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Kate Middleton’s ‘Pre-Princess of Wales’ Style Made Return for Garden Party

Kate Middleton visited one of her most celebrated fashion looks on Tuesday while hosting a post-coronation garden party at Buckingham Palace alongside Prince William.

Kate and William hosted 8,000 guests on the manicured lawns of the palace, celebrating members of the public from around Britain who have made achievements in their communities.

For the event, headed by the couple on behalf of King Charles and Queen Camilla, with assistance from Princess Anne, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Kate opted to re-wear an elegant blue fashion number not seen since its 2019 debut at the Royal Ascot horse racing festival.

Kate Middleton Garden Party Fashion
The Princess of Wales photographed wearing an Elie Saab design for a Buckingham Palace garden party, May 9, 2023.
Jonathan Brady – WPA Pool/Getty Images

The romantic layered tulle dress in pale blue with lace, bows and velvet embellishments was designed by Lebanese fashion designer Elie Saab, known for his overly feminine runway looks and bridal collections.

The look harks back to a softer aesthetic seen on Kate, which was seen more regularly in her days before taking on the title of Princess of Wales. Since then the royal has appeared in more striking and severe tailored looks, incorporating many pantsuits into her working wardrobe.

Celebrity stylist and royal fashion expert Miranda Holder told Newsweek that Tuesday’s look was a move away from the more “grown-up” Kate we are increasingly seeing at events.

“Kate continued the theme of combining old clothes with new by re-wearing an old favorite, a powder blue dress by Elie Saab at the garden party,” she said. “The dress boasted sheer panels on the bodice, ruffles and polka dots and was reminiscent of Kate’s ‘pre Princess of Wales’ style repertoire, in that it cultivated a more feminine, pretty look that is somewhat softer, fresher aesthetic when compared to the more serious, grown-up and more stately Kate we have witnessed in recent months.”

To style the dress Kate wore the same accessories as she did for Ascot in 2019, a Philip Treacy hat with floral detailing and silver high heels.

“Despite the grueling schedule over the last few days, the Princess looked radiant and relaxed as she chatted to guests at the Palace,” Holder said, adding: “Her hair swept up in a sophisticated chignon, her blue floral hat adding height and drama and her dangling blue hoop earrings adding a playful, yet immaculately coordinated touch.”

Kate Middleton Elie Saab Fashion
Prince William and Kate Middleton photographed hosting a royal garden party at Buckingham Palace (L) May 9, 2023. And the couple attending Royal Ascot (R) June 18, 2019.
Jonathan Brady – WPA Pool/Getty Images/Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The garden party formed a post-script to the busy round of coronation-related engagements undertaken by Kate and William over the long weekend in Britain.

On May 5, the princess attended two receptions for high-profile guests attending King Charles’ crowning ceremony, the first wearing a monochrome dress with matching accessories, and the second wearing a statement blue design from the British brand Self-Portrait.

For the coronation itself, Kate wore a custom Alexander McQueen gown with long sleeves and silver embroidery in the form of the floral emblems of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Following that, the princess attended a community event in Windsor, wearing a stylish blazer and slack combination, topped off with the coronation concert that evening, where she re-wored a vivid red Alexander McQueen pantsuit.

James Crawford-Smith is Newsweek’s royal reporter, based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jrcrawfordsmith and read his stories on Newsweek‘s The Royals Facebook page.

Do you have a question about King Charles III, William and Kate, Meghan and Harry, or their family that you would like our experienced royal correspondents to answer? Email [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you.

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