On the 19th of August 2011, William and Kate travelled up to Birmingham in the West Midlands. The visit occurred a few days after rioting took place in the city.
In August 2011 widespread rioting and looting broke out in Birmingham city centre and elsewhere in the Midlands. Three men were killed while 12 shots were fired at police by a gang in Aston. – Birmingham Mail.
During their visit, the Duke and Duchess met with local residents, members of emergency services and community group representatives who were affected by the rioting. They also spent time with the parents of three young men who were tragically killed by a car while trying to protect their homes and shops from looters.
It always feels awkward to write about fashion after discussing sad and tragic events. But I recognise this is a style blog, so we must proceed.
Kate chose a military-style skirt and blouse by Alexander McQueen. It’s from the company’s 2011 pre-autumn collection.
The white silk blouse features blue military detailing, gold buttons and a ruffled hem, which Kate tucked into her skirt.
The blouse once retailed for £795 ($1,272) on Net-A-Porter.com, where it was described as follows:
Alexander McQueen’s military-inspired silk-georgette blouse exudes signature sophistication. Tuck this navy-trimmed piece into a structured skirt, adding your highest heels to salute the new season in style.
Kate’s navy blue wool-crepe skirt features gold anchor-embossed button embellishments on a front flap. The ready-to-wear version of the skirt featured two slits up the front. Kate’s skirt has more modest slits. She must have had her skirt custom made or had it altered.
The skirt was also available on Net-A-Porter.com for £580 ($928). Here’s how the company described the item on their website:
Upgrade your new season wardrobe with a hit of Alexander McQueen’s covetable military aesthetic. In a nautical navy hue, this button-embellished wool-crepe skirt is a versatile style. Directional front slits lend it an air of It girl cool – pair with the matching blouse for a head-to-toe look straight from the runway.
Kate wore her dark, long, glossy hair loose. It had a lot of volume and a slight curl at the end, her signature style.
Duchess Kate wore her navy blue suede Alexander McQueen pumps with the skirt and dress combo.
Little is known about the shoes. We speculate they’re bespoke, designed to match the sailor dress she first wore during a visit to Charlottetown, Canada in 2011. (It was designed by Sarah Burton, Alexander McQueen’s creative director.)
Kate also wore a pair of blue and gold coloured earrings from Tiffany & Co. They’re by designer Elsa Peretti and were from her Colour by the Yard collection. They date back to at least 2008 and are no longer available for purchase.
I always love what Kate wears, but I think that the pieces chosen her, while gorgeous, might be tad off in terms of the feel and cost of the items. She’s wearing a military inspired look which reflects the establishment, and so many were railing against. She’s also wearing something very expensive and going to a place where many people are poor and can never hope to wear something like she wears. That said, a gorgeous outfit for sure.
I don’t think this outfit was appropriate for this event. She could have worn one of the non-lace dresses she wore in Canada or a suit. The cost of the outfit alone doesn’t fit the message she is trying to send to the people who live there. I think this was a mis-step…
the outfit is simply bad, really bad. not just because the blouse is plain ugly, the skirt is ok as far as I am concerned, but because it’s a military style which reflects the establishment and is way too expensive for such an occasion!
It’s one of her first (only?) major misses in my book. A simple dress would have been better. The military thing is really odd, given what happened. I think she needs something much simpler and darker for more somber occasions. No matter what she picks, her shoes will cost more than what most folks in this area spend on clothes in a year….
Given the wealth of her husband, she actually dresses fairly modestly in terms of the cost of her clothes. She also makes the clothes give her a lot of wear over several years. Thus, while this is an expensive outfit it’s not over the top by any means. Just think about the cost of Diana’s clothes in comparison. What I don’t like is the abundance of buttons on both the skirt and the blouse. I think the skirt without the buttons with that blouse would have been very nice.
