The Princess of Wales has had quite the fashion evolution since she officially became engaged to Prince William in 2010. After marriage, children, and thousands of public engagements later, Kate has emerged as the queen of formal event dressing (pun intended). As all icons of fashion know, she's got a pretty reliable fashion formula: a coat or structured dress, plus pointed pumps (and a hat if the event calls for it), or a more formal gown when dressing up. But she also knows how to bring in new elements to her looks, perhaps through a unique piece of jewelry, interesting necklines, or new brands in clothing or accessories. For many years now, the clothes she wears tend to sell out quickly (once known as the Duchess Effect). She also knows the value of a rewear, and has donned many of these outfits several times over the course of her public life.
It's quite a journey watching Kate's fashion evolution to her confident style that we know today. Keep scrolling for 32 of her most iconic outfits ever.
At St James Palace, 2010
Kate's outfit to announcement her formal engagement to William, a silky blue form-fitting Issa dress, matched the engagement ring William provided to Kate (originally belonging to Princess Diana). Royals had worn Issa dresses before, but after this iconic moment, the dress sold out in minutes and produced a huge waitlist. It even gave us a new trend: "the little blue dress," and the same style is still a popular choice today. It was an impressive start and a sign of things to come.
At the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital, 2013
Each time Kate has debuted her babies outside St. Mary's Hospital (to fascinated media and onlookers), she's worn Jenny Packham, a favorite of hers. In 2013, after Prince George was born, she wore a blue polka dotted dress that sold out in minutes) Notably, Princess Diana debuted Prince William in a collared polka-dot teal dress, so the choice was thought to be a direct nod to that moment. William matched her in a blue collared shirt and black pants.
At the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital, 2015
At the debut of her second child, Princess Charlotte, Kate wore a yellow floral Jenny Packham, just as she did when her first, Prince George, was born. As with many of her Packham gowns, the floral motif was from that season's collection but the gown was made specifically for her. William's choice of light blue shirt combined with dark blue sweater complemented the tiny blue flowers on the dress for a matching motif. Kate chose nude pumps to match the dress.
At the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital, 2018
As with her two previous birth debuts, Kate wore Jenny Packham for the unveiling of her third child, Prince Louis. The red color of the dress hearkened back to Princess Diana's red coat that she was wearing when she debuted Prince Harry (it even included a white peter pan color, similar to the construction on Kate's dress). William kept it simple in a light blue collared shirt, blue blazer, and black pants. Kate opted for nude suede shoes to go with the dress.
At Karolinska Institute in Sweden, 2018
When Kate opts for a pattern, it's usually something classic. This red and white Catherine Walker coat, worn to an official visit to Sweden at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, was the kind of classic color that ensured she'd be visible to crowds while not being too busy. It is something she's reworn (which Kate is known to do), specifically to a 2023 Six Nations rugby match. Princess Diana wore a similar Moschino skirt suit at Princess Eugenie's christening in 1990.
At Prince Harry's Wedding at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, 2018
Kate's Alexander McQueen coat dress for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding was a rewear (the photos made it look white, but it's apparently a light butter yellow color). She's worn the dress at least two other times, namely Princess Charlotte's christening in 2015 and the Trooping the Colour celebration in 2016. It appears to be a favorite of hers for especially formal events, and she matched with Princess Charlotte's fancy white frock and floral crown.
At Royal Ascot 2022
The Princess loves a polka dot, and this Alessandra Rich midi dress was a pretty on-point pick for an upscale but fun event like the Royal Ascot. Her hat was by Sally-Ann Provan, and her shoes are likely a favorite of hers (Gianvito Rossi). The dress was seen as a royal tribute to Princess Diana, who liked polka dots and who also wore polka dots to the Royal Ascot in 1988. The Royal Ascot is one of Kate's times to shine, and this is no exception.
