Clothing Items Kate Middleton Can't Live Without

Catherine, Princess of Wales has such a powerful influence on fashion trends that this force has a name. The "Kate effect" began in 2010 when Catherine wore a navy blue wrap dress by Issa. The dress gained so much popularity instantly that designer Daniella Helayel later told the Daily Mail that it destroyed the brand. "From the day of the royal engagement our sales doubled," Helayel said. "I didn't have the money to finance production on that scale. The bank refused to give me credit and the factory was screaming for me to pay its bills. I needed an investor."

While the story of Issa is a more tragic example of the "Kate effect," there's no denying her influence on the fashion industry. It seems that anything the royal wears becomes global news. For instance, she wore a white blazer by Alexander McQueen that fans felt was too pricey, considering she has several others that look really similar.

Catherine also has a history of wearing really expensive outfits, and the combined prices of shoes, bags, and jewels mean that her style comes with hefty price tags. In her defense though, she's famous for recycling looks, so at least she's putting her influence to good use (though it's not like the rest of us are only going to wear a coat once). With all the razzle-dazzle around Catherine's wardrobe, she actually has a pretty staple set of choices and we've compiled the key clothing items that Catherine can't live without.

Kate goes classic in a pleated skirt

If you look closely, you can see a style pattern to the outfits that Catherine, Princess of Wales wears. One such staple that she loves is the midi-length pleated skirt with a fitted turtleneck. She changes up the color combination but keeps this formula the same, and it's a huge home run. In October 2021, Catherine wore a monochromatic look, pairing a bright red pleated skirt by Christopher Kane with a matching red turtleneck when she gave a speech in London for the "Taking Action on Addiction" campaign. The original design also came with a crystal fringe on the waistband, but Catherine went without this embellishment.

In 2021, Catherine wore another monochromatic look while in Scotland with Prince William. This time, she wore a royal blue blazer with a blue, pleated midi-length skirt. Her blazer was from Zara, while the skirt was by Hope. Naturally, the skirt sold out right away. The look was a huge hit because of how much it channeled Princess Diana's monochromatic, blue look in 1992 (via Hello!), complete with the cut of the blazer and hue of blue. Catherine has used her pleated skirt look many other times too. When she visited the Ely and Careau Children's Centre in Wales, she wore a pleated, leopard print skirt by Zara with a black turtleneck (via Today). We love the look and, judging from how often she's reached for a pleated skirt, we're sure to see it again.

Kate still sneaks in the odd skinny jean

The New York Post reported that Gen Zs think skinny jeans are so out. However, Catherine, Princess of Wales is being the perfect 40-something by throwing caution to the wind and rocking out in them anyway. And frankly, thanks to the "Kate effect," everyone else in that age bracket is grateful because we don't want to shelve our skinnies. Old habits die hard.

Catherine has been wearing skinny jeans steadily since her induction into the royal family following her 2011 wedding to Prince William and hasn't stopped. She's favored a few key brands over the years, including Zara's high-rise sculpting fits and J Brand's Alana waist-cinchers. When she visited Wales in March 2022, Catherine wore Frame Le One high-rise skinny jeans (via Hello!) and showed off their versatility by wearing them outdoors in the morning and later, dressing them up with heel boots and a long coat. See, Gen Zs? Skinny jeans can do everything.

Catherine's love of skinny jeans has proved advantageous for the brands who make them, and a J Brand representative told (via Marie Claire) that she totally changed things for them. "I don't think you could ever foresee the effect she's had on any brand," the rep said. "She's got this amazing influence none of us could ever predict to market. That's what we've had from her just wearing them." So Catherine and the skinny jean aren't going down without a fight.

Kate Middleton lives for coat dresses

Often called the fashion failsafe for Catherine, Princess of Wales, the coat dress is a staple of her wardrobe that we've seen time and again, just in different colors and hem lengths. Coat dresses tend to be made from thicker fabric than a dress and are buttoned or closed at the front. They also usually have some kind of lapel or collar. Catherine has worn coat dresses by brands like Alexander McQueen, Catherine Walker & Co, and Mulberry, to name some of her favorites.

The coat dress actually harks back to Princess Diana, who started wearing them when designer Catherine Walker suggested the hybrid garment as a way to perform her royal duties both indoors and outdoors. For Diana, the coat dress made dressing and outfit-planning easier. She changed the length and color of her coat dresses, but the item itself became a uniform in her royal wardrobe.

There's another reason why Catherine, and other royal women, have favored the coat dress. Part of royal protocol states that royals mustn't disrobe in public, according to a style expert who spoke to Express. Royal women must keep their coats on during events and this is "why so many royal women prefer coat dresses." The coat dress is warm enough to comfortably attend events outside but not too heavy to be stuffy and cumbersome indoors. It makes sense that Catherine can't live without this perfect, royal item.

