14 Times Kate Middleton Updated Runway Looks To Match Her Classic Style

While some would be easily put off by an unappealing element of a piece of clothing, Princess Catherine simply alters the article to fit her style completely. In fact, the future queen has clothing tailored to her liking so often that she's become known for the fashion practice. One of the foremost style icons in the world due to her position as a British royal family member, Princess Catherine's outfits are continually dissected from head to toe, and detailed examinations frequently reveal her tendency to alter garments to fit her aesthetic — as well as fashion rules royals must follow.

From more casual looks to glitzy red carpet ensembles, Catherine has worn many pieces that debuted on the runway but were altered to her specifications. Some of her modified looks have become so popular with the public that fashion labels have made her custom iterations available for sale in addition to their original designs, capitalizing on the global interest in items the princess has worn. For an in-depth look at several runway looks Catherine has updated to match her classic style, scroll on.

Altered Alexander McQueen

Princess Catherine's feminine Alexander McQueen floral gown is one of many garments the royal has re-worn over the years. Based on the Tiered Violet Bustier evening dress from its 2016 collection, the fashion label created a bespoke version of the gown to fit the future queen's needs. Catherine originally donned the ruffled floor-length number at the 2017 BAFTAs, baring her delicate shoulders with a rare off-the-shoulder neckline. While the original gown featured a sheer boned bodice, a fuller tulle skirt, and dainty shoulder straps, the princess' altered dress nixed the tulle skirt, sultry boning, and sheer bodice in addition to the neckline changes.

In 2019, Catherine wore the designer dress again at a National Portrait Gallery gala, debuting new alterations made to the gown to give it a fresh look. Opting for a more demure appearance for the art fundraiser, the princess had cap sleeves added to the Alexander McQueen piece, which created a square neckline that exposed her décolleté.

Swapping sheer sleeves for solid

Catherine, Princess of Wales, loves a tartan fashion moment during the holidays, so it was no surprise when she wore Emilia Wickstead's festive tartan Anni dress to Queen Elizabeth's Christmas lunch gathering at Buckingham Palace in 2019. Asserting her status as queen of alterations, Catherine notably swapped the sheer balloon sleeves of the original design with solid, fitted sleeves for the holiday occasion. 

In 2021, the royal wore the Emilia Wickstead garment again during the recording of a video commemorating Burns Night, which celebrates one of Scotland's most famous poets, Robert Burns. Although the January 25 holiday follows the end of the Christmas season, the traditional yuletide-patterned ensemble added to the warm message Catherine and Prince William shared in honor of Burns Night and the ongoing efforts of essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

The princess also owns an Emilia Wickstead midi skirt of the same pattern, which she was first publicly seen wearing at a 2018 Christmas party she and William hosted at Kensington Palace for military families. Catherine framed the pleated red skirt with two black pieces — a cropped cardigan, which she wore buttoned up for a blouse-like look, and a pair of suede knee-length heeled boots.

Opting for a more angelic take on an Amanda Wakeley gown

One of Princess Catherine's most daring outfits to date was her altered rendition of a 2006 Amanda Wakeley gown. Stepping out for her first solo event as a royal in 2011 after her nuptials to Prince William, Catherine attended an engagement supporting King Charles' charity, In Kind Direct. She wore a sleek Grecian-style gown with a high belted waist and a strappy neckline. Both the belt and straps featured silver rhinestone detailing, which paired well with the flowing material and her twinkling drop earrings. 

Although she donned the altered gown just five years after the original debuted on the runway, the design was considered "vintage" when the princess wore it. Aside from its age when Catherine dressed in it, the 2006 rendition did have a more vintage look than her modified gown, with a cream-colored fabric and black rhinestone embellishments. The Amanda Wakeley original also featured a lower waist than that of the royal's 2011 version, which gave it an elegant slip dress feel versus Catherine's bridal party-esque look.

Balancing out a patterned dress

During a 2016 visit to India alongside Prince William, Princess Catherine wore an altered version of a red- and navy-colored maxi dress. The original, a vibrant, patterned gown from Glamorous, featured strips of various prints at the hem and base of the long sleeves. Catherine's version modified the design to include a navy strip at the waist, giving her a more structured midline while tying in the navy element a bit more than the original. The princess also slightly adjusted the hem to feature a wider strip of navy fabric, removing a thinner section of red patterning in favor of the solid-colored fabric.

The breezy dress was as fashionable a choice as it was functional, with the royal couple visiting a New Delhi charity that addresses the epidemic of unhoused children in the area. Photos from the excursion show Catherine bonding with the local kids, sitting on the floor cross-legged without compromising her regal demeanor thanks to the billowing floor-length material.

