The Princess of Wales’s Style Evolution in 2022

A very Poignant end to Platinum Jubilee Celebrations
The Royal Family

The major event of the royal year, both in the UK and overseas, was the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It was a step change for royal life worldwide, marking the end of an era and anticipating change for the 21st century.  In the UK, not only did Charles accede to the throne, but he also lost no time in conferring the titles of Prince and Princess of Wales on William and Catherine.

The Duchess of Cambridge wore Alexander McQueen One Shoulder Ruffle Dress in her 40th birthday portrait
Kensington Palace

After some fine iconic looks last year, Catherine underlined her continuing fashion development in January with innovative birthday photos from a professional studio shoot. The rest of her year saw the development of edge and experimentation in her choices, coupled with increasing confidence.

The Princess of Wales informal to formal style in 2022

It was an extra formal year, from the Caribbean tour to the Platinum Jubilee via the Top Gun premiere, taking in the late Queen’s funeral, and then reaching a bright note with the environmental Earthshot awards show. All the way through Catherine’s unerring sense of classic style bore her in good stead, from stand-out evening looks to increasingly professional working outfits.

Catherine The Princess of Wales wore Eponine London Chi Chi Burgundy Coat Dress in December 2022 at the Christmas Carol service.
Kensington Palace

Most of Catherine’s choices are determined by her working day schedule, where we saw increasing use of tonal outfits, a tactic employed by many royal ladies to quietly stand out from the crowd. Here Catherine has shown further imagination in adapting looks to greet those in more challenging circumstances, as well as delivering top polish for a state occasion.

Most of Catherine’s choices are determined by her working day schedule

She can successfully adapt her daywear repertoire to include a comfy olive ribbed wool dress and coat for a children’s centre, or an impeccable classic matching hat and coat dress to greet the President of South Africa, and both in the same month. She succeeds without appearing any less engaged or regal for either event, an impressive feat to manage on such a regular basis.  On top of diplomacy, she has also to encompass sustainability awareness and is adept at using repeats, plus making careful use of High Street, while still phasing in new items to avoid becoming stale.

A casual touch was equally likely to be handled by wearing a loose tea dress. She has had no occasion to appear in casual since becoming Princess of Wales
Kensington Palace

Perhaps her growing formal status shows up from how just three work events called for in jeans in 2022, with cigarette trousers coming much more to the fore otherwise. A casual touch was equally likely to be handled by wearing a loose tea dress. She has had no occasion to appear in casual since becoming Princess of Wales.

February opened with an energetic Rugby Union training session in Nike Swift running pants,
Royal Family

February opened with an energetic Rugby Union training session in Nike Swift running pants, then & Other Stories jeans reappeared when reading to children for CBeebies Bedtime for Children’s Mental Health Week, these paired with a very chunky Fair Isle roll neck sweater from Holland Cooper, which came back for Christmas tree decorating.

Later the same month in Denmark, Catherine joined a forest kindergarten as part of a solo two-day visit, wearing UFO skinny jeans with her Seeland Woodcock Advanced jacket and Chelsea boots. In early March the couple spent St David’s Day in Abergavenny, this time Catherine wore US company Frame skinny jeans, matched with the Seeland jacket and Chelsea boots for a farm visit and then upgraded the jeans by switching to her full-length green Sportmax coat with heeled Aquatalia boots for a town walkabout.

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Practical concerns brought back skinny cargo jeans by G-Star in Belize in the Caribbean with a white tee and sneakers when climbing an ancient Mayan structure. Catherine then adapted to shorts for a sailing regatta in the Bahamas and, at the end of July in Plymouth, at the 1851 Trust for a friendly Commonwealth race of UK vs New Zealand. One other example of full jeans – possibly the Massimo Dutti Skinny Fit Trousers — came from the previous November when photos from her winter visit to Pirbright Training Academy were released in June to mark Armed Forces Day. Then, finally, a pair of skinny jeans appeared, paired with a white MiH Jeans broderie anglaise blouse, for the family Christmas card photo.

