Earlier this week, Kensington Palace confirmed that William Kate and Harry would attend the London Marathon in support of Heads Together, and shared the image of the trio happily smiling wearing their Heads Together headbands that we have seen before… Or was it? It turns out that the photo released was in fact a new image of the shiny, happy royals publicizing their mental health campaign. The confusion largely stemmed from Kate’s apparel – in both images, she is seen sporting a striped Breton style t-shirt.
After it was confirmed that, in fact, the shirts were different, there was no shortage of people confused by her selection. While I admit that it was an odd choice to pose for a photograph which would knowingly be released to promote the London Marathon wearing virtually the same thing you did last time, I think the image also shared with us something that the Royals rarely want us to see: the real them.
Let me back up for a moment. Several months ago, inspired by Marie Kondo’s philosophies, I began to (yet again) sort through my closets. As I sorted through the piles of clothing, I learned three things about myself. One – I own an absurdly large number of grey sweaters. Two – I own an absurdly large number of grey t-shirts and three – I own large numbers of them because they are the very first things I reach for to wear everyday. I subscribe to the uniform dressing philosophy for most of my “off-duty” fashion choices, as described by the Wall Street Journal as “…Calmly slip[ping] on a simple outfit in the morning. Tomorrow, repeat. The concept isn’t far-fetched. The solution lies in defining a personal uniform that can be easily maintained and infrequently updated.”
What we got a glimpse of this week was that the Duchess of Cambridge and I are very much alike in that concept for our “off-duty” dressing. While I wear grey t-shirts and sweaters with gusto, she has likely a similarly sized closet of striped marinère tops. They are the clothes we almost instinctively reach for to wear on a daily basis. The images shared for Heads Together are casual photographs of her with her husband and brother-in-law and likely were taken on days where she was casually approaching her day… In arguably her “off-duty” fashion uniform.
It is not like we haven’t seen Kate in a striped shirt at other casual events in the past.
Or even while on official engagements.
But what I think we did see today was, in my opinion, a glimpse into the real Kate. The Kate behind the curtain of royal privacy and secrecy. We all know that Kate is a powerful speaker through her clothing, and I believe that her casual choices speak no less to this than some of her ballgowns. Kate loves herself a good breton stripe top, and I’d be willing to wager that if we asked around with those who interacted with her on a “real life” basis would confirm that she wears these shirts on a regular basis.
I take a personal interest in the breton top because the shirts themselves originated in Brittany, France, where my husband is from. They were originally worn by French sailors in the Navy before being incorporated into civilian life by no less than Coco Chanel before becoming a staple of french fashion. While the boatneck neckline does absolutely nothing for my frame, I marvel at the simplicity and chic look of the tops and find myself not even remotely surprised that the shirt is a staple in a fashion conscious woman like Kate’s everyday wardrobe.
Kate has showed us several variations of the top in the past: the Ralph Lauren Tori top, the Me + Em Breton top and the Tippi from J.Crew. Yesterday’s top was revealed to be the M.i.h Jeans Drew Breton sweater so we can add one more confirmed striped top to the list.
I predict we will see Kate continue to wear these tops for years to come. They’re timeless pieces which we know she loves… And luckily for us, we do too. (And, they’re a cinch to repliKate!)
You might want to consider adding Uniqlo to the list of breton suppliers. They are generally of good quality and have the perfect number of stripes, 21 to be exact in proper homage to the number of victories of Napoleon Bonaparte. I would also suggest reading the blog midlifechic where there was a whole post dedicated to the history of the breton and best places to find a good one or several.
Hi AH, thank you so much for sharing this with us! Will check out the blog and will add Uniqlo to the list!