Posts Tagged ‘Catherine Middleton’

Image courtesy of Barron's Educational Series.

Image courtesy of Barron’s Educational Series.

The UK is currently on baby watch, counting down till the arrival of a new prince or princess. In case you haven’t heard, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (William and Kate) are expecting their first child in July and just in time for the celebrations is a new book by Caroline Jones, Kate’s Style: Smart, Chic Fashion from a Royal Role Model (Barron’s Educational Series, 2013).

Ms. Jones, editor and lifestyle journalist, has studied Kate’s impeccable style from her college years right up to the baby-bump moment. With over 40 photos, she shows readers how Kate puts herself together and why what she does works every time. Closeup shots of accessories and fashion details as well as sidebars loaded with information, such as designer names and how to do it yourself, make this book invaluable for anyone who would like to emulate Kate’s style. Beyond that, it’s an excellent documentation of modern royal fashion.

In her introduction Ms. Jones says: Selecting outfit after stunning outfit for such a variety of engagements on such a public stage is an enormously tricky task, but one that Kate pulls of with aplomb and without the assistance of so much as a personal stylist. If she can do all this on her own, then there’s hope for the rest of us!

Indeed it would be a pleasure to see more fashionables donning Kate’s demure look. She approaches her style with an eye for simplicity, which usually starts with a classic dress made of interesting fabric like lace or in an eye-catching color. Her shoe of choice is almost always the pump paired with nude hose, although she’s also known to wear high heel boots with tights. Accessories might include a jaunty hat, drop earrings in pearls or a sparkle gemstone and a clutch handbag. She tends toward two color schemes matching the shoes, hat, and handbag, which might seem a bit old-school but according to Ms. Jones “… does allow the whole look to be sleek, managed, and minimal.”

Following the lead of the late Diana Princess of Wales, Kate will often add an extra touch reflecting a particular occasion or the country she’s visiting. For example she sported a cowboy hat while in Canada attending a rodeo. On a visit to her former preparatory school Kate wore a Black Watch tartan coat – a smart reference to the school’s black and green plaid uniform.

Kate’s Style is a helpful guide not just for those who admire the duchess but also for anyone who would like to improve their personal style. Afterall, you can’t go wrong with Kate as your guide.

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Last week Catherine Duchess of Cambridge attended a royal event looking modern yet ladylike showing women how it’s done. As part of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, Catherine, Camilla, and The Queen visited the upscale shop Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly.

Catherine is sporting a smart blue coat-dress by Missoni. Note that her hem hits right above the knee showing off just enough leg, but not revealing too much if she sits down.  Her shoes are simple suede pumps, not a flashy pair of  platform stilettos. She’s also wearing stockings, which is royal protocol. Now, I am not a fan of wearing stockings because they are so darn uncomfortable but they do complete an outfit nicely. Bare legs, especially in a suit or a short tailored dress, look too casual.

Catherine is well put-together as always and a great role model for us.

It seems women these days mistakenly think that what they wear clubbing is what’s appropriate for dressy or professional occasions – business lunches, meetings, baptisms, weddings, you name it.

Somewhere along the path of fashion women, even supposed fashionable women, have become confused about what is appropriate attire. I suppose when fashion rules faded away, so did our fashion common sense. In general it seems an either/or situation – some variation on jeans, t-shirts, and flip-flops or tight-fitting clubbing gear. What happened to dress suits and gowns for evening events? Demure dresses for day?  

Checking out this season’s fashion trends, I do think that Catherine is having a positive effect. The Ladylike Look is in with dresses a big player as well as longer skirts, and feminine blouses (that don’t show too much cleavage). 

OK, I am now stepping off my fashionable soap box, carefully and elegantly, like a lady of course.

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Getty Images.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge recently went solo for the first time as a royal. Stepping in for Prince Charles, who was unexpectedly called away, Catherine hosted a private charity dinner at Clarence House. 