Elevated Elie Saab

The Princess of Wales modified a darling powder blue blouse and skirt set designed by Elie Saab for her 2019 Royal Ascot appearance. The original skirt featured hip-high slits in its opaque base layer, revealing a peek of leg beneath the sheer top layers of the gauzy piece. The coordinating blouse's sleeves were cut in a whimsical butterfly design, and the top featured a cascading silk pussy-bow tie. Giving the illusion of a single garment rather than two, the original Elie Saab ensemble included a wide belt with a large gold buckle for a feminine but glamorous look.

Making adjustments to fit the Royal Ascot's dress code, Catherine opted for a fully opaque lining underneath the skirt's sheer material. She also swapped the butterfly sleeves for gossamer long sleeves, matching the ethereal embellished design of the skirt while incorporating the macrame-style lace in the top's bodice down the length of the sleeves. The princess also ditched the belt and shortened the draping ends of the bow for a look that was prim and proper with plenty of garden party charm.

Modified Saloni for a more modest look

Ahead of Princess Catherine and Prince William's tour of India and Bhutan in 2016, the royal couple hosted a pre-tour reception at Kensington Palace, during which they mingled with young people from the two countries. Catherine wowed in a royal blue dress by Saloni, which she had tweaked to fit her needs for a more modest look.

While the original Mary Illusion Dot dress had a see-through mesh panel running down the center of the bodice from the neck to the waist, the princess' version of the polka dot design implemented a layer of nude fabric beneath the sheer section to keep her bust covered. The high-necked garment also featured an open back, which Catherine surprisingly did not have closed. The royal usually opts for a less revealing appearance, but the keyhole cutout remained — although the opening was mostly covered by her cascading chocolate curls.

Leaning into the jeweled appliqués

For the 2015 Place2Be Headteacher Conference, the Princess of Wales wore a reserved Matthew Williamson peplum dress. The knee-length gray garment featured stunning jeweled cuffs with gold beading and turquoise stones for an eye-catching pop in an otherwise plain business professional dress. Wanting to play up the chic jeweled element, Catherine had the same gold and turquoise embellishments added all the way around the neckline of the peplum dress. She pulled out the gray tones in the frock by accessorizing with a deep gray clutch and matching suede high heels.

The charity organization's conference wasn't the first occasion at which the princess donned her altered Matthew Williamson dress — she debuted the look in 2012 while attending the premiere of "African Cats" with Prince William. Catherine accessorized with the same clutch and pumps, asserting that a fashionable outfit can absolutely be repeated, as she so often does.

Making changes for the sake of timelessness

Catherine, Princess of Wales, looked breathtakingly regal at the London premiere of "Top Gun: Maverick" in 2022. Opting for a more glamorous ensemble, as she usually does for red-carpet events, the royal stunned in a black and white Roland Mouret gown. The figure-hugging garment elegantly caressed the princess' curves while its Bardot neckline put her delicate shoulders on display. The floor-length evening gown also slightly pooled around Catherine's feet for an added dramatic element. 

There were, however, two notable changes to the high fashion piece. The original gown featured a sheer panel at the center of the back from the neckline to the waist for a sultry peek-a-boo moment. Unsurprisingly, Catherine had this component removed in favor of a solid back to match the rest of the black fabric. The future queen also altered the dress to remove the original iteration's gold zipper, which ran from the neckline, down the back, and over the bum for added voluptuousness. Catherine instead looked classically elegant in a modified, sleek version of the Roland Mouret gown that appeared to have a hidden zipper.

Modifying the fit for maternity wear

During a London Fashion Week event in 2018, Princess Catherine stepped out in a modified Erdem dress in the Suzi design. Hosting the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange reception at Buckingham Palace alongside Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, the expecting princess was glowing in a bespoke lace dress by the British fashion label. Altered to accommodate her pregnancy curves, the black and white floral-patterned piece was taken out in the belly, as the original was not designed for maternity wear.

The length of Catherine's Erdem dress was also modified to better style her baby bump, which would have hiked up the above-the-knee hem of the original iteration. The pregnant princess instead opted for a below-the-knee hem, which ensured comfortable wear while allowing her to show off her pointed-toe Prada pumps. Wanting to keep the feminine, floaty hemline of the original, Catherine also had her tailored version of the Suzi dress include a fluted hem.

