Ever since she was spotted walking arm-in-arm with Prince William during a ski trip in 2004, the Duchess of Cambridge’s style has come under close inspection.
From Kate Middleton’s early time in the public eye, during which she embraced preppy puffer jackets and hiking boots, to more refined gowns at evening galas, the royal’s wardrobe has experienced a coming of age over the years, prompting her sartorial status to soar.
Most recently, the royal stunned fans when she arrived at the No Time To Die premiere wearing a shimmering gold Jenny Packham gown, complete with a sheer cape and structured shoulders.
Her appearance was praised on social media, with some describing it as “the best she’s ever looked”, while other said it was “the biggest wow red carpet moment” of the last two years.
Today, as she rings in her 40th year, the Duchess is recognised for her effortless polish – there isn’t a public appearance where she doesn’t look perfectly put together – with the so-called “Kate effect” causing websites to sell out of designs in minutes, months-long waiting lists and surges in sales for lesser-known brands.
While the royal regularly wears items from a number of luxury fashion designers, including Emilia Wickstead and Erdem, no brand is held in as high regard by Kate as Alexander McQueen, which she chose to create her custom wedding gown in 2011.
In the years that have followed, Kate has turned to the luxury brand on several occasions for appearances including the Queen’s birthday party, the Royal Variety Performance and Trooping the Colour.
However, the Duchess regularly ensures that such royal pageantry is balanced by wearing fashion that’s considered to be more “down-to-earth”, with budget-friendly pieces from high street favourites such as Zara, Hobbs and LK Bennett.
Aside from the royal wedding, some of Kate’s most talked-about fashion statements have been made on the steps at the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, following the births of each of her children, George, Charlotte and Louis.
The Duchess introduced all three newborns to the world with a bedside blowdry and perfectly put-together looks designed by Jenny Packham in variations of spring yellow, baby blue and scarlet red.
Here are Kate’s most memorable fashion moments.
Kate Middleton and Prince William’s engagement, November 2010
When the Duchess of Cambridge announced her engagement to Prince William back in 2010 she chose to wear a dark blue wrap dress designed by Issa. The outfit signaled the introduction of the “Kate effect” after the dress sold out in more than 43 countries.
The royal wedding, April 2011
For her wedding day on 29 April 2011, Kate Middleton chose a gown designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen which was inspired by the Victorian tradition of corsetry.
The lace appliqué on the skirt and bodice was handmade by the Royal School of needlework, while the train made for a dramatic entrance measuring at two metres long.
The royal wedding, April 2011
At her wedding reception, Kate slipped into something a bit more comfortable. Another look designed by Sarah Burton, the angora bolero was an elegant touch over a satin A-line gown with a sweetheart necklace and a jewelled belt.
The Diamond Jubilee, June 2012
In honor of the Diamond Jubilee, Kate was a lady in red in this look from Alexander McQueen’s pre-fall 2011 collection. The dress featured long sleeves and a pleated skirt, and despite its £1,195 price tag, had reportedly sold out online by the end of the day.
The birth of Prince George, July 2013
On 11 July 2013, Prince William and Kate Middleton welcomed their first-born child, Prince George Alexander Louis, weighing 8lbs 6oz.
Just like Charles and Diana, the couple introduced the baby to the world outside the Lindo Wing the next day. For her first photo as a new mother, Kate wore a blue polka dot dress by Jenny Packham with a pair of nude wedges.
Prince George’s Christening, October 2013
Kate and William’s eldest child Prince George was christened at St James’s Palace on 23 October, 2013 – three months after his birth.
The Duchess chose a creamy white custom Alexander McQueen dress for the occasion, with ruffled detailing at the front and an A-line style skirt. She teamed the ensemble with a silk organza rose and veil hat by milliner Jane Taylor.
The Royal Variety Performance, November 2014
The first time Kate attended the Royal Variety performance in 2014 she opted for a floor-length black gown with lace detailing created by American designer, Diane von Furstenberg.
The royal finished the look with her hair styled in an updo and diamond earrings.
The birth of Princess Charlotte, May 2015
The world gained a new Princess after the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to her second child, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, on 2 May 2015.