At Commonwealth Day Service 2020
One of Kate's favorite colors, Commonwealth Day was a perfect opportunity to pull out this burgundy red Catherine Walker coat (a rewear from Christmas at Sandringham in 2018), a Prada clutch, burgundy gloves that she held in her hand, and Gianvito Rossi pumps. William matched her with a red tie. If this looks familiar for other reasons, this was the last engagement for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry before stepping back as senior royals.
At Grange Pavilion, 2023
A lot of Kate's public engagement wardrobe includes dresses, but she started wearing pantsuits as well—which, in the case of these pinstripes, look incredible on her. This Holland Cooper set was a rewear, which she also donned at a meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook. At this event, she wore a white Holland Cooper bodysuit, high high Gianvito Rossi pumps, and Shyla London hoops (an affordable retail piece—something she likes to do with her earrings!).
At Windsor Castle, 2020
This green Catherine Walker coat is a Christmas-worthy outerwear for Kate, who was celebrating with the Royal Family at Windsor Castle. It's a rewear (first seen in Dublin to honor one of Ireland's national colors), with the addition of a faux-fur Troy London lapel—which, I must admit, is a really fun way to switch up an old coat. She's also wearing diamond teardrop earrings on loan from the Queen. Add on black Ralph Lauren boots, and you've got the most fun head-to-toe holiday outfit.
At the Dog & Duck Pub, 2023
Shortly before King Charles III's coronation in 2023, Kate stepped out in this pretty red Eponine London Tulip coat. It was a nice contrast with her white bag, white Jimmy Choo shoes, and white skirt or dress underneath (the buttons on the dress complemented the ones on the coat). This was their first event for the Coronation weekend, kicking off what would be a colorful and sartorially elevated weekend for Kate.
At Kensington Palace, 2018
One of Kate's more festive outfits, this tartan skirt is a perfect choice for the venue: She was at Kensington Palace to host a Christmas party for families of military personnel. This is Emilia Wickstead and a fun, slightly surprising choice for her (she doesn't always opt for a midi length) as is her choice to wear boots for a more formal event. Her black Brora cardigan with teeny tiny buttons is the perfect pairing with the rest of the outfit. No surprise, the skirt sold out immediately.
At the Botanical Gardens in New Zealand, 2014
This is another royal rewear, with Kate first wearing the red Luisa Spagnoli suit in February of 2011 (although that dress was shorter, so the skirt might be different in this iteration). The colors correspond with local colors of Canterbury (red and black); Kate and William were there to honor the earthquake victims of Christchurch. Kate also wore a Mulberry clutch and Episode Angel black pumps (unlike the first time she wore this outfit, with black tights and boots).
At Easter Sunday Mattins Service at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, 2023
This bold cobalt Catherine Walker coat is a favorite of Kate's (she rewore it for a Coronation event in Scotland in 2023 and 2022's Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey). She keeps things interesting by switching out the hat and shoes—while she sometimes dresses head to toe in one color, like the Queen used to, she chose suede nude pumps for this Easter ceremony. What's fun about this particular deployment of the blue coat is that she matched with her children, including Prince Louis (pictured). Also fun: her red mani!
At Nottingham Trent University, 2023
In addition to high-fashion gowns, Kate will strategically choose retail brands at some of her events. In this case, it's Sezane, in a matching sweater and skirt. The sustainable French brand—which is fairly affordable—is known for its classic silhouettes and colors, and the cotton-wool blend is a perfect luxe choice for an event like this (she was at Nottingham as a part of a three-day schedule to mark Mental Health Day). As she often does, Kate went tonal with tan accessories.
At Royal Albert Hall, 2012
This iconic teal Jenny Packham gown (considered one of Kate's signature dresses) is one of her rewears; She wore it again in 2018 at the Tusk Conservation Awards. For both events, she accessorized with a matching teal clutch. At the original event here, she wore her hair up, but switched things up by wearing her hair in loose waves in 2018. Color moments are perfect for her to stand out, but she still tends to favor classic, endlessly chic silhouettes like these.
