Kate Middleton: Bringing Classy Back

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by Emily Connor, Staff Writer

Quiet and demure, the princess-to-be Kate Middleton emits the subtle elegance and grace associated with royalty. Yet, it’s her classic, feminine style that differs from the usual avant-garde fashion sense of the royal generations before her. Kate chooses figure-flattering over fashion-forward, poised instead of posh, and always wears her clothes instead of allowing them to wear her. Kate does not fall prey to fashion’s trendy mood swings, and instead, opts for classic designs. While her wedding plans remain the tabloids’ hot topic, it is her elegant taste in fashion that will truly influence future styles to come.

Although her critics may describe her as conservative and safe, Kate makes timeless pieces her own with a unique statement

photo from Influence

piece. A lover of long wool coats, she often pairs her classic pieces with distinctive accessories. Her extensive and elaborate hat collection is certainly unique and refreshing. This vintage concept is something fashion hasn’t seen since the 1940’s, when beautiful hats seemed standard with any stylish outfit. From feather pillbox caps to decorated wide-brimmed sunhats, the princess-to-be has revived a forgotten fashion staple. These items certainly evoke the vintage appeal of Kate’s classic style.

Despite the different fashion elements at play, it seems that the most important part of Kate’s clothing is the fit. The precise tailoring of every piece is always figure-flattering and feminine. Her wrap dresses and cinched blazers accentuate her exquisite hourglass figure. Flowing knee-length skirts and medium-height heels represent her demure nature. However, it is the comfort factor she seeks in her clothing that pulls off her effortless style.

Kate’s style influence is already being widely felt, as magazines and talk shows feature segments about easy copycat looks. Ironically, many of her outfits do not need to be copycat styles, because she often shops at pricey, but accessible, brands.  Some of her favorites include British “high-end street” labels Jigsaw, Whistles, Reiss and LK Bennett, who all sell moderately priced items. Pieces range from approximately $80 to $300 per item.

Avril Graham, executive fashion and beauty director of Harper’s Bazaar, spoke about Kate’s modestly priced taste on the Today show. “This idea that she dips into the High Street or the mall store brands but also has that princess-y moment is fabulous, modern and absolutely right,” said Graham.

photo from Influence

Kate has certainly influenced the designs of these “high-end street” brands, not only increasing their revenue, but also their reputation. Whistles even re-released a past-season blouse, calling it the “Kate” shirt after the future royal was seen wearing it. Many fashion insiders are excited about Kate’s classic British prep look and what it could do for the London fashion scene.

Blazers have received numerous updates in recent seasons, as oversized fits and cropped sleeves replaced more classic fits.

photo from Influence

However, Kate’s style influence could certainly be felt as wrap dresses and tops reappear in shop windows, along with more tailored blazers.

And, of course, who can forget Kate’s extensive and elaborate hat collection. Although she has done a great deal for the name recognition of some of her favorite milliners, including designer Whiteley Fischer, many are interested about the possibility of a hat trend revival. However, this trend may be hard for younger generations to catch on to.

However, Kate’s biggest style influence will certainly be felt in one of the least exciting places: the bridal industry. All of the secrecy and speculation about her wedding gown has bridal designers practically waiting with their scissors and dress patterns ready for the moment she steps out of her carriage. Although expected to be nowhere near as extravagant and “princess-esque” as Diana’s gown, Kate will probably pick a regal, yet sensible style that suits her classic taste.

photo from Influence

Millie Martini Bratten, editor-in-chief of Brides Magazine agreed in Florida Today that Kate’s wedding dress would have a huge impact on bridal trends to come. “Kate’s dress will be an important dress, one that will be talked about for the rest of time,” she said. “It’s amazing how much brides are influenced by what other people wear, especially royals, celebrities and presidents’ daughters.”

Regardless of her choice, copycat designs are expected to filter through high-end designers all the way to retail shops in a matter of months.

Kate Middleton’s refined and classic style has certainly awakened the London fashion scene, as her favorite boutiques and high-end brands become increasingly popular. However, her full impact on style and fashion trends will surely be realized in the coming months, as she becomes a true member of British royalty.