Is your girlfriend obsessed with the style of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge and wife of Prince William? If so, she probably loves the way Kate manages to combine classic lines with modern silhouettes and colors. And when you’re looking for a gift for an anniversary or a birthday, you can use her style obsession to your advantage.
It’s not as difficult as you’d think to choose something that will make her feel like a duchess for a day. Kate, like any reasonable person who knows that cameras will be trained on her anytime she leaves her home, has established something of a uniform for herself. While she wears pieces by favorite designers like Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, Erdem, Jenny Packham, L.K. Bennett, Mulberry, and Stella McCartney with ease, she also gracefully wears styles that are more attainable for those who aren’t royalty, including some from Zara, Topshop, Reiss, and Whistles. (She even re-wears outfits on occasion.)
We’ll show you the silhouettes to look for, whether you’re shopping for an accessory or a piece of clothing to gift to your girlfriend. Read on for your crash course on Kate’s style (and what to look for when you venture into the unfamiliar territory of the women’s section) to pick the perfect gift for your duchess.
1. A tailored dress
A mainstay of Kate’s style is an endless rotation of demure but stylish dresses. We know you’re probably not sure what kind of dress to look for, or even what the different types of dresses are, so we’ll make this simple: We’ve outlined the only three styles of dresses that you need to pay attention to, and all you have to do is know your girlfriend’s size (or sneak into her closet to find out).
A fit-and-flare dress is a swingy style that comes in at the waist and features a flared skirt. This style is flattering on all body types, since it creates a balanced and classic silhouette on women of any shape or size. The sleeveless denim dress above is a modern but versatile take on the style. If your girlfriend loves bold colors, try this flattering pink frock or this statement-making red version. If you have a party or a night out planned, consider this dramatic red party dress or this gorgeous black cocktail dress to make her feel like a princess.
The shirt dress or coat dress is another style that Kate’s been known to favor. Kate’s are always tailored to perfection, with a hem that hits at the knee for a silhouette that’s both flattering and conservative enough for a future queen. This sophisticated shirt dress from Ralph Lauren is a style that will work year-round, while this linen-blend shirt dress will both be comfortable now and look sharp in the fall. Either a bright sleeveless version or a classic white shirt dress will be her favorite summer dress.
If you don’t think that a dramatic fit-and-flare dress or a shirt dress is the perfect choice for your girlfriend’s style, then there’s always the sheath dress, which, when chosen well, can be the most versatile of all. Take a look at this tailored black sheath with an edgy cross-front hem, this color-blocked classic, or this pretty version with three-quarter length sleeves.
2. A statement coat
Just as often as she makes public appearances in beautifully-tailored dresses, Kate steps out in one of her many gorgeous coats. While you may think that it’s really the wrong time of the year to think about outerwear — especially when you don’t live in rainy England — every woman appreciates the work it takes to find a beautiful coat. Shopping for one before the weather gets really cold is also an excellent way to make sure she has the perfect coat at the ready for the chilly days that will (unfortunately) be upon us sooner than we think.
The camel hair polo coat, like the iconic Brooks Brothers iteration shown above, is one of the most classic styles of outerwear, and certainly is as fit for your lady as it is for the duchess of Cambridge. Another excellent choice is a tan or navy cotton trench coat, a style that your girlfriend will be able to get a lot of mileage out of even without the climate that Kate has to deal with. Another traditional choice is a tartan coat, like this one made with lambswool imported from the United Kingdom.
If your girlfriend favors a bolder style, choose a classic silhouette in a bright color like cerulean or a cheery pastel pink, or even a light-colored coat with distinctive windowpane stitching. And even if wool isn’t her cup of tea, she can still channel Kate’s style in a quilted coat in either a traditional forest green or sleek black.
3. A sharp blazer
A little bit intimidated by all the unfamiliar styles of dresses and coats? Then buy your girlfriend a piece that you’re more familiar with: a classic blazer. Kate often wears a dark blazer to dress up her more casual ensembles, whether it’s with a top and ankle-grazing jeans or a polka-dotted dress. Look for a classic jacket, in either navy or black, and in either a single or double-breasted style. A great place to start is this slim-fitting navy blazer from Brooks Brothers, as shown above. It’s made of wool woven in Italy, and even has real horn buttons on the sleeve. Or choose this one-button blazer if black is more her speed than navy.
Though Kate’s blazers are generally of the cropped and dark variety, other versatile options include this longer single-breasted blazer, or even this beautiful camel hair blazer. A blazer in a more vivid blue is a unique option, while a wool flannel jacket with a gold crest patch seems an apt way to pay homage to the duchess’s take on traditional European style. Or, choose a jacket in a lightweight cotton herringbone for a more casual blazer.
4. A classic pair of heels
No Kate Middleton-inspired closet is complete without shoes that can make any woman feel like royalty: a beautiful pair of heels. What you’re looking for is a style called a pump, which is a closed-toe shoe with a heel that can range from very narrow to very wide. When shopping for a girlfriend looking to channel the duchess’s style, you should look for a heel on the narrower end of the spectrum.
Kate’s ensembles prove that every well-edited closet needs a pair or two of classic pumps in versatile colors like black and nude. Ralph Lauren offers the classic pump above in both tan and black. The duchess seems to favor L.K. Bennet heels, like this elegant patent leather style or this almond-toe pump. Kate has also been spotted wearing Jimmy Choo pumps, like this elegant style, which comes in black, burgundy, and nude. For a more budget-friendly option, and for a similarly wide selection of colors, check out this style from Banana Republic or this pretty pair from Calvin Klein.
5. A versatile clutch
When the duchess carries a bag, it’s almost invariably a small clutch. For those not in the know, a clutch is a small bag that’s meant to be carried in the hand, and is often just big enough to hold necessities like a phone, ID, and credit cards, and perhaps a tube of lip balm or lip color. Like every other category of clothing or accessory in her closet, Kate seems to own an endless variety of this piece, rotating in different styles, patterns, and colors to match her ensembles.
But the color she carries most often — and the color your girlfriend is most likely to appreciate — is a sleek black clutch like this zip-around wristlet from Ralph Lauren. It’s also available in a beautiful and equally traditional tan, and you should feel free to choose the neutral that you think your girlfriend wears the most when shopping for an accessory like a clutch. Other excellent choices include this flap-front version from Michael Kors, this navy blue iteration from Brooks Brothers, or this saffiano leather style from Tory Burch, which comes in an array of colors sure to match her favorite outfits.