The best of Kate from 2011

Every time she stepped out into the public spotlight, Kate Middleton made news.

She never had to utter a word (and rarely did). For many, she said all she needed with the clothes she was wearing. Colourful, modern, sophisticated, urbane, casual, elegant ... all adjectives applied to the Duchess of Cambridge at one point or another.

Being a fashion icon almost overnight was not something she aspired to, but she wears the crown wisely. There are no whims in her public wardrobe. She knows exactly what she wants to say, and mostly says it through UK designers, who enjoyed a banner year profit-wise.

Within minutes of appearing in public, her entire outfit has been dissected, branded, costed and critiqued. Websites like What Kate Wore and Kate Middleton Style are full of devoted followers of her fashion sense. Names like Amanda Wakeley, Jenny Packham, Catherine Walker, Erdem and other design houses have become familiar.

Hours later, chances are whatever she was wearing is already sold out in stores, leaving high street beaming with pride.

That is 'The Kate Effect.'

With 2011 coming to a close, here's a review of some favourite Kate-looks:

Kate 1
LEFT: One of the stops that Will and Kate were bound to make was to their alma mater, St. Andrews, in Scotland. They appeared there in February to kick off the university's 600th anniversary. To keep the chill off, Kate wore a Spagnoli suit from Italy. The jacket and skirt go for about $600. The colour red would be a dominant theme in her wardrobe for the entire year.

MIDDLE: In a surprise visit, the engaged couple appeared in Belfast to flip some pancakes and hobnob with the locals. Kate went entirely British for this fashion statement with a cashmere coat from Burberry which set the copy-Katers back more than $1,000.

RIGHT: A few weeks before the royal wedding, Kate and William made their last public appearance in northwest England, completing a general sweep of the UK. Her navy blue outfit was from Amanda Wakeley.

April 29-wedding

This was the one everyone was waiting for. After months of speculation, the bride stepped out in a wedding gown by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen. No detail was too small in the creation. The palace described some of the dress detail: “Individual flowers have been hand-cut from lace and hand-engineered onto ivory silk tulle to create a unique and organic design, which incorporates the rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock.” English lace and French Chantilly lace were incorporated into the overall design. The bouquet was made up of lily of the valley, myrtle, sweet william and hyacinth.

Kate 2
LEFT: The wedding may have been out of the way, but the formal attire wasn't. For the 300-guests-only reception, Kate stuck with Sarah Burton creations, this one a floor-length satin dress with a diamante belt and a white angora shrug.

RIGHT: Will and Kate, the morning after the wedding, prepare to leave Buckingham Palace. She is wearing a cornflower blue $80 pleated dress from Zara with LK Bennett shoes.


LEFT: After returning  from their Seychelles honeymoon, Kate and Will’s first public outing is a 20-minute photo-op with Barack Obama and wife Michelle at Buckingham Palace.  For the occasion, Kate wears a $275 ‘Shola’ dress from UK fashion retailer Reiss. Within minutes, traffic to Reiss’s online store spiked, then eventually crashed with the surge of Kate wannabes.

MIDDLE: Will and Kate attend a black-tie gala for the charity Absolute Return for Kids (ARK) on June 9. The couple arrives in a Jaguar limousine and Kate steps out in a $5,600 Jenny Peckham gown. The dress sells out within days. Besides that, though, the couple makes a pretty strong statement about their royal role as charity ambassadors.

RIGHT: At Armed Forces Day in the UK on June 25, Kate and William attended a ceremony at Victoria Barracks to present medals to the Irish Guards. Appropriately, she stayed with the military theme with a army-inspired navy blue coat. You won't find this on the front lines, though ... it's designed by Alexander McQueen.


LEFT: Arriving in Ottawa for the start of the Canadian royal tour, Kate took the Canadian content rules to heart and went with a Cecile navy lace dress by Montreal-born designer Erdem Moralioglu. the dress from his 2012 collection goes for about $2,500.

MIDDLE: For Canada Day on Parliament Hill, Kate went with a Reiss Nanette dress, the same one she wore for the couple`s official engagement photos. The fascinator added a unique Canadian touch with its red maple leaf. It was made for the royal visit by Sylvia Fletcher of Lock & Company.