At a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace, 2018
The Lover's Knot tiara (a favorite of Princess Diana) requires a similarly statement-making gown, and this blue structured Alexander McQueen was just the thing. The deliberate ruching, giving a crinkled look, followed by a trumpet hem at the bottom, was and is an unusual dress shape for her. Known as her "Cinderella dress," Kate accessorized with Queen Alexandra’s Wedding Necklace, which was apparently beloved by the Queen Mother. It goes with the tiara!
At the 'Spectre' Premiere, 2011
At the premiere for the Bond film Spectre, Kate pulled out all the stops in a grey-blue Jenny Packham that was—wait for it—sheer in the back (a decidedly fun and daring choice for her). In addition to looking flowy and comfortable, Kate also had the original dress modified to have more arm coverage; In its original iteration, the dress was open at the shoulders. She had a matching Jenny Packham clutch and Jimmy Choo platform sandals, as she often picks for formal gowns.
At Government House in Victoria, Canada, 2016
On an official tour through Canada, and paying tribute to one of the nation's official colors, Kate wore a long red gown—with an asymmetric neckline, which is a little unusual for her and fun to see. It's Preen by Thornton Bregazzi. The maple leaf broach (again, symbolically referencing Canada through her accessories) was on loan from Queen Elizabeth and originally belonged to the Queen Mother. As she often likes to do, she went fully tonal with red Gianvito Rossi shoes.
At the St. Andrews 600th Anniversary Dinner 2014
At the St. Andrews 600th Anniversary Dinner (the alma mater for both her and William) at the Metropolitan Musuem, Kate wore a midnight blue dress. The event was apparently star-studded, from Anna Wintour to Seth Meyers. It's apparently a favorite of Kate's—for good reason—because she's also worn it to a National Portrait Gallery event in 2014, as well as a 100 Women in Hedge Funds dinner in 2013. It's basically a part of her fashion staples, at this point.
At the ARK Charity Gala 2011
At this, Kate's first event after her Royal Wedding, Kate pulled out all the stops with a pink sparkly Jenny Packham dress, complete with sequins and Swarovski crystals. She matched the look with light pink L.K. Bennett high heels with a bow at the ankle. This is one of the gowns that established her as a fashion force; The gown was instantly recognizable as signature Kate style. If the dress looks familiar to you, she rewore it at the East Anglia's Children's Hospices Gala in Houghton Hall, Norfolk, in 2016.
At the 2020 BAFTAs
As the dress code at the 2020 BAFTAs was sustainable fashion, Kate appropriately re-wore an Alexander McQueen dress that she wore in 2012 to a state dinner in Malaysia. She added some sparkle to the look, with Van Cleef & Arpels mother of pearl earrings and necklace, Jimmy Choo heels, and Anya Hindmarch clutch. It's a classic pattern, but the gold beading and fun crossover structure at the bust lends some intense visual interest to an otherwise classic gown.
At the Diplomatic Corps Reception at Buckingham Palace, 2022
Wearing a red Jenny Packham—with a floral pattern that's a little more ornate than she often wears—Kate also wore her hair a little straighter than she often does (which provided a pretty frame around the tiara: a nice touch, since Kate usually styles headgear with her hair up). The headpiece was a little unusual, too: the Lotus Flower tiara, which is apparently the first time she wore it since 2015. The whole look was quite festive, since the event took place close to Christmas.
At the National Service of Thanksgiving and Dedication To The Coronation Of King Charles III, 2023
At the National Service of Thanksgiving and Dedication for King Charles III (where Charles was presented with the Scottish crown jewels), Kate rewore her Easter Catherine Walker dress, a Philip Treacy hat, and pearl necklace from Queen Elizabeth II's collection. The head-to-toe matching look is classic for her. (Unlike other members of her family, Kate is not part of the Order of the Thistle, which is why she didn't wear a formal cloak, as she would for the coronation.)