Kate's favorite staple: the wide-leg trousers

While Catherine, Princess of Wales still hangs onto her skinny jeans, she has started to incorporate wide-leg trousers into the mix. Judging by how many times we've seen this cut on her, it's obviously becoming a favorite. When Catherine visited the residents of Oxford House Nursing Home in February 2023, she chose a pair of navy wide-leg pants, a navy turtleneck, and a camel coat, making a very chic and understated look (via People). People are loving Catherine in these trousers because it's the perfect workwear look. The trousers have movement but also look sharp.

In January 2022, when Catherine visited the Foundling Museum, she wore a black pair of wide-leg trousers by the British brand Jigsaw, called the sport luxe jersey wide trousers. She paired the slacks with a black turtleneck and a fitted, wool coat in a teal color. Hmm, we're beginning to see a pattern here.

The wide-leg trousers are somewhat newer in Catherine's repertoire of staple clothing pieces. For example, we weren't seeing her in this cut of pants early on in her royal life. As Harper's Bazaar points out, Catherine may have been inspired by her sister-in-law, Meghan Markle, who is often spotted in wide-leg pants and wore them frequently during her time as a senior royal. It's certainly a more contemporary look than skinny jeans, but Catherine proves that we can have both looks in our wardrobe.

She loves a pussy bow blouse

The pussy bow blouse is another staple for Catherine, Princess of Wales in her royal selection of work wear. This specific top is such a favorite because it's both conservative and feminine; there's nothing too risque about the blouse, but it's still a statement piece. When Catherine visited an East London school in January 2023, she wore a teal-colored pussy bow blouse with cropped, fitted black slacks and gold earrings. Hello! speculated that her blouse was the Gigi Green Jacquard Pussy Bow Blouse by L.K. Bennett.

Catherine's also a fan of the lavender Gucci pussy bow blouse, an item she's recycled a few times. The first time she wore the top was in March 2019 and she wore the top again during a Q&A on Instagram in June 2022. The reason this particular top keeps getting so much attention is that people think that Catherine keeps wearing it backwards. Both times, she's worn the blouse with the buttons closed in the front. However, as Marie Claire points out, Gucci has the garment advertised with the buttons closed on the back.

Catherine wore another pussy bow blouse in Belfast, Northern Ireland when she and Prince William visited the Public Initiative for Prevention of Suicide and Self Harm charity in October 2022. She opted for a monochromatic look, pairing an ice blue blouse with a pale blue coat, along with some navy, tailored slacks. We love this staple top in Catherine's closet.

Kate goes bold in plaid coats

Coat dresses aside, Catherine, Princess of Wales loves a plaid coat, and this time, we're speaking about proper coats in the sense that you'd take them off when you step inside. She wore a pale pink and blue plaid coat by Erdem when she visited Manchester in October 2016. In December 2017, she wore a plaid Miu Miu coat while pregnant with her son, Prince Louis. The coat cost over $3,200, and she wore it to church during Christmas when the royal family was at Sandringham. As the Mirror points out, the coat didn't come in a maternity line, so Catherine probably just wore a larger size to accommodate her pregnant body. She paired it with a large, black hat.

While visiting Scotland in May 2021 with Prince William, Catherine wore a long, plaid coat by Holland Cooper that cost $1,200. They attended a drive-in screening of the film "Cruella" at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the royal residency in Edinburgh. They arrived in a green Land Rover that had belonged to the late Prince Philip. The Holland Cooper coat was a departure from her usual plaid coats because it was longer than her typical choice. It was accented by gold buttons and gold hardware, and she paired the look with large, sapphire earrings on loan from Queen Elizabeth II, the Daily Mail's editor, Rebecca English, noted on Twitter. So the look was pretty glitzy for a drive-in movie!

When Kate goes glam, her gowns steal the show

We know Catherine, Princess of Wales can go casual when she wants to, but when the time comes for a formal dress code, she goes all out. Catherine's gowns make headlines for days and it's easy to see why. When she and Prince William attended the 2023 BAFTAs, she recycled a white, one-shoulder Alexander McQueen gown. She paired the look with black opera gloves, a black clutch, and large gold earrings. The dress was tied at the one shoulder with a flowing, white bow. She actually wore the same dress to the 2019 BAFTAs, but that version of the dress had a more simple shoulder design, and she paired it with a white clutch.

In what was perhaps her best-ever gown moment, Catherine wore a gold Jenny Packham dress (via Express) to the "James Bond" premiere in London in September 2021. The dress had a cape-like back, and Catherine paired it with large, gold earrings and her hair pulled up. Designer Melita Latham told Express: "If there ever was a more beautiful Bond girl to grace a 007 premiere then today I challenge you to find one."

People were less dazzled by the rented green dress she wore in Boston for the second annual Earthshot Prize. The dress was slim fitting, and Catherine paired it with a choker from Princess Diana's collection (via Vogue). Even that nostalgic tidbit couldn't quite save the look. It was a green screen in a dress.

