels a little old to me, although guess what kids, you asked for wind proof and you got it. I think this looks like something Camilla could wear just as easily as Kate, and that makes me not such a huge fan. Only because Kate is barely 32 and Camilla longer 32. If the coat had been a little more tailored, I think I would have liked it better. This isn't a miss, I do like it, and she looks fabulous, but I can't say it's a home run. It just looks too big on her. I am used to and prefer her more figure hugging choices. 

The Famous Grouse Facebook
We don't have much of a view of the Goat dress, but is looks like it complements the Jonathan Saunders beautifully. The is the second time Kate has worn Goat and again I immaturely am laughing at the name. Goat. The scenario I imagine:

"Beautiful dress. What are you wearing?"
"Oh, this? It's Goat."

I just don't understand why you create a clothing line and name it Goat, but that's not the point of this post... The first time Kate wore this label was the white coat while pregnant with George. The Goat Coat!

It was a good day. Kate had a super healthy glow from her light tan, her hair looked like a hundred bucks, she was beautifully accoutered, received flowers, and had a drink with William. Perfect, perfect. Most of all, we have finally reached the end of the inevitable recovery period that follows a tour and can now get back to more regular royal appearances. I am so, so very excited for their visit to Normandy in just a little over a week to commemorate the D-Day Landings, and Kate has also scheduled events on June 10th and June 12th. Fun times ahead. Can't wait to follow it with you all... 

Should The Real Kate Show Herself? She Already Has...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Camilla Tominey wrote a piece for The Express in which she argued that Kate needs to show the "real" Kate. You can read the piece in its entirety here, but to summarize, essentially she says that we can see that the proper and perfect Duchess of Cambridge is not always so perfect and proper. She has a more contemporary side and Ms. Tominey thinks it would be to everyone's benefit were Kate to drop her Princess exterior and run with the Kate Middleton vibe.

I agree that the Kate we see on walkabouts and at public functions is not the same as the private Kate.   That is one of the reasons I love the paparazzi shots of Kate. I love seeing her leaving Starbucks, playing with Lupo, running around with George, and yes, sometimes kissing William. I love those photos because we are seeing just a little peak at Kate's private persona. I disagree that we need to see more of private Kate--or perhaps to put it more precisely--that Kate owes us that "real" side--I always love to see more... ;)

Kate isn't a "plastic-princess" and she isn't a Stepford Wife. Kate is a lady. I am not always sure that in our society we still have a clear idea of what a lady actually is.  I don't think anyone here would be an advocate of the reality TV shows that allow us to follow certain families around their day and indeed, some of their most intimate moments, but perhaps it has unwittingly shifted our perception of normal.  It is good to have some decorum. My mother used to always lecture me to stop "letting it all hang out."  She wasn't talking about my clothes, she was talking about letting people see every emotion and mood I was feeling. It is good to have a sense of time and place. Everyone has their professional face, a business-like exterior that you use at work or with those to whom you are not close.  We all let our hair down at home and with the people we love. That doesn't make either "persona" false, it makes us socially acceptable.

Kate is a lady.  She is warm and real, she connects with her fans, she laughs naturally, she sees people, she shows she cares, but she is not overly familiar. We are not her confidantes. A lady is not a fake woman: someone who pretends to be one thing while actually being another. She is a woman who adopts the appropriate decorum for the appropriate situation. You don't wear a bikini to a black-tie dinner, and you don't wear a floor-length dress to the beach. Similarly, you don't treat your grandmother like your drinking buddy or your boss like your husband. All relationships are not created equal, and a lady determines the appropriate relationship and she ascribes the correct behavior to that relationship.

Kate and William indulge in many public activities where their more relaxed selves are on display, and this contributes to their massive popularity without saturating the public with what could only be described as far too much information. We love the candid moments when they are interacting in "private" but the same situations knowingly played out for public consumption would feel cheap and make them look like exhibitionists.

Personalities play a role in this, too. Some people are more outgoing and so that will change the way they interact. Kate had to walk a very delicate path for years, and years, and years, while she tried to hold her relationship together and not make a false move. That woman has developed a shell and she will never lose it and I don't think that she should try. She has every right to jealously guard who she is when she is safe and surrounded by the love of her family and close friends.

