The Duchess of Cambridge is recycling her clothes again. Conscious of possible criticism in Britain, which is still struggling to get out of recession, Kate is being careful not to be seen as a wild spender.
It was her first garden party, a time when several members of the Royal Family join the Queen on the lawns of Buckingham Palace to meet specially invited guest from all walks of life. With William on duty as a search and rescue pilot in RAF Valley, Kate joined in-laws Charles and Camilla, Princess Anne, and the Queen's cousin, the Duke of Gloucester, to greet the assembled guests.
She surprised some fashion-watchers by wearing the same pink Emilia Wickstead £1200 coat-dress she had worn to the Queen’s Windsor ‘despots’ lunch’ a few days before.
Kate teamed this with her favorite shoes, L.K Bennett nude "Sledge" high-heeled platforms (£185) that she has worn several times previously. Kate’s mother, Carole, also has a pair of the same shoes. Although Kate borrowed her mum’s blue Reiss dress for her first speech at The Treehouse children's hospice in Ipswich in March, I doubt if they actually share pairs of shoes.
For the garden party, Kate carried a familiar "Natalie" clutch bag, also by LK Bennett (£160) and wore pearl drop earrings that she had worn to the Royal British Legion at Goldsmiths University in April. These are thought to be costume jewellery, along with several other items worn in recent months. So far we have only seen her wearing Diana’s sapphire earrings and, of course, Diana’s exquisite engagement ring. I would expect to see her wearing more of Diana’s former jewellery in the future.
The only new item worn by Kate for the garden party was a pink hat (£350-£500) by Jane Corbett, who also designed Carole’s hat for the Royal Wedding and has been nicknamed ‘milliner to the Middletons’.
What is clear is that in just over a year since her wedding, Kate is playing safe with some high street clothes alternated with higher-priced designer outfits, real jewels with cheaper items. She has an eye for a bargain and has been spotted getting clothes in the sales and she also uses a dress agency which stocks couture clothes at realistic prices. It is a good balancing act which spares her from accusations of excessive spending when people are finding it hard to make ends meet, and it also saves her from being attacked by the media fashionistas who would pronounce too many recycled clothes dull and boring.