RIGHT: In Montreal for Day 3 of the royal tour, the Duchess chose a grey Kingston dress by Catherine Walker & Co. Walker, born in France, was was one of the Princess Diana`s favourite designers. She died last year, but her design team has carried on. Kate’s mother Carole wore a Walker-designed dress to the royal wedding. Kate`s accessories for the day were a Hobbs clutch bag and Hope Egg earrings by Links of London.

LEFT: At Levis, Que., on July 3, Kate wore a champagne-coloured dress by Joseph, called "Vaneessa" which coasts about $225. As usual, she had L.K. Bennett Sledge2 shoes.

MIDDLE: To start off the day at Charlottetown's Province House, Kate wore a cream-coloured knit dress from Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen. The dress featured a necktie complete with an anchor and navy trim and navy stripe detailing around the sleeves and waistband. Rounding out the ensemble were diamond and sapphire earrings and blue pumps.

RIGHT: Kate returned to blue and white for the trip from Yellowknife to Slave Lake, wearing dark blue J Brand skinny jeans with a Linda Camm belt, and a Smythe navy blazer -- the same one she wore when when she left London on June 29. On her feet are a pair sling-back wedges.

LEFT: As the couple went on a walkabout in the Northwest Territories on July 5, Kate took a break from her blue and white-themed wardrobe, for the first time not wearing a designer from Canada or the UK. It was from Danish designer Malene Birger, a silk mix linen and featured padded shoulders and a three-quarter length sleeves.

MIDDLE: Arriving in Calgary on July 6, Kate was met with some thigh-exposing winds at the airport in her Jenny Packham yellow dress.

RIGHT: Kate turned to a red Catherine Walker coatdress for her appearance at the ENMAX Conservatory at the Calgary Zoo on July 7. The French-born Walker was one of Princess Diana's favourite designers. She died in 2010 after a battle with cancer, but left a hand-picked team of designers to carry on her label. To add some Canadian content to the outfit, Kate wore the diamond maple leaf brooch that she also wore on Canada Day. She borrowed the brooch from the Queen, who had first worn it on a royal tour of Canada in 1951.


LEFT: As the royal tour wound down, the couple visited the Inner-City Arts Project in downtown Los Angeles. Kate wore at Lina Dobby Skirt and navy knit top, both from Whistles fashion store chain in the UK. The pleated skirt goes for about $145.

RIGHT: On her last night for this royal visit, Kate went back to the tried and true style of Alexander McQueen as she walked the red carpet of the BAFTA Brits to Watch gala in Los Angeles. It was a lilac coloured gown, accented by a pair of earrings that she borrowed from William's grandma, the Queen.


LEFT: The rich and the famous came out to get their moment with the royals at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club on July 9. For this charity occasion, Kate brought out a summer selection from Jenny Packham, knee-length, silver-and-marble-grey, hand-painted chinoiserie silk dress.

MIDDLE: The royal couple visited Birmingham, which had been hit hard by summer rioting, for a quick tour on Aug. 19. For the record, her outfit was designed by her wedding-dress maker, Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen. The nautical-themed outfit included a $950 blue skirt with a $1,200 McQueen cream blouse.

RIGHT: For all of her six months  as member of the Royal Famiy, Kate was always at the side of Prince William for official engagements. That has been very deliberate. But, stuff happens. When father-in-law Prince Charles had to bow out of a charity event at Clarence House unexpectedly, the call went for Kate to fill in. Donning an Amanda Wakely gown, she charmed the crowd all on her own and passed a critical test of royal life.

LEFT: Will and Kate joined Danish royalty Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary at a UNICEF warehouse in Copenhagen on Nov. 2. A few pats of the tummy on top of this $400 LK Bennett burgundy coat and refusing some high-energy paste was enough to spark further pregnancy rumours.

MIDDLE: A charity dinner for the National Memorial Arboretum Appeal with 120 guests in St. James’s Palace was strictly formal. Far from looking in the family way, Kate took a Grecian turn with a bare-shouldered, satin chiffon Jenny Peckham gown (retail: $2,130).

RIGHT: Kate chose a $119 Zara mini for a charity concert at London's Royal Albert Hall on Dec. 6.

With two of the men in her life -- Princes William and Harry -- by her side, Kate was all glamour for the Sun Military Awards in London on Dec. 19. The strapless black velvet gown by Alexander McQueen, accessories by jewellry she had been given as a wedding present. Despite the $6,200 price tag, the dress quickly became a scare item. (Getty Images)


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Another great blog about Kate's style is Strictly Kate http://strictlykatemiddleton.blogspot.com/

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