The Duchess is stunning sporting an older design by Amanda Wakeley. The floor-length Empire waist gown accentuates Catherine’s long and lean stature. Just a bit of sparkle on the shoulder straps keeps the look elegant yet quiet. I like the flared hemline, which is feminine and also gives body to the gown.

The only hitch to my mind is the hair. It is too long and has no style. A simple updo with a few wisps around the face would give Catherine the sophisticated look she needs now that she’s a duchess.

A royal favorite, Amanda Wakeley launched her label in 1990 and soon became known to many a Hollywood celebrity as well as the late Princess Diana. In 2010, Wakeley won an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for her services to the fashion industry. Her signature look is understated chic, which explains why Catherine is one of her clients.

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Catherine's new bracelet from Camilla. Photo: Getty Images

Last week while on an official visit to Canada, Catherine was spotted wearing a single charm on a bold link bracelet. Turns out that was a wedding gift from her step-mother-in-law, Camilla. It’s reported that the disk charm has a C on one side for Catherine and a C on the other for Camilla.

It seems Camilla has a thing for giving Cs as presents. As I recall, she gave Prince Charles interlocking C cufflinks before his wedding to Lady Diana Spencer, who was none too pleased with the letter C.

Like Catherine and Camilla, I too like my own initial. For my 17th birthday, my mother got me started on initial jewelry with a simple gold M pendant from Shreve & Co. I still have and wear that M and it’s still my favorite.

Mom also introduced me to monograms. She had her monogram embroidered on her Oxford shirts and printed on her stationary. But Mom didn’t stop with her own monogram. When she began collecting antique jewelry, she would wear brooches with monograms other than hers. As long as it was an interesting piece of jewelry, she thought nothing of sporting any combination of letters.

When I was younger, I prefered to stick to my own monogram or that of something I was connected to, like my college class ring. But now I think it’s creative to mix it up.

Lately, I’ve been wearing my great-aunt’s high school class ring. It has three letters in raised gold – GHS – which stands for Greensburg High School. At the bottom is 1920, the year she graduated. I’ve never even been to Greensburg, but I  love this sweet ring for the family connection and the Art Deco style.

What do you think? Are monograms your thing? Would you wear one other than your own? Leave a comment and do tell.

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Catherine with an updo and William in tails. Courtesy of Getty Images.

I have been champing at the bit waiting for Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge to sport an updo. Finally, at the Epsom Derby this past Saturday the Duchess pulled back her (too) long hair into a chic chignon.

Since wind is ever-present at royal events, I have wondered why Catherine hasn’t just pulled her hair up. Beyond that, I knew an updo would be a good look for her and hey, I was right.

Dressed for a formal occasion, the royal family turned up at the Epsom Downs Racecourse outside London in support of the Queen and her colt, Carlton House. He lost … so what. (I don’t support horseracing.)

Catherine was pure elegance dressed in a cream springtime suit. She strolled in taupe pumps and carried a matching clutch. A taupe woven fascinator with a curlycue on top added a bit of whimsy.

In complete contrast to Catherine are Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice. Courtesy of Getty Images.

Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie were there too, looking … ah … well, like they usually do. (They remind me of the royals from the Georgian Period.)

The boys were dashing in top hats and tails and the Queen was pouty in pink after her colt came in third. Just goes to show, not even royalty get everything they want.

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President and Mrs. Obama meet William and Catherine the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Photo: AP

Didn’t I just report that William and Catherine were on a two-year hiatus from royal duties? Thanks for making a liar out of me, you two. Anyway, today the handsome British couple met our handsome American couple, President and Mrs. Obama. Buckingham Palace is the latest stop for the Obamas on their European tour.

The last time Mrs. Obama visited the Royals in London she was dressed too casually in a skirt and cardie, but for her latest visit she looks lovely sporting a floral silk dress by American designer, Barbara Tfank. I’m not a fan of the bright pink bolero – either the color or the shape. The sheen of the fabric and bolero style feels more evening than afternoon.  The pink is very little girl, particularly paired with the full skirt of the dress. A dusty rose fitted jacket would have been more sophisticated. Interesting to note that Mrs. Obama isn’t carrying a handbag.

