Dress like a Princess: Your Guide to Kate Middleton’s Style

It was the dress seen ‘round the world. Kate Middleton’s long-sleeved, custom-made lace gown by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen shone from TVs on both sides of the Atlantic, and it will always be known as the symbol of a princess in the making. Its classic elegance and stunning design cemented Kate as an international fashion icon. But for those of us without an entire country’s tax money and the entire fashion industry at our disposal, a royal wardrobe isn’t exactly in the cards. So how can a collegiette™ imitate Kate’s fresh, timeless-meets-fun style without breaking the bank—or without looking like a stuffy royal? We have the scoop on how to match the princess’s personal style for less. 

Around Buckingham Palace

Even royals don’t need to dress up all the time! When Kate’s not attending state dinners and traveling the world with Wills, she still maintains her put-together style. While you may spend your casual days chowing down at your local bagel place and not sampling tea at Buckingham Palace, you can still look as chic as Kate does. Here, at the Game Fair at Blenheim Palace in 2004, she pairs a simple tweed pencil skirt and striped oxford shirt with a large braided belt and leather riding boots for an equestrian-inspired look. The trench coat over her shoulder and sunglasses on her head make the look just as applicable for an intramural soccer game as for a royal polo match.

Get the Look:

For Kate, this preppy outfit may be perfectly suited to a photoshoot in the palace gardens, but for us it’s perfect for class! This Gap pencil skirt, cotton instead of tweed for summer, has the same classic cut as Kate’s but for a lot less, and the more relaxed button-down gives the look a more laid-back touch. Add a faded leather belt, like this one from H & M, to imitate her equestrian style, and a pair of oversized Jackie O-style sunglasses, like these from American Eagle, to add polish. Trade in Kate’s leather riding boots for flat leather sandals in the spring, like this pair from Zara. Throw a trench coat like this French Connection style over your shoulder and you have the perfect summer outfit!

Royal Function

Kate wore this bright blue cocktail dress, sharp black blazer, and elegant feathered hat to the wedding of event rider Harry Meade and Rosemarie Bradford, last fall. Her outfit may be a little unrealistic for us collegiettes™ (unless you’re really daring enough to try and pull off a crazy headpiece!) but luckily we don’t have any royal functions to attend anytime soon. Instead, you can translate her combination of a bright, flirty dress and a sharp, neutral jacket to your summer internships, a nice dinner with family or friends, or to your cousin’s summer wedding!

Get the Look:

A bright, floaty dress is the perfect backdrop to any summer look, whether for work or for play. Don’t be afraid to play with pleats, ruffles and one-shoulder looks for night—you don’t have to be as demure as Princess Kate all the time! Try a white blazer for your summer internship, like this one from H & M, and open-weave neutral pumps, like this pair from Aldo, to keep Kate’s traditional style while adding a little bit of boho. If you want to try for Kate’s elegant hat, go for a sun hat instead—this simple shape from Madewell makes the outfit perfect for a ladylike window-shopping trip through London’s fashionable boutiques. If you’re taking the look to a summer wedding or party, try a fun yet tailored bag like this structured python style from Topshop—its fun print and ‘50s-inspired shape is just Kate’s style!

Prince William’s Polo Match

Kate doesn’t always wear cocktail dresses wherever she goes—she can rock jeans just like any other girl, but she does it with a polished royal flair! Here, she wears clean-cut dark skinnies with a feminine top and leather jacket to a charity polo match her prince played in. Lucky for us, her polo ensemble is perfect for any collegiette’s™ wardrobe—you can bring it seamlessly from class to dinner on a Friday night to shopping on Saturday.

Get the Look:

To keep your look polished, try a dark, clean-cut-cut pair of skinny jeans like this Acne pair. A sleeveless ruffled blouse, like this Armani Exchange top, works perfectly with a classic-yet-edgy leather jacket like Kate’s—try a simple bomber style like this one from Topshop. Pair your jeans with simple ballet flats like these from H & M and a simple white shoulder bag like this timeless style from Nine West, and you can rock Kate’s weekend style anywhere you go.  