Dana Lee says
I have to say, i thought Kate looked amazing as usual – this wasn’t one of my absolute favs though. I didn’t like all the buttons, but I do love the cream/white and navy blue combo. I thought her choice was very respectful, considering the nature of the visit. Thought her hair should have been up – it was a little too all over the place. Overall – not a total miss, but not her best.
Me Too says
Not a good choice at all for the occasion.
Too fussy overall, should have paired with plainer pieces.
Maybe should have worn a simpler recycled outfit or even trousers and a blazer would have sufficed.
She needs to learn to dress and compliment the occasion, not overpower it.
She also needs to pair her facial mannerisms with the occasion as well, really needs to work on that aspect as well.
Kate and Mary says
I love the skirt. The top is too much military – one on-trend piece is enough. I would have wore a dark navy shoe.
I think both pieces are lovely, but not together. They are just too much together. And for the occasion they are pretty wrong. Based on what people were rioting about the military look seems inappropriate. It is also a very very spendy outfit, and again for the occasion inappropriate. For another occasion these pieces could have worked very well separately but not together.
The outfit in itself is lovely, in my opinion, but completely inappropriate for the occasion.
I think, as Jb said, that this is probably one of Kate’s first major “don’ts” in style terms.
As a mark of respect for both the people affected and the occasion something more sombre would have been in order.
After all, Kate has given ample evidence already that she can do high street like no other. A plain, simple, perhaps recycled outfit would have been best this time.
This is one of the very few outfits she has worn that she will look back on in 30 years and ask “What was I thinking?”
I love her outfit and I am so happy she wore something new. I am tired of her rewearing things. Yes, it is difficult economic times, but she is a Princess, for goodness sakes. If I had her money, I would be wearing Alexander McQueen, too.
Technically, her title is Duchess – not princess. I actually think it’s great that she wears clothes more than once and a lot of people like her because of that aspect. She royalty, now yes, but she wasn’t always.
You have got to be kidding…..critisize???? Kate is a 5 feet 10 inches (1 metre 78 cm) tall girl. With high heels she is a little over 6 feet (1 metre 83 cm). Her height can certainly handle buttons on both top and bottom. Six feet tall is considered tall for a man (William is 6 feet 3 inches), so the Duchess is “extremely” tall for a woman. I think she looks fabulous, as usual.
Sorry, I should have typed criticize
Hello, I’m French and shouldn’t be critisizing a British royal, however…IMO although I’m a big Kate fan, I do think she should have dressed in a cheaper outfit for the occasion. I’m sure her choice of outfit is to combine elegance and sobriety BUT in this case, regarding the riots and the public outcry, she should have dressed in a more casual style as she did in Canada when she visited this town which as been destroyed by the fire. For example, in a Smythe like jacket, lace shirt and jeans.
Last, this A. Mac Queen outfit is not meant for her age. At least the combination of both…The shirt would have been rather perfect with dark navy jeans, and the skirt with a more casual top…
This is a blog about Kate’s style so feel free to make your opinion heard. I think if she had worn jeans people would have said it wasn’t very respectful.
I liked her outfit but I think, personally, recycling the grey or blue dress from the early days of the Canada trip would have satisfied everyone! It’s easy to say that with Hindsight though.
Plus – to everyone – yes the outfit was expensive but she may have ‘rented’ it from McQueen, possible, no?
I think maybe a simple, classic style dress may have been better for the occasion.
And it is a tad too military looking for the occasion. I like the outfit, but I don’t think it fit the occasion.
This outfit makes me cringe. People have lost their homes, livelihoods, and lives in this riot; she totally misjudged the pitch turning up in several thousand dollars worth of clothes. And grinning ear to ear as though it is just another photo op. Very tasteless and lacking in class. Plus the blue and white has been overdone and the big vavavoom blow-dry is beyond inappropriate for such a solemn occasion.