Comparisons to Princess Mary aren't entirely fair, either. Not just because Mary has been married quite a bit longer, but because Mary holds a different place in the royal hierarchy of her country. She is Crown Princess of Denmark, which is the equivalent of Princess of Wales. To use the ever popular baseball metaphor, Mary is "on deck" while Kate is "on the bench." The BRF has a balance to maintain. The Queen is...the Queen and very beloved, and William and Kate are glamorous and wildly popular. But, we can't forget about Charles. Charles, who is 65 years old, is standing "on deck." He is the next monarch. Kate and William cannot and should not look as if they are on par with the Prince of Wales. They are not, no matter how much the world loves them. They have to wait their turn.

I have been one of Kate's harsher critics when it comes to her public speaking. She often feels awkward to me, but public speaking is hard! Mostly, public speaking improves with practice, which Kate has not had a lot of, but I am confident that as the years roll by she will be very polished at the microphone. Her slip up was charming and I was struck by her speech in Australia, which was very natural and relaxed. The best yet!

In her "professional" life, Kate does an impeccable job of being herself without crossing the line to the overly familiar that in the end would benefit no one. I have used the example of William and Kate's relationship, since the extreme can be useful to illustrate the more proximate situations, but the same theory applies to every level of Kate's interaction with the public. If Kate tore down her boundaries and was the private woman William fell in love with and married, I believe it would be bad for her and for us. Not because she isn't great at a cocktail party, I guarantee you she is, but because some boundaries are not meant to be crossed.

So, I love the pap shots, I love seeing Kate joke and giggle, I like to see her flirt with William, I like to see her stroke her little baby's face, I love to see her shopping with her mom, and relaxing on beaches. Those are treats--for us all--but she owes us none of those moments and she owes us no more of the private Kate Middleton than she chooses to reveal. Thus far, she has been very generous in sharing her sincerity and kindness with a sometimes harsh and critical world. When Kate steps out of the car at a public appearance, we aren't seeing some doll, we are seeing the real Kate Middleton. A strong woman who knows exactly who she is and what she is doing, confident in her public personality and unwilling to cede any part of herself that she does not deem fit.

Anmer Hall Nears Completion, George's First Meeting With Mia

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Slow, slow, slow. Royal news is slow as molasses in winter. Prince Charles and Camilla are in Canada on a quick tour (did you know that in French, the name Camilla is Camille? It is...); Harry is in Italy, and no, he has not gotten back together with Cressida as of the last breaking report; the Queen was just at the Chelsea Flower Show... Kate has been essentially invisible, but no doubt busy. Anmer Hall is coming along pretty quickly and Kate, as we have discussed before, is very present in the interior design aspects of the project. Renovations have included a room for Nanny Maria. People has reported on the project: 
Vital work has been done on the so-called "garden room," 16'x16' glass-fronted room, with windows raised within the roof. On its parkland side, the couple will eventually erect a pergola, to allow enable the growth of vines or something similar to provide shade and privacy.

The new room spans a gap between the main house and some old wood stores, which are to be converted into rooms, including kitchen and lounge and bedroom. It has been suggested that this will be for nanny Maria Borrallo.
If you ignore the Daily Mail's rather snarky headline, they have some fabulous photos that will get you all up-to-speed on Kate's country pile. It's a beauty!

Mike Tindall was at a charity golf game this past weekend and he spoke about everyone's favorite little hellion. Apparently, George met his two month old second cousin, Mia, at Highgrove in March where he behaved just like a boy. Throwing his food everywhere. The Mirror reports:
“George was eating at the time.
“He’d got to that stage where more food goes on the table than in his mouth.
“Mia was just chilling and sleeping, she sleeps a lot, she’s quite relaxed.”
Now, had he thrown the food at her, that would have been quite interesting. Fun story for the later years. You probably remember William and Kate at Zara and Mike's wedding not long after their own in 2011. I love this picture. Kate looks gorgeous while Harry and Andrew look like they expect a Scottish uprising any second. That is pretty intense stuff there. In fact, all the men around her look distressed. Kate: "Keep calm boys, keep calm. I am here and I am perfect." Love it. That's your laugh for the afternoon. 

