Have you ever made a terrible fashion choice? I sure have. There were lime green skinny but somehow still baggy pants, the oversized men’s trench that looked like I had stolen it from my dad’s closet or the countless t-shirts that were just terrible colours… Figuring out what works for you – your personality, your lifestyle and your body type – is one of the most challenging parts of your style and figuring out who you are as a woman.
One thing that helps guide people when figuring out their style is looking to other stylish women for inspiration. When you ask about our readers’ fashion icon, it’s pretty much unequivocal that the answer is Kate. Her style is internationally adored, her wardrobe features classics with a twist of trend and look absolutely perfect on her. If you’re reading this blog, we doubt you will disagree with us. But what is it about Kate’s style that makes it so perfect on her? It’s that all of the pieces are matched perfectly, painstakingly and with precision for her body, lifestyle and personality. Kate has discovered what silhouettes flatter her slim frame. Which necklines accent her cleavage; which skirt lengths show off her royal legs. Kate has perfected a wardrobe of pieces that look perfect on her and has transformed them into a “uniform” of royal looks.
A few years ago, I found myself a new mother with a wardrobe that was all over the map. I still had those horrendous lime green pants hung up next to a motorcycle style sequinned jacket, ill-fitting designer pants (it was designer! I couldn’t say no!) sitting next to Kate’s purple Issa dress that she had worn on the 2011 Canada tour. In short, I was all over the map. I bought pieces that were on sale from designers because I figured they were designer so they were a steal. I bought dresses worn by my favourite celebrities because they looked so good in them, how I could I not? I had shoes that didn’t fit and hurt my feet because they were so cute. When I had to finally clean out my closet that could no longer be contained, I turned in part back to the question we always ask ourselves on this blog – what would Kate do.
I learned a key lesson during the closet cleaning extravaganza : I am never going to have the body of the Duchess of Cambridge. No matter how hard I closed my eyes and wished, my boobs were never going to fit into her adorable tea dresses without popping out. Now that does not mean even remotely that I can’t still consider her a style icon and try and add inspiration from her wardrobe into mine. Some things Kate wears look great on me, like skinny pants. I’ve taken Kate’s “recommendation” and fallen in love with J.Brand jeans. I’ve discovered that L.K. Bennett shoes fit my wide feet perfectly. I now make a beeline for Hobbs when I land in the UK… But I did have to come to terms with the fact that I will never be able to wear her dainty dresses – especially those with “pockets” on the chest!
So why am I bringing this up? Because we at WWKD are lucky enough to be a part of the Kate community who see people from all over the world seeking inspiration from the Duchess of Cambridge’s fashion looks. We see women who have turned to Kate to add elegance to their wardrobes, women who have looked to the Duchess in adding a special piece to their closets. We see women who have discovered, for example, that Kate’s Zara Biker pants from Bhutan look great in their everyday wardrobes. Or see women who have been able to take Kate’s Seraphine maternity dresses and look stunning in them (even when they’re not pregnant!). Women who take Kate’s inspiration with them to thrift stores to find pieces that they can customize for their own lives. Women who knit their own versions of a Kate accessory. We see a dynamic, exciting group of women who join together in seeking inspiration from the Duchess of Cambridge.
There is one distinction that my closet cleaning story (I promise it makes sense) ties back to. When asking what Kate would do as I was sorting through my closet, I realized she would have no patience or time for things that didn’t work with her body. And likewise, when you are looking to the Duchess as a style icon, we want to help women learn to add elegance and grace into their lives by seeking inspiration from Kate (repliKATE) but not in copying her identical choices (repliCA) if they don’t work. We don’t want anyone to blindly copy a look that anyone else – including Kate -wore if it just doesn’t work for you and doesn’t fit with your aesthetic.
Does this mean we think you should never buy something Kate has worn? No! As one of our style icons, we love Kate’s clothes and if something works for you, by all means, include it in your wardrobe… But make sure it passes these three tips from Kate before it makes its way into your closet.
What would Kate do when building her wardrobe?
Kate always picks pieces that work for her body type
Let’s not beat around the bush – Kate has a great figure. Her slim body is often called a “banana” or “straight” shape which means she has smaller breasts and hips accompanied by a flat belly. Kate is estimated to wear a size 32B bra and she is tall, measuring five feet and ten inches. Knowing these things about herself, Kate often choses dresses that nip in around the waist to feature that slim part of her and add some definition. She wears skinny jeans and pants to highlight her knockout legs. She wears v-cut necklines to accentuate the cleavage she does have. Figuring out what your body type is – your honest, true body type – is the first step in figuring out which items from Kate’s closet would work best on your frame.
If you don’t know what shape you are, there is a handy visual guide here which can help you determine which category you fall into and then even makes suggestions on styles you can explore for the most flattery. I, for example, am an “inverted triangle”, which means I should explore v-necks and wraps (which I do and love). Kate’s purple Issa wrap dress that I mentioned above didn’t make the cut for remaining in my closet because the colour just didn’t work, but the style did wonders for me.
Kate always wears clothes that complement her lifestyle
OK, sure, her occupation is “Princess of the United Kingdom” and that allows her a little discretion on ballgowns and fancy dresses for engagements – but for every other day of the year, Kate is first and foremost a mom to two little children. When we have seen her out and about with the kids, we often see skinny jeans, casual blouses or t-shirts paired with comfortable shoes or boots. Those clothes work with her lifestyle of chasing a Prince and Princess around and for doing things like cooking and gardening that she has shared that she enjoys doing around Anmer Hall.
If you work in an office and go to meetings with clients all day, a black suit or collection of blazers (like Kate’s Smythe blazer) will probably work well for your lifestyle. If you’re a teacher of a pre-school class, you couldn’t say the same about the blazers – but you could definitely work in Me and Em t-shirts or Kate’s J.Brand jeans. It’s about knowing what articles will be used – and if you need something for a special occasion, by all means, venture outside these guidelines a little bit – but spend the majority of your money and wardrobe space on clothes you will actually wear. (trust the woman who threw out 38 pairs of jeans)
Kate’s clothes speak to her personality and are tried, tested & true
Kate is known as down-to-earth and a fan of the outdoors, and her clothing reflects this. She’s often seen in outdoor attire or in clothing that screams “British countryside” – including in items she’s owned for over a decade, like her Penelope Chilvers boots. The boots elongate her slim legs, but perhaps wouldn’t work on someone with wider calves. It’s critical here that you know enough about yourself to know when something that may work for your body type just doesn’t work for you.
As an example, I love the look of Kate’s Dolce and Gabbana dress from Royal Ascot earlier this year. LOVE IT. I dream about it. But I could never in a million years pull it off, because I am just not a lace kind of person in real life, and am so blindingly pale that I would look like a ghost. Or Kate’s polka dot dresses, they look stupendous on her, but would look ridiculous on me because I am just not a polka dot person and have come to terms with it. I also couldn’t pull off bright colours, much to my chagrin.
We hope that this helps you in both finding pieces that work for you and in embracing Kate as a style icon without feeling the need to be a repliCA of her style if it doesn’t work for you. We’d love to hear your thoughts on repliKATE versus repliCA!