For her second appearance at the Lindo Wing after giving birth, Kate chose a pastel yellow and white floral print dress by British designer Jenny Packham, who also created her first post-pregnancy dress for her appearance following Prince George’s birth two years prior.
Princess Charlotte’s christening, July 2015
For Princess Charlotte’s christening at the Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham Estate in 2015, Kate chose a stark white Alexander McQueen fit-and-flare dress and matching fascinator.
India Tour, April 2016
During their 2016 tour of India, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Kaziranga National Park in Assam, where they fed baby elephants and rhinos.
Kate wore a casual Topshop dress with floral embroidery and completed the look with Dune London espadrilles and Accessorize earrings.
Sydney Opera House, April 2016
The Duchess of Cambridge greeted crowds of public outside Sydney Opera House during a three-week tour of Australia and New Zealand wearing a vibrant yellow and white, color-blocked dress by Roksanda Ilincic.
The royal loved this dress so much, she wore it again in July at Wimbledon in 2018.
A Street Cat Named Bob premiere, November 2016
The Duchess wore an elegant white lace gown by Self-Portrait with a red poppy pin and a matching clutch as she walked the red carpet at the premiere of A Street Cat Named Bob in London.
The film benefitted Action on Addiction, one of the many charities Kate supports.
Pippa Middleton’s wedding, May 2017
The Duchess wore a modest, pink dress designed by Alexander McQueen for her sister’s wedding to James Matthews at St Mark’s Church.
The pale pink silk midi dress featured bell sleeves and a cinched waist, and she accessorised it with a matching fascinator and suede heels.
Wimbledon, July 2017
Kate wore a polka dot dress by Dolce & Gabbana as she made her debut as patron of the Wimbledon tournament.
The royal teamed the tailored silk dress with earrings by Oscar de la Renta and simple black suede block heel sandals from Office.
Royal visit to Sweden and Norway, January 2018
Kate chose to wear a mustard yellow and blue, floral gown designed by Erdem as she and Prince William met with Swedish prime Minister Stefan Löfven and his wife, Ulla Löfven, for a dinner at the British ambassador’s residence.
The pregnant royal, who was expecting her third child, revealed her burgeoning baby bump in the high-neck dress which cost £1,945.
A formal dinner at the Norwegian Royal Palace, February 2018
Kate made a regal statement in an Alexander McQueen draped gown for a formal dinner at the Norwegian Royal Palace.
She accessorised with a diamond bracelet that was a wedding gift from the Queen, along with Her Majesty’s pendant earrings.
The birth of Prince Louis, April 2018
On 23 April 2018, Prince William and Kate Middleton welcomed royal baby number three, Prince Louis Arthur Charles.
Kate opted for another Jenny Packham dress, this time in red and white – a look many speculated was a tribute to Diana’s ensemble in 1984 following the birth of Prince Harry.
The Queen’s Birthday Party, July 2018
The Duchess wore a red Alexander McQueen off-the-shoulder gown at a garden party in Berlin in honor of the Queen’s birthday.
For accessories, Kate choose Simone Rocha drop earrings and beige Prada heels.
Prince Louis’ Christening, July 2018
For the christening ceremony of her third child, Prince Louis, Kate Middleton wore an all-white Alexander McQueen dress that featured puffed sleeves, a V-neck and midi-length hem. The royal accessorised the look with an ornate Jane Taylor headband.
Ballymena, Northern Ireland, February 2019
Some royals do wear capes. Kate Middleton opted for a baby blue cape coat by Mulberry for her second day of engagements in Northern Ireland in 2019.
The statement piece of outwear was from the English brand’s Fall 2018 collection and featured a short cape that fell down to the elbows, as well as a belt and large buttons.
Henry Fawcett Children’s Centre, March 2019
The Duchess visited the Henry Fawcett Children’s Centre in Kennington wearing black Jigsaw trousers with a lavender Gucci bow blouse. She also carried a lilac Aspinal purse.
ANZAC Day Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving, April 2019
The duchess made an appearance at the Anzac Day services in London wearing a teal coat dress by London-based designer Catherine Walker.
The dress was nipped at the waist and came with a pleated A-line skirt, oversized buttons and a strong shoulder line.