I think it was a lovely thing for W & K to go to Birmingham when they were supposed to be ‘off duty’ for the summer. I thought Kate looked beautiful but agree that maybe it wasn’t the best outfit choice for the occasion. Still, I don’t think her clothes should over shadow their visit. Carly, thanks for the close up of K’s earrings. I love them!
Catherine looks lovely but I cannot say the same about her clothes.
Skirt yes. I like it and I think the slit is less pronounced than on the model.
The blouse I just don’t like – on anyone at anytime! I find those navy cross pieces and epaulettes plain ugly.
Shoes didn’t really match.
I don’t really care what the outfit costs. I wouldn’t be able to spend that amount on one outfit but we’re talking about the future queen of England. To me, it’s what the outfit looks like and I don’t think it value for money in those terms.
Not of the same standard as was seen in Canada imo.
I personally think the outfit was pretty, but slightly ill fitting. It was a taylored outfit but appeared somewhat untaylored on her. I like the skirt much more than the blouse and think a plainer style top would have looked nicer… however, I do think the blouse was better tucked in than if the bottom would have shown because it would have been much too fussy with the buttons on the skirt. I love her style but think this was a miss.
Of course her new signature color is blue–to match her ring!
I don’t particularly like this outfit – color combination is great but the whole thing is just not to my taste. I think the number of comments that say Catherine shouldn’t have worn the blouse with the skirt are very funny considering they were designed to be worn together. How about a little criticism for the designer instead of the wearer.
I also think the comments about Catherine’s facial expressions are unfair. When looking at a still photo, you can’t tell what is going on around her. If people are cheering or clapping around her, is she supposed to frown and look glum? There are other pictures that show her talking to people individually with a very serious look on her face.
I agree about the facial expressions – 110%
Photographs are very ambiguous and just represent a snapshot in time, there’s no context. If people are clapping her or chatting to her about things (for example, it was reported that one lady asked whether it was too late to congratulate her on her wedding) then of course she can respond by smiling! You’re right, it’s very unfair.
In fact, those who were most unfair are the newspaper reporters for picking the ‘smiley’ images to go with the story (putting this idea that she’s laughing at a serious event into people’s minds).
They should have chose the more sombre, serious pictures to illustrate the story.
However, I’m exempt because this is a fashion blog, not a news blog. I just included a bit about the story for context 🙂
I think this outfit is perfect! They were visiting people badly effected by the riots, not the rioters themselves! I think the idea that military inspiration reflects the establishment and the restoration of order amidst chaos is a FANTASTIC message to send! Yes, all her outfits are outlandishly expensive by my standards (even most of the “high street” ones), but if she didn’t buy clothes that made her look amazing, people would harp on that, as well. As for the smiling expressions, I agree that using those images in the stories about this visit is incredibly unfair and intended to generate unwarranted buzz (obviously, articles about style are exempted, as they already have nothing to do with the reason for the visit)!
I am not a fan of this outfit.
She looks like she borrowed an outfit from Michael Jackson! The blouse is too big and too detailed. She is overdoing the recyclig bit and Im tired of the nude and blue suede pumps.I think Princess Di were a much more fashionable royal in her day.
A really ugly outfit and totally out of keeping with the occasion. Makes me cringe.
I think people need to quite being so critical and stop not picking every little thing she does. no wonder why people in our society have so many self esteem and body issues. Before you judge her, take a look at yourself.
As women I think we should be more resepctful and encourage her to succeed instead of being so negative. We could all learn something from reading from the Dalai Lama.
“If you can,help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.”-Dalai Lama
A Managetta says
A faux pas in my opinion. She looks as if she’d stepped out of some operetta. Hair like Barbie… This occasion Was Not About Her! Who remembers what William wore on this ? Quite! Something understated & business like was surely called for as a mark of respect to shocked & bereaved citizens. NOT the time or Place to produce yourself – & as a toy soldier! Tasteless. Thoughtless. Heartless? On a style note: I thought the outfit looked wrong- if buying the whole look – don’t then skimp on the belt which pulls the whole look together, what?