The Coronation in May of His Majesty King Charles III was the defining royal event of the year, showcasing the British genius for meticulous grand parade and military display. In her own first full year as the Princess of Wales, Catherine also continued to deliver further iconic moments of high glamour, while maintaining a serious approach to her core projects and patronages with a string of canny choices and professional repeats for a modern working wardrobe. This review of 2023 will be looking first at Catherine’s regular working outfits, then formal daywear, followed by her more casual fun appearances, and finally encompassing full-length glamour.
There was also a grown-up recycle theme as, even when new, outfits were in repeat styles but different colours, or repeat prints like houndstooth or polka dots, keeping the profile fully royal, but also businesslike and not guilty of inappropriate glamour. This didn’t exclude fashion surprises as Catherine can still push the envelope and split her fandom. Fashion demands an open mind and imagination, both of which the Princess possesses in abundance, and delivers with her own take on elan.
The graceful studio birthday shots of last year were set aside as Catherine’s opening engagements included a down-to-earth royal mix; a hospital, a primary school, a Rugby Football League reception, and a local foodbank. She began with a truly stylish repeat of the fan-favourite Holland Cooper Black Watch trench coat for a joint visit with William to Merseyside to the redeveloped Royal Liverpool University Hospital. The coat was subtly upgraded with a new navy wool Cefinn dress. Repeats came out again for an Early Years visit to a nursery school where the Massimo Dutti cashmere camel coat reappeared to great effect over the distinctive orange spice Gabriella Hearst knitted skirt and top from Boston the previous autumn.
A joint visit with William to a local Windsor foodbank saw another favourite return, the cheery Hobbs London Tilda three-quarter coat in fuschia pink, with matching roll-neck sweater and navy Jigsaw trousers. For more formal events, repeats were again a mainstay, her burgundy Roland Mouret pant suit came out for the England Wheelchair Rugby Team reception at Hampton court, and an Early Years committee session at Windsor castle saw the Princess svelte in repeat McQueen tuxedo jacket and Holland Cooper bodysuit.
At the heart of her New Year projects was the launch of Shaping Us, a campaign to raise awareness of the critical importance of early childhood. Catherine highlighted the launch with a touch of her trademark glamour in the debut of a bold red Alexander McQueen Leaf Crepe Drop hem jacket and matching trousers. The new suit proved its worth by reappearing at the Coronation Concert in May, and the style was also chosen in white for a March business Taskforce for Early Childhood meeting.
A February Shrove Tuesday visit to the Oxford House nursing home in Slough saw classic camel and navy in a variation on the Princess’s working uniform, as the repeat long Max & Co camel coat with was paired with familiar wide navy Roland Mouret pants, instead of dress or skirt. The outfit was enlivened with a UFO pair of earrings, in round blue button style with eye-catching gold latticework, plus the return of the chic Polene Paris clasp bag.
For the couple’s first visit to the West Country as Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, Catherine returned to the familiar burgundy of the Hobbs London Celeste coat with matching knit separates. A new long cream coat appeared for a joint visit to Wales, the single breasted style was later identified as being from Savile Row tailor, Chris Kerr. Catherine teamed it with a repeat Zara check skirt, which was full enough not to hinder her in an enthusiastic spin cycle contest with William. Another popular repeat was the bold red-and-white check Catherine Walker coat deployed for the Six nations Rugby match at Cardiff, with the couple attending as joint patrons of English and Welsh rugby.
March and April were mainly more formal events followed by May which opened with a slew of coronation outings. The first of these was an informal visit to the Dog and Duck pub in Soho London where Catherine sported another long coat and dress outfit for a regal touch. Out came British labels in the shape of her bright orange red Eponine coat with mandarin collar, bracelet sleeves, inset pockets, and large covered buttons, with her Suzannah London Flippy Wiggle dress in white silk underneath.
This was followed next day by a Commonwealth lunch reception at Buckingham Palace, Catherine wore a new sheath dress in familiar style of cream with contrast trim in black at neckline and waist, possibly Catherine Walker. She had worn a similar Jaegar style in 2014. Then came an unexpected walkabout on the Mall which revealed her Aquazurra bow tie pumps in black suede. The late Queen’s Bahrain Pearl Drop earrings were brought out again for the outfit.
