While many celebrities have clothing sent to them for free from brands, the royal family buys all of their own clothes. Kate Middleton’s net worth is high, but it’s not high enough to have a never-ending closet. That’s why she often rewears her old dresses, jackets, hats, and more.
The Duchess of Cambridge has a packed calendar of royal appearances, whether in person or via video chat, so she can’t really be expected to have a whole new outfit every time she’s photographed. She does have an impressively large closet, but she also brings her favorite pieces back over and over again. Sometimes she’ll recycle outfits from years ago. (We’d love to know how many palace rooms are occupied by Kate’s old clothing.)
Still, even when she does rewear an outfit, she usually changes her accessories or shoes or some other small detail to make the second look stand out. Here are 15 styling tricks she uses to refresh her royal wardrobe.
Re-Styling a Coat
The Duchess of Cambridge wore the same coat to the same event a year apart — but she changed up the styling so much that it was hard to tell. The repeat item is her green coat, first worn in 2012 for St. Patrick’s Day. She wore it again for the event in 2013, but she took off the belt, changed hats, and then added tights, gloves, and a turtleneck to keep her extra warm.
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Add & Subtract an Accessory
Kate first wore this red Armani coat way back in 2006, before she’d married into the royal family. She brought it back seven years later for a 2013 trip to Scotland. But while she’d originally styled the coat with a big black hat, she traded that for a patterned scarf the second time around. Switching the accessories helped shake up the look.
Old Hat on a Whole New Outfit
Sometimes Kate likes to bring back old accessories, too. The hat that she wore in 2006 made a reappearance during the 2012 Remembrance Sunday event. That time, she paired the hat with a somber black coat. The accessory became part of a monochrome look rather than being more of a standout piece against the red coat like it was initially.
The Difference a Hairstyle Makes
On this occasion, Kate didn’t do anything that fancy to revamp this gray dress. Upon her second wear, she just changed her hair. The black pumps and clutch are basically the same, but the ponytail still helps give the outfit a different vibe. Plus, the updo allows us to better see the striking neck design, because it was partially covered by her hair when she first donned the outfit.
This was one of those times that the Duchess of Cambridge really went out of her way to revamp a look — or at least her stylist did. The first time Kate wore this Alexander McQueen dress to the BAFTAS, it was an off-the-shoulder design. When she brought it back two years later, she’d had sleeves added.
With & Without a Hat
While in New Zealand in 2014, Kate wore a beautiful teal dress from local talent Emilia Wickstead, who is quickly becoming one of Kate’s favorite designers. She’s reworn the dress a couple of times in the last few years, usually without the matching hat to give it a bit of a different look. We can still tell it’s the same outfit, of course, but it really does change the vibe from formal to casual.
Kate first sported this maroon skirt and jacket set at a standard formal event, so she wore her usual black stilettos. But when she put the outfit on again a few years later for a royal engagement with kids, she kept things much more casual. She traded the stilettos for a pair of knee-high boots that hardly had a heel. She also added a black turtleneck for warmth and modesty.
Accessory Color Scheme
The Duchess of Cambridge wore this green Hobbs coat for St. Patrick’s Day in 2014, when she matched it with all-green accessories — very fitting for the occasion. But by swapping some of the accessories, she was able to rewear the coat two years later and make it look new again. Gone were the monochrome green additions and in were nude heels, a nude clutch, a colorful scarf, and no hat.
Double Up With Different Colors
Sometimes the best way to make a dress look new is to buy a whole new one. Kate loves this Emilia Wickstead dress so much that she owns it in three colors. The lilac version was the original, and then she soon picked up green and navy versions, too. It’s hard to tell that they’re the same dress without putting them side-by-side, and that was probably Kate’s whole plan.
Throw on a Scarf
Here’s another Hobbs coat that Kate has seen fit to recycle. She initially wore the belted jacket while visiting Liverpool in early 2012. Then at the end of the year, she brought it back for a Christmas church service with her family. Only this time, she dressed it up with a cheery red scarf for the holiday. Cute!
This red suit has long been one of Kate’s favorite pieces. She first wore it in 2011 while visiting her alma mater with Prince William. The day was chilly, so she bundled up with tights, boots, gloves, and a turtleneck worn under the red jacket. But when she repeated the set during her 2014 New Zealand trip, it was a warm spring day. She got rid of all the extra layers and kept the focus just on the red jacket and skirt.
Add a Blazer
We’ve seen how Kate changes an outfit by removing layers, but she can also add them. That’s what she did with this chic blue Stella McCartney dress. We saw her wear it in summer 2012 on its own with a long necklace. Two years later, she rewore the dress to the Commonwealth Games. The second time, she added a navy blazer and a short pendant to switch things up.
If these pink pants look familiar, it’s because they were originally part of a pink pantsuit Kate wore in early 2020. Later that year, she brought the pants back on their own, paired with a white tee and sneakers. It was a casual, social-distanced event that didn’t call for a whole matching suit. But you’d hardly even know that the slacks were once part of a set.
Ditch the Shawl
During a 2016 tour of India, the Duchess of Cambridge wore this stunning beaded Jenny Packham dress with a matching clutch and shawl. But when she brought the gown back in early 2020, she skipped the shawl and showed off the sheer sleeves instead. It’s not a drastic change, but that paired with having her hair down instead of swept up in a bun made things look a lot different.
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Same Dress, New Jewels
We wish all we had to do to update an old outfit was wear a new royal tiara. That’s what Kate did for these two formal events. On the left, she’s wearing the Papyrus-Lotus Flower tiara with her red Jenny Packham gown. On the right, a year later, she paired the same dress with the Lover’s Knot tiara — one of Princess Diana’s favorites.