10 Times Kate Middleton Embraced Vintage Fashion

When it comes to royal fashion, Kate Middleton has always been a fan favorite. Her effortless, chic looks have made her one of the trendsetters of her generation. In fact, style expert Miranda Holder even called her a "royal phenomenon," explaining to the Express, "She is relatable... Her wardrobe in the early days was made up of largely high street brands and we could all in our own ways emulate it and have our own little piece of Kate's wardrobe."


While she does wear a lot of affordable pieces, she also wears some very pricey designer items, too. Overall, Kate plays it fairly safe with her style, opting for classic, tailored looks that blend in with the rest of the royals. But occasionally, Kate makes a bold fashion choice that surprises everyone: sometimes, she wears vintage. 

Kate's vintage looks reveal a little more of her personal style; they show that Kate doesn't always want to conform with royal tradition. Sometimes, she wants to express herself with a retro piece. As Willow Hilson, founder of Willow Hilson Vintage, told Vogue, it's daring for a royal to wear vintage. It's also a way for her to make more eco-conscious fashion choices. "There are still so many people who would never wear second-hand — she can encourage people to be a bit more savvy with their fashion and look for older pieces," she said. We've compiled a few of Kate's most exciting vintage looks over the years.


When she carried a 1930s clutch

One of Kate Middleton's earliest vintage pieces was this stunning 1930s clutch by Josef, which she first carried in 2017 at a garden party. The clutch has made several other appearances over the years. In 2019, Kate carried the clutch during a visit to the Wimbledon tennis tournament, pairing it with a soft pale blue gown by Emilia Wickstead. In 2021, Kate once again brought the clutch to Wimbledon, pairing it with a belted pink midi dress and a matching face mask this time. Kate once again opted for this delicate clutch in 2021 while at the G-7 Summit reception, where she wore a simple all-white coat dress by Alexander McQueen. In 2022, Kate once again picked her vintage Josef bag for the Queen's garden party, wearing it with a bright pink coat dress by Emilia Wickstead.


This stunning vintage folded clutch features a white base and intricate multi-colored beadwork in a floral design known as "Point de Beauvais." With pink, blue, green, yellow woven into the design, this clutch seems to go with just about everything — it's no wonder Kate keeps coming back to it!

When she wore a 1950s vintage dress in Jamaica

During Kate Middleton's 2022 trip to Jamaica with Prince William, she wore a number of gorgeous vintage pieces. While she and William visited a local soccer game and reggae performance, Kate donned a stunning 1950s-era tea dress. It was an unusual choice for her, with blue, red, yellow stripes and a black print.


The dress was purchased from a vintage boutique in the U.K. called Willow Hilson Vintage. As Hilson told People, it was a "dream come true." "I've been doing this since I was 21, and all I ever wanted was someone like Kate to wear a dress of mine!" she gushed. Hilson went on to explain that Kate's team had slightly altered the original design of the dress to make it more appropriate, using a matching shawl to add additional fabric to the square neckline. "I think it's a great adjustment — it looks amazing on her," said Hilson.

According to Hilson, Kate chose the vintage dress partly because of its "reggaeton" color palette, and partly because of her push to support more sustainability in her fashion. "I think getting someone like Kate on board with [sustainable fashion] is really good, because it shows people that it's okay to wear second hand and it's okay to wear vintage," said Hilson.


When she wore a pair of vintage navy earrings

In 2023, Kate Middleton opted for a more subtle nod to vintage fashion when she opted for a pair of gorgeous large navy and gold stud earrings. When fans couldn't find the earrings online, many guessed they were actually vintage. As Megan Watkins, head stylist at SilkFred, told the Express, there's a strong chance they were.


"The button-style earrings Kate is wearing here are very reminiscent of the 1980s era, and could potentially be vintage," she said. "They're in a classic navy blue colour which Kate is a fan of, and have a lovely gold criss-cross pattern overlaid onto them, giving them a royal edge." Watkins went on to explain that the earrings were a potential nod to Princess Diana's favorite earrings back in the '80s. "This could very well be the current Princess of Wales' inspiration," she confirmed.

It seems like an appropriate choice to wear 1980s earrings on this occasion, since she was attending an event at the Oxford House Nursing Home, which dates back to the '80s, too. Trust Kate to make another meaningful fashion choice!


When she wore a 1980s Oscar de la Renta dress

In another stylistic nod to her late mother-in-law Princess Diana, Kate Middleton wore a gorgeous fuschia pink vintage dress by Oscar de la Renta in 2020. Kate wore the eye-catching vintage dress while visiting the Museum of Literature during her trip to Ireland with Prince William.


The 1980s dress featured a strong '80s silhouette, complete with a fitted waist, straight midi skirt, padded shoulders, and a ruffled high neckline. The small black polka dot print is another classic '80s feature. As Today reported, the vintage dress appeared to be a direct reference to a similar dress that Diana wore in 1985.

She paired the striking look with small hoop earrings from Accessorize, a black clutch by Jimmy Choo, and simple black pumps by Romy 100, and wore her hair in a swept back ponytail. We have to say — we love how Kate managed to modernize this retro look!