The formality was turned up another notch for a cocktail reception at Buckingham Palace for overseas guests on the eve of the coronation. A new dress was debuted from the familiar label Self-Portrait. Catherine stood out in vivid cobalt blue, with a high knotted neckline leading to a twisted fabric bodice and draped skirt. This was the perfect foil for the Queen Mother’s sapphire and diamond fringe earrings.
The day of the Coronation saw Catherine at her most regal in the debut of her Royal Victorian Order mantle and collar, worn over a bespoke Alexander McQueen gown in ivory silk crepe. The historic gown was decorated with silver bullion and thread work embroidery featuring the English rose, Scottish thistle, Welsh daffodil, and Irish shamrock, to represent the four nations of the UK. The same flowers had appeared on her 2011 McQueen wedding dress by Sarah Burton. Further detail was revealed in Coronation photos when, minus the ceremonial mantle, the late Queen’s George VI festoon necklace could be seen.
For the ceremony, the Princess also wore a three-dimensional leaf embroidery headpiece made of silver bullion, crystals and silver threadwork, which was a collaboration between Prince’s Trust supported milliner Jess Collett, and the McQueen fashion house. Her South Sea pearl and diamond earrings once belonged to Diana, Princess of Wales.
The next afternoon saw coronation events resume with a walkabout on the Long Walk beside Windsor Castle when Catherine shifted to a more summery uniform of jacket, a new Reiss double breasted linen blazer in blue, over her trusty LK Bennett slimleg Frieda pants, and casual Veja Metallic Trimmed sneakers. Later the same day, the celebrations reached their high point with the Coronation Concert at the Castle, where Catherine was able to rewear her striking red Alexander McQueen Leaf Crepe Drop Hem jacket and pants in an informal setting.
The rest of May saw a return to varied engagements, from volunteering with Scouts at the Big Help Out, the concluding theme of the Coronation weekend, to a visit to the Dame Kelly Holmes mental health programme in Bath and in the same Mental Health Awareness week, the Anna Freud Centre, of which Catherine is patron. The Bath engagement saw the debut of an LK Bennett Mya jacket in bright yellow, again worn with slim leg pants and sneakers. For the Anna Freud Centre she repeated the Susannah Flippy Wiggle dress style, but in green, thereby maintaining a low-key royal dignity.
In the summer of Barbiecore, Catherine made a surprise appearance at the May Chelsea Flower Show in her ME+EM Pink Colour Block Silk Shirt Dress for the first RHS Chelsea Children’s Picnic. She followed this with a trip to the Foundling Museum, as part of the Shaping Us campaign, wearing her pink McQueen tailored pink pant suit, upgraded with a distinctive Camilla Elphick Pearl Belt in white.
June came in with its clutch of regular formal summer engagements. Meanwhile, on the routine working front, Catherine continued to develop her summer use of jacket, slimleg pants, and flats combination. For a visit to the Windsor Family Hub, which works to support local families, she debuted a Zara jacket, in her favourite houndstooth, but this time in blue, with navy Frieda crepe cigarette pants and Emmy London Lulu flats. In a return to her familiar summer dress styles, she later debuted a shirtdress from Cefinn in a green leopard pansy print, to meet Nuneaton heath visitors at a Worcestershire Children’s Health Centre.
For the reopening of the National Portrait Gallery, Catherine maintained a low-key repeat theme with a a new dress in a a familiar Self-Portrait style – a tailored jacket with fixed pleated chiffon skirt – this time highlighted with black piping detail in the jacket. For supporting women in the justice system at the Southampton Hope Street centre, there was a repeat of the Alessandra Rich Chelsea Collar polka dot dress, debuted at the 2022 Wimbledon Men’s Final. For the opening of the young V&A in London’s Bethnal Green, it was back to the summer theme of Barbie pink, with her Beulah Ahana dress for meeting children.
At Wimbledon there was a blazer development when the Princess appeared in Balmain for the first time, wearing a two-tone mint-green jacket with contrast white collar, and matching white knife-pleat skirt and accessories. There was a further eye-catching day dress for the men’s July final in emerald green by Roland Mouret, with short sleeves, and a shoulder ruffle extending to a pleat across the bodice and ending in a slim skirt with back slit. The bright emerald was the third shade of green she wore to the tournament, and was accompanied by contrast nude repeat accessories and new Green Onyx Gemstone earrings from Milina London.