Living in the Slipstream is out, and as was reported some time ago, Kate has written the forward to the book in which she briefly reflects on her worries when William would fly:
Having been an RAF wife myself, albeit for a short time compared to many of the authors of these stories, it is interesting to read about some of these situations reflecting all aspects of RAF life over the last 50 years. I loved my time in Anglesey when William was serving with RAF Search and Rescue. I cannot pretend that I didn’t feel anxious at times when William was on shift in howling gales, knowing that he was out flying in extremely challenging conditions, but he loved doing it and I always felt incredibly proud of him. I also knew that I was not alone and that there were many supportive Search and Rescue wives on Anglesey and at other bases across the country.
Tomorrow, the Queen hosts her first garden party of the year at Buckingham Palace. I am really hoping that Kate will attend at least one this year. We haven't much longer to wait before William and Kate pop up to Scotland! Stay strong... 

A Royal Easter Egg Hunt

Thursday, May 15, 2014

We are back on track at From Berkshire to Buckingham, and it feels good! Many apologies for briefly going AWOL. Most of you have probably seen these photos, but I was super swamped when they initially surfaced and never got around to posting them. They are too, too cute not to post, though. Easter Sunday in Australia, William and Kate slipped in some family time by challenging their precocious little guy to an egg hunt. In the middle of all the craziness they didn't let the important things slip by. I love that Kate is there on her knees in the grass in a custom Alexander McQueen. It's perfect. :) 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...nothing's doin'. Seriously, I feel like Kate hasn't so much as wandered to her local Starbucks. We are paying the piper for those three weeks of fantastic, non-stop Kate time. William, however, has been pretty active since returning from his weekend in Memphis. Just last night, he hosted a gorgeous gala at Windsor for The Royal Marsden to honor Ralph Lauren for his work in cancer research.  William is the president of The Royal Marsden and although Kate has visited Royal Marsden with William, (wearing that gorgeous, oatmeal Amanda Wakeley) she was not at the Windsor gala. 

Of all the events to go to, this seems like a big one to miss. Ralph Lauren and Windsor Castle? So awesome--it is almost as fabulous as Ralph Lauren and Downton Abbey. Kate is quite the RL aficionado. I was happy to see that she continued to patronize the brand even after her marriage when it was expected she would largely eschew foreign labels in deference to Britain. That figure hugging green knit was Ralph Lauren. I am not crazy for turtle necks, as you are aware, but I made an exception for that dress. Wow.

Although not an exhaustive list, she also loves his jackets, including the green tweed and, I believe, the black one she has worn for years now. Ralph Lauren is classically Kate style: preppy and country, but sophisticated and  

The French newspaper that reported that Kate and William would be in Normandy for the D-Day commemorative services appears to be justified. Our princess will cross the Channel in June--Kate and France...what a treat. :) I am still hoping that we will see her in Scotland at the end of this month. On verra...

Down Under Tour Analysis: Were Local Labels Short-Changed

Friday, May 9, 2014

Well, the tour ended two weeks ago and it seems that is the time it takes for me to recover from three weeks of overdosing on caffeine and sleeping four hours a day. Because...I miss Kate! While we wait around for the Cambridges to indulge in some very royal R&R before re-emrging, let's look over the tour as a whole. 

As we suspected, many of the pre-tour rumors turned out to be false. Certainly, contrary to many excited reports, there was not a significant amount of bling on this tour. In fact, there was even less bling than we anticipated. Although Kate wore the Silver Fern brooch, she never did wear the Wattle brooch that many of us thought would certainly make a timely appearance. 

What I did not anticipate was how few local designers Kate would wear, and by that I mean, not wear. Certainly here on this blog, and I believe elsewhere as well, there was a sense of let-down and perhaps light disappointment that Kate did not showcase more local talent. At the same time, a lot of people were wondering if this tour would see a change in Kate's fashion, a "maturing" or some sort of significant shift. I did not expect this tour to debut any huge change in her sartorial preferences. Only one tour has massively shifted her look, and that was the 2011 tour of Canada. Was this tour very different from her other two? Did she short-change the local designers in contrast to other tours? Let's look oh so briefly at her two past tours to see how Down Under 2014 truly stacks up.

I love Kate's pre-wedding wardrobe, but she did need to spruce it up and find a more polished vibe. For Canada, she leapt across the spectrum, from the loose, flowing a-lines of her single days, to the structured sheaths. That was the major pop in the Canadian tour. Touchdown in Canada saw her introduce a silhouette that up to that point had been very limited in her wardrobe. It was sophisticated, sexy, and just what she needed to be the confident new Duchess of Cambridge on the world stage. This blue Erdem was a major hit:

Shortly after, another blue Erdem:

The grey Catherine Walker:

Hanging out in a taupe Malene Birger:

Canada did herald a significant change in Kate's clothes, but there were deeper reasons for this change. She had married William only a few short months before embarking on their "honeymoon" adventure in North America. So, the much greater and more substantial shift that had taken place was that Kate had married. Kate had gone from a private person--dare we say it, a commoner--to an M.R.S. with an HRH. Instead of the occasional pap shot, Kate was looking down the barrel at a lifetime of formal engagements at which she was expected to play the part of a princess. Obviously, her closet was due for an overhaul.

