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Did Carole Middleton Buy Princess Charlotte's Ensemble?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Every grandmother loves to shop for her grandchildren, but when you are the grandmother of the most prominent little royals in the world, your purchases can get a little more attention than usual.  I received an anonymous tip that Carole had purchased the dress for Charlotte, in which case E! might have had a bigger exclusive than they thought:

Carole was spotted shopping at Trotters in beginning of October. E! ran an article about it at the time, noting:
Carole traveled to Kings Road where she stopped in a variety of kid-friendly stores including Trotters Childrenswear. While her final purchases remain a mystery, we couldn't help but spy Carole checking out the sweaters and dresses near the front of the store. She would later leave with a large shopping bag from the family-owned business that promises "top to toe" fashion for children.
I remember thinking we'd never get to see the sweet little ensembles she has chosen, but that might not be the case! Carole can be seen in this picture from E! perusing the merchandise, and right at the bottom left of the screen you can see what some think is Charlotte's darling little dress.

I think it looks close, but I do not think it is a match for two reasons.

The first is that Charlotte's dress appears to be a single unit. The ruffle of the collar has the same piping as the pattern of the dress, so I think it is attached rather than a separate blouse:

Secondly, and this is a little harder to tell, I think this is a brighter print than the Trotters dress:

Charlotte's print
I do, however, think that the dress is similar enough to other pieces in the store (and online) that it could very well be from Trotters, although I have not found anything online that matches. I know many of you out there have very sharp eyes for fashion, so if you think you have a tip, fill me in! I know that the ladies over at Prince George's Pieces are working hard on this, too. Emily Andrews seems to have correctly IDed the stuffed animal, at least. It is a Jellycat Fuddlewuddle Puppy. 

I have several friends who have had baby girls recently, so I would love some direction on royal baby clothes to get them started on the right path. :) Hopefully the Kate community can solve the mystery. If you are just tuning in today, pop by the earlier post featuring the newly released photos of Princess Charlotte compliments of TRH the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. 

New Photos of Princess Charlotte Released

To universal delight, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge released photos of Princess Charlotte this morning. Just as with the first images of George holding his sister, these were taken by Kate at the Cambridges' home at Sandringham. 

Kate has a wonderful eye for artistic continuity. We now have two photo-sets taken at Anmer Hall--this set and the photos of George golding Charlotte shortly after her birth--and they complement one another, but each has a flavor that sets it apart and lends a unique twist. The setting is the same for both: a chair or couch at Anmer with a wide aperture to blur the background. In the earlier photos Kate nestled the two children on a creamy love-seat and flooded the photo with white light. 

In this first proper photo-set of Princess Charlotte, the colors are more muted and there is a whimsical, almost retro vibe. The gingham upholstery and the "shabby-chic" arm, Charlotte's printed dress and dusky rose sweater, even her cuddly toy, all maintain the classic vibe that Kate has embraced. 

Although we have seen a number of photos of Charlotte already, this is the first clear image of her looking so big. I am immediately struck by her resemblance to James, and after some thought to Carole, as well. I said this with George, too, but the Middleton genes are very strong. I saw Pippa and Mike in George when he was about this age, but as time has passed, a resemblance to his daddy and the Windsors has become more apparent. I wonder if in two years, Charlotte will also be a little more balanced.  She certainly has changed. Our first glimpse of the baby princess was on the day of her birth:

We saw Princess Charlotte again just the next month when William and Kate very graciously released the four images of Charlotte and George together. She was more alert in those photos, but still very much a newborn. 

We saw her a month later when she was christened at St. Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham Estate, and by that time she was a repliKate of George:

We saw a more recent pap shot of the princess, if you follow those, and while she certainly had grown, she looks remarkably different in today's official photos. It is amazing to see how she has developed. Those blue eyes just pop off the page and it looks like she is going to have her brother's enthusiasm for toys! 

Today's photos come shortly after Kate threw her support behind the hospital at which Charlotte and George were born.

St. Mary's Hospital 
In a press release from the hospital, Kate remarks on the wonderful are she received at St. Mary's and how pleased she is to lend her voice and aid to the effort. Kate has made the Lindo Wing international news on two occasions now, so there are few better to speak up for St. Mary's. 

