Kate Middleton: Style Icon Or Drab Duchess?

2011 was a pretty good year for one Catherine Middleton, but should people really be following her style or has she a long way to go?
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2011 was a pretty good year for one Catherine Middleton, but should people really be following her style or has she a long way to go?

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Like them or loathe them, 2011 was a year of the Royals – Prince Phillip turned 90, Prince Harry went to the North Pole, men the world over were introduced to Pippa’s backside, and Prince William married his sweetheart, Catherine Middleton. Here we have a woman who has won over the hearts of Britain, and taken the media by storm. Kate is approaching 30 and topping best dressed lists in all major fashion magazines, but the question I ask is this – for the young British woman, is Kate really one to follow in the fashion stakes just yet?

She is tall, she is beautiful and a size 8 – of course we all love her. However, is the newly appointed Duchess of Cambridge really as fashion savvy as we are led to believe? It is fair to say that back in her University days, pre-William and pre- royalty, her style has not always been picture perfect. Unless you’re over 30 and going to monthly polo matches, the Duchess honestly wasn’t really one to take note from. Take Florence Welch, Alexa Chung and other British fashionistas and ask yourself this, would you place them in the same style stakes as Kate Middleton? I think not. I do not want you to think that I dislike Kate’s style, not at all; I simply question whether it is credible to be deemed as iconic as it has been throughout 2011. She is undoubtedly beautiful, but we must not forget that she is now a royal, which means conservative two pieces and large hats. The best move our Kate has made was to choose Sarah Burton as the designer of her wedding dress; in light of the death of the great Alexander McQueen, what better way to pay homage than to choose his predecessor to design such an iconic dress? A good move indeed, as fashion experts the world over clapped in approval for our future Queen. There was no better way to begin her journey to winning over the hearts of every fashion high flyer than to go for a beautiful, Grace Kelly-esque gown.

An icon is someone who creates a trend or a style, like Coco Chanel did nearly 80 years ago, or like Hepburn did in Breakfast at Tiffanys

Of course, anything Kate wears becomes gold dust in stores (the blue satin dress she wore to announce her engagement sold out in just 24 hours) so in this way yes, women the world over are emulating her style. However women also copied Madonna’s style during the 80’s, a look which is now only seen on the character of Edina Monsoon in Absolutely Fabulous. The media must allow Kate to evolve as an icon before the title can be deserved, and she is most certainly on her way. One wrong move from the Duchess can cause the British media to strip her of the title faster than you can say Louboutin.

This is where my point is being made, the truth is Kate is demure and she is practical; she is our future Queen and so it would be impractical for her to step out looking anything but respectful, god forbid she wear anything but a court shoe or step out in a parka. The casual style so many of us look for in celebrities isn’t going to be there with Kate, every public appearance will mean a new designer dress. The young British woman looks to their style icons for a style to emulate, not just to look at. We want someone with a good sense of every day style as well as red carpet glamour, and it is not often that a member of the Royal family has managed to conquer a good sense of both. However Kate has certainly got this potential, and to use the word ‘icon’ suggests she has years of style and fashion knowledge under her belt. However this is something Kate doesn’t have, she is comfortable in her own style but as a nation we are still learning what that might be. We must remember that although a couple for almost 10 years, Kate only stepped out in the public eye officially a few years back, when she was fresh from the Kings Road and far from being number one in the style stakes. An icon is someone who creates a trend or a style, like Coco Chanel did nearly 80 years ago, or like Hepburn did in Breakfast at Tiffanys. In time our Duchess will undoubtedly become somewhat of an icon; her mix of high street style and designer dresses throughout 2011 has turned her into a fashion A-lister. Nevertheless, we must remember that for now she is Britain’s new Princess; learning the ropes and rightly allowing the media to document her style evolution. Give the woman time and she will certainly make her mark in fashion history.

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