Trooping The Colour, June 2019
For 2019’s Trooping the Colour, Kate opted for a light yellow Alexander McQueen dress, matching Philip Treacy hat, and earrings borrowed from the queen.
State Banquet, June 2019
Kate attended the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace during President Trump’s three-day state visit to London.
For the occasion, the royal turned to one of her favourite designers, Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen, wearing a gorgeous white ruffled gown.
She also debuted her sash and star of the Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order – an honour she was given from the Queen in April that year on the day of her and Prince William’s eighth wedding anniversary.
Wimbledon, July 2019
Kate arrived at Wimbledon wearing a crisp white dress designed by British fashion label Suzannah.
The Duchess accessorised her short-sleeved “Wiggle” dress with a black Alexander McQueen belt and Alexander McQueen “Wicca” mini clutch, completing her look with black bow brooch.
The dress retails at £1,850 and is made from Italian silk crepe, the designer states on the website.
King’s Cup Regatta, August 2019
In one of her most casual looks, Kate attended the King’s Cup Regatta wearing a colourful stripy top by designer brand Sandro with high-waisted navy trousers by one of her go-to high street favourites, L.K. Bennett.
The royal completed her casual but chic look with a classic pair of white trainers from Superga.
Princess Charlotte’s first day of school, September 2019
Kate dropped off Princess Charlotte to her first day of school wearing a striking red and white printed dress by Michael Kors, known as the ‘Carnation dress’. The gown was cinched at the waist with a slim black belt and paired with navy court heels.
The “Back to Nature” festival, September 2019
Kate wore this breezy Emilia Wickstead dress to the opening of the “Back to Nature” playground and garden that she helped design at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden Wisley in Surrey.
The royal completed the look with a trusty pair of espadrille wedges for the grassy terrain.
Royal tour of Pakistan, October 2019
During a visit to Lahore’s Badshahi Mosque, Kate wore a green shalwar kameez by Maheen Khan, paired with a matching headscarf.
On Twitter, Khan said she was “proud to have designed this outfit” for the Duchess. Khan explained that she and her team adorned the chiffon look with Phulkari embroidery, which is “a craft and a pattern of geometrics [prevalent] in Chitral.”
Diplomatic Corps, December 2019
Kate wore an Alexander McQueen gown to the Queen’s 2019 Diplomatic Corps Reception. The dress was was a long, velvet gown complete with long sleeves, a subtle concave neckline, and a slim fit.
She layered the gown with a blue sash, symbolising her Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order honor.
Cruella screening, May 2021
Kate arrived at a screening of Disney’s Cruella at the Palace of Holyroodhouse wearing a Holland Cooper plaid trench coat.
Playing tennis with school children in Scotland, May 2021
Kate wore a preppy cable-knit jumper by Ralph Lauren, paired with some loose trousers.
Beating retreat, May 2021
Kate attended the 2021 Beating Retreat in a blue Cath Walker cornflower blue coat dress.
Wimbledon, July 2021
Kate attended the Men’s singles finals in a belted pastel pink Beulah London dress, paired with Aldo heels and a pink floral mask.
Meeting with the military, September 2021
In September, Kate met with military personnel who helped evacuate Afghans from their home country following the Taliban’s takeover.
For the event, she wore a double-breasted, beige Reiss blazer paired with loose navy blue trousers and a beige mini bag.
No Time To Die premiere, September 2021
The Duchess turned heads as she arrived on the red carpet wearing a full-length gold gown by British designer Jenny Packham.
The Earthshot Prize ceremony, October 2021
In a nod to one of her favourite designers, the royal re-wore an Alexander McQueen gown that she first wore a decade earlier in 2011.
Remembrance Sunday, November 2021
Appearing on a balcony of the Foreign and Commonwealth office, Kate wore a structured black Alexandra McQueen coat paired with pearl-drop earrings.
Royal Variety Performance, November 2021
Kate wore an old favourite; a long-sleeved, emerald green sequin Jenny Packham dress. She first wore the gown for an official tour of Pakistan with the Duke of Cambridge in October 2019.
Community Carol Service, December 2021
The Duchess arrived in a red Catherine Walker coat dress, paired with matching red heels.