These photos were delightful. Kate continues to produce photos that are both contemporary and classic and will look appropriate in both history books and expensive coffee table tomes across the years! I love that she is continuing to dress her children so beautifully and I know we all appreciate that the royal couple are willing to share these intimate shots. It was a royal Thanksgiving weekend, after all. :) 

Kate's Thanksgiving Weekends

Thursday, November 26, 2015

November being the busy month that it is for royals, Kate usually has an engagement on this (American) holiday weekend.  In 2013, we actually got to see the Duchess out and about on Thanksgiving Day, so I was crossing my fingers that it would turn into something of an annual happenstance. Unfortunately, she has nothing scheduled today or this weekend. Instead, we will content ourselves with a collective look-back at the events Kate has attended in close proximity to our autumn gathering.

In 2011 Thanksgiving was the 24th of November, and Kate's closest event was the 28th, so, we are stretching it, but...  Kate joined other members of the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace for a media reception in the run-up to the Diamond Jubilee. 

She wore a silk shirtdress from Mulberry, which has received mixed reviews over the years. On that night, as she mingled with the press, we never got a good full shot of her. So, it was not the most satisfying of engagements, but better a glimpse than nothing, eh? 

In 2012, we did a little better. Thanksgiving fell on the 22nd of November and on the 24th, still during the festive weekend, Kate attended a rugby match with William in Wales. Sports games are not the best location for unencumbered photos, but it was progress from the year before.

Kate recycled her popular "Ami" coat from L.K. Bennett and carried a Gucci clutch she has had for some time. We never got to see what was under the coat, but I think I spy a little knit turtleneck peeking out?

2013 was the year we hit the jack-pot with an event on Thanksgiving Day. Kate was the guest of honor at SportsAid's SportsBall. SportsAid is a familiar name to Kate-fans, since she has made several high-profile appearances for the charity. That night the Duchess chose the "Templeton" laser-cut cocktail dress.

The dress was described by Temperley as inspired by Renaissance stained glass and ironwork. I think we were torn on this dress. It was very popular in certain circles, but others felt it was too casual for the evening.

Last year, Thanksgiving was the 27th and with the royal visit to the United States galloping up, the closest event we got to Thanksgiving was on the 24th when Kate headlined the EACH Capital Campaign appeal in Norfolk. 

Kate had one of Katherine Hooker's dresses customized in a bright red, which made her stand out in the crowd, and added a pop of lovely color to the rainy afternoon. 

Currently, we aren't scheduled to see Kate until December, but she and William are booked to attend a fundraising event for ICAP on the 9th of December when they will raise money for several of their charities! You likely remember when Kate opened the ICAP Art Room on Valentine's Day last year (below). Kate also has a second event scheduled for Action on Addiction the following day, the 10th of December. I am sure there will be more before Christmas Day! 

Finally, today is the last call to sign up for the StyleRocks $500 jewelry credit giveaway. You can read the blog post here, and see some of the gorgeous options you'd have if you win the $500. Make sure you sign up for StyleRocks newsletter and comment on the post. Best of luck to everyone!  

To my American readers, a very happy and safe Thanksgiving! It is a beautiful day to pause and to give thanks for so many blessings, and this blog and the wonderful international community that we have here is certainly on my mind and in my heart. I hope everyone has a wonderful day, wherever in the world you are! 

William and Kate Spend Day in North Wales

Friday, November 20, 2015

Remember when Kate and William were on tour in Australia and we thought they were going to go abseiling? But, they didn't? That happened today, and apparently, it was Kate's very first time! We will get to that in a bit, but let's start in order. William and Kate were in North Wales today for an "Away Day."  

As Cambridge fans, we are kind of newbies with this whole concept of Away Days, but basically they are baby-tours of a various region. Not all are created equal. William and Kate have done an Away Day in Wales before, and it was really just two engagements. Today was a little more involved.  The two arrived this morning, and with the Welsh flag waving, they undertook a walkabout near Caernarfon Castle:

In Caernarfon, the couple's first stop was GISDA. They saw the work the charity does for teens and young people in the area. This project is very much in William's roundhouse. Just last night, the Duke of Cambridge was the guest of honor at Centrepoint's inaugural gala. He has always had particular interest in working with disadvantaged young people.

Next, they were off to Mind. William and Kate just highlighted Mind on World Mental Health Day. Today they visited a project where Mind uses the creative arts to allow people to express themselves and the issues they face.