Banishing bell sleeves

Princess Catherine looked classically chic during her 2019 visit to London's Family Action charity. Attending the kickoff of the organization's FamilyLine initiative, the royal looked fashionable as ever in a monochromatic green ensemble. Catherine wore an altered forest green Beulah London dress, which originally featured modest bell sleeves.

Opting for a more simple, timeless look, the princess had the garment tailored to include a standard sleeve rather than the label's fluted variation. Catherine also added button detailing on the cuffs to match the buttoning that runs down the skirt. Additionally, the princess' dress appears to have extended the line of buttons on the skirt in order to shorten the length of the original iteration's leg slit from mid-thigh to a demure slit at the knee.

The Princess of Wales accessorized with a variety of green pieces, including a suede clutch, a reptilian-textured belt with a gold rectangular buckle, and suede pointed-toe pumps. Catherine also wore a pair of amethyst drop earrings, which sparkled brightly as they peeked through her shiny tresses.

Shortened hem to show off her shoes

For the first day of her 2016 tour of India with Prince William, Princess Catherine wore an altered version of a locally designed dress to show her support of the region. The stunning pink and blue patterned piece was based on a traditional tiered dress by Anita Dongre.

Modifying the Gulrukh dress for more practical wear, Catherine had the garment altered to feature a shorter hem that fell right above her ankles. She had the original iteration's tiers removed, favoring a simple, straight cut over the flowing floor-length hem. The royal also converted the stole that accompanied the runway original into a belt — a choice Dongre praised as "easy, breezy, and so contemporary" in an interview with The Telegraph.

The princess' version of the label's design was so popular that, for a time, Dongre made Catherine's iteration available for purchase in addition to the original dress. 

Altering the fit to complement her frame

Princess Catherine had another fashion re-wear moment in 2020 at the BAFTAs, and she notably made a few figure-enhancing alterations to the Alexander McQueen gown she initially wore in 2012. The first time the royal donned the gauzy gold embellished gown was at a state dinner in Malaysia. Catherine's ensemble was as stylish as it was diplomatic, as the hibiscus appliqués smattered across the gown were a nod to the country's national flower. The angelic garment originally featured loosely-fitted sheer sleeves with tapered shoulder straps peeking through the gossamer material. 

For her re-wear of the Alexander McQueen design almost a decade later, Catherine had the sleeves altered to include a layer of white fabric beneath the sheer top layer for an opaque look. The princess also added modest shoulder pads to the gown to create more structure, which lifted her posture. Additionally, the sleeves seemed to be taken in a bit for a slightly more fitted look compared to their more billowy appearance in 2012.

Simplifying a Dolce & Gabbana design

While on her royal tour of Canada in 2016 alongside Prince William and their eldest children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, Princess Catherine debuted a vintage-inspired Dolce & Gabbana dress with a major alteration to fit her simple and sophisticated style. The luxury brand's Pocket Watch dress, which was part of the label's fall 2016 collection, was a demure 1940s-style dress that featured a large gold pocket watch appliqué on the right side of the bust.

Always one to prefer a more understated look, Catherine had the darling emerald dress altered to remove the watch embroidery. The choice made the Dolce & Gabbana design much more timeless — pun intended — and shifted the attention to the antique-style buttons running down the center of the bodice. The princess paired the simplified garment with nude accessories, including a small box clutch and classic pumps, which added to the vintage feel of the feminine dress.

Like her modified Anita Dongre dress, Dolce & Gabbana made Catherine's altered iteration of the Pocket Watch design available for sale once the brand caught wind of how enamored the public was of the pretty green dress.

Adding cap sleeves for more coverage

Ahead of the BAFTA awards in 2011, Princess Catherine accompanied Prince William to a BAFTAs black-tie gala in Hollywood. For the star-studded occasion, the newly minted royal wore a bespoke Alexander McQueen gown that was an altered version of one of the label's ready-to-wear designs.

The inspiration dress was a flowing strapless number with a sweetheart neckline and a bold, hot pink belt. Catherine had the Grecian gown modified to include a higher scoop neckline that elegantly curved beneath her collarbones. The princess also added cap sleeves to the design, giving the gown a more polished feel. She opted to keep the belted look for a cinched waist, but she swapped the original pink latex option for a sparkling white waistband.

Once again cementing her status as a shameless royal outfit repeater (we love her for continually pushing back on the strange style critique), Catherine re-wore the lilac Alexander McQueen gown 10 years after she debuted the ethereal look on the red carpet. She donned the gown once more at the 2021 Earthshot Prize Awards, giving the garment an updated feel by switching her sparkling white belt for a gold rhinestone option.