Over the last ten years the Duchess of Cambridge has become a true British style icon, influencing fashion the world over. And now, thanks to a flawlessly chic pregnancy, Kate’s has had a similar impact on maternity wear, setting the fashion agenda for mums-to be for years to come. A phenomena fashion critics have dubbed ‘The Duchess Effect’.
Here Caroline Jones, author of new Carlton book: Kate’s Style: Smart, Chic Fashion for a Royal Role Model, looks at five key ways in which Kate has rewritten maternity fashion rules…
Animal print is okay
They’re a bold choice for late-stage pregnancy and one many mums-to-be might avoid, but despite being eight months pregnant, canny Kate managed to look striking yet lady-like in this unusual black and white Dalmatian print Hobbs dress-coat for the Royal Princess Cruise Ship naming ceremony in June. Expect a million copy-Kate maternity prints in shops very soon.
Hitch belts higher
Since she first started being photographed ten years ago, the Duchess of Cambridge has been a big fan of using belts to create a nipped-in waist on dresses and coats. While pregnant, Kate has cleverly switched from cinching belts at the waist to pulling them in just below the bust – forming a classic empire line shape that flatters her bump but still shows off her neat silhouette, as with this pale peach Jenny Packham lace dress and matching coat she wore on June 4th, for the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey.
Become a (coat) swinger
She’s always loved matching summer dresses and smart coats in the same hue for formal occasions, and Kate has simply tweaked this staple look to suit her pregnancy shape. Rather than opt for her usual highly fitted jackets – such as the red Alexandra McQueen one she wore to the Royal Jubliee River Pageant last year – she’s switched to a looser flowing, swing style like this Tara Jarmon peach coat she wore while visiting Naomi House Children’s Hospice on April 29th. This kind of coat doesn’t need to be buttoned-up, but still looks super-smart, gently skimming even the biggest baby bump.
Dare to bare those legs
Part of Kate’s normal demure look is to favour skirts that falls just below the knee, but to avoid looking frumpy as her body shape’s changed, Kate has raised her usual hemline a few inches. By opting for a just-above-the-knee length she manages to emphasise her still-slender legs. The result is elegant and classy, even in this polka dot number costing just £38 from Topshop that she wore to visit the Warner Bros Studios in April. Expectant mothers can expect this modest but feminine maternity style to become the fashion standard for years to come.
Don’t ditch your heels
Many pregnant woman switch to flats but Kate shows you don’t have to if you choose carefully – just be sure they have a platform sole for hidden extra support, easy balance and less backache. Luckily for Kate, her all-time favourite nude LK Bennett Sledge pumps that she’s worn on dozens of previous occasions fit the bill perfectly, which meant she could slip them comfortably back on for a trip to Windsor Castle for the annual Scouting Parade in April.