I know you are holding out for the abseiling, and we have arrived. The Duke & Duchess were whisked off to a centre runs by Mountain Rescue England and Wales, of which William is Patron. They shed their more formal coats and climbed into gear to repel down the side of a wall, aka, abseiling. I think people have mentioned that Kate and William did this before when they visited the rainforest on tour in South East Asia. I am no expert, but it is my understanding the two captivities are different. In that instance, they were all up in a passive manner, here, it's, well, different. Don't ask me about physical activities beyond Pilates.

Kensington Palace posted a short video of the Duchess:

When William and Kate participate in these kinds of events, the cute always comes out in full force. Kate teased William when she was holding his rope, saying "William, how much do you love me?"

I think the answer was, "A lot!"

The couple closed the day with a visit to Men's Shed, an organization that creates men's groups where men can have "a place . . . to escape the stress and strains of life; a safe haven to gain much needed sanity; to be surrounded by his own useful things; a place to think; to make things; to mend things; to invent…..and men the world over have done this largely on their own." This sounds so awesome. I think we live in an overly digitized world, (I say as I write a post for my virtual blog world) and we do need to unplug and reconnect. Using our senses, sight, smell, touch, to encounter actual reality is so healthy for the brain and the spirit. 

Oh, and they met Money Bags Merv. ;)  Caption William's face:

So, it was a good day! Kate recycled her Reiss "Angel" fit & fare, wore her trusty Rumba boots (which I love, despite relegating myself to the minority in doing so), and paired it with her citrine drops. It is certainly rare to see Kate pair one of her more formal coats with skinnies, and her Aquatalias, but she made the ensemble work for the whole day. I thought she looked gorgeous! I love this coat--it is one of my favorites--and she looks so good all bundled up in olive and back. I even think I might be coming around on turtlenecks. Maybe just the tiniest bit. 

Windswept Princess Kate at Place2Be's "My Head Is Too Full" Conference

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Google just deleted my entire post, so...with law school finals looming, and homework accruing, I am starting over. So that is why this post is late. I have armed myself with a glass of Cabernet, which should anything else. Kate the Great arrived at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch building this morning for Place2Be's "My Mind is Too Full" Headteacher Conference, focusing on children's mental health. 

Anytime Kate's hair and windy London Town get together, I am happy. Windswept is the best. Doesn't she look gorgeous?

Most of you are probably already familiar with this dress. Kate recycled her Matthew Williamson "Lavender Peplum Sheath" which she first wore to the African Cats premiere in April of 2012. I can't remember if Kate had just returned from vacation or something, but she certainly had a gorgeous glow that night:

Today, the Duchess recycled the same shoes and clutch and switched out the earrings for her new diamond studded leaf earrings. I love these suede accessories from Emmy London. When Kate first debuted them, there was significant dispute about what color they were! We all finally agreed (or maybe Emmy confirmed) they are carbon, but I still think they look like deep, forest green in the right light. She paired these with her green ensemble for St. Patrick's Day in 2014 and in Dunedin on Palm Sunday. I am just saying...they sometimes look deep, deep green. 

As already mentioned, the Place2Be conference was focused on children's mental health, an area of advocacy in which Kate has really been very active. The press release from Place2Be stated:
The conference will include presentations from Headteachers working in some of the most disadvantaged parts of the UK, alongside leading experts in child psychology and those involved in M-PACT Plus, a joint programme between Place2Be and Action on Addiction (funded by The Royal Foundation and Comic Relief) to support families dealing with the hidden harm of drug or alcohol addiction.
Kate gave a short speech, and I think it is the element I am most excited to discuss. She sounded so, so great! I know there has been chat about Kate getting a coach, but I don't think this should come as any kind of shock or be considered something out of the ordinary. Anyone in Kate's position should have some coaching in public speaking. This was a relatively long address for the Duchess, and she was flawless in her presentation. She was calm and polished, relaxed and natural. You can watch the whole video here.

I will say that Kate's staff might want to do away with the bangs. I love bangs and sport them myself, but every now and again I have to admit that mine can get in the way, and sometimes, they get in the way for Kate, too. Tonight it would have been better to have had them pinned back.  They are at that awkward stage where you either have to cut them again, or accommodate them the last few weeks until they assimilate back into the herd, so to speak.  In all other respects, though, Kate is now my public speaking inspiration on top of everything else. Her lovely, kind, and gracious personality translated very well. 

The Duchess purportedly stayed for the entire program. Kate is very dedicated to educating herself on this and it is clear she will be a very knowledgable and effective advocate for children. 

