Lack of Sartorial Variety at Royal Variety Performance

On Thursday night, Kate Middleton and Prince William attended The Royal Variety Performance.


And she didn’t wear the black lace Alice Temperley.  Instead she wore black lace Diane Von Furstenberg. This is one of Kate’s best looks to date and yet, it falls a little flat.

Don’t get me wrong, she looks lovely.  But she is a beautiful thirty-two year-old woman with nearly limitless resources who could have looked spectacular.

Due to the thrice-repeated Alice Temperly dress, we’ve seen her in floor-length black lace.

KateBlackLaceAliceTemperleyWe’ve also seