Kate Middleton’s Top 13 Style Secrets for Polished Perfection

Kate Middleton’s Top 13 Style Secrets for Polished Perfection

Ever wondered how to dress like Kate Middleton? How she looks flawless EVERY SINGLE TIME?

Kate Middleton looks polished and sophisticated in a cream ensemble

You’ve come to the right place. I’ve spent 13 years tracking the Princess of Wales’ fashion evolution, and below, I’m sharing 13 indispensable style secrets that will help you elevate your wardrobe to royal heights.

In this navy blue look, Kate radiates elegance and poise.  She wears a navy blue and white military blouse trucked into navy trousers, with a long coat on top.

Kate’s outfits always turn heads whether she’s attending a glam gala or on a casual day out. Want to add a dash of her elegant style to your wardrobe? Here’s your chance. Dive into these 13 style lessons straight from Kate’s fashion playbook – they’re your go-to for a sophisticated and approachable look.

I’ve got to start with a classic—a trend that Kate popularised in the early years of her marriage and that she still sticks to 13 years later, the ‘nude pump’.

The Princess of Wales smiles as she braves the rain, holding an umbrella, wearing a green poppy print dress and nude heels

Tip #1 – invest in heels that match your skin tone:

Kate benefits from a sleek, elongated silhouette when she finishes her outfits with shoes that match her skin tone.

Kate Middleton paired nude-tone heels with a vivid cobalt outfit on Easter Sunday last year

I should point out that I’m not talking about the old-fashioned definition of ‘nude’ here, meaning ‘light beige’. As we all know, ‘nude’ comes in a spectrum of shades. I’m using the term to mean a colour that blends seamlessly with your own skin tone. (Above, Kate wearing beige suede heels with a striking cobalt ensemble on Easter Sunday last year.)

Kate Middleton at the Chelsea Flower Show wearing a green floral dress and nude heels.

Nude heels complement the Princess’s colourful and patterned outfits without overpowering them and add a touch of sophistication to her overall look. (Above: Kate wearing the L.K. Bennett Fern pumps in ‘Trench’ at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2019.)

The Princess of Wales looks super chic in a grey fitted dress and nude tonal accessories.

Kate put the L.K. Bennett Sledge platform on the map when she wore the shoe to almost 40 royal engagements between 2011 and 2014. But today, she favours the ‘Gianvito 105‘ in suede by Gianvito Rossi. (Pictured above, Kate in the sledge pumps during a visit to the Royal Marsden in 2011).

Handily, both companies manufacture a bunch of leather and suede styles to match a range of skin tones today. Shop at: L.K. Bennett and Gianvito Rossi via MyTheresa.

Tip #2 – add polish to your outfits with pantyhose:

Look for a photo of Kate wearing a skirt or dress. Zoom in and you’ll see she’s wearing pantyhose (or ‘tights’ as we call them in the United Kingdom) underneath.

A close-up image of Kate Middleton's sparkly heels. Image illustrates that the Princess is wearing tights - you can see the tights' sheen on her legs.

Above: Exhibit A! You can see the sheen on her legs in this close-up photo of her shoes.

The hose adds a polished finish to the Princess’s look by providing a smooth and unblemished silhouette. There’s a reason some people refer to hosiery as ‘makeup for the legs’.

The Princess of Wales in a white dress, wearing the same sparkling shoes at an engagement.

Wear pantyhose to elevate an outfit, for a sleek, finished look. They’re probably best suited to formal events or professional settings.

A smiling, happy Kate Middleton waving, wearing a vibrant magenta skirt suit and black tights.

Tip #3 – build a wardrobe of gorgeous coats:

This tip comes straight from my heart because, over the last 13 years, Kate’s shown me that an elegant coat is a timeless investment that adds instant polish to any outfit.

Kate Middleton visiting a nursing home in Oxford wearing her camel coat by Max and Co. She's paired the coat with a navy outfit.

This is a rule that I’ve internalised and now live by! A good quality, classic coat means you have a go-to piece that will elevate even the most basic separates in winter.

Kate Middleton wearing a super chic tartan coat with a coordinating outfit underneath.

I must admit, I’ve gradually built up a wardrobe of coats for every occasion and season in a wide range of colours and styles – and I’m not averse to adding a few more to my collection over the coming years.

The Princess of Wales embraces a coat in spring, worn over a printed floral dress.

I used to try and make do with just one or two styles. But now I see coats as investment pieces that’ll last for years. I love throwing on a coat and a pair of boots for a timeless look. The longer the better in my opinion!

Kate Middleton wearing the Hobbs Gianna Coat in navy blue, carrying her Stuart Weitzman clutch bag and matching heels.

Tip #4 – don’t overlook fit!

This is something else that I’ve come to appreciate in recent years: well-fitting clothes make a HUGE difference in your appearance.

The Princess of Wales wears a pussybow blouse and skirt by Oscar de la Renta, which has been modified from the original design sent down the runway.  It fits her to perfection.

Wearing perfectly fitting clothes is crucial for that perfectly polished look. Clothes that are too loose or too tight won’t do anybody justice.