On the North American Tour (Canada & Los Angeles) Kate wore Erdem, Issa recycles, High Street pieces like Whistles and Reiss, Catherine Walker, Joseph, McQueen, Jenny Packham, Temperley, Roksanda Ilincic, and DVF. While not an exhaustive list, these were the primary labels, all of which remain in rotation, and even the small pieces, such as the Aquascutum scarf, we saw again. It was very much a wardrobe building tour. Kate had already been wearing many of these labels, but she added some royal oomph with sheath dresses from Erdem, Catherine Walker, and Malene Birger.

Kate Wearing Erdem at Trooping 2012

Because she was starting her wardrobe and just beginning to navigate the world of royal fashion, it also created a situation where many of those designers ended up being staples in her stable. This is contrasted to, say, South East Asia, where she wore a Prabal Gurung in a nod to the region, but we have not seen her in the label outside of the tour.

Kate in Prabal Gurung in South East Asia

When Kate went to South East Asia, it was almost the reverse of Canada. She almost ricocheted back in the opposite direction of the Canada tour. She stuffed her wardrobe full of a-lines and floaty pieces, with only a few notable structured sheaths. Again, though, she stuck to the labels that were solidified as royal favorites: McQueen, Jenny Packham, Temperley, Beulah, Mulberry with a few other random labels. The only two local designer she showcased were Prabal Gurung and Raoul. 

Kate Wearing Raoul in Singapore 

So, how do these two tours compare to Kate's three weeks Down Under? For the most part, I think it was very par for the course. I did notice that rather than favor one silhouette or the other, Kate blended more evenly, and perhaps added more variety than the previous two tours, which is clearly a product of the experience she has garnered dressing for many public engagements over the past three years.

So what about her hemline? She certainly had them consistently lower, although not what I would consider super long. Again, this seems to be the result of experience. Many of the lengths Kate wore on tour in Canada were perfectly fine when standing, but when engaging in the various activities called for, presented difficulties. Easily demonstrated: sitting. Below, Kate sits in 2011 with her clutch balanced along her legs, but that doesn't do much for the side view that is revealing a generous swath of her leg. I think she looks great, but she may have felt a little uncomfortable with hundreds of cameras trained on her. 

This tour, the Luisa Spagnoli was restructured for added length, and presto, no balancing act was needed. She was a comfy Kate. 

Planting tress, and bending down to meet small children can all present complications in a frock that is a little on the short side. It was clear that Kate was drawing on trial and error as she put together her tour wardrobe.

Lastly, what about designers? Why didn't she showcase the host country more. I think the fast answer is that Kate has never gone overboard in that department. She primarily wears her labels. It may have seemed that Kate cheated a little in New Zealand when she wore an Emilia Wickstead and a Rebecca Taylor, both designers born in New Zealand, but whose fashion labels are based in London.  But, this is very similar to Kate's behavior in Canada. Canada may have seemed like it was a national fashion show for the host country, but as noted, she was building a wardrobe, and Erdem really was the primary label showcased. Erdem, although of Canadian origin, is now based in London, and so widely considered a British label. I think we could say that wearing Emilia Wickstead and Rebecca Taylor was quite comparable to the Erdem. In Australia, Kate wore a brand new Zimmermann which could be compared to her fresh choices in South East Asia-- the Prabal Gurung and the Raoul. 

All in all, what I first felt was a tour with very surprising choices, turned out to be a tour that was fairly in line with her first two, just with the sophistication of a more experienced royal. You know who made out like bandits in this whole sartorial dust-up? The Americans! Kate wore three Yankee labels: Tory Burch, Lela Rose, and Michael Kors. Which makes for the final point, which is that Kate wears what she likes. Kate chooses her clothes like every other girl does. The core of her wardrobe is comprised of the same mainstays, and then she fills in with the occasional cute rando that she stumbles across and that catches her fancy. Isn't that why we love her, because way down deep, she reminds us of ourselves?