Why Does Kate Middleton Dress Like She’s 50?
As her perfectly pleasant but dreary dress at Charlotte’s christening showed, the future queen of England needs to liven up her conservative clothing choices.
It’s notoriously hard to confidently make the transition from a carefree, glamorous newlywed to a stylish mother.
Kate sported a look more reminiscent of a dowdy home counties’ lady up in town for the matinee performance of The Mousetrap than a youthful style icon with the world’s greatest designers at her beck and call.
Wearing what must be the most bland cream coat dress the Alexander McQueen label has ever produced, together with a cream pillbox hat and cream pumps, Kate looked like she had set out to channel Jackie O, but wound up looking like Princess Anne (of whom lush Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous once memorably observed, “The only label she knows is ‘drip-dry’”).
Pushing the baby in a giant old-fashioned pram (the same one used to propel Prince Edward 50 years ago) which gave zero visibility to the waiting crowds, and with Prince George toddling along beside her in his replica clothes from the 1940s, Kate and William looked like a family from 50 years ago, and an unfashionable one at that.
They looked unfashionable in the peculiarly square way that only upper-class English families can be—rich but dowdy, expensive but clunky.
It’s odd because, at other times, Kate and William look their age, albeit the leisurewear of the very posh: William’s casual-wear is a shirt tucked into jeans, while Kate opts for skinny jeans and simple tops.
But their uniforms on Sunday were laughably ageing. The pram and the clothes and the accessories also had the unfortunate effect of making Kate and William look old before their time. It is hard to believe, looking at the pictures, that they are both just 33.
As one London-based stylist who wished to remain anonymous pointed out, “The neckline—that pinned down collar and the V-neck it created—are very ageing.”
Maureen Callahan, fashion writer and author of ’90s fashion history “Champagne Supernova”, told The Daily Beast that Kate’s fundamental fashion problem boils down to an unwillingness to fully commit to either modernity or tradition, resulting in the kind of uncomfortable mish-mash we saw yesterday.
“That Kate picks McQueen so often, and then either commissions or selects such safe, classic tailoring, is puzzling,” said Callahan in an email conversation. “There are any number of mature British designers—Stella McCartney and Victoria Beckham come instantly to mind—who could provide Kate with such stately, just-below-the knee pieces.
“Kate’s never really had style. Maybe she’ll grow into it once she develops more of a sense of the kind of royal she wants to be, not the one she’s expected to be. Her clothes feel rather dutiful.
“Clearly, the young royals are trying to honor tradition while gently pushing modernity. But it’s hard to imagine Alexander McQueen letting such a young, photogenic royal—the future queen, no less—look this deathly boring. You could just see him going crazy with references to the royals who really committed to a look: Queen Elizabeth the I, Queen Victoria—the ones who got entire eras named after them. Lee McQueen would make it his mission to get Kate there.”
It’s certainly an enticing prospect, but if keeping the Queen happy—she doesn’t like clothes which, she says, ‘scare the horses’—is a higher priority than thrilling the style press, who can blame Kate for that?
Prince George’s ‘uniform’ of a pre-war tot is another contentious issue. The long socks, formal embroidered shirts and starchy shorts are rather elitist.
This is an issue that will resolve itself in time however, as by the age of 6 or 7 no kid is going to accept being dressed like that.
Sandra Ellis, a London-based fashion consultant, told The Daily Beast via email, “The truth is it’s not what you wear it’s how you wear it. A chic white suit can look stylish, glamorous and chic when worn well—think of the fabulous white trouser suit famously worn by Bianca Jagger to her wedding.
“Kate probably believes that choosing a look from a cool designer like Alexander McQueen is a sure guarantee she will be viewed as a ‘style icon’—I’m afraid Kate is not the first person to make this mistake.”
But another fashion editor defended Kate’s look yesterday, telling the Royalist, “The hat did make her look a bit old, but you’ve got to remember that at any royal event, Kate’s first thought is going to be, ‘Oh my god, what’s the Queen going to think of this?’ She’s clearly much cooler than this in real life.”