Catherine met volunteers and attendees of their weekly MumSpace group, pairing her LK Bennett Frieda Crepe Cigarette Trousers in black with a sleek new monochrome Glen Check Catherine Walker jacket
Kensington Palace

Otherwise, a casual hint was mostly gracefully achieved with tailored trousers. Tapered legs came more to the fore starting early February, at PACT (Parents and Children Together) community-led social support project, when Catherine met volunteers and attendees of their weekly MumSpace group, pairing her LK Bennett Frieda Crepe Cigarette Trousers in black with a sleek new monochrome Glen Check Catherine Walker jacket.  Also, for the Six Nations Rugby at Twickenham, the England vs Wales match, she paired the same smart trousers with a new Holland Cooper Knightsbridge Coat in Houndstooth.

Slim legs themselves then reached peak formality on the Caribbean tour when Catherine wore a new white McQueen pant suit for a visit with William to the Jamaican PM. The outfit was made bold by a striking tangerine Ridley Alicia top with a frilled tie-neckline, and an eye-catching, vintage, wood-handled, Willow Hilson, orange, beaded bag. White McQueen pants separates reappeared for Windrush Day in London in June, and for the August Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Black LK Bennett cigarette pants were paired with the repeat beige Reiss Larsson Double Breasted twill blazer for an April DEC committee visit when 15 agencies had raised £300m for Ukraine.

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Wide-leg tailored trousers were still in evidence, but being more deluxe, they tend to be more formal and not so much down with the kids. They were still good for a youthful touch, such as a visit to volunteers at the Ukraine Cultural Centre in March in Jigsaw high-waisted Sport Luxe trousers topped with a casual Ukrainian blue cashmere jumper. Wide legs were also deployed to arrive in Denmark on a two-day solo tour, and in white to depart Belize, matched with a surprise vintage red Yves Lt Laurent jacket in a novel recycle from her student days.

The solo trip to Denmark in February was a two-day working visit with the Royal Foundation for Early Childhood which has grown in reputation since launched by Catherine in 2021.  The then Duchess arrived in a diplomatic, red textured Zara jacket over a white frilled v-neck layering top, in a nod to the Danish flag colours. The outfit with wide-leg Roland Mouret trousers became most memorable — and adaptable — when pictures emerged of a delighted Catherine making use of a slide to descend between floors during a visit to the Lego Foundation PlayLab.

 

There was also an official welcome with Queen Margrethe II who was celebrating her Golden Jubilee where they were joined by Crown Princess Mary.  The three ladies kept to a business-like monochrome theme, in Catherine’s case this meant a grey Catherine Walker coat in a sharply tailored silhouette, with distinctive black contrast lapels and cuffs, inspired by an 18th-century frock coat.

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The development of tonal daywear outfits kicked off in January with contrast blues for a visit to the Foundling Hospital, with a much admired UFO teal single-breasted short coat over dark navy Hobbs roll neck and her trusty high waist Jigsaw sports luxe wide leg pants. This was followed the next day by a camel outfit, the coat again paler than the layering Iris & Ink roll neck and matching knife-pleat knit skirt, on a visit with William to Lancashire as joint patrons of NHS Charities Together.  These full skirts have played a part in giving comfort and ease of movement when forgoing the practicality of trousers.

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The colour toning was reversed on a visit to Scotland in May when the layering Cefinn blouse was bright blue while the long Catherine Walker duster-coat style was dark navy with matching cigarette trousers. While the latter may have been tailored, Catherine was in no way prevented from sitting on the floor cross-legged with children just as she might with jeans. A further variation in shades of blue appeared on Catherine’s first trip to Northern Ireland as Princess of Wales when she wore a pale blue Winser London bow blouse with a long pale blue coat and dark navy LK Bennet Frieda cigarette trousers in navy. The colours were significant locally as both feature on the city of Belfast flag.

The Princess of Wales, chose a Max & Co coat with a matching Gabriela Hearst dress, a Boden belt with her Ralph Lauren pumps, a DeMellier London bag and Accessorize earrings.
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November saw three tonal outfits in a single month, returning to camel tones for a Scarborough visit to launch a fund to support young people’s mental health. Then came reds for the Rugby League World Cup quarter-finals which saw a solo Catherine repeat a pillar-box red McQueen double-breasted coat over a soft contrast burgundy Gabriella Hearst roll-neck, with another fluid, knife pleat, wool-knit skirt from CO in Cabernet, plus new Gianvito Rossi brown boots. Then there were autumnal greens for a children’s centre in west London, with a new olive Hobbs coat deftly matched with a High Street Mango dark khaki ribbed knit dress.

