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Why Kate Middleton is Not a Fashion Icon

I have to confess something that may get me into some hot water with my fashion peers: I don’t think Kate Middleton is a fashion icon. I don’t eagerly await images from her tours, excitedly shop her look, or painstakingly hunt down pieces she wears to try and emulate her style in my personal life. Her wardrobe choices don’t EXCITE me, inspire me, educate me. When I see images of her either going about her personal business or attending to state matters, I nod appreciatively, but don’t feel that twinge that makes me wish I had her stylist on speed dial.

Ever since it became clear that Prince William would (finally!) make her his wife, the media has breathlessly anointed her ‘the Next Diana’ and declared her to be a fashion icon in the making. Her every sartorial choice is dutifully reported, dissected, and analyzed. And these choices, while lovely, aren’t all that exciting. They’re safe and timeless. Her sensibility and tastefulness is a breath of fresh of air at times, but the term ‘icon’ gives me pause.

Don’t misunderstand me- I think she’s very elegant and refined. I think her personal style is appropriate for her position and that she has a well curated and thoughtfully planned wardrobe. She is always well-dressed and occasionally, I love a look I see her in. She dresses as I feel MOST women in ‘real life’ dress. She re-wears her favorite pieces, matches her hat to her heels, and choose sensible heel heights. She’s lovely. But a fashion icon she is not.

What ultimately determines a ‘fashion icon’? What IS a ‘fashion icon’? Fashion icons are risk takers and boundary pushers. They experiment with trends and make them their own. They sometimes make risky gambles that don’t necessarily pan out. I think a true fashion icon inevitably makes some fashion missteps. These are the people that change fashion and shape the trends of the future. They CREATE fashion moments and truly have a voice in the fashion dialogue. Ultimately, an icon will shape a trend and write the pages of fashion history.

The media and world at large loved Princess Diana. Her untimely passing all those years ago left a void I think that we all wanted to see filled. (And I don’t just mean in the fashion world.) When the fashion industry saw a chance to latch on to a NEW princess, all of the expectations and ramifications for what that would entail were pushed on to her. I wonder sometimes if it’s a case of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’. (The Duchess’ New Clothes?) We all want so badly for Kate Middleton to be fashion’s next icon, that the media just spins the tale over and over and the public and fashion industry buy it.

Styles she wears (and re-wears) sell out immediately. The blue Issa dress she wore in her engagement photos sold out in 24 hours. Stuart Weitzman recently reissued the blue espadrille wedges she has been constantly photographed in the past few years after demand for them rose to an all-time high. Her nude LK Bennett pumps are always in high demand. This is all well and good, but at the end of the day, these moments aren’t defining ones in fashion.

Ultimately, I admire the Duchess. I think she’s very pretty and put-together and when I hear the media rave about her wardrobe choices, I am curious to see, wondering if this will be the time she finally takes a fashion risk. I am just very careful with labeling someone a fashion icon. What do you think? Would you call Kate Middleton a fashion icon?

While I loved this dress the Duchess wore recently, she’s paired it with dowdy pumps.

The Duchesses’ Stuart Weitzman wedges… reissued this year after much demand.

This Issa dress was sold out in 24 hours. Pretty, but is it really pretty enough to cause a buying frenzy?


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  • lmbo I died! The title definitely caught my attention!

  • I love Kate and I think her style is elegant, sophisticated, and classic. That being said, I have never called her a fashion icon. She is clearly influencing people they are copying her style but I don’t think they realize how simple a style it really is. I do look at her tours to see what she wears and even though I want her to take more risks I don’t think she will. She’s a princess going to charity functions and military events. She dresses perfectly for what is expected of her. Most of my favorite Diana pieces were after she broke ties with the palace and was able to express who she was. I think that this is exactly who Kate wants to be and that’s fine with me. She clearly really likes those dress coats (LOL). I would just like her to take more risks when she has a evening functions. That’s where she should be able to be glamorous and different. I totally agree with that white dress I loved it but those shoes are all wrong. As for her engagement dress, I used to represent Issa London and I love the brand. I think that their engagement caused a media frenzy and I am not surprised at all that this dress has become iconic. Love this story you’re very brave LOL!

    • THANKS WES! I agree wholeheartedly with you. I think she’s very pretty and elegant, her personal style is appropriate for her position. And there is no reason why she NEEDS to be more. I’m just fascinated by how the media has spun her into an icon and the effect it’s had on everyone! (Again, ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’.) I think she’s someone to look to as a stylish “everygirl” and to be admired for that; she dresses how REAL women dress. But to that end, that’s not what fashion icons ARE.

      Also, I think that it’s usually her ACCESSORIES that throw me off. Many times I’ll be like “oh, ok” about an outfit and then she wears some hideous heels. (Like with that white dress!) Glad you feel the same. 🙂


  • This post grabbed my attention simply from reading the title! I will definitely agree with you: Kate’s clothes don’t excite or inspire me, but I do feel that she’s made a big step in shopping where the average woman shops and wearing those clothes on her tours. She’s made herself seem more accessible to the everyday person, which I’d consider to be an iconic thing to do… so she’s iconic, but not really a fashion icon in my eyes.

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    • That’s a good point, Signe! I hadn’t really thought about that before, but you’re right, it’s so ironic… she’s become iconic for being normal and accessible, which is so different that it’s refreshing. Glad you enjoyed the post! x S

  • roxannedsouza

    I completely agree with you. While she looks classy and pretty, she is definitely NOT a trend setter and not inspiring at all. I had a teacher in my school who was a bigger style inspiration to me that Kate Middleton would ever be.
    What I admire about her style however is that she doesn’t try too hard and is just plain old regular. She’s the perfect example of the term ‘plain Jane’ and sometimes being plain and simple is nice.


