In the 12 years since Kate stepped out in a bespoke Sarah Burton dress and waved to the crowd in front of Westminster Abbey, she has not only exceeded expectations, but set a standard for modern elegance and philanthropy in her own way while still honoring tradition- and today we are exploring why.
April 28th, 2011 I remember very clearly.
I was in 6th grade and clearly remember sitting on the edge of my parents bed, imploring them to let me stay home from school the next day...
"Everyones parents are letting their kids stay home to watch!!" I hysterically begged.
I don't know why, but my parents gave in, and I'm so glad they did. The next morning I woke up at 4 AM to revel in my parents caving to my pleas-- I got to watch the Royal wedding.
Kate Middleton was just a common girl who was marrying Princess Diana's son- and the world watched with bated breath...
Would she hold up under the the expectations? Could she fill the enormous shoes left by her late mother in law?
It is undeniable that Kate Middleton is one of the most popular style icons of our time. Kate has been able to maintain her status as a fashion icon for over a decade now, and shows no signs of slowing down. So, what is it about Kate that makes her so popular and timeless?
I believe that there are four main factors that contribute to Kate's elegance: symmetry, subtraction, seduction, and sustainability. Let's take a closer look at each of these factors and see how they make Kate such a popular and elegant style icon.
Subtraction- Kate embraces the elegance law of subtraction well with her carefully selected patterns and style..
The elegance law of subtraction makes use of whats missing to emphasize what remains. This law is particularly important for visual forms like fashion. This means carefully selecting patterns that are interesting but not busy and bold but not too heavy...
Elegance is nuanced! Here is an example...
Here Kate has selected a dress with polka dots which by themselves are visually interesting, but with a pattern all over her dress, and without a conflicting pattern, this works. It is a pretty simple rule. The simple, clean angle of her hat with reflecting black and white colors support this dress, rather than take away from it. There are ways to create clashing fashion, but it is incredibly tricky. Fashion should have one main star of the show, and the other accessories should act as supporting characters. By subtracting the noise and letting one pattern or color palate shine, Kate has succeeded with the elegance law of subtraction.
Symmetry- Symmetry is another more heavily visual law of elegance, one that Kate very well exceeds in.
The elegance law of Symmetry induces the feeling of completeness, that "ah-ha" moment that doesn't leave you perplexed and off kilter.
Another word for symmetry is balance which includes understanding and being comfortable in your skin-- knowing your physical strengths and weaknesses and what symmetrical lines make you look best with the pieces you pick.
Kate opts for mostly monochrome looks (just like the Queen!) with long slimming lines that elongate her height and show her figure.
But Symmetry isn't just about clothing. Symmetry is reflected in the way a person talks, too. And Kate is an excellent conversationalist. We don't hear her argue or debate, or sadly even really state an opinion thanks to the nature of her role as a member of the royal family, but we have heard her give speeches and speak one on one with members or the public or other foreign dignitaries.
Kate uses the elegant law of symmetry in speech by gauging and reflecting the same persona of the person she is talking to. She makes herself relatable, but still with an air of royalty, by standing confidently with her shoulders back and making the conversation all about the other person.
Most commonly she asks to hear the stories of the person she is talking to, rather than volunteering anecdotes about herself. She speaks at the level of the children she meets and kneels down to be at eye level. Just last Christmas she met a little girl battling cancer, Mila, and asked her all about herself. Mila shared her favorite color was pink, and that she loved Princesses. Kate went out of her way to invite Mila to the palace and even wore a pink dress. It is moments like this that seemingly humanize Kate, but really just highlight her elegance, and how she makes her own personality symmetric to whoever she is with.
Seduction- The third elegance law is that of Seduction, but it may not mean what you think it means. Seduction isn't synonymous with promiscuity, but rather the nature of magnetism. There are many ways to embody this law with fashion, and that doesn't mean wearing nothing, nor does it mean everything. Its all about balance... and playing chess not checkers with elegance.
Kate Middleton exudes this well. And there's no better place than on the Red Carpet.
Elegant women create allure, they don't give everything away. They use modesty as a super power, instead of a prison. By emphasizing balance in her looks-- a leg slit paired with longer sleeves, strapless top paired with a full skirt, sheer material paired with a cape-- Kate achieves real seduction. Similar to the law of Subtraction, what's yet to be desired is the main draw. This principle is different for each person but is underlined by the creation of allure with what ISN'T shown. As Emma Watson summarized,
"I find the whole concept of being ‘sexy’ embarrassing and confusing....What’s sexy about saying, ‘I’m here with my boobs out and a short skirt, have a look at everything I’ve got?’ My idea of sexy is that less is more. The less you reveal the more people can wonder."
Sustainability- Princess Kate is a modernist and has largely contributed to why the British Monarchy is relevant today. As she looks forward to the future, she honors the past and brings new life to old pieces.
Sustainability is the final law of Elegance. By highlighting timeless, traditional qualities and products, elegant women use the power of the past. Kate Middleton not only uses this elegance law with her late mother-in laws collections, but also her own, creating opportunities for creativity and re-purposing as an homage to the past.
Elegant women do not fall prey to the Chronological Snobbery most modern trends bring, and Kate Middleton understands that well.
She also has shown her own creativity, smarts, and economic prowess by rewearing many old pieces with updated purchases.
Elegant women know that the idea that an outfit should only be worn once is unsustainable, and thus challenge themselves to find new opportunities, uses and pairings for classic pieces.
Kate Middleton is one of the most famous women in the world, and remains one of the top influential, popular celebrities without sharing her opinion or position on any topic. By utilizing the four laws of elegance, she has set herself apart as an example for young women today and will remain a timeless icon for centuries to come.