Daywear dresses take in comfortable styles from the Sammy leopard-print chiffon midi-dress worn to Shout HQ in late January, to the ribbed wool-blend Iris & Ink two-piece to meet health workers in Lancashire.  When in the Caribbean, comfort was key, and pretty cotton dresses were very much in order, best typified by the colourful Tory Burch on the first full day of the tour, a shirred and tiered midi-dress in sunny Blue Painted Roses. This was followed in the next days by the vibrant Willow Hilson vintage sundress in turquoise, blue, coral and yellow, with a black filigree pattern. Later, she wore the delightful Self-Portrait Pleated-chiffon midi-dress in mint green for engagements including the Junkanoo Parade.

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More formal daywear saw a couple of extra innovative choices. For the Fashion Council Queen Elizabeth Award for British Design in May, there was a new label, Edeline Lee. The teal Pedernal dress with the loose-fitting bodice, high neck, dropped shoulders, and fitted waist stood out with its intriguing double-buckle belt and long ties at the base of elbow-length sleeves. The textured fabric was described as Flou Bubble Jacquard, woven in Italy. Later in July, Catherine produced another unusual design for a Charity Polo Match, the basically plain cream A-line Denvella from Emilia Wickstead, distinguished by striking black lines of piping in V patterns on the bodice and skirt, once again, originality within a classic framework.

Smart daywear featured heavily on the Caribbean trip with a most attractive dark blue Jenny Packham lace dress to arrive in Belize, to tone with the local flag colour.  This featured a deep V-neck Chelsea collar and peplum waist over a narrow scallop-edge hem skirt. Then a glorious yellow Roksanda dress with a big shoulder bow and full skirt was used to deplane in Jamaica. There was an exquisite ivory lace McQueen square neck body-con for a commissioning parade in Jamaica, and, last, at the Nassau airport Caribbean departure, a striking yellow Alessandra Rich belted floral print silk jacquard peplum midi dress.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the Thanksgiving service for the life of Prince Philip
The Royal Family

The sunny Caribbean behind her, Catherine again appeared in Alessandra Rich at the memorial service for Prince Philip, in a demure polka dot print, which started a summer of polka dots for her. Two more Rich polka-dot offerings involved, first, bolder white spots on bright azure blue for attendance at a cheerful Platinum Jubilee lunch, followed secondly by elegant soft brown spots on white for a chic Ascot appearance, with asymmetric hem and ladylike front ruffle descending from two shoulder buttons.

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In contrast, later over the summer, at the Platinum Jubilee Parade, Catherine debuted an original Stella McCartney tailored fuchsia pink dress, featuring an asymmetric fold across the bodice, cinching in at the waist before falling into a gently pleated skirt, with added long puff sleeves.

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A most iconic moment was achieved in daywear with the funeral ensemble in September where Catherine kept respectfully low-key by repeating a familiar style of Alexander McQueen coat in black, worn first in white to the Cornwall G7 Summit the year before. She also showcased the four-row pearl choker of the Queen’s, which she had worn to a similarly striking effect at Prince Philip’s funeral. With her saucer hat and birdcage veil, she achieved a timeless dolorosa look, ennobled by her own obvious, genuine grief.

The Princess of Wales arrived in Boston for the Earthshot Prize wearing a noteworthy Burberry

This was followed by a most scholarly-looking Wickstead black-and-blue houndstooth midi with a pencil skirt

Smart daywear was also featured on the three-day trip to Boston for the Earthshot Prize where Catherine appeared in the noteworthy Burberry green tartan dress. This featured generous folds at the waist which sent the traditional pattern into an intriguing asymmetric display. This was followed by a most scholarly-looking Wickstead black-and-blue houndstooth midi with a pencil skirt, high-set pointed collar and long sleeves for a visit to Harvard University centre on the developing child.

It is perhaps inevitable that both the cameras and fans will most appreciate Catherine’s evening looks. The aptly named McQueen was instrumental in bringing off the photoshoot for her milestone 40th birthday in January. Italian photographer Paulo Roversi captured the then Duchess in three of the label’s gowns. Two shots were in arty black-and-white, with one showing a laughing Catherine, possibly modelling the One-Shoulder Ruffle Gown, and the other referencing classic Victorian style. In this she was looking to the side in a formal shot with near pre-Raphaelite hair tumbling down her back while wearing an off-shoulder, softly gathered gown.