Catherine is one of the most accomplished wearers of a hat on the planet and her first chance to show off her prowess in 2023 formal outfits came on the first day of March at Combermere Barracks in Windsor. It was the first time the couple attended the St David’s Day parade with the Welsh Guards as Prince and Princess of Wales, and Catherine wore a new slimline vibrant red coat, double-breasted with padded shoulders, peak lapels, flap hip pockets and welt pocket at the chest, similar to others by McQueen that she owns. It was topped by an eye-catching new black hat by Julie Botterill, trimmed with bow and two arrow feathers.
Formal outfits continued in the second week of March which saw the couple at Westminster Abbey for the Commonwealth Day service. Catherine made a return to a favourite label, Erdem, to debut an intriguing ensemble of navy floral separates from the pre-fall 2023 collection, featuring the Ottoman Jacquard Peplum Jacket with coordinating flared midi skirt. This was paired with a new Sean Barrett wide brim hat, similar to the one worn to the funeral of the late Queen, and sapphire cabochon cluster earrings that belonged to Diana, Princess of Wales, maintaining a theme of reworking items and styles.
Just four days later the Prince and Princess of Wales attended the Irish Guards St Patrick’s Day parade. This was Catherine’s first time acting as Colonel, as William was stepping down after thirteen years. She debuted a vivid teal Catherine Walker coat featuring signature design elements, including a slim silhouette with princess seams, stand collar, and angled pintuck seams at the upper bodice. Worn with a matching dress underneath, the ensemble colour matched the distinctive plumes of St Patrick’s blue in the bearskin caps of the Irish Guards. There was a new Jane Taylor felt hat, with matching back pleated crin detail which fanned out on the top.
Smart repeats came to the fore again when attending the April Easter Sunday service at Windsor Castle. Catherine wore the popular sapphire blue Catherine Walker Mayfair coat with velvet shawl collar first worn for Commonwealth Day 2022, this time upgraded with a new Lock & Co pillbox hat with knot bow.
After the May Coronation, June brought the formality of Trooping the Colour, the Windsor Castle Garter Ceremony, and Ascot. New outfits with hats were in order for her first appearances as Princess of Wales. For Trooping the Colour she debuted Singapore designer Andrew Gn with a vivid green embellished coatdress, while the Garter ceremony saw a more muted monochrome choice, giving way to the splendour of the ceremonial costumes. Catherine debuted an Alessandra Rich dress in custom black and white polka-dot print, repeating both designer and favourite print style. The fitted silk-satin midi dress featured gathering details at high neck, shoulders, and waist, with puff shoulders and buttoned long sleeve cuffs. There was a new Philip Treacy hat with black saucer base adorned with black and white polka-dot print feathers. Jewellery came from her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana: the Collingwood Pearl Drop Earrings and Nigel Milne triple-strand pearl bracelet. And all topped with a classy chignon.
For Ascot, a flowing bold red Alexander McQueen dress with wrap effect bodice, had recycle undertones as it was thought to be the one worn under her coat at the St David’s Day parade in the March. Her wide brim saucer hat was equally striking with its coordinating red flower. The v-neck dress bodice was complemented by statement chandelier tassel drop earrings from Sezanne.
As Duke and Duchess of Rothesay, in July the couple took part in the formal presentation of the Honours of Scotland, the crown, sceptre, and sword, which are Britain’s oldest crown jewels, at a service of thanksgiving and dedication for the coronation of King Charles at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh. Recycling was at work again as Catherine’s vivid cobalt blue Catherine Walker coat with velvet shawl collar was a perfect match with the Scottish flag. The slimline silhouette featured flap pockets, oversized covered buttons, and flared mid-length skirt. A new Philip Treacy hat sported sculptural quill-like embellishment, and royal bling was present in the form of the Japanese Pearl necklace, owned by the late Queen Elizabeth.