Verdict: It's a win. I loved seeing this dress again. I remember when it first debuted it was outside of Kate's usual style and I wasn't entirely sure what to make of it. I don't think I was in love with the peplum and I was generally confused with the style shift. It really, really grew on me over the next few years (as my tastes changed) and I have been hoping for a recycle for a while now. It was lovely to see it! I have made one decision, though. I don't like the earrings. They are too small and too busy. and...too small. They feel indecisive to me. That aside, shoes, dress, gorgeous smile. Kate was just what we needed.

Cepe on Twitter alerted the Kate Community to the fact that Kate was out at a second event last night--a dinner for the Defense and Rehabilitation Centre.   After the brutal terrorist attacks in Paris, William attended the France v. England rugby game and paid tribute to the victims. Kate stood in for him at the dinner hosted in the Kensington Palace State Apartments.  

via @WembleyStadium

Kate Wears New Label Saloni For Fostering Excellence Awards

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

After visiting the French embassy to sign a book of condolence for the victims of the Paris Attacks, Kate changed gears for a night of joy and celebration with The Fostering Network. She debuted a new dress from a brand new designer!

Kate has been involved with The Fostering Network before, but the charity is not one of her official patronages. She attended one of their events in January wearing her brown Hobbs dress to meet with workers and families who welcome foster children. 

Tonight, Kate was on hand to present the 2015 Fostering Excellence Awards. A press release from the organization before the event noted:
The Duchess will meet children and young people, foster carers, social workers, and care leavers, and present the Fostering Achievement Award to three exceptional young people in celebration of their extraordinary achievements in the last 12 months. She will also be presented with quilts for Prince George and Princess Charlotte by fostered children.
George and Charlotte will soon have a storage room for their gifts that is larger than their mom's closet. ;)

This was an awards evening...for kids. What do you do with an awards evening where over half the attendees, including the award recipients are minors? Throw a tea-party! So, super cute. Who doesn't love a tea party? 

via KensingtonRoyal
Apparently, Kate thoughtfully made her way around to all the tables greeting and chatting with guests. All the photos have beaming kids and adults alike. I think it was a success. 

via @KensingtonRoyal

Kate debuted a dress by Saloni. The label is London based, but the designer Saloni Lodha was born in India:
Saloni grew up in a traditional Marwari family and her love affair with textiles began at a very young age. The women in her community only wore sarees and her grandfather owned a fabric shop. When she first moved to Hong Kong in 2001, which then was dominated exclusively by luxury brands, she saw a gap in the market for something more personal .
She decided to set up pop-up boutiques and sell one-off pieces of clothing made in collaboration with artisans back home. When she moved to London in 2004 she did a short course at St Martins, got some work experience and she started her own brand.
India is such an incredibly colorful and artistically rich country, and I think you can see all sorts of these influences in Kate's beautiful dress this evening. From the texture of the matelassé to the eye-popping blue, and the flattering box-pleats. And the diamond back Kate loves so much? This dress is a home-run.

Kate cinched the dress with her black belt and paired it with new shoes from Gianvito Rossi and her Catherine Zoraida earrings that we caught just a  brief glimpse of at rugby. She carried her Mulberry "Bayswater" clutch.  If I had to take a wild guess, my thought is people are not going to love this belt. I really like that she added a belt, which adds a certain panache, but this belt seems a little clunky for the lightweight material of the dress. It likely just photographs poorly, but it does seem a little faded. If memory serves, this belt got pretty harsh reviews the last time we saw it

This longer hemline is a lot like the hem she chose for her evening reception in New Zealand. It is like it is her in-between length to signal she is changing her look, but not going floor length.

Of course, she also wore s similar silhouette just the other day to Shaun the Sheep & Co., which probably helped her as she moved about and leaned over to interact with kids.

Finally, doesn't this dress make you think of her bespoke Emilia Wickstead when pregnant with George? 

This shot from The Fostering Network's Facebook page gives a nice view of Kate's hair and the v-back. I am just crazy about the box-pleats! 

Verdict: I love, love tonight's dress! As you know, Kate has me addicted to longer hemlines these days, and the retro edge is super on-trend. I am always excited when ethnic and cultural elements are expressed in clothes, too. her hair was a nice twist and allowed us to see her lovely earrings and beautiful face. I also am a huge fan of Kate's signature blue/black combo. She was polished and radiant. Perfect night. Well, new belt, but otherwise perfect night! 

Don't forget the StyleRocks giveaway is still open. This post has details. Someone is going to win the $500 credit for new, beautiful jewelry. It may as well be you. :)