Thigh Splits, Polka Dots, Basket Bags… Behold Kate's Royal Style Reinvention

Emma Spedding

The Duchess of Cambridge's style is often considered a little bland for the fashion crowd—too many Breton tops, coat dresses and beige patent pumps for the street style set's liking. Given that she's representing the royal family on an international stage, Kate Middleton needs to look polished; select classic items she tends to choose will photograph well and won't date after several months.

It's not an easy task to tick all of these protocol boxes while also pleasing the fashion crowd. However, over the past few years, Kate has been making considerably more fashion-forward choices, favouring sharp tailoring, avoiding bold colours and experimenting with hair accessories. Rather than Queen Elizabeth–style coat dresses in primary hues, she started wearing outfits that we'd expect to see on Victoria Beckham or our favourite French influencers. Case in point? These stunning outfits. Keep on scrolling to revisit all of Kate's best style moments. 

Style Notes: Kate looked the epitome of chic as she took in the Wimbledon 2019 Mens Singles Final in a custom creation by Brit designer Emilia Wickstead. 

Style Notes: For another day at Wimbledon, Kate opted for this gorgeous white dress from Suzannah, complete with contrasting buttons. The contrast bow belt, micro basket bag and sunglasses, however, stole the show. 

Style Notes: She all know Kate loves to rewear her favourite pieces and this Dolce & Gabbana dress, which she wore in 2018, is no exception. The nipped-in waist, fluted skirt hem and puff sleeves were practically made for her svelte frame. 

Style Notes: Kate revisited the RHS Back to Nature Garden she designed at the 2019 RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in a printed Sandro wrap dress. Her floral earrings elegantly finish the look. 

Style Notes: Kate gives a lesson in high-low dressing, as she pairs her Erdem gown with effortless espadrilles in versatile tan ahead of unveiling the garden she designed for 2019's RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show back in early July. 

Style Notes: The Duchess of Cambridge proves she does casual dressing equally as well more formal attire in cropped culottes from Massimo Dutti and a M.i.h. Jeans blouse. Kate then finished her look with cool Superga trainers

Style Notes: Kate gives a masterclass in tonal top-to-toe dressing at Ascot 2019. Her sheer Elie Saab dress in powder blue is a spring style dream. 

Style Notes: In June 2019, Kate wore a dress which we've seen before, but thanks to a clever use of accessories and shoes, she made the outfit feel completely fresh. The cream dress by Barbara Casasola was accessorised with Jimmy Choo pumps and Kiki McDonough earrings, but the clutch bag really brings this ensemble together. From Wilbur & Gussie, the Charlie Steel Classic Silk Clutch (£205), comes with a silver bee clasp and made the whole look feel much younger and fun. 

Style Notes: In May 2019, Kate wore a gorgeous polka-dot midi dress from fashion pack favourite, Alessandra Rich. The contrast collar and navy print bear a striking resemblance to a dress worn by Princess Diana in the '80s. 

Style Notes: Kate made an appearance at the Cutty Sark in London with Prince William, wearing a nautical ensemble that nodded to the occasion, but also had a very French vibe to it. The Duchess wore a pair of navy blue sailor trousers with white buttons at the hips, which are £150 by LK Bennett. She paired the trousers with a classic breton top, a pair of navy suede pumps and a bright red envelope clutch bag.

Style Notes: Kate wore a Gucci Silk Satin Shirt ( with a lilac mini bag by Apisinal and a pair of Links of London Hope Egg Sterling Silver & White Topaz Earrings.

Style Notes: Kate's Alexander McQueen coat has been in her wardrobe since 2012 and still looks just as sharp. It's the Manu Atelier Micro Bold Bag (£423 available in a lighter shade of green) that provides a great update.

Style Notes: On a visit to Cyprus, Kate wore a green wool blazer by Smythe and a pair of navy Burberry wide-leg trousers. We don't know about you, but we think this looks exactly like the sort of thing Victoria Beckham would wear. Finishing off her attire with a khaki suede clutch and matching courts from her favourite accessory hotspot, L.K.Bennett, this outfit is as chic as they come. 

Style Notes: K-Mids proved her fashion prowess by wearing a beautiful tartan midi skirt by Emilia Wickstead with the key knit of the season—a classic cardigan by Brora. Walking through cascading fake snow in her red plaid, she looked like she was shooting the Cambridge family Christmas card. 

Style Notes: A polka-dot dress fit for royalty, Kate's great green midi is from L.K. Bennett and looks all the cooler for being worn with slightly mismatched khaki accessories.

Style Notes: There is something rather French about Kate's burgundy miniskirt suit paired with a classic black roll-neck and a black ribbon in her hair. 

Style Notes: For an evening event at the V&A, Kate wore a tweed off-the-shoulder dress by Erdem with a purple belt at the waist. 

