Monday, 25 April 2011

Why Kate Middleton is not a style icon

There is a lot of build up to the Royal Wedding (globally) if you haven't noticed! You can't move in London for tat and camera crews filming everywhere.

The biggest speculation is the DRESS. I admire the fact they have kept it all under wraps. I feel that Kate (soon to be Catherine Wales - unless she doesn't turn up on the day) has done exactly what she should do as the bride and keep her dress a secret. I don't begrudge them the media hype, it isn't there their fault and who doesn't like a wedding. Why under strict guidance from Mr MDS, we are taking the petit garcon to flag wave on the Mall (and I am an arch anti-Royalist - why I even moaned in Waitrose the other day as the only organic eggs I could get were the Prince of Wales's Duchy Originals). My parents are more Republicans than Royalists but even they went to the Prince of Wales investiture in 1969 at Caernafon castle and have one of the commemorative chairs from it. On balance a bit of pomp and ceremony is all they are good for it would seem, in my books.

I have to confess I'm not that bothered by the dress, I know lots of people are. My only hope is it that it is demure, I am worried she will do an arm show a la Michelle Obama. Kate is very thin, too thin for her height, and whilst thin arms are always worth a showing off (if mine were I'd flaunt them) there is something about wedding dresses that bring out the arms and shoulders and I wish it wasn't that way. I want her dress to be something different and thereby impose a new standard or alternative to the current unchallenged view of wedding dresses. But of course I doubt if I'll be satisfied but if I am I will be the first to admit it.

So, with wedding and dress aside - is Kate Middleton a style icon? The case for is the fact she copied by others. The case against she is not copied by lots of us. But this is the beginning of her journey as first lady of images - for she will out image all the others.

To date her looks have been very pedestrian. Safe Sloane or rather Middle Englander. Most women of her age from 28 to 42 tend to adopt a fashionable safe look. It is the alternative to the idea of Parisian chic with more of a nod to the British High St but the non high fashion retailers - enter stage left the demure Jigsaw, Reiss and maybe Whistles (although too borderline for the non fashionista). It is a more refined execution of high fashion mixed with British country casuals, the sweater, hacking jacket, skinny cords or jeans with riding boots or hunters even a flat cap.

Kate is not going to be the Duchess of Windsor, she will continue to play it safe, after all William is the future King of England and thereby Britain, Canada, Australia etc. William will expect her to follow his mix of well bred but polite therefore never showy and never one to judge those less fortunate. He is after all his mother's son and even his father has always made the effort to provide for other via The Princes Trust

William has eschewed high end Saville Row for popularist Grieves & Hawkes - so for what it is worth I don't expect Kate to choose Alexander McQueen but then I'm merely speculating like the rest of us!

I like that Kate does and will continue to use the high street, it will be part of her social responsibility to do so, particularly given her background and she must remain down to earth. Her price bracket will probably stay at mid end designer although when she is a bit older say 40 ish I'm sure a Chanel suit or two might slip in - who can blame her. What she wears will set a tone for younger women and like Simon Doonan I think a more staid version of younger womanhood is no bad thing to offset the Jordan/Paris Hilton culture of the last decade. The setting a tone is different to setting a style. The other Kate's are style setters, Kate Moss the model, Katharine Hepburn the movie star.

First Lady's are free to be themselves in the style stakes due to democratic elections. Kate Middleton will be bound by decency and a regard for others while the Firm relies on not exposing itself too much to tip the balance in favour of us republicans. No Westwood pirate boots for Princess Catherine then.

Diana was never a style setter either, more a mood or tone setter too. She kept it safe with white shirt and chinos a la Audrey Hepburn for her work with landmine victims and her off duty look. The only time she veered off script was with THAT dress - a Catherine Walker and of course she favoured Versace, Valentino and even Chanel only after her divorce.

It seems that Kate will be a safe bet style wise and more Charlotte than Carrie - which the men always prefer from my research. And that is the point, no matter how much the media try to shove Kate's style down our throats it will only matter to Middle England. Those counties of Bucks, Berks & Surrey will be casting an eye over what she wears more than most I suspect; after all she is a product of the area.


  1. I'm too old for style icons. I worry for Kate Middleton, she is going to be knocked for whatever she wears. I do appreciate that she doesn't feel the need to "experiment" beyond her comfort zone. She has access to the worlds designers and their ideas but sticks to her own (possibly boring, but I'd call it calm & collected) style. She has a dignified public profile and she has a lot to represent which I don't think she could do whilst dressed like Carrie from S&TC, who would take her seriously?
    I actually take comfort in the fact that she is a young person who doesn't feel the need to dress like a strumpet (oh god I'm so old) - or express her "quirky" personality through clothes.