At the other end of the sartorial scale, the Princess has continued to segue expertly in casual wear from smart touches to upgrade an informal look, to embracing full athletic kit. She channelled smart casual for trip to Derby in February to meet the intrepid Captain Preet Chandi, also known as Polar Preet, who had broken the world record for furthest unsupported solo polar ski expedition in history. Catherine debuted a casual Zara blazer, a low-key repeat of her familiar double-breasted style, this time in, for her, a typical textured ecru weave, with embossed buttons. Her comfortable cream crew neck and slim-leg pants with sneakers proved handy when she had a go at trying to pull tyres along the ground, as per exhaustive polar training. The Zara blazer came out again for an April Shaping Us campaign video with Iceland Foods chief Richard Walker, and later to watch England beat Fiji in the October Rugby World Cup quarter-finals in Marseilles.
Smart casual was also key to the Waleses family day out at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire. Catherine returned to a familiar label, Blaze Milano, for a double-breasted pinstripe blazer in taupe with the brand’s signature half-moon shaped pockets, the kind of subtle tailoring touch which Catherine is fond of to lighten up an outfit. In this case the neutral jacket was worn with slim leg navy pants and navy flats, looking both smart and practical enough to clamber around aircraft with children. The jacket also boasted oversize buttons of woven leather strips.
Skinny jeans remain a staple of Catherine’s most casual looks, as when, during two days the couple spent in Wales in April, the trip began with a visit to the Central Beacons Mountain rescue team. Abseiling Catherine donned a red Mountain Equipment jacket with a return to her G-Star skinny cargos. Later she upgraded to her Edith jacket from the 2020 Barbour x Alex Chung Collection over her Holland Cooper Astoria Rollneck sweater as she and William joined rescue team members back at the local rugby club for pizza. The subsequent day of the visit was when the couple made a sober visit to Aberfan.
In early May, the Wales family took part in the Big Help Out to promote community volunteering as part of Coronation celebrations and visited 3rd Upton Scouts Hut in Slough to help with renovations. Catherine picked out a new Really Wild Liberty Silk Denim Shirt with Frill Neck while returning to the comfort of her G-Star High G-Shape Cargo Skinny Pants and Blundstone Chelsea boots.
In June, Catherine made a solo visit to Maidenhead rugby club, near Windsor, to take part in a rugby drill. Catherine is patron of English Rugby, but the visit also focused on early years, and the crucial role community settings like local sports clubs can play in supporting children and parents. The Princess was resplendent in a plain Women’s England Rugby Gym Training T-shirt in blue, plus new Sweaty Betty Run Pants in navy, and Lulelemon Chargefeel white trainers.
Also in June, Catherine met with tennis champion Roger Federer and the ball keepers at Wimbledon, looking the part in a Wimbledon Performance Full Zip Jacket, Wimbledon Core Performance Sleeveless Polo, and Barricade skirt 2013 design from the Stella McCartney/Adidas collection. She wore new trainers, Babolat Jet Mach 3 in white for use on grass courts, and her Orelia Chain Huggie Hoop Earrings.
In the casual category it might be possible to include the kind of loose summer dress Catherine has long favoured, as when she went to cheer on Prince William at a charity polo match near Windsor. She joined William at the Guards Polo Club Berkshire where he was competing in the Out-Sourcing Inc. Royal Charity Polo Cup. The event was held to support eleven of the Prince and Princess of Wales’s charities. William’s team won and Catherine presented the trophy in a summery new Beulah Sonia Blouson Sleeve Dress in Cornflower Blue.
In Wales in early September for a joint visit with William to a seaweed farm engaged in sustainable packaging, Catherine revisited her Troy London khaki parka with trusty G-Star cargo trousers with sneakers.
As September came in, Catherine took the unprecedented step, for her, of wearing pants for almost two dozen consecutive outings. They were often keenly appropriate to their events, and she maintained an array of colours as well as quality tailoring.
The Princess made a surprise appearance on The Good, Bad, and the Rugby podcast, which was held in the Green Drawing Room, Windsor Castle. She was informal in smart casual repeats, with Catherine Walker Glen check blazer, white bodysuit, and tailored slim leg pants, finished off with Hugo Boss embossed stilettos.