Date Night with Wills

Ready to dance the night away with your guy (or just with your girls)? At your next date night, formal, holiday party or special date function, take a cue from Princess Kate—pictured here at the 2010 Cancer Trust Christmas spectacular in Norfolk—and try a cocktail dress with bold black and white detailing. The combination is modern, eye-popping and totally flattering, and it works for any party, dinner or date no matter the season. She paired it here with a sharp black jacket to give the girly dress an edge, while her classic black pumps and clutch make the look both timeless and fashion forward.

Get the Look:

A bold black and white print in a feminine shape epitomizes Kate’s style—ladylike yet sharp, traditional yet edgy. These three prints—white with black lace detailing, polka dots, and flowers—are timeless and universally flattering, and they’re all more interesting than a plain LBD or LWD. Try a relaxed blazer like this style from Nordstrom to pull the look together. Since we’re not taking this look to any charity Christmas spectaculars, feel free to experiment with mod accessories, like these Urban Outfitters wedges and this sharp white envelope clutch, to make the look more college-friendly. Now get ready to steal some lucky guy’s heart with your spot-on style!

Announcing The Engagement

When Kate and Wills FINALLY announced their engagement in November 2010 after eight years of dating, there was only one thing everyone could think about—her dress. The deep blue Issa wrap dress sold out of UK stores almost immediately, and it has spawned dozens of imitations since. Issa has dressed Kate for tons of events in the past (the blue dress and black jacket she wore to Harry Meade’s wedding , pictured above, is also Issa!), and the designer (her full name is Daniella Issa Helayel, and she’s Brazilian-born but based in the UK) has enjoyed a huge surge in popularity since her dress appeared on the ultimate model in front of millions of TV viewers.  The wrap style—Kate often wears wrap dresses—is universally flattering, and the cut of the dress is both demure and sexy. And we can’t forget what the dress matched so perfectly—Kate’s incredible sapphire and diamond engagement ring!

Get the Look

Deep blue matches with neutral, silver, or even black accessories, and in a figure-conscious but becoming shape it’s perfect for a day at the office or a night on the town. This American Apparel style (middle) is casual enough to be dressed down during the day with flat sandals and sunglasses, or dressed up at night with some awesome jewelry and sky-high heels. The style at left, from ASOS, captures the same figure-flattering feel as Kate’s dress in a sexier, one-shoulder cut, and the dress at right (Gap) is a perfect choice for a summer internship or a family garden party. To really get Kate’s look add a pair of pumps—Kate wore black, but neutral works better for summer—for a polished feel. And if you want to go all out, get a blue cocktail ring, like this one from Lord & Taylor, and pretend Prince William just popped the question!

The Big Day

It’s the most iconic wedding dress of the century (so far, anyway). Long lace sleeves, deep V-neck, lacy bodice, long train…nothing could have been more elegant and timeless, yet totally different from the typical strapless beaded creations every celeb seems to be wearing these days.  After months of speculation and mystery, the designer was finally revealed on the royal wedding day: Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen, in close collaboration with the bride herself. Talk about a dream wedding dress! 

Get the Look:

Just because you may not be marrying a prince anytime soon doesn’t mean you can’t look as sweet and sexy as Kate on her wedding day! White or ivory lace is the quintessential feminine fabric—it’s romantic, it’s pretty, and it matches with everything. Try a lace dress with long sleeves like Kate’s, like this style from Forever21, or a t-shirt style dress for a casual party or a day at the beach, like this eyelet style from H & M.  If you want to go for separates, don’t be afraid to mix pale shades—a white lace top with a chiffon ivory skirt looks amazing under a blazer for your internship, or alone for a summer party. Try a bold statement necklace to counter the sweet lace, and some killer wooden heels to round out the look. You may not have the train, but you’ll look positively regal!

Which look of Kate’s is your favorite?  Leave a comment! 

Amanda First is a senior English major at Cornell University.  She is Life Editor of Her Campus, as well as founding editor of Her Campus Cornell. She has interned for Cornell Alumni Magazine, Harper's Bazaar, and Parents through ASME's internship program.  Some of her favorite things include high heels, browsing ShopBop, yoga, The O.C. reruns (but only before Marissa dies), and Tasti D-Lite. After college, she hopes to pursue a career in magazine journalism.

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