You may or may not agree that Kate Middleton is a style icon, but there’s no denying the fact that the Duchess of Cambridge has the power to exert some serious style influence.
Depending on who you talk to, the jury still seems to be out on whether or not Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, is a bona fide style icon, or simply a public persona with her share of fashion hits (and a few misses as well). Whatever camp you belong to, there is one thing that everyone can agree on; Kate Middleton’s influence on fashion has a very far reach indeed.
The “Kate Middleton Effect” is a phrase that has been coined in the media to describe this phenomenon. Once an item has been worn by the Duchess of Cambridge (especially if it is an item from a widely-accessible high street retailer), there is little hope of keeping it on the shelves for long.
One might have thought that this “Middleton fever” would have reached its peak with the buzz that surrounded the royal wedding, but the interest, if not downright enthusiasm that the public seems to have for Kate Middleton style choices has only gained momentum. This winter season, this was readily apparent as she went about her royal duties.
Here, we take a look at Kate Middleton’s winter style, and influence it has had on trends in this season’s fashion retail environment.
Because The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s essential job is to appear at public functions representing the royal family, they tend to spend a lot of time standing out of doors at ceremonies, building sites, and memorials. In the winter months, this puts outerwear firmly on the map as one of Middleton’s top sartorial priorities.
Lately, the Duchess has been spotted in several envy-inducing winter coats that made fashion lovers all over the world sit up and take notice. On her recent trip to New York over the holiday season, her beautiful full-length coats were the talk of many a fashion rag, and for good reason; her choices seemed to be at once elegant and infused with life.
However, there may be more to Middleton’s winter coat fashions than meets the eye. A look back at some of her choices reveal some striking similarities between her picks, and the looks that have been worn by the likes of Princesses Diana and Grace of Monaco. Indeed, it would seem that Middleton’s choices have been considered ones – a page taken straight out of a well-thumbed copy of the “Princess Playbook”.
In a recent article, UK publication the Daily Mail reported that the sale of opaque hosiery and tights is approximately 112 percent higher than it was at this time last year. While the reasons for this are most assuredly multifaceted, the Mail does point to one important influence that they believe has helped to boost sales; the Duchess of Cambridge’s penchant for thick, opaque hosiery.
For their tour of New York, Middleton was spotted having traded her usual sheer nude hosiery for said opaque black tights, which provided a perfect neutral backdrop to showcase some of her gorgeous, jewel-toned dresses and coats.
But is this run on opaque hosiery really down to the Middleton Effect? In reality, there may be a bit of the “chicken before the egg” in play here. Opaque black tights have been more popular this season across the entire fashion continuum (see the Saint Laurent autumn/winter 2015 show for reference), and Middleton is just as likely to have been influenced by the collections as any other fashion lover out there.
In the end, no matter where the influence originated, it has cut a swath through the fashion industry all the same.
The Duchess of Cambridge is rarely seen at a public event with a large handbag. In fact, she can’t even be seen in public with a medium handbag. Middleton prefers delicate, small-sized, ladylike clutches that she can easily hold in one hand.
Famed handbag designer Lulu Guinness has been quoted by the UK publication the Telegraph as saying that her decision to make the past few seasons of her handbag designs smaller and more ladylike was likely a decision that was based on seeing Middleton in the press, although she did go on to acknowledge that with a smaller handbag size, comes a bit more impracticality.
As unofficial representatives of the non-royal handbag lovers collective, we have to admit; we love a pretty clutch bag, and are totally on board with Middleton’s affection for small, beautiful bags that you can hold in the palm of your hand.
However, those of us who don’t have a team of butlers behind the scenes, waiting to carry our day to day essentials, will probably find it difficult to fit all of the trappings of non-royal living into the confines of a tiny clutch bag. We’ll simply have to make peace with keeping our pretty little clutches in our shoulder bags, work totes, or laptop cases. How very common indeed.
While Kate Middleton’s influence certainly has an even wider reach than the three examples illustrated by this article, these are certainly the ones that are immediately apparent this season, and can be seen walking down the streets of a city near you. Whether you think Kate Middleton’s style is original, incidental, or derivative, one thing is certain; it influences us all, whether we are aware of it or not.
Kristin is an American writer based in the Scottish Highlands. She is a saxophonist, an obsessive tennis player, a U.S. Air Force Veteran, and holds a Master's degree as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. She is the author of the online style blog highlandfashionista.com
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