Er, Yes...

09.27.13

Is Pippa Middleton Just Very Badly Dressed?

After a series of fashion misses, Tom Sykes asks whether its time for Pippa Middleton to call in the professionals.

After what Pippa wore to the big Vanity Fair party in London with Graydon Carter this week – a strangely ill-judged Matthew Williamson creation that combined a sparkly blue vest on top with a bizarre black and orange feathery dress  tacked onto the bottom - I am afraid the question cannot be avoided any longer.

Is Pippa Middleton really badly dressed? 

Yes, she looked splendid at her sister’s wedding in that McQueen gown, which did so much to flatter her natural shape (ahem), but, in recent months, Pippa has been clocking up many more misses than hits.

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David M. Benett

What’s going on? The girl clearly has access to the finest frocks and the best designers in the business -- what she clearly doesn’t have is a stylist (or if she does, then they should be fired).

But maybe it’s just me.

To find out, I sent several of Pippa’s most recent looks out to a panel of seriously hot stuff fashion folk and asked for their feedback.

The answer? No, it’s not just me.

One of the most fashionable people I know, Sandra Ellis, a London-based international fashion sales consultant says: “Overall Pippa needs a stylist that can help her choose pieces that work with her sensibility and body shape and not what is current or fashionable. Pippa appears to be a rather traditional girl and trying to make her look cool simply doesn’t work. What seems to have happened is that the clothes are wearing her and it should be the other way round.”

I think that’s rather a good analysis of what happened with the Mathew Williamson monstrosity from this week (seen above).

But moving on to some specific looks. Look, for example, at this picture of Pippa in the back of a London taxi on her way home from a big night out, in what can only be described as loons. 

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Pippa Middleton (R) sighting leaving Lulu Restaurant, Mayfair on May 9, 2013 (Niki Nikolova / Film Magic / Getty Images)

Maureen Callaghan, fashion writer and author of the forthcoming book, Champagne Supernovas: Kate, Marc, McQueen and the '90s Renegades Who Remade Fashion (Simon & Schuster, Feb 2014), says: “To bastardize the definition of a mullet: this outfit is business on top, party on the bottom. A cautionary tale in the importance of learning how to transition from the office to the evening (work helps).”

Ellis says: “Although printed trousers were hot for the summer, this looks completely wrong on Pippa, particularly when paired with a rather dull beige blazer – printed pants should be worn with something a bit more edgy such as a motorcycle jacket and some cool biker boots or killer heels.”

Moving on, one of the places we most often see Pippa photographed is at weddings. Weddings are her natural habitat. So how come she looks so strange at them?

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Pippa Middleton attends the wedding of Melissa Percy and Thomas van Straubenzee at Alnwick Castle on June 22, 2013 (Mark Cuthbert / UK Press / Getty Images)

Charlie Anderson, an independent stylist who is reported to have been behind Princess Beatrice’s transformation from ugly duckling to graceful swan (although she is too discreet to say) says: "This black and white wedding outfit is not bad, but it still manages to miss the mark. Is it the matchy-matchy accessories? Or just the lack of a modern, flattering cut that does it?”

Callaghan says: “Pippa could take a note from the (amused) fashionista to her left: This is how a young society girl should look at a wedding -- chic yet bohemian.”

Now we come to Wimbledon. Again, Wimbledon is one of the places where you would really expect Pippa to look at her best, especially as she knows she will be photographed there.

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Pippa Middleton and Nico Jackson attend Day 11 of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 5, 2013 (Karwai Tang / Wire Image / Getty Images )

But, well, it’s all pretty awful, isn’t it?

“Tragic,” says Callaghan. “The cut of this dress has turned her figure into an inverted triangle, while the stripes slice and dice. Harder to look at than the sun.”

Isabel Wilkinson, Fashion Editor of The Daily Beast, is pretty harsh about this look too: “An orange dress with horizontal stripes? Just not what you wear if you want to look thinner!”

Anderson says: “Pretty awful. The sloping shoulder line is simply not flattering! And as for that nude panel down the middle...yuck. I think she is one of those people who tries really hard but just never quite gets it right. She is just not a girl who follows fashion well and she has yet to find her 'style'.  It is all too girly and mumsie at the same time.”

Ellis: “Just wrong. Orange is a very difficult color to pull off and the style is super unflattering; it makes her shoulders look very sloped and she looks much older than her years.”

Another wedding shot -- but what is she wearing this time?

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Pippa Middleton attends the wedding of James Meade and Lady Laura Marsham at the Parish Church of St. Nicholas in Gayton on September 14, 2013 (Max Mumby / Indigo / Getty Images)

Callaghan: “The guest behind Pippa -- the expression on her face says it all. The cut and color of this dress is stodgy and aging, and the lime-green accent on her clutch clashes horribly.”

Says an anonymous fashion director: “It's all so wrong and not in an ironic way sadly. Poor Pippa Sloaneville. It's like she is in Fashion Jail and only allowed to wear frumpy dated Sloane florals and old lady canary yellow. Pippa, honey, read the memo: Kate looks hot and you can too! Do not try and be someone you think you should be. Go back to bridesmaid style: chic elegant and oh-so-sexy. Be yourself!”

Anderson: “This wedding outfit isn't awful -- but somehow it is just awfully un-interesting.”

This orange and black combo for a night out doesn't really do it, either. 

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Pippa Middleton and Nico Jackson attend the Boodles Boxing Ball at the Grosvenor House Hotel on September 21, 2013 (Max Mumby / Indigo / Getty Images)

Says Wilkinson: “Her long hemline makes her look even shorter. I wouldn't call Pippa, "really badly dressed" as much as just ... dopey. She means well, and she's trying, clearly, to be some more real-world version of her other-worldly sister. But I don’t get why someone who was seen as, well, bangin' after the Royal Wedding would wear so many clothes that are so clearly unflattering to her body.”

Says Callaghan: “She's swimming in this skirt -- it's too large and too long. Are stylists just a US thing?”

Ellis: “The orange and black gown makes her look short and stocky. A halter style top works well on beautifully slim and elegant shoulders, sadly Pippa looks like a body builder… not what she wanted to achieve I’m sure!”

For a round up it's over to rabid monarchist Mickey Boardman, editorial director of Paper Magazine: "The truth is that no one in the royal family is well dressed," he says. "Being well dressed is a bit beneath them. It's too tabloid. Too cocktail. Too red carpet. I love how the Queen looks and I love how Princess Anne looks but that's because it really shows their personalities. It has nothing to do with current fashion.

"The thing about Pippa is that she has personality and seems fun. We the public have very low standards of cuteness for the royal family, although the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge are certainly both attractive. That's why we go so crazy for Pippa. Although she's cute and has a crackerjack figure, really I think it's her fun attitude and upbeat energy that makes her so popular."

So the short version is, honey, get a stylist. I am sure Graydon will pay.