Style Notes: On the royal tour of Germany, Kate opted for a more fashion-forward outfit for her evening look, wearing an off-the-shoulder red maxi gown by Alexander McQueen. She also swapped her nude court shoes for a pair of scalloped stilettos by Prada and wore a pair of Simone Rocha tassel earrings.

Style Notes: The Duchess of Cambridge always masters diplomatic dressing, wearing looks that celebrate British fashion and designers of her host nation. A trip to Paris only meant one thing: head-to-toe Chanel. If we were princesses, we would wear this fitted Chanel bouclé dress with a waist belt complete with the double-C logo and a classic quilted Chanel bag at all times.

Style Notes: Even the Duchess of Cambridge wasn't able to avoid the Gucci effect, as on a visit to the V&A she wore a Jackie O–style fitted dress with red and navy stripe detailing and attractive gold buttons. She was never going to wear the brand's tee, but we love how she supported Alessandro Michele by turning to Gucci.

Style Notes: The Duchess of Cambridge loves this Preen by Thornton Bregazzi dress so much that she also owns it in black. And we can totally see why, as this is an elegant, classic evening dress that she can wear for years—if not decades. However, the asymmetrical neckline and pleated skirt also make it a firm fashion-editor fave.

Style Notes: One of our all-time favourite DoC looks came during the Canadian royal tour in 2016. This yellow Jenny Packham tea dress caused quite a scene amongst military men when repeated gusts of wind kept creating a series of "Marilyn moments." We've never been more proud.

Style Notes: Lilac is a notoriously tricky colour to pull off, but this bold colour move paid off for Kate on her royal tour in Germany, where she wore this elegant sleeved dress by Emilia Wickstead. It's appropriate but not too safe.

Style Notes: While many fashion experts are still sceptical about fascinators in general, you do have to admit there's something very current about the DoC's head-to-toe blush ensemble (from Alexander McQueen) at Pippa Middleton's wedding.

Style Notes: At an event at the Natural History Museum, Kate wore one of her most "fashion" looks to date. Not only did she sport a more daring off-the-shoulder silhouette with a fitted fluted skirt, but she also opted for a new industry name, Barbara Casasola, a Brazilian designer who presents at London Fashion Week.

Style Notes: This fluted green Dolce & Gabbana midi dress with a nipped-in waist and statement shoulders is demure and stately but also won Kate praise from the fashion crowd.

Style Notes: Reminding us of the good ol' times when K-Mids wore things we could afford, this was a major red carpet moment when the royal stepped out wearing a gown from Self-Portrait in 2016.

Style Notes: Here we have another example of Kate winning in a French designer, as on her royal tour of Canada she wore a knitted, cream-coloured See by Chloé dress, which was on trend thanks to the ruffled piecrust-collar neckline.

Style Notes: Kate's Dolce & Gabbana dress at the Wimbledon Gentleman's Final of summer 2018 highlighted the colour of the season, Meghan wore a similar version the week priori (less floaty, more structured, sans sleeves) and, according to many retail sources—including our friends over at data agency Launchmetrics and the buying team at Net-A-Porter—it's the fresh dress trend everyone's been buying since last year. In fact, you could say K-Mids starting the whole thing when she wore a very similar-looking yellow Roksanda dress to Wimbledon two years ago. Trendsetter, hey?

Style Notes: Every now and then, we get a glimpse at "Casual Kate," and she often chooses fashion-approved staples like Superga sneakers or a parka coat (like this one from Troy).

Style Notes: Kate ticked plenty of boxes with this velvet dress by Erdem while on tour in Sweden. If the flocked finish and fluted sleeves weren't enough, it's also a super chic example of maternity occasion dressing.

Style Notes: Alexander McQueen is always a strong choice for the DoC, and this floral gown on the BAFTA red carpet is no exception. Points for the off-the-shoulder cut.

Style Notes: Shirtdress? Check. Polka dots? Check. The Duchess made a smart fashion choice with this super flattering Kate Spade New York dress.

Style Notes: Ask any cool Brit and she'll tell you the same thing: Trench coats are forever, and an essential. A Burberry one makes the staple even more attractive.

Style Notes: Maybe it's the twilight, maybe it's the wine, maybe it's the incredible sequinned Jenny Packham gown, but this gala dinner look from Kate will forever be etched into the fashion history books.

Style Notes: In another stylish maternity moment, Kate ditched her buttoned-up coats and opted for this Orla Kiely floral-print dress instead, paired with her trademark nude pumps. 

Style Notes: From Coco Chanel to Madonna, every fashion icon has to have their nautical fashion look down. This natty knitted Alexander McQueen number was Kate's take on a classic summer trend.

Style Notes: Possibly a favourite look from the DoC, this sky-blue dress by Temperley London perfectly balances Kate's penchant for lace with a fashion-forward finish.

This post was originally published at an earlier time and has since been updated. 

Want more? See Meghan Markle's style file for starters.

This article originally appeared on Who What Wear

Read More from Who What Wear