Several weeks ago, I was contacted by a national news magazine to comment about the Duchess of Cambridge’s millinery style. Here is part of my response:
When I look at Kate’s hats, I notice a visible difference in the hats she wore before she was married compared to the hats we have seen on her since 2011. Prior to becoming a duchess, Kate’s millinery style made quite a statement:
Kate Middleton at the Royal Order of the Garter service, June 16, 2008 and
at weddings on May 6, 2006, August 14, 2009 and October 23, 2010
Kate at the Cheltenham Festival, March 17, 2006 and
at the weddings of friends April 17, 2010 and July 19, 2008
During the first months of her marriage, we saw the new Duchess of Cambridge in three dramatic hats;
In Silvia Fletcher for Lock & Co. for Trooping the Colour, June 11, 2011; in Gina Foster for the
July 31, 2011 wedding of Zara Phillips; in Jane Taylor for Christmas Day 2011 at Sandringham
Since then, Kate’s hats have noticeably decreased in size and the colours are more muted. While still very beautiful, I think these hats carry less dramatic effect but are more elegant and refined:
A Jane Taylor beaded cocktail hat for the Diamond Jubilee Service of Thanksgiving, June 5, 2012;
in navy Rachel Trevor Morgan for a Jubilee visit to Nottingham June 13, 2012;
a Whitely straw beret for the July 4, 2012 Order of the Thistle Service
The three hats Kate has worn since Prince George’s arrival have continued on this more muted stream- fashionable but small and rather sedate berets;
Cream Jane Taylor for the October 23, 2013 christening of Prince George; black Silvia Fletcher for Lock & Co. for Remembrance Day 2013; and green Gina Foster for Christmas 2013 at Sandringham
The reason for this change in millinery style? I think Kate is very good at balancing looking good with blending into the background at events where the entire royal family is present. If you think about the royal succession, her job is not to overshadow the Queen or the Duchess of Cornwall. While her popularity is very high and she is obviously the most fashionable member of this trio, her clothes and hats strategically do not overshadow the senior royal women when they are seen together.
I also suspect there is a strong desire from several sources (from the Palace, from William and from Kate herself) to avoid Kate turning into the fashion icon that Princess Diana became. While I don’t think Kate will become as pragmatic about her fashion as Princess Anne (who recycled three 30+ year old hats last year!), I also don’t think she will become as linked to fashion as her late mother-in-law. Kate has managed to strike an understated balance so far and I think that’s what we’ll continue to see in the future. I suspect on the upcoming royal tour of Australia and New Zealand, Kate’s hats will remain smaller-scale perchers and berets; perhaps we will see her in designs made by milliners in these countries.
I am curious- what do you think of Kate’s millinery style evolution?
Photos from Mark Stewart/Camera Press/Retna via People; Bauer Griffin via Zimbio; Tim Graham, Tim Graham and Mark Cuthbert via Getty; Mark Stewart/Camera Press/Retna via People; Max Mumby/Indigo via Getty; Dan Kitwood, WPA Pool and Chris Getty via Zimbio; WPA Pool via Getty; Chris Jackson, Chris Jackson, WPA Pool and Chris Jackson via Zimbio; Press Association via The Daily Mail