At King Charles III' Coronation, 2023
At King Charles III's official coronation, it was a formal-upon-formal affair. Kate's blue Royal Victorian mantle designating Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (which is the highest possible rank) covered the majority of her custom Alexander McQueen white gown, made of ivory silk crepe with silver bullion. It was subtle, but the embroidery featured rose, thistle, daffodil, and shamrock motifs, signifying the four nations of the UK. She did not wear a crown or tiara, but was wearing a silver Jess Collett x Alexander McQueen headpiece with 3-D leaf embroidery. Her gown was similar to Camilla's coronation outfit, which was apparently a deliberate, coordinated choice.
At the 'Top Gun: Maverick' Premiere, 2022
At the much-anticipated Top Gun: Maverick premiere, Kate chose an off-the-shoulder Roland Mouret dress (which is a silhouette she doesn't often favor but looks modern and cool here). She wore Prada pumps, an Alexander McQueen bag, and Robinson Pelham earrings. Among the attendees were none other than some of the stars of the film, including Tom Cruise and Miles Teller. Prince William wore a black tux that meant the couple matched seamlessly.
At the 2011 BAFTAs
True to form, Kate would rewear this gown again at the Earthshot Prize Ceremony in 2021 (that time, Kate would modify the dress by adding a bronze and gold belt instead of the sparkly lilac we see here). This original event was a few months after the Royal Wedding to Prince William, and the Grecian dress is considered a favorite among people who are fans of Kate's gowns (it was also a strong debut to public-facing events for the new princess). Both times, Kate kept the rest of the look simple.
In Belize, 2022
This pink dress, designed by The Vampire’s Wife, contrasted with the very casual fashion Kate and William had showed off earlier in the day. Wearing her hair a little straighter than she often does at this type of event, Kate accessorized with O'Nitaa earrings, Jimmy Choo shoes, and a locally sourced clutch (in keeping with her themed outfits when on official tours). The princess and prince faced anti-colonialism protests while they were there and even had to cancel an event.
At the Pakistan National Monument, 2019
Kate would later rewear this sparkly custom-made green Jenny Packham at the 2021 Royal Variety performance—with good reason, because it's a fabulous emerald design (and thematic here since green is one of Pakistan's national colors). Kate and William, who was dressed in a complementary green traditional sherwani, arrived via rickshaw to an event celebrating Pakistan's partnership with the UK and celebrate the country's culture and art. So their outfits made sense thematically as well.
At the BAFTAs, 2023
This Alexander McQueen was technically a modified rewear (it looks like a longer shoulder piece at the side) that included a fun high-low moment: floral Zara earrings. Not the first time Kate has opted for inexpensive jewelry (and jewelry from Zara), they still look synchronous with the rest of the outfit. She jumped on the opera glove trend with a contrasting pair, which for her is a bit of an unusual choice. The impact is surprising and stylish, fitting for the high fashion nature of the BAFTAs.
At the 'No Time to Die' Premiere, 2021
At the No Time to Die premiere (featuring Daniel Craig's last performance in the title role, so a big event), Kate went a little out of her comfort zone with a Jenny Packham gown with floor length sleeves that felt cape-like in their construction. The sparkly gold made her literally look like an Oscars statue (and also drew Bond girl comparisons). Because of the glitter of the dress, she didn't accessorize with a ton of of jewelry, letting the gorgeous dress stand out on its own.
At Westminster Abbey, 2011
Designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen, Kate was reportedly (and obviously) very involved in the dress' design—and the designer wasn't revealed until she arrived at the ceremony, so it made for a fun sartorial moment. The result was a balance between traditional and modern styles, with a foundation of '50s style with some updated touches. The corsetry-inspired designed, luxe lace, more than 50 buttons down the back: It inspired a lot of similar style wedding gowns for years afterwards.
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Katherine’s a Boston-based contributor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle—from “Clueless” to Everlane to news about Lizzo. She’s been a freelancer for 11 years and has had roles with Cosmopolitan and Bustle, with bylines in Parents, Seventeen, and elsewhere. It’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.
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