  • MObama is an icon. Kate just wears nice sheath dresses and pumps that frankly, if I had a ton of money, I could buy and wear too.

    She doesn’t take risks, dresses like she’s 50 and while I love 30% of what she wears, I think: for the love of god girl, wear something YOUR AGE.

    Even I, who am quite conservative, bust out a skirt shorter than my knees once in a while.

  • Interesting perspective! I am writing to disagree. “Icon” is a term used as a representative symbol of something…she is the pinnacle of modern conservative fashion, which a lot of young women try to emulate. I live in Washington DC, a very conservative city, and tons of my friends worship Kate and her looks. I don’t think the same would be said in New York or Los Angeles, where things get more eccentric. Her choices are safe, classic and simple, and thousands…millions?…look to her as an inspiration. She’s launched trends, people copy her style, and it’s because she is the leader of this niche look. She isn’t one to push the envelope, but for people who *do* religiously read up on what she wears for different events, they’ll agree that she changes things up a lot and keeps her looks interesting. Her silhouettes change constantly, she wears lots of different colors, yet her look is appropriate for most of life’s occasions.

    Everyone has different role models…Rihanna was awarded last night for being a fashion icon, but the chains, graphic tees, shaved head and other wild things she and other celebs wear to be “fashion forward” are, to me, only seen on celebrities and look stupid in person and on celebrities. Chunky shoes, wild jewelry…everyone’s doing it in Hollywood and I think it looks silly. Maybe that’s just me. I wish we had more Kates!

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  • totally agree! I mean, she dresses how one would expect a modern duchess too, but she’s really boring in terms of fashion when you think about it.

  • I am so tired of every one sporting every damn trend. She is a fashion icon in her own right because she stood out for not doing that. My profession is science/engineering. ANd my icons are the likes of Steve Jobs. He wrote in his autobiography, about how the minute Apple inc went public, the changes he saw in people around him with the money that came in. The way they dressed, where they lived, cars, bling, etc. He wrote about how he admired the ones whom the new money didnt change. I put her into this category of people. She is still very elegant and refined for her new title. But i can see her not spending her time following trends and shopping away to glory. That is someone who is worthy of being emulated, in my books. Good and consistent personal style above trends. A uniform of sorts. I would hate to see her running around in celine slip-ons only to discard them the next season. Or be playing princess full time in expensive dresses/gowns like Diana did when on tour. She is redefining modern princess.

  • Very well said! I agree! Like you, “I don’t eagerly await images from her tours, excitedly shop her look, or painstakingly hunt down pieces she wears to try and emulate her style in my personal life. Her wardrobe choices don’t EXCITE me, inspire me, educate me.” I like her, I agree she ALWAYS looks good but she isn’t a risk taker. I think other Royals such as Duchess Cayetana of Alba who is known to have very eccentric style, Qatar’s Sheikha Mozah who changed the way we wore turbans and Princess Letizia of Spain who takes risks in wearing leather jackets, bomber jackets and lace, deserves the “fashion icon” title than her.

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  • I wholly agree with you, she is not an fashion icon she just wears nice clothes, that’s it. There is nothing daring or interesting about her wardrobe, in fact sometimes it’s pretty boring. In general all the attention she gets in fashion mags drives me insane.

  • It’s actually really funny because I was thinking about this the other day. Everyone claims her to be a so called “fashion icon” because she’s the new princess and everyone wishes that they could be her, but do her fashion choices really represent the title that so many claim her to be? I mean don’t get me wrong, she is very elegant and poised and dresses in the manner that she should, but are there really people out there that stalk her every fashion move and look up to her as a style icon? For this reason, I completely agree with your post, although she’s very pretty and dresses nice, I wouldn’t necessarily call her a “fashion icon”.


  • I wouldn’t say fashion icon but she is the modern day Princess Diana when it comes to people’s attraction and interest to her and her style.

    Oh That’s Nik.

  • I think you hit the nail on the head. Her style is classic, timeless and very elegant. She’s sophisticated and wears what she should be wearing. But her outfits aren’t full of personality, she doesn’t have a “signature look” and there really isn’t anything I think she is “known” for (except maybe trying to bring panythose back into fashion). Those are the things that make me think “icon”. I do think she is a good representation of a real woman who looks put together and stylish in a way that’s accessible to the masses, but not sure that makes her an icon or not.

  • I agree with you wholeheartedly, sadly we now live in a world where the media et al are only too ready to throw cetain words around like icon. Kate is most definitely not an icon, but she does have a good team behind her ensuring she always looks decent and primped. And on a side note, I think to be worthy of the word ‘icon’, we need to have seen/heard etc your work/style etc for over a decade!

  • Totally agree with you! Very well written. Kate is very refined, elegant, classy, all that boring stuff (sorry if I’m offending anyone!) But, definitely not a fashion icon and she doesn’t have any real style other than just being polished. Appropriate for her role.


  • Jo

    I was just thinking how odd it was that all her fashion choices are followed when 80% of what she wears is high-necked, long-sleeved, with the upside-down-tea-saucer hat. I think she dressed a lot more interestingly when she first came on the radar in 2011, when she would occasionally wear (gasp) a v-neck. But as other people have said, she has restrictions and she must dress the part and please the public of all ages, even if she might wish it differently herself. I heard that even the queen had something to say about the shortness of her hemline, and that is really the only area where she was pushing the conservatism.

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