Style Icon: Duchess Catherine + Pippa Middleton
In what was probably the most watched event of 2011, both of these women became part of a cultural phenomenon by just stepping out of a car. One was about to become a member of the royal family and the other, a proud sister beaming with happiness. In that moment, two of the most-watched style icons were born.
Duchess Catherine and her sister Pippa Middleton both represent the ease of British style: mastering the pulled-together casual look as well as elegance and grandeur in their evening style. Growing up in a home with self-made parents, both women knew the hard work it took to be successful and both worked to have great careers individually. The fact that neither of them have lost sight of what life means and maintain a strong work ethic make them role models for so many.
Duchess Catherine’s story reads like a fairytale: beautiful, intelligent girl meets the man she wants to grow old with and marries him. It just so happens that this man is a prince - Prince William, the oldest son of the eternally admired Princess Diana. In many ways, the duchess reminds us of the late Princess: poised under pressure, graceful in the public eye and humbly giving her time and attention to causes she cares about. Since her marriage, she has had hands-on involvement with several charities and organizations. Last year she joined a British Girl Scout troop on one of their excursions, thrilling the children. In keeping with devoting her time to causes affecting young children, she is a Royal Patron of East Angilia’s Children’s Hospices, an organization that helps families of children with life-threatening illnesses. Having recently announced that she and the Prince will be welcoming a new life into their family, her steadfast support of children’s causes and her work with them indicate the devoted, hands-on mother she will be.
Pippa became a household name on the day of her sister’s wedding, and has used her newfound recognition to pursue her own dreams. After working for her parents’ party planning business, in which she still plays an active role, she has branched out on her own. The publication of her book, Celebrate: A Year of Festivities for Families and Friends marked her first foray into making a name for herself, using the experience she gained working with her parents to share her ideas for hosting and entertaining.
While both sisters are high on every fashion watcher’s radar, the Duchess is responsible for the worldwide “Kate Middleton Effect”- any time she wears something new; it is immediately searched for and sold out. Watching the two sisters give their takes on fashion’s hottest trends has also become a movement.
Eye-catching shades of sapphire and electric blue have been popular in recent years, so at the announcement of her engagement, the Duchess selected a sapphire blue Issa dress to compliment her sapphire engagement ring. The dress in that color was sold out within hours. Months later, the day following her sister’s wedding, Pippa emerged from the hotel with her family wearing an electric blue blazer over a neutral toned outfit.
While many like to discuss the Duchess’ frequent decision to wear certain outfits more than once, which we love about her humbleness, the gowns she chooses to wear to major events deserve to share that attention. Last summer, at a concert preceding the 2012 Olympic games, she arrived in an outstanding jade-hued Jenny Packham gown. Known for wearing very classic gowns the plunging v-neck and lace open back of this dress took our breath away. In December, weeks after announcing her pregnancy she made an appearance at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards in what has come to be one of her favorite designers, Alexander McQueen. The long-sleeved hunter green gown was perfectly tailored and showed off the radiant appearance of the expectant mother.
Pippa has become the quintessential street-chic icon. She effortlessly pairs denim with a blazer or a delicate dress with a leather jacket and boots in ways that women everywhere want to emulate. However, her street-chic aside, the custom Alexander McQueen gown she wore to her sister’s wedding is what sparked a phenomenon revolving around her. The simplicity of the ivory colored gown contrasted nicely against the ornateness of the event itself and complemented without overshadowing her sister’s dress.
Of course, no talk of the Middleton sisters and their great taste in fashion would be complete without mentioning the wonder that was the Duchess’ wedding gown. It had been speculated for months that Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen would design the dress but it was never confirmed. Then came the day of the wedding and we were all graced with the beautiful sight that was her gown. While some cried that the dress was too simple, it was a perfect reflection of the woman who wore it. It also sparked a trend in lace long-sleeved wedding dresses as opposed to the strapless style that has been a favorite for so long.
Duchess Catherine and Pippa are great examples of how to hold yourself in the public eye and still manage to live your life on your terms, while not without scandal at times, but always with quiet confidence, grace, and the support of a strong family.