This was followed by a visit to a men’s prison at High Down in Surrey, where her royal blue McQueen pantsuit helped keep her mission serious, and then by a return to skinnies for Duchy of Cornwall woodland at Hereford with an outsize Maje blazer. Her first visit as Commodore-in-Chief to the Fleet Air Arm at the Royal Navy Air Station Yoevilton could not have been better served than by her smart black Holland Cooper double-breasted twill blazer with slim leg tailored pants.
For factory visits to textile manufacturers in Leeds and Lancaster little could be more businesslike than Burberry tailored blazer and trousers in custom green while moving around the factory floor. Her next event at a playgroup was perfectly served by splash of bright red boucle Zara jacket with practical slimleg pants and flats, all the better for sitting on the floor while playing with tinies.
The trousers-with-blazers theme saw a variation when visiting a support hub in Bracknell, Berkshire, working for those newly arrived from Ukraine, when Catherine pulled out a new Cefinn vest top, the Janie Sleeveless Funnel Neck jumper, over a UFO white shirt, paired with high-waisted Sezane Martin Pants in mottled grey. And a solo trip to a Rugby League Inclusivity Day in Hull demanded rugby football kit with running pants.
It was the second week in October before the series of pants outfits was broken on a solo trip to Nottingham Trent University to learn about its mental health support system from students and staff. Catherine delighted fans in a natural-tone knitted two-piece top and skirt by Sezane with toning accessories, combining business-smart with stretch comfort.
The Princess did the honours for the UK on her visit to the Rugby Football Union Marseille Quarter Final Rugby World Cup match wearing her Zara Textured Double Breasted Blazer in Ecru, switched up this time with wide leg black pants, an ideal combination for a quick flight or for sitting in a stadium. She topped off her look with a complimentary French touch in the shape of a Chanel Mini Flap Bag in Black Lambskin.
An early touch of glamour in Catherine’s year came with the debut of the bold red Alexander McQueen Leaf Crepe Drop jacket, also with matching trousers, for the launch of her Shaping Us project. A versatile ensemble, it proved its worth by a segue from the business setting to the evening rock concert held at Windsor Castle as part of the Coronation celebrations. The distinctive drop-edge jacket gave a classy rock-and-roll vibe and was changed up for the concert with a repeat of her Van Cleef & Arpels Magic Alhambra necklace and earrings.
But Catherine took repeat outfits and glamour to a whole new level when she appeared on the red carpet for the February Bafta awards. With her talent for deploying classic elegance with a touch of verve, she upcycled a previous Bafta favourite, a one-shoulder McQueen gown, swapping an applique shoulder detail with a shoulder drape. The great daring she displayed was in contrasting the flowing gown with dramatic, long gloves in black, a style item she has never worn before, but much beloved of our late Queen. She pushed the fashion envelope further with a striking pair of gold floral cluster earrings from Zara.
Barely a fortnight after the Coronation, the Princess delighted fans again with a full-length sapphire Jenny Packham gown in a surprise video appearance for the opening of the Eurovision Song Contest Final. In the pre-recorded video Catherine was seen playing a grand piano under magnificent chandeliers in the Crimson Drawing Room of Windsor Castle, with the full skirt of the sapphire blue Marlowe gown pooled on the floor around her. The bold colour was a nod to Ukrainian flag. The flowing one-shoulder style was made from chiffon gently gathered and pleated, and finished with crystal embellishment at the waist. It was complemented with Queen Mother’s Sapphire & Diamond Fringe Earrings.
At the beginning of June the couple attended the wedding of Crown Prince Al Hussein of Jordan to Rajwa Al Saif, a glittering event attended by many of the world’s royals. From the British Royal family, Princess Beatrice and her husband Eduardo Mapelli Mozzi were also there, as old friends of the couple.
For the wedding ceremony, Catherine debuted a dusty pink gown by Lebanese designer Elie Saab. The floor length dress was decorated with swirling applique floral motifs, and featured pleated detailing, high neckline, and billowed sleeves. The design was part of an RTW collection, seen on the runway at 2017 Paris Fashion Week. Catherine had modesty panels added to cover sheer sections of skirt. She carried her Wilbur & Gussie Charlie Clutch in Gold Glitter, and on her feet were her Prada Scalloped Sandals in Beige Suede. She completed her look with pair of morganite and diamond statement earrings, first spotted at a 100 Women in Hedge Funds gala, and also seen at the 2017 Baftas. Provenance remains unknown.