The Duchess of Cambridge's 40th birthday portrait
Kensington Palace

The most striking shot was in bold colour as Catherine showed off a dramatic one-shoulder, one-sleeve dress in bright red, the single sleeve enjoying quintessential McQueen exaggeration by being gathered into a huge puff. Catherine is once again looking straight at the camera and smiling broadly. The three portraits proved prophetic, summing up different aspects of her royal life, the private, the formal, and her whole individual identity, which more than came to the fore during the ensuing year.

Following the distinctive gowns used for the birthday photo shoot, the first full-length gowns were to be seen on the Caribbean tour.  Catherine launched her 2022 evening wardrobe with a shimmering Vampire’s Wife gown in metallic fuchsia pink for an evening reception among Mayan ruins in Belize.

 

 

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Things became more formal at the Governor General’s reception in Jamaica when Catherine debuted a green off-shoulder dress from Jenny Packham based on the designer’s Wonder glitter tulle maxi dress, with a distinctive ruffle neckline and emerald tassel earrings and bracelet from the royal collection.

Later, in Nassau in the Bahamas, Catherine rose to even greater sophistication with a smooth Philippa Lepley satin gown for the Governor-General’s black tie event. This was the Vienna Crossover Turquoise gown with the designer’s signature shoulder bows and generous full skirt, which was paired with a distinctive repeat Van Cleef and Arpels Magic Alhambra necklace and earrings.

 

 

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Two months later Catherine made one of the boldest statements of her royal year with the super-suave Roland Mouret black and white Lamble column gown for the Top Gun premier, which she attended with William to meet star Tom Cruise. Another off-shoulder dress this time came with a fitted silhouette and fluted hem and was perfectly complemented by modern drop diamond earrings from Robinson Pelham.

Later in November, the glamour came to Buckingham Palace with a state visit by the  President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa. Catherine brought on her second major evening look of the year with a Jenny  Packham white column dress with dramatically extended slit sleeves, topped with signature glistening Packham embroidery and beadwork on the shoulders and the splendid Queen Mary Lovers’ Knot tiara.

 

 

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Her third 2022 knockout evening moment came when she stepped out in vivid sharp green for the Earthshot prize with a rental column dress and her third off-shoulder of the year, by Solace London, delighting fans by topping it with the iconic Queen Mary art deco emerald choker which was a favourite of  Princess Diana.

 

 

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The final full-length outing of the year was for the December Diplomatic  Reception, which had not been held since  2019 due to covid.  In a classic floral embellished, Jenny Packham gown in rich ruby, Catherine showcased the Lotus Tiara with a fresh loose hairdo which helped the art deco piece stand out more effectively than in previous times of wearing.

Another marked development in the year was the increasing number of appearances by the couple’s children, as they are introduced to life in the spotlight
The Royal Family

Another marked development in the year was the increasing number of appearances by the couple’s children, as they are introduced to life in the spotlight.  George attended solo with his parents at rugby and the Wimbledon final, and George and Charlotte were taken together to the Easter Sunday service at St George’s Chapel Windsor and also on a one-day trip to Wales in June. All three children appeared for the June Platinum Jubilee Birthday Parade, arriving in their own coach, to watch the spectacular two-mile procession. Charlotte made her solo debut at the Commonwealth Games in August in Birmingham.

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An extra sober appearance came for the older two at the funeral of the late Queen Elizabeth II in September, with Charlotte in her first public formal hat. Lighter moments came when George and Charlotte joined their parents at Catherine’s Together at the Christmas carol service at Westminster Abbey.  Finally, all three children joined the royal party at Sandringham on Christmas Day.

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Catherine’s most successful 2022 looks vary from the striking monochrome Roland Mouret, worn to the Top Gun premiere, to her classic outfit for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. Two more different costumes could scarcely be imagined. The variety of style she achieved is underlined by her ability to carry off everything from the shimmering metallic pink full-length Vampire Wife gown, while still able to make canny use of monochrome via a Holland Cooper houndstooth coat in February, or again with the slim Wickstead houndstooth midi-dress in Boston.  Catherine continues a steady yet imaginative course through her appearances to deliver iconic looks that would be the envy of a professional model while enhancing her increasing royal status as the new Princess of Wales.

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