    The current trend for the strapless wedding dress also annoys me, every bride has begun to look the same to me, perhaps they are all issued with the same dress when they get engaged. Let us hope that Ms Middleton allows some of her personality to shine through with her dress choice.
    Lastly - how did your parents manage to get away with a chair?!

  2. I think she dresses nicely but I do agree with you, she definitely plays it safe. That's entirely to be expected though - I think her position doesn't really allow for that much experimentation when it comes to fashion and I'd rather she dressed well and looked a little conservative rather than trying to push the boundaries and getting it horribly wrong.

    I'm quite excited to see the dress but I really, really hope it's not strapless. Seems to be the in thing with wedding dresses at the moment, regardless of the fact that it doesn't suit that many people.

  3. Agreed, I think she plays it safe, I do think it seems to be her own favoured style rather than that she has a deep hankering need to be a Carrie. I wish she would though, I wish once that ring is on her finger she goes wild in Miu Miu.

  4. I'd love to see her in something like Princess Margaret's frock - I think she could look like an absolute fairytale knockout if she kept herself all narrow waisted and with a high collar at the back.

    I don't want her to be a style icon. I want her to be happy. Fuck, did *I* really just say that?!

    We're having a tea party with a marquee, hats, telly, cupcakes, cucumber sandwiches and are recording our moment when we see THE dress for the first time.

    I hope I don't swear.

    Ali x

  5. in the US, in my circle, we see her as vulnerable, not matter what she wears. she needs to be herself, not a jumbled carrie or pompous michelle. she has obligations that will last a lifetime and we wish her the very best.

  6. She's no Style icon, I agree, but let's face it- she has Superior Hair!!!

    Jealous you'll be there to witness it 1st hand! Happy Easter x

  7. Cybil - they paid for one! There were about a couple of hundred made. I have no idea why as they'd vote for a republic tomorrow - but they are respectful peeps. My dad even went to pay his respects to the Queen Mum when she lay in state!

    Alex - I am praying for not strapless, I would be horrified if she did.

    Pearl - hahahaha ref Miu Miu

    Alison - you are right about her being happy, I'm sure she is. Prince William seems a totally nice person. The frock suggestion is good!

    Celkalee - I think she's fine, seems to have a good supportive family, her nice mum will see her through it all. She can't be a Carrie, which is the point she can't experiment or take risks but then she isn't that type anyway.

    FF - the hair is 11/10 Superior! xx

  8. So true - she's pretty, but interesting she is not! I find the whole 'get Kate Middleton's style' excitment baffling frankly! I know countless people who dress exactly that way and always have. Nothing wrong with that, but her style is 100% standard yah style!

  9. Yes I do agree; on a glossy magazine cover dark jeans and a crisp shirt dont exactly scream 'dynamic' or 'edgy'. I find it frustrating that only one level of demure is being explored; that it is classy and elegant to wear simple cuts with a finely tuned edge. Its a shame that, being technically a commoner, Kate isnt willing to widen the fashion gap a little bit. The Royals are gonna carry on being completely outlandish and detached despite fresh blood.

  10. The wedding is a big deal here since many of us have familial or heritage ties with the UK. I certainly hope for a modest (not strapless) dress for the wedding. My view in the larger sense that this wedding, the grandeur, the English tradition has given us all a little mental relief from world events. Just discovered your blog and enjoy your insights. Thank You.

  11. I love the fact your pro-republican parents have a chair from the Prince of Wales's investiture.
    I am totally perplexed with the hype about this blasted wedding and the media proclaiming Kate Middleton as a "fashion icon". Each to their own, hopefully I'll be having too much fun to see any of it. xxx

  12. Vix - now you are a style icon!

  13. She's no style icon but I really hope she chooses McQueen. Anything else will be dull by comparison. Unless Viv made it but we know that's not happening.

    FF is right she does have superior hair xx

  14. I for one am glad she doesn't feel the need to be a style icon. She is relaxed and, thank God, has depth where fashion probably doesn't play a big part of her life. I'd say a strapless wedding dress isn't at all on the cards. Remember how we thought Diana looked lovely in her wedding dress? Now it just looks boufie and overdone.

  15. I love your posts like this. I take it you were shocked by her choice of McQueen then, but to be honest, neither dress looked like it came from there. Could have easily been Berketex!

  16. I came to you for Kate stories, and I couldn't agree more - definitely not a style icon. Her dress was perfect, she choose well, but I agree with Looking Fab, didn't really look McQueen!


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