There’s an air of easy glamour to the Duchess of Cambridge’s fashion sense, not to mention an affinity with nifty silhouettes and show-stopping Alexander McQueen looks. Remember the red dress coat she wore for a visit to Cardiff in December? How about the custom white-and-gold embroidered gown that stole the show at the 2020 BAFTAs? And, of course, her wedding dress (complete with a 9ft train) that drew gasps when she arrived to marry Prince William at Westminster Abbey in 2011.
With the ‘Kate effect’ guaranteeing everything she wears will be sold out within hours of her being photographed, the Duchess’s knack for mixing high-street brands and high fashion, together with her fondness for recycling favourite outfits, channels a resolutely down-to-earth approach. Among her favourite British designers—including Erdem, Philip Treacy and Emilia Wickstead—are affordable staples by L.K. Bennett and Reiss, offering plenty of versatile all-weather wardrobe cues, namely the ultra-groomed, form-fitting long coat.
In honour of the Duchess’s 39th birthday, Vogue celebrates the royal icon’s unfalteringly chic eveningwear—the gowns that dazzled and the dresses that stole the hearts of millions.
1 / 11
1. BAFTA brilliance
The Duchess of Cambridge and Alexander McQueen are a dynamic duo that go back to 2011, when she wore this beautiful lilac chiffon gown paired with earrings borrowed from the Queen herself while attending the BAFTA Brits To Watch Event at the Belasco Theatre, Los Angeles.
2 / 11
2. All white (and gold) on the night
Before she wore this exquisite white-and-gold, intricately embroidered dress to the 2020 BAFTAs, Middleton was first seen in it during the 2012 royal tour of East Asia and the Pacific when attending a state dinner at the Istana Negara, Malaysia’s National Palace.
3 / 11
3. A pop of colour
One of the most unexpected moments of Middleton’s style: a disco-infused Tory Burch dress for a private dinner in Bhutan in 2016.
4 / 11
4. Regal romance
The Duchess of Cambridge brought a touch of royal romance to a London gala dinner, with this dramatically draped pink tulle dress by Gucci and sparkling Cabrina pumps by Oscar de la Renta in 2019.
5 / 11
5. Simple elegance
A perfect pair: the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge looked as elegant as ever at a London gala dinner, back in 2011. Middleton chose the perfect pink palette, as she wore a Jenny Packham pearlescent, Swarovski-encrusted gown with a matching Prada Raso clutch.
6 / 11
6. Emerald city
The Duchess of Cambridge exuded grace as she wore a dazzling green gown by one of her favourite designers, Jenny Packham, on a visit to Pakistan in 2019.
7 / 11
7. Family values
Back in 2011, the Duchess looked stunning on the red carpet in an Alexander McQueen strapless black chiffon gown, which immediately sold out after.
8 / 11
8. Summer thrills
Barbara Casasola’s off-the-shoulder, light and pretty dress was Middleton’s answer to summer eveningwear for an event at London’s Natural History Museum in 2016.
9 / 11
9. Wedding bells
The royal wedding was the event we obsessed over in 2011 (especially the Duchess’s Alexander McQueen bridal gown, which was nothing short of spectacular). Here, Middleton wore an equally stunning piece created by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen for her wedding reception.
10 / 11
10. Bejewelled glamour
With simple jewellery, the Duchess lets the bejewelled neckline of her pale-pink Alexander McQueen gown take maternity style to new heights in 2018.
11 / 11
11. Royal red
As a long-time supporter of emerging British designers, the Duchess donned a red, sequined dress by Needle & Thread, and completed her look with matching ruby-red heels, at a reception at Buckingham Palace in 2020.