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Kate Middleton has been on the media's radar ever since she started dating Prince William, but her wardrobe back then? Not as much. The "Kate Effect" didn't exist until after she and Prince William announced their engagement (opens in new tab) in 2011 (that now-iconic blue dress sold out in minutes) and, up until then, Kate dressed however she pleased. That included a closet full of denim mini skirts, sleeveless dresses, and low-rise jeans...blame the early 2000s. As Kate transitioned from her university days to the work force and, eventually, to her role as the Duchess of Cambridge, her style inevitably evolved, too. Most notably, her outfits became more modest (think: long sleeves and dresses that hit at the knee) and refined, with the addition of skirt suits, sleek heels, and designer pieces from the likes of Alexander McQueen. We know Kate's a total force in fashion now, but here are all the great #throwback looks you might have forgotten about.
In one of their last public appearances together before the big wedding, Prince William and Kate walked around an athletic track during a visit to Witton Country Park in Darwen, England. The soon-to-be Duchess of Cambridge wore a suit set and metallic pumps. Skirt suits are now one of her go-to looks (opens in new tab) for public engagements.
For a visit to Northern Ireland, Kate wore a classic double-breasted trench coat from Burberry. When buttoned up, it doubled as a dress thanks to the playful ruffle hemline. She paired it with black tights and black pumps. It's a look Kate would likely still wear today (opens in new tab).
Prince William and Kate visited their alma mater, the University of St. Andrews, as part of it's 600th anniversary celebration. Kate chose a red Luisa Spagnoli dress and jacket with a peter pan collar. Her black boots were from Aquatalia Rhumba. This outfit evokes similar style vibes to Kate's current wardrobe, which consists of enough jackets and skirts (opens in new tab) to fill Buckingham Palace.
For the couple's engagement announcement, Kate wore a now-famous blue silk jersey dress from Issa while Prince William went with a full suit. The dress's hue reflected the blue in her sapphire ring—one that Wills gave his girlfriend of eight years while on vacation in Kenya.
A month before their own engagement announcement, Prince William and Kate attended the wedding of Harry Meade & Rosie Bradford. Kate chose a cobalt blue dress and a black blazer for the occasion. Blue seems to be one of her go-to colors, and it looks great on her.
For the Chakravarty Cup polo match, Kate dressed down in a sleeveless seafoam green dress and black wedges. She carried a beige sweater (in case of a chill, naturally) and casual brown tote, which she has since traded in for dainty clutches from the likes of Jimmy Choo and L.K. Bennett (opens in new tab).
Kate's always been a fan of wearing coats to weddings (opens in new tab) or special events. She wore a blue pattered coat over a silky slip dress for the wedding of Nicholas van Cutsem and Alice Hadden-Paton at The Guards Chapel in London in 2009.
Kate definitely doesn't take her style too seriously. The future duchess threw a Day-Glo Midnight Roller Disco party for a friend and went all out with her ensemble. The sequin green top, yellow shorts, and pink socks were such a funky combination—it's definitely one of our favorite throwback Kate style moments.
Like everyone else, at one point in her life, Kate owned a denim mini skirt. Here, she is pictured wearing it with tights, brown boots, and a belted jacket while shoe shopping in London. This look, it goes without saying, has definitely been retired from her wardrobe post-royalty.
The Middleton sisters enjoyed a night out on the town, visiting a cocktail bar and Mahiki Club. For the outing, Kate dressed up in a silky floral printed dress. Though the Duchess of Cambridge has since stopped her clubbing days, we wonder...what ever happened to this dress?
Kate still had five years to go before she officially became a royal, but this outfit showed off the future duchess's taste for elevated outerwear. She even donned a hat for the the Sovereign's Parade, which, as you know, is an important accessory for royals.
We hardly see Kate in halter neck style dresses anymore, like the one she wore, here, to The Rundle Cup Day at Tidworth Polo Club. And are those...tiny sunglasses she's wearing?
Kate wore a red polka dot wrap dress while watching Prince William compete in the Chakravarty Cup charity polo match at Ham Polo Club in England. She paired the deep-V dress with red wedges (a shoe she still keeps in rotation). Presently, her polka dot dresses, however, are a little more modest (opens in new tab).
Kate layered a button-down shirt with a blue sweater and wore a pair of rugged brown boots while attending the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park in Stroud, England. Instead of the precious Crown Jewels she wears now, Kate wore a simple pair of earrings and a blue heart-shaped necklace.
Prior to Kate's graduation ceremony from the University of St. Andrews, the then-23-year-old was spotted in a white lace tank top with low-rise jeans and a thick black belt. The casual ensemble is one we'd never see the Duchess of Cambridge wear today—she's traded in low risers for skinny jeans in either dark blue or black washes (opens in new tab).
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Marina Liao is the former fashion news editor at MarieClaire.com, where she covered celebrity style (from Meghan Markle to Katie Holmes), fashion trends, and shopping advice, plus conducted original interviews with industry insiders. She's also had many opportunities to write content in other areas such as beauty, food, tech, and even home. Her previous fashion stints include POPSUGAR and Cosmopolitan.
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