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Why This Kate Middleton Look Will Go Down in Fashion History

Why This Kate Middleton Look Will Go Down in Fashion History

The Princess of Wales’ transformation from Kate Middleton to future queen was never more perfectly marked than with her outfit carefully chosen for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, a fashion expert has told Newsweek.

Kate’s striking all-black outfit, worn on September 19, 2022, for the state funeral and committal service for the late queen has circulated on social media numerous times since the event, with many hailing it as a highlight in the princess’ lengthy style timeline.

Upon the death of the queen, Kate was made Princess of Wales by her father-in-law, King Charles, who handed over his title of Prince of Wales to his eldest son as a signifier of Prince William‘s new status as first in line to the throne.

Kate Middleton at Queen Elizabeth's Funeral
The Princess of Wales photographed on the day of Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral, September 19, 2022. The princess wore a striking black ensemble, marking a turning point in her style evolution, according to a fashion expert.
Tom Jenkins – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Kate has been celebrated for her fashion choices since her 2011 wedding, but the dramatic look worn for the events formally ending the second Elizabethan age will stand out in fashion history as a turning point in Kate’s style transformation, according to royal fashion expert and celebrity stylist, Miranda Holder.

“Kate’s funeral outfit was possibly the most important look of her royal career to date,” she told Newsweek.

“The world’s eyes were upon the British royal family for the queen’s funeral, and Kate, as one of the most photographed and scrutinized women in the world would have no doubt felt the pressure to get the style sentiment absolutely right.”

Describing the look as “iconic,” Holder noted the level of preplanning that would have gone into the choice of the black Alexander McQueen coat dress, oversized black hat and dramatic mourning veil which “set her apart from the rest of the Windsor wives, denoting her as our future queen,” and exhibiting “pure fashion genius.”

“Up until this moment in Kate’s royal trajectory we had witnessed a softer, more feminine, younger-seeming princess,” she said.

“It was at this moment however—in particular the several days of public mourning culminating at the funeral—that the princess’ style seemed to grow up before our very eyes, carrying more importance, more weight, more gravitas, in line with her new more senior role as the Princess of Wales and future queen. Her style aesthetic has remained slightly more business and slightly less fun ever since.”

Kate Middleton Queen Funeral Fashion
The Princess of Wales photographed with members of the royal family, including Queen Camilla and Meghan Markle, on the day of Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral at Westminster Abbey, September 19, 2022. The princess wore a black Alexander McQueen coat dress and large black matching hat with a mourning veil.
Karwai Tang/WireImage/Samir Hussein/WireImage

A key aspect of Kate’s look for Queen Elizabeth’s funeral were the layered tributes she paid to the late monarch, from the dress itself to her heirloom jewels.

The McQueen coat dress itself was “a replica of the white version she wore for the queen’s Platinum Jubilee,” Holder pointed out, explaining that “this was in itself a touching tribute to the queen whilst also retaining Kate’s signature style silhouette.”

The princess also wore a four-strand pearl necklace with a diamond clasp that had been loaned to her by the late queen and which the princess had worn for the funeral of Elizabeth’s late husband, Prince Philip, a year earlier.

Kate teamed the necklace with a pair of pearl and diamond earrings, also formerly belonging to the queen, together with a pearl and diamond bracelet.

“It’s worth noting that Kate was really the only royal to wear a full blown mourning veil as part of her hat,” Holder said.

“This not only added drama to the whole look (the wide-brimmed hat was just fabulous) but also helped her to stand out from the rest of the family. Notably, the veil also provided a very practical shield from the worlds media at such an emotional moment, allowing the princess to maintain the required stoic exterior whilst affording her at least a little privacy to gather herself and grieve.”

Over the past year, Kate has made a number of similarly striking looks, with the funeral ensemble setting a tone for those that have followed.

Kate Middleton Trooping the Colour
The Princess of Wales photographed in London for the Trooping the Colour celebrations wearing a vibrant green coat dress by Andrew Gn, June 17, 2023.
Neil Mockford/Getty Images

Most notably, the princess eschewed her usual pastel tones and floral motifs for this year’s Trooping the Colour celebrations. For the event, which marks the sovereign’s official birthday and also marked Kate’s first as colonel of the Irish Guards regiment, she opted for a bold green coat dress by Singaporean designer, Andrew Gn.

Likewise for the coronation earlier in the year, Kate opted for a sleek pillar-shaped gown with exaggerated “V” neckline, which was only slightly softened by the addition of silverwork embroidery.

This aesthetic development has kept royal fashion fans enthused, with the industry press equally prone to praise the princess moving forward.

James Crawford-Smith is Newsweek’s royal reporter based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jrcrawfordsmith and read his stories on Newsweek’s The Royals Facebook page.

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