When she carried an orange Dayne Taylor bag from the 1960s

Kate Middleton made quite a stir when she opted for this bold vintage bag during her trip to Jamaica with Prince William. The vintage raffia bag featured bright orange beading, a gold clasp, and a round wooden handle, and was allegedly purchased from Willow Hilson Vintage in London for £229 (around $285). In fact, the bag, known as the "Raffia & Beads" bag, is still available on the Willow Hilson website.


The product listing notes the bag is designed by the label Wayne Taylor and dates back to the '60s. The bag, which is "made up of knotted and woven raffia interlinked with faceted plastic orange beads in a vibrant shade of orange, is the perfect statement piece for your every day wardrobe," reads the listing. As Hilson told Grazia, the bag, like everything she sells, feels surprisingly modern. "I try and buy things that feel quite modern, even though they're old, so that they become a part of your everyday wardrobe," she said. "It doesn't look dated. It looks individual."

She debuted the striking bag on her second day of her trip, pairing it with a bold white power suit by Alexander McQueen and a matching orange shirt by Ridley. 


When she wore a classic 1990s Chanel blazer

One of our favorite vintage looks from Kate Middleton is her iconic royal blue vintage double breasted blazer by Chanel. Kate stepped out in this stunning look in 2022 while visiting the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The 1995 blazer featured the classic Chanel distressed edges and textured tweed material. She paired it with a chic all-black outfit. According to British Vogue, the same blazer was once worn by Claudia Schiffer on the runway.


Kate wore the blazer again in that year when she and Prince William attended a basketball match, pairing the stylish statement piece with a black pair skinny jeans, a chunky necklace and a pair of black pumps. 

As British Vogue noted, the Chanel jacket is one of Kate's most interesting new wardrobe pieces and marks a real shift towards sustainability in her fashion choices — let's just hope there's more where this came from!

When she wore a vintage Reiss dress

Wearing vintage doesn't always have to mean digging through second-hand clothing stores — it can also sometimes mean mining your own parents' wardrobes. In 2012, that's exactly what Kate Middleton did, when she wore her mother's "Trina" Reiss dress to the opening of the Treehouse Hospice. 


According to Elle, her mother had originally worn the dress in 2010 when attending Ascot. The dress was originally from the brand's 2008 collection. It seems that Kate has been a champion of sustainable fashion for years. In fact, the Daily Mail reported that it wasn't even the first time Kate had raided her mom's closet for a second-hand style.

The cobalt blue blazer dress features a double breasted design, a black belted waist, long sleeves, and a blazer-style neckline. She paired it with a simple cross necklace, a pair of drop earrings, a black clutch, and a pair of black pumps.

Kate recycled this newer vintage dress once again in 2020 when she wore it for an Instagram video as part of her #5BigInsights campaign for The Royal Foundation. 


When she wore a bold 1990s Yves Saint Laurent Blazer

Kate Middleton's trip to Jamaica was filled with vintage pieces. One of the most striking was this bright red vintage blazer by French designer Yves Saint Laurent, which she wore on the fourth day of the trip. The safari-style jacket featured padded shoulders, large red buttons, and a matching belt tie at the waist. To complete the look, she wore white Alexander McQueen trousers, white and gold heels, and a white handbag by Mulberry. She also wore a dramatic pair of drop earrings and a relaxed low ponytail.


According to the Daily Mail, Kate actually bought this vintage jacket in Scotland while she was studying with Prince William at the University of St Andrews. The jacket was briefly available on 1st Dibs, a second hand website, where it was listed at almost £380 (around $475). According to the listing, the jacket dates back to the '90s and is made with a silk blend material.

When she wore the Queen's Cartier tiara

While you may not have guessed that Kate Middleton would wear second-hand items on her wedding day, there was one item in her ensemble that was technically "vintage": her tiara. The diamond-covered Cartier Halo tiara that she wore actually belonged to the Queen.


The tiara dates back to the 1930s when it was created for King George VI's wife, Queen Elizabeth, who was later known as the Queen Mother. She then handed it down to her daughter, who would become Queen Elizabeth II; however, she was never pictured in the crown. Nevertheless, it has been seen on Princess Margaret and Princess Anne. It seemed very appropriate for Kate to wear this vintage tiara rather than a brand new one, thanks to its long history within the royal family.

As a jewellery expert explained, her choice of tiara says "a lot about the new royals." "It wasn't one of the tiaras that she was expected to wear," she said, adding, "The fact that Kate was leant a tiara by the Queen that it was a very personal choice, it wasn't ceremonial it wasn't a tiara laden with significance... it was much more a personal choice."


When she carried a vintage Magid clutch

Kate Middleton has one other vintage item she sometimes wears to public royal events: her vintage black Magid clutch. The small black clutch featured a geometric beaded design and a front flap. According to the Mirror, she carried the bag during the 2018 Remembrance Day ceremony, pairing it with a black coat by Catherine Walker and a pair of black pumps.


The Regal Fille has also spotted Kate with the same bag during the 2014 Action on Addiction Gala event. Apparently, Kate has had the bag since her pre-royal days. Some fans believe she carried the clutch to a wedding back in 2010.

While we don't know too much about this lovely little vintage bag or where Kate first purchased it, it seems that Kate is a long-time fan of shopping vintage. We just hope we get to see a few more vintage pieces enter her wardrobe soon.