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The Duchess of Cambridge's five defining looks of the past five years

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In the five yeas since Kate Middleton became the Duchess of Cambridge, she has carefully carved out a distinctive style identity, juggling the need to be glamorous but also appropriate, stylish but not a fashion victim while also cleverly making use of clothes and beauty to enhance her role. There are probably times when a message is construed when there was really no message at all but it’s often irresistible not to read something into a Kate outfit. It might be as simple as ‘today I’m looking at boats, so I am dressed accordingly in nautical white and navy’ through to something a little more nuanced, like the time that she debuted a new Princess Diana-style fringe just days before the announcement that she was pregnant with her first child.

These are five classic Kate looks which say the most about her time as Duchess of Cambridge so far…

The wedding look

After many month s of feverish speculation about which designer would be chosen to create the most important royal wedding dress in years, a “fashion moment” was immediately declared as Kate stepped out of the Rolls Royce at Westminster Abbey in an Alexander McQueen creation by the label’s creative director Sarah Burton. Created using lace made by the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace, the gown incorporated references to the wedding dresses of the Queen, Princess Margaret and Grace Kelly but also had an edge which made it modern. In short, it was just the thing to elegantly transform Kate from commoner to Queen-to-be.

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The leaving-the-hospital look

Style-wise, Kate took two very different approaches to leaving hospital with her newborns under the gaze of the world’s media. With Prince George, it was all about blissed-out new mother mode with a breezy Jenny Packham pale blue polka dot dress, loose hair tumbling over the shoulders and low wedges (ideal for navigating steps with a future king in arms). The message here was natural and relaxed, let’s not play up too much to the hype thing.

With Princess Charlotte almost two years later, the look amped up. This time the hair was carefully tonged into perfect curls and the practical wedges were swapped for heels. Jenny Packham was still the designer of choice for a pretty daffodil print dress but the Duchess won special commendation for her bravery in opting for white. It was about as far from earth mother as you could imagine.

The perfect tour look

In their five years of marriage, the Duke and Duchess have visited all corners of the globe, from the high-octane glamour of Los Angeles to the remote island of Samoa. Kate’s learnt to juggle diplomacy while also pleasing the home crowd. Case in point, this outfit from the couple’s tour of Canada in 2011. The maple leaf hat is an obvious but quite fabulous diplomatic tribute to her hosts, as is the matching brooch, borrowed from the Queen. But the Reiss dress ticks two essential Kate boxes. Firstly, it was the second time she’d worn it- the Duchess has gained quite a reputation for rewearing her outfits. Secondly, people could actually buy it (or something similar). It’s pieces like these which have spurned ‘The Kate Effect’, so-called because if Kate wears it, and it’s available for sale, you can bet it won’t be around for long.

The Off-Duty

A reminder that even Princesses aren’t on permanent primped and preened mode. At the weekend, a trusty Breton top and skinny jeans will do for the Duchess just as they do for the rest of us. Hers are by brands which we are all likely all have in our wardrobes too- Zara, Me + Em and J Crew are a few of Kate’s casual go-tos.

The uber-glamour look

Over the past year or two, the Duchess has begun to work closely with Kensington Palace PA Natasha Archer who has been credited for coaxing her into more daring choices, particularly when it comes to the eveningwear. During the recent royal tour of India and Bhutan, Kate chose a glamorous and decorative crop top and maxi skirt ensemble by British designer Alice Temperley. A crop top for a future Queen? The epitome of regal style for the 21st century.

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