Ten years after she became a Duchess, why Kate Middleton is queen of the high street

DRESSED to perfection in an Alexander McQueen gown, Kate Middleton transformed from William’s Ugg-booted, skinny-jeaned girlfriend into global fashion royalty on their wedding day.

Next Thursday, it will be a decade since Catherine tied the knot with Prince William, becoming the Duchess of Cambridge, and chucked away her low-slung denims and chunky belts for good.

In their stead, Kate has offered up a fashion feast for fans, wearing regal outfits by designers like Jenny Packham and Erdem.

Most recently at Prince Philip’s funeral, she stunned in an elegant black dress by Roland Mouret, a bespoke Catherine Walker coat, a demure netted hat and the Queen’s pearl earrings and choker.

But it is her affinity for the high street that really makes Kate a princess for the people, with anything she wears selling out instantly owing to the phenomenon known as the “Kate effect”.

Just a day after marrying William in that £250,000 delicate lace, button-back show-stopper, the duchess chose a £34.99 blue Zara dress to jet off on honeymoon with William. And that was just the start of her love affair with the brand.

Zara was perched elegantly on her collar-bone at a London film premiere in 2013 — a £19.99 curved diamante necklace, worn with a bespoke cream gown by Roland Mouret.

And in 2020, Kate wore a leopard-print skirt, reduced in a Zara sale to under a tenner, to visit a Cardiff children’s centre.

But it’s not just Zara that Kate loves.

In 2016, while on tour in India with William, she wore a £75 pink embroidered smock dress from Topshop to Kaziranga National Park — it sold out just moments after she was seen in it.

On the same trip, she teamed an £8 pair of Accessorize earrings with a £50 maxi by womenswear brand Glamorous.

Well-known jewellery brands such as Missoma, Monica Vinader and Orelia have also had huge success on the back of Kate wearing them.

One of Kate’s other go-to brands is Reiss and, more recently, we have seen her embrace Marks & Spencer.

Few will forget that pink M&S suit she wore twice last year — once with the jacket and once with a plain white T-shirt — or the £29.50 pair of white trainers with green stripes.

Unsurprisingly, the trainers sold out, as they did when relaunched with different-coloured racing stripes.

The fashion platform Lyst.co.uk says that in the week following one of Kate’s appearances, there will be an average increase of 119 per cent in online demand for whatever she wears.

No wonder she is consistently voted one of the nation’s fashion icons — most recently being named best “fashion influencer” thanks to her lockdown style in a poll by lovethesales.com.

While fans can drool over her designer gowns, it is her more affordable looks that have won Kate the most accolades and made her style so accessible. Having her royal seal of approval is the ultimate compliment and propels any brand to global fame.

Whether it is nostalgia towards shops she grew up with, a penchant for understated class, or the appointment in 2014 of her stylist Natasha Archer, who encouraged her to experiment with trends and ditch the £195 nude LK Bennett court shoes that once seemed sewn to her feet, our bargain-hunting duchess has become our queen of the high street.

Long may she reign.

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