Kate knows and appreciates this fact! A lot of her outfits are custom-made or adapted and tailored to flatter her figure. Though it appears even the Princess is not averse to using a safety pin in some situations—needs must and all that:

A close-up of the Princess of Wales's blouse, showing pinching at the bust.  The Princess may have used a safety pin to secure the opening of her blouse.

If you don’t have a Princess-worthy budget or a reliable tailor on standby, give special attention to fit while shopping. Avoid gaping armholes, ill-fitting jeans, tops that are too tight and buttons that gape at the bust. You get bonus points for being handy with a sewing machine, a bit of hem tape or, of course, a safety pin.

Tip #5 – embrace blazers:

Kate’s worn a rainbow of blazers during her time as a working royal, but I’d say she’s particularly gravitated towards the style over the last 18 months or so.

Kate Middleton walks towards the children's centre wearing a red blazer from Zara and black pointed flat shoes from Boden.

We’ve seen her pair them with everything from jeans and sneakers, from trousers and flats to dresses. They just add structure and sophistication to any outfit, whatever the occasion.

Kate Middleton looks chic in wine-coloured trousers, a white top and a gorgeous Prince of Wales check blazer.

A well-fitting blazer will elevate any ensemble in an instant, creating a more professional and polished look. It’s a versatile item that will work with dresses, jeans, or trousers, and add a touch of elegance to any outfit.

Kate Middleton at The Big Lunch on the long walk in Windsor, wearing a baby blue blazer with trousers and trainers.  A casual-chic look.

And yes, I’m in danger of sounding like a broken record now but I’m a recent blazer convert myself. I bought a gorgeous pink double-breasted style from Marks and Spencer last year and I’m planning to add another in a different hue to my collection ASAP.

Tip #6 – elevate outfits with meaningful jewels:

Kate masterfully intertwines meaningful jewellery into her daily looks, elevating each ensemble beyond mere fashion. Her choices, often laden with personal and historical significance, speak volumes.

The Princess of Wales wearing the Late Diana's earrings with a gown

Above: the Princess of Wales wearing a famous pair of her late mother-in-law’s earrings at the 2019 BAFTAs. (Photo by Deposit).

Take, for instance, the iconic sapphire engagement ring, once Princess Diana’s, symbolising both continuity and reverence for royal heritage.

Kate Middleton wearing her engagement ring at a public engagement in Norfolk

Or consider the acorn earrings from her wedding, echoing her family’s coat of arms.

The Princess of Wales on her wedding day, wearing the Cartier Halo Tiara and a pair of Oak Leaf Earrings.

These thoughtful selections do more than accessorise; they narrate a story, weaving personal moments and royal traditions into a tapestry of elegance.

A perfect example is the pearl choker that Kate wore to the Late Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral (below). The piece was closely linked to the late monarch. No doubt, the poignant choice of accessory was worn in tribute.

The Princess of Wales at the late Queen Elizabeth II's funeral, wearing jewellery previously worn by the monarch.

OK, we don’t have access to the royal jewel vault – but why not embrace Kate’s approach with what you have to hand? Incorporate pieces with sentimental value or heritage in your wardrobe to finish your outfit with a unique touch.

They’ll also spark engaging conversations, making each outfit more than just a style statement. Don’t have a 100-year-old brooch or diamond jewellery suite heading your way? Me neither. The best we can do is shop for vintage and contemporary statement pieces within our budgets.

Tip #7 – mix high and low fashion pieces:

You’ve got to agree that Kate’s style is a masterclass in balance. The Princess seamlessly blends high-end designer pieces with accessible high-street finds all the time.

The Princess of Wales wears a pair of cascading floral earrings from Zara with her couture white off shoulder gown

She’ll happily accessorise a custom-made couture Alexander McQueen gown with a pair of Zara statement earrings (above in 2023), for example. The juxtaposition shows that true style transcends price tags.

By incorporating affordable brands alongside luxury labels, Kate crafts ensembles that are both relatable and aspirational. It’s a strategy that invites us to reimagine our wardrobes, encouraging the integration of investment pieces with budget-friendly staples. This method champions the idea that elegance and quality can be found at every price point.

The Princess of Wales, wearing a mask, holding a pen and gesturing.  She's wearing a pair of diamond earrings with a houndstooth dress.

Above: The Princess of Wales at UCL wearing a houndstooth dress from Zara that cost ~£90 before going on sale for less than £30, with a pair of diamond earrings by Crown Jeweller Mappin & Webb worth upwards of £1,700).

Emulate Kate’s high-low approach by curating a wardrobe where each item is chosen for its ability to enhance your individual style narrative, rather than its price tag.

Can’t afford a brand-new wool coat, or a designer leather handbag? Pre-owned and vintage pieces are great too (circular fashion, yay!) You don’t have to break the bank to dress like Kate.

One of my favourite fashion YouTubers, Andrea, frequently scores all sorts of wonderful pieces from charity shops and sites like Vinted. (Side note, I love watching how she transforms items from meh to wow!)

Tip #8 – wear makeup that enhances, not distracts:

Kate favours understated makeup that subtly accentuates her features. Her makeup often aligns perfectly with her dignified role. Her makeup palette typically involves neutral tones that highlight her natural complexion and avoids dramatic statements.

The Princess of Wales looking naturally beautiful - her makeup is subtle and accentuates her features.

Rarely will you see the Princess of Wales with a striking lip colour or over-defined brows. Instead, she opts for a softer, more natural look that complements rather than competes with her outfit.

Another photo showing Kate's natural beauty. The Princess wears minimal makeup in this candid shot taken by a fan during a street party

To emulate Kate’s sophisticated style, focus on makeup that enhances rather than transforms. A light touch with foundation, a hint of blush for a healthy glow, and neutral eyeshadows can work wonders. This technique not only showcases your natural beauty but also ensures that your makeup harmonises with your attire, achieving a look of polished professionalism.

Remember, the goal is to create a complementing balance, where your makeup and outfit coexist in elegant harmony.

Tip #9 – see fitness as a way of life:

Kate’s lifelong passion for sports and fitness isn’t just a nod to health; it’s a cornerstone of her radiant style and poise. Tracing back to her school days, today the Princess’s love for sports is seamlessly woven into her royal duties.

Sporty Kate wearing a rugby kit, and holding a rugby ball.

This principle is something you can adopt too. Embracing a fitness hobby that resonates with you brings more than health benefits. It will infuse your style with a dynamic, vibrant flair and reflect positively in your appearance and the way you carry yourself.

The Princess of Wales looks toned and beautiful in a pair of shorts and a striped top during an engagement related to sailing - one of her passions.

Tip #10 – gravitate towards classic silhouettes:

Kate isn’t one for blindly following trends or pushing the envelope with her style. You won’t see her sporting ‘pantashoes’ or ‘joots’, for instance (thankfully).

Kate visiting the Hamburg Maritime Museum in Hamburg, Germany, on the 21st July 2017. The then-Duchess wears a purple a-line dress.

Take a leaf out of her playbook by filling your wardrobe full of timeless pieces and shapes, like tailored dresses, shift dresses, A-line skirts, and well-fitting trousers that you can wear again and again. These pieces tend to flatter a variety of body types and never go out of style.

Tip #11 – invest in quality basics:

Quality basics are the cornerstone of Kate’s timeless style. By prioritising well-constructed, versatile pieces, the Princess effortlessly achieves a polished and sophisticated look.

The Princess of Wales wears a black double breasted blazer by Holland Cooper with a white T-shirt and black trousers

Kate’s approach to fashion emphasises the importance of timeless essentials that can be styled in myriad ways, serving as the perfect canvas for both everyday ensembles and special events. (Above and below: Kate wears her black Holland Cooper blazer in two very different ways.)

The Princess of Wales re-wears the black Holland Cooper blazer with a more informal outfit. This time, a striped T-shirt and trainers

Build your wardrobe around high-quality staples. These pieces can be mixed and matched to create endless looks. These items will form the building blocks of a versatile and elegant wardrobe, allowing for seamless transitions from casual to formal occasions.

The Princess of Wales proves that good basics are the foundation of any polished outfit. She wears a blue blazer with a simple white tee, jeans, and trainers

Start with a crisp white shirt, high-quality cotton tees, a couple of cashmere sweaters, trousers and jeans in your preferred cuts, a tailored blazer and a wool coat. Then gradually build up your capsule wardrobe over time.

Tip #12: embrace colour, strategically:

Kate often uses colour strategically to make a statement and capture headlines when she has a big project to launch or wants to draw attention to an important event. I can list a myriad of examples: the bold red suit she wore to launch her Shaping Us project, the purple suit she wore for her first ever Shaping Us symposium, the neon green dress she wore at Prince William’s Earthshot Awards…

The Princess of Wales looks eye-catching in this vivid purple suit.

For her day-to-day engagements, the Princess tends to favour classic hues like navy, red, green, and beige. Then she’ll use brighter, bolder shades to ‘cut through’ the noise when she wants to stand out and capture attention.

The Princess of Wales wearing a black and beige outfit on one of her day today engagements

You can experiment with colour in a way that feels authentic to you, but consider starting with these core colours for versatility.

Speaking of colour….

#Tip 13 – don’t shy away from tonal and monochrome:

Kate’s flair for tonal and monochromatic dressing is a lesson in effortless sophistication and elegance. I think this is a trend we can all take notes from and adopt quite easily.

In this photo, Kate Middleton is wearing tonal green from head to toe.

Tonal or monochromatic dressing, a staple for the Princess of Wales in recent years, results in a flattering, elegant, streamlined look.

Kate stuck to shades of pink for this engagement, choosing the exact shade with her suit, instead of opting for a white blouse to match her accessories.

For those of us who aren’t as svelte as Kate, monochromatic outfits offer an illusion of height and a slimmer silhouette, a clever trick that combines fashion with function.

For this engagement, the princess wore beige from top to toe

What makes this approach stand out is its simplicity and versatility. Whether for professional engagements or high-profile events, a single-colour palette ensures a polished, harmonious appearance. It’s a practical yet stylish choice.

The Princess of Wales embraces one-colour dressing as she walks down a set of stairs wearing a blue suit, blue accessories, blue shoes, and a matching blue knit.