Was Kate's wedding outfit actually new?

Elizabeth Holmes
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Harper's BAZAAR

Was the dress that Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, wore to the royal wedding a repeat-or a remake?

Kate the Great Wardrobe Recycler caused a stir when she stepped out of the car and onto the steps of St. George’s Chapel in a pale Alexander McQueen coat dress, a style she had worn three times prior. People, Time, USA Today and a host of other news sites trumpeted it as a repeat. Elle penned a passionate defence, arguing that re-wearing an old piece was the ultimate act of deference. By doing so, she ensured that no sartorial spotlight would be shed on her-and all of the attention would be on the bride.

But was it the same dress - as in, the exact same garment?

Ace sleuthing by Susan Kelley, creator of What Kate Wore, the authoritative site on the duchess’s wardrobe, reveals slight differences between the dress Kate wore to the wedding and the one she first wore to Charlotte’s christening in 2015. The changes are extraordinarily subtle: a little more fabric at the shoulder and some buttons on the sleeves.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

There is also the fact that Kate just had her third baby (less than a month before the wedding.) Her body is, of course, changing. “She could not have been the same size as she had been for the christening,” Kelley said (Charlotte was christened just over two months after she was born). It is highly unlikely that the seam allowances would be able to account for the change in Kate’s size and shape. And, even if they were, Kelley notes, there would be evidence on the garment. Letting out three-year-old seams would have likely left some marks.

This is familiar territory for Kate. The duchess has worn at least three different garments in different colours before, as Kelley notes in her post. She has two different Emilia Wickstead dresses each in two colours, as well as a dress by Amanda Wakeley in three different shades.

Photo credit: Getty Images

So what colour was this new version? Kelley points to pictures of the royal family after the wedding to provide some clarity. In the group photo, Kate is holding Charlotte, clad in a white bridesmaid dress, on her lap. The comparison makes Kate’s dress look much more yellow than it did at other times throughout the wedding. While the duchess faced some criticism for appearing to wear white to the wedding, it's likely that the bright sunlight on the day made the dress coat seem much lighter and brighter (and whiter) than it actually was.

“I think Kate really just wanted to fade into the background, if you will, and let Meghan and other people be the stars,” Kelley says.

McQueen declined to comment on whether the dress was new, old, or somewhere in between. The duchess has a long-standing relationship with the fashion house-Creative Director Sarah Burton made Kate’s iconic wedding dress and countless other pieces she has worn since joining the royal family-and I’m guessing would make any accommodation necessary for her, especially on such a big day.

But let's take a moment to marvel at the effort on display here?

Kate may well have had a dress remade so as to appear that she was just re-wearing an old favourite. What a commitment to deflecting the spotlight! I originally saw it as a kind gesture, and now even more so. Plus, it is very much on brand for the future queen consort, as a down-to-earth, thrifty royal. And it should silence all the naysayers who suggest she was lazy or so disinterested in Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding that she couldn’t be bothered to shop for a new dress. Instead, it makes her the early frontrunner for Most Supportive Sister-in-Law of the Century.




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