Going through all the photos, I notice Queen Elizabeth, Camilla, and Catherine all clutching handbags, but not our First Lady. Without a bag, her outfit looks incomplete. But I have to admit that I’m a  lady who likes her handbags.

Catherine looks (very) slim in a tan sheath from the British shop, Reiss. The dress has a lot of origami type folds and overlaps, which to pull off requires a tall and super slender figure. Catherine is carrying a small black clutch evening bag and she’s wearing simple black pumps.  Her choice of simplicity is a complete contrast to Mrs. Obama.

The gentlemen are dashing in their suits. William is sporting a white pocket square, always a smart fashion touch. President Obama is in navy blue with a burgundy tie and the American flag pin on his lapel. Nice, Mr. President.  

The ladies match the room. Photo: AP

Extra points to the ladies for coordinating their fashion colors with that of the room.


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Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge wearing Issa the day after her wedding. Does anyone else feel this dress is too short for her?

Are we feeling the royal void? No Kate news for weeks now. Sorry readers, we will have to get used to it.

Diana, Princess of Wales spoiled us with regular feeds of fashion and drama and perhaps we all thought that with a new princess, the good old days were back. Apparently not.

For one thing, Queen Elizabeth has granted the newlyweds a two-year reprieve from royal duties, allowing William to focus on his military job and Kate to settle into married life. For us that means fewer photo ops and Kate-fashion-plates to scrutinize.

Also, Kate will not be courting the press. It is considered bad form to outshine the future king and Kate is not Diana. According to British historian Andrew Roberts in Maclean’s magazine, Diana was a “meteor” and “blazing a trail the royals shouldn’t have blazed.” By contrast, Kate with her middle class roots is more grounded and “in it for the long haul.” She’s not going to do anything to annoy her new in-laws.

Kate is quite happy to follow her husband, literally. While on royal duties she will honor protocol and keep two steps behind her prince. Kate will not have a career, give any interviews or pose for pictures, other than official royal pics. We will rarely hear her voice and we will get to know the Duchess mostly through her fashion choices and what charities she supports.

Kate’s family will also feel the void. There won’t be any Windsor/Middleton shindigs and the Middleton family will celebrate holidays without their eldest daughter. Kate is a member of the royal family now and predictions are that she intends to tow the royal line.

(Note: The royals do have some celebrations coming up this summer. The Queen’s 85th birthday in June and Prince Philip’s 90th birthday is also in June. William and Kate are traveling to Canada in July with a stop in California on the way home. We just might get a peek at the newlyweds. Over Dressed for Life will be keeping an eye on Kate’s fashion.)

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Princes William and Harry in their wedding duds.

What about the guys? Ah, how should I say this – not my cup of tea? More like, hideous! Sorry, William and Harry, but your wedding look was way over the top. Too much red, too much gold and those stripes on the trousers … painful.

Both princes are in the military, so protocol probably called upon them to sport their dress uniforms – Prince William in Colonel of the Irish Guards and Prince Harry in Captain of the Household Cavalry. Each uniform includes symbolic medals and buttons and so on.

I usually like uniforms – US Navy Full Dress Whites, oh yes! I think it was all that red on William and all the gold bling on Harry that is off-putting.    

Dress attire is tough for men. When French restaurants put waiters in tuxedos it made the special event ensemble common. Cheap rentals have also tainted the tux. Morning coats are OK, although I’m not a fan of tails. I guess for me there’s nothing like a fine tailored three-piece suit in navy blue or gray (don’t like black for day time) with a patterned tie. Simplicity is my cup of tea. But I suppose what I prefer would not be up to snuff for such a formal occasion.

Are you attending a wedding this summer? Click here to read my article in the SF Chronicle on appropriate men’s attire for weddings.

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Catherine's wedding dress by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen.

The Wills and Kate wedding is now a part of  royal history, but we’re all still buzzing over Catherine’s dress. Fashion follower Jydonne Bynum-Breiterman was up bright and early on the big day to watch the festivities and she was not (too) disappointed.

The gown was very simple and very finely cut, particularly the bodice.  It melded to Catherine’s form perfectly. The sweetheart neckline bodice and v-neck lace covering with sleeves were a perfect balance in exposing Catherine’s beautiful doe-like frame while maintaining taste and appropriateness. I have no doubt, while in the design process, Catherine and Sarah Burton had Grace Kelly in mind when piecing their inspiration board.

Jydonne called it with her prediction that the dress would be designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. “I think Catherine chose Alexander McQueen for Burton’s undeniable talent and the signficant contribution McQueen made to the industry,” explains Jydonne.

Although Jydonne feels the overall effect of the dress was successful, she admits she was slightly disappointed. “It was pretty but I feel it was safe and simple,” she says. “In dressing a princess, I was expecting a bit more standout detailing and beading.”

Jydonne points out that aside from the arms,  the lace was hard to see at a distance. She thinks given all the work that went into it, it should have been highlighted. To do so, the color of the lace could have been a bit darker than that of the gown.

Jydonne also has issues with the waistline, which she feels didn’t flatter Catherine’s sleek figure. “If they had pulled Catherine’s waistline down to her hips and molded the bodice,” explains Jydonne, “it would have been a totally different ballgame and still would have remained within the constraints of ‘decency’ for Westminster.”

But Jydonne gives a positive nod to the volume of the dress and length of the train, both important factors considering the size of Westminster Abbey. The dress in a venue like that has to be big enough to be seen, but not so big it overwhelms the bride.

There was a lack of color in Catherine’s ensemble and even the Maid of Honor was in white (while the groom and his best man were all ablaze in red and gold). A few colorful flowers in Catherine’s bouquet and little rose color to her cheeks would have been a welcome addition to the white palette.  

Catherine in her reception dress also designed by Sarah Burton.

As for the reception dress – boring!  “I believe it was more of an ensemble for a much older woman,” says Jydonne. A long, full gown in ivory with virtually no detailing except some sparkle at the waist, which was the best part. She topped it with a white Angora sweater that, as Jydonne says, is something one might wear to the library.  “I would have turned up the volume,” says Jydonne. 

(For my two cents on the reception dress: It has little to no style and it is not at all up to McQueen standards. It looks like a quick afterthought. Plus, for more glamour Catherine should have sported an updo and showcased those beautiful earrings she wore earlier in the day. However, having said that, at least Catherine didn’t go tarty, which unfortunately is a common choice for evening wear these days.)

I agree with Jydonne on every point. Overall, I thought Catherine looked lovely and the lace bodice was my favorite part of her dress.   

I want to thank Jydonne for her expertise and thoughtful review. Read more from Jydonne on her website: http://vintageleisure.com/

Readers, what do you think? Do you agree with us? Disagree? Have your say and leave a comment.

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Catherine in Alexander McQueen wedding dress with her Maid of Honor and sister, Philippa Middleton. Photo: Getty Images.

Yes indeed, the lovely Catherine Middleton, now a princess and a duchess, donned an elegant and traditional gown designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen.  Here are the details:

  • designed by Sarah Burton from the British house of Alexander McQueen  
  • six-foot train
  • made of ivory and white satin gazar
  • bodice lace applique handmade by the Royal School of Needlework
  • the back is finished with 58 gazar and organza covered buttons fastened by Roulleau loops
  • other than the lace, fabrics provided by British companies
  • veil is made of ivory silk tulle
  • tiara made in 1936 by Cartier – loaned to Catherine by the Queen
  • earrings, designed by Robinson Pelham, oak leaf with drop diamond – inspired by the Middleton coat of arms and a gift to the bride from her parents
  • shoes were hand-made in satin by House of Alexander McQueen
  • the Maid of Honor’s dress was also designed by Sarah Burton (in non-traditional white)

Word is that Catherine worked closely with Sarah Burton in creating a dress that combined modern with traditional. Catherine chose House of Alexander McQueen for its excellent craftmanship and artistic vision.

Check back for Jydonne Bynum-Breiterman’s review.

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