Kate rocks a 1930s cut dress

We've seen Catherine, Princess of Wales wear a very specific dress silhouette from the 1930s on several occasions. It's a drop waist cut, marking a notable departure from her typical fitted or A-line cut silhouettes. In May 2021, Catherine visited the Victoria and Albert Museum in London for its reopening, after it had been shut down during the coronavirus pandemic. She wore a red and black houndstooth dress by Alessandra Rich with black pumps and a black face mask. In 2019, she wore a similar drop waist dress by the same designer to commemorate King Charles III's 70th birthday (via Hello!). The dress was navy with white polka dots and white cuffs and collar. It retails for over $2,000. She's rewore the navy dress several times, so it's obviously a favorite of hers.

Catherine is obviously a huge fan of the designer. In March 2022, she wore a black and white polka dot dress by Alessandra Rich for Prince Philip's memorial service at Westminster Abbey (via the Independent). While the dress still featured the 1930s drop waist, she wore a belt with it, and this broke up the unexpectedly low waist. She paired the look with a black hat with white flowers and black pumps. The cut of the dress can look a little conservative, even a little stuffy, but Catherine manages to keep the tricky drop waist feminine and flattering.

Kate's love of the classic blazer

As part of her workwear attire, Catherine, Princess of Wales has donned many blazers. In 2023, she arrived in London for the first meeting of her project, Business Taskforce for Early Childhood. Catherine wore a cream Alexander McQueen crepe blazer that cost $2,190 and kept the look subdued with a white top underneath, black slacks, and black heels. She wore diamond hoop earrings by Asprey that cost $8,985, so while it was a simple look, it certainly wasn't cheap.

In 2022, when she and Prince William visited the mentorship program Coach Core in East London, she stepped out in a vintage, blue Chanel tweed blazer (via the Observer), which featured a darker blue trim and gold buttons. She paired the blazer with wide-leg, dark trousers and black heels. In 2017, when she and William visited Coach Core, Catherine wore a light blue blazer (via Vanity Fair) by Philosphy Di Lorenzo Serafini and paired the look with black skinny jeans (yes, girl!) and heeled booties.

But Catherine doesn't always break the bank when she wears blazers. When she visited Denmark in February 2022, she wore a red Zara blazer (via Glamour) to the Infant Mental Health Project at the University of Copenhagen. It was double-breasted and featured gold buttons, and cost $90. So it's obvious that Catherine's staple for working, daytime royal events is the blazer, and judging from how many times she's worn one, we'll be seeing many more blazers in her future.

The rise of the power pant suit

The pantsuit is a relatively new phenomenon for Catherine, Princess of Wales. In her early years as a working royal, we didn't see this so much, but as she's grown in rank within the royal family, she's leaned into the pantsuit for its poise and power. When she and Prince William visited Boston in 2022, Catherine wore several versions of the power outfit. When they landed at Logan International Airport, she stepped off the plane in a navy pantsuit by Alexander McQueen (via Grazia), and later on the trip, she wore a burgundy, wide-leg Roland Mouret pantsuit with a pink, pussy bow blouse. Adorably, William wore a burgundy sweater under his suit jacket on the occasion, so he and Catherine did a little matching.

In January 2023, to launch her campaign for the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, she arrived in a bright red, wide-leg pantsuit by Alexander McQueen (via Us Weekly). Again, William matched her by wearing a red tie with his navy suit. Catherine paired her look with bold, Art Deco earrings.

There's some speculation that Catherine's increased usage of the pantsuit as part of her repertoire was inspired by her sister-in-law, Meghan Markle. Shortly after her wedding to Prince Harry, Meghan stepped out twice in 2018 in different black pantsuits. Shortly after, we started seeing Catherine in more pantsuits for her work events, and can't help but wonder if some of Meghan's wardrobe choices rubbed off on Catherine.

Kate is all about the midi-dress

As Catherine, Princess of Wales has grown in the royal family, her hemlines have gotten longer. Early on in her royal years, shortly after her marriage to Prince William, she frequently wore skirts that fell at her knee or even above. This was such a recurring style for her that in 2014, Katie Nicholl reported to the Daily Mail that the late Queen Elizabeth II wanted Catherine to wear longer dresses. The short hem seemed fitting at the time, regardless of the queen's opinion on the subject. She was a newlywed figuring out her place in the royal family and didn't have kids yet.

But as time passed and Catherine ascended in power, her hemlines lengthened. Now, her go-to style is a midi-dress, with the hem falling well below her knees. Sometimes, the hem falls closer to her ankles. In 2023, for the launch of her campaign "Shaping Us," Catherine chose a cream, midi-dress by Victoria Beckham (via Newsweek). In 2022, she visited the Royal Surrey County Hospital in a yellow, midi-dress that landed at her mid-calf. In 2019, she visited Family Action in a forest green midi-dress by Beulah that retails for $770 (via Yahoo!).

While there was nothing wrong with her shorter dresses, this particular style evolution shows that Catherine is maturing sartorially, but also as a royal. The lowering hem shows a maturing in her fashion choices. She no longer dresses like a young duchess. She's dressing as the future queen.