How Kate Middleton Reinvented Her Style Ahead of Prince William Engagement Announcement

The evolution is stark.

Prince William and Kate Middleton Attend Harry Meade And Rosie Bradford's Wedding
(Image credit: Getty/Max Mumby/Indigo)

Once upon a time, Kate Middleton was just a regular woman in her twenties, graduating from university and attending themed parties. Except she was dating England's—and the world's—most eligible bachelor: her future husband and the future King of the United Kingdom, Prince William.

But although Middleton was in the spotlight from around 2004 because she was thought to be dating the prince, it wasn't until much later that she started to make noticeable changes to her appearance, presumably in order to fit into the Royal Family as her engagement loomed.

Behold some almost unbelievable photos of the soon-to-be duchess in the mid-to-late 2000s. In 2005, in a normal-person white tank top and low-rise jeans:

Kate Middleton and her father Michael Middleton sighted prior to her graduation ceremony at the University of St. Andrews, where she obtained a 2:1 degree in the History of Art on June 23, 2005 in St. Andrews, Scotland

(Image credit: Getty/Max Mumby/Indigo)

Also in 2005, at an event clearly involving horses:

Kate Middleton, girlfriend of Prince William, attends the second day of the Gatcombe Park Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park, on August 6, 2005 near Tetbury, England

(Image credit: Getty/Anwar Hussein)

Looking extra 2006 at a store opening:

Kate Middleton attends party at Bluebird to celebrate The Shop at Bluebird opened by Belle and John Robinson and hosted by Sir Terence and Vicki Conran and Belle and John Robinson, at Bluebird on June 14, 2006 London, England

(Image credit: Getty/Dave M. Benett)

And one from 2008 at a "Day-Glo Midnight Roller Disco" that you truly have to see to believe:

Kate Middleton arrives at the Day-Glo Midnight Roller Disco at The Renaissance Rooms on September 17, 2008 in London, England. It was announced by Clarence House on November 16, 2010 that Prince William will marry girlfriend Kate Middleton in the Spring / Summer of 2011

(Image credit: Getty/Danny Martindale)

And even this 2010 photo of the future duchess in a mini-dress seems delightfully impossible these days:

Kate Middleton (Wearing A Green Dress) In The Crowd At The Chakravarty Cup Polo Match At Beaufort Polo Club Near Tetbury Gloucestershire Where Her Boyfriend William Is Playing In The Charity Match

(Image credit: Getty/Mark Cuthbert)

But this Kate Middleton style was not long for this world: As she and Prince William prepared to announce their engagement, Middleton began to look more like the duchess we know today.

"Her clothing almost began to reflect what people saw in her character—a kind of restraint, kind of modesty almost," royal expert Tom Quinn said on the documentary William & Kate: Too Good To Be True (via The Sun).

"I think that did come about because William and Kate were coming towards the point where they would announce their engagement.

"It was Kate starting to behave in ways which would be seen more appropriate for a future Queen."

And that's how Kate Middleton gave way to the Duchess of Cambridge, and the wardrobe that comes with her.

Prince William and Kate Middleton Attend Harry Meade And Rosie Bradford's Wedding

(Image credit: Getty/Max Mumby/Indigo)

British Royals Visit Trinity Buoy Wharf

(Image credit: Getty/Karwai Tang)

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Bustle and Shape. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.