For the wedding reception Kate stayed with pink, in a new Jenny Packham, but a repeat of the Georgia style she also owns in green. The sequin covered column gown features crystal embellishments at the waist and neckline and was originally part of Packham’s A/W 2019 runway collection. Catherine’s green version was first worn during the 2019 Pakistan tour. In Jordan, the Princess carried her Prada Raso Minaudiere Clutch in Pink Satin, and wore the Queen Mary Lover’s Knot Tiara.
Catherine also debuted earrings from the Royal Collection, the Greville Diamond Chandelier Earrings, an Art Deco design, often worn by the late Queen Elizabeth. She wore her Royal Victorian Order sash and badge along with Maltese Cross for the wedding banquet, and pinned her Bentley & Skinner Art Deco Diamond Set Brooch to the sash, while the Royal Family Order of QEII was on left side of her dress.
Catherine’s next full-length looks for the year came later in autumn during a pair of visits by overseas royals. The first was the state visit of the President of South Korea, Yun Suk Yeol, and his wife, Mrs Kim Keon Hee. Catherine took centre stage at the welcome ceremony in a dramatic red cape by Jenny Packham, thrown over her red Packham Beau Tie coat and dress.
The cape may have proved more eye-catching than planned from when Catherine was exiting a car, only for the triple layer of garments to bunch up and rise to show off an enviable pair of legs. But it maintained full ladylike status when she stood to attention with other royals at the Horseguards Parade official welcome, with her new matching wide brim hat from Jane Taylor. The outfit was easily adapted for the following lunch at Buckingham Palace by removing the cape.
Catherine went full-length for the white-tie state dinner held in honour of the visiting Korean couple, when she appeared in an elegant ivory Jenny Packham gown featuring embroidered short drape sleeves, and worn with long white evening gloves. The big surprise of the evening was the debut of a new tiara for the Princess, the Strathmore Rose, formerly belonging to the late Queen Mother, and making the third she has chosen from the QM’s collection.
Elegant daywear was in order for the Norwegian crown couple, Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, who came to the UK for two days. Catherine revisited a favourite Emilia Wickstead style, this time with a new midi-length dress in dark green, to greet their guests at Windsor Castle. The Kate style, named for her, had a fitted bodice, on this occasion with extra seaming, integral self-belt, and full, flared skirt.
A full-length evening look was again on display for the November Royal Variety Show, to which the Waleses were accompanied by the Norwegian crown couple. Catherine stepped out in a teal green Safiyaa dress with raised peak shoulders and dramatic cape sleeves. The contrast sparkling crystal and embroidery neckline was matched by J Crew costume Pearl and Crystal Earrings and a UFO costume bracelet.
For the diplomatic reception in December, Catherine turned on glittering full-length style with her dusty pink Jenny Packham Georgia sequin embellished gown, in a full repeat of the outfit worn to the Jordan wedding, complete with Lover’s Knot Tiara and Greville Diamond Chandelier Earrings. Fans were rewarded with much clearer shots of the jewellery than had been possible at the busy wedding in May.
Catherine’s fashion year reached its finale with a dazzling all-white ensemble for her Together at Christmas carol concert at Westminster Abbey. In a stand-out and iconic look, the Princess debuted an immaculate coat by London Savile Row tailor, Chris Kerr. The single-breasted white outer garment boasted sharp peak lapels, angled flap pockets, a deep back vent, and flared cuffs with a refined single button on each. This was worn open over a plain crew neck top and new Holland & Cooper pants with wide waistband cinched over feminine full trouser legs.
Catherine carried a new white Strathberry, the distinctive Mosaic Top Handled bag. She wore her hair loose for a casual vibe, but, when pushed back, her Van Cleef and Arpels Alhambra earrings could be seen bringing a softer, floral touch to the sleek lines of tailoring.
Throughout 2023 Catherine managed to incorporate repeat styles and recycles for a sober working look without loss of her natural glamour. September saw the most marked change with the development of her use of trouser suits for a greater range of events, while retaining variety in colour and quality of tailoring. She continues to be a supreme ambassador for the UK with no lapse in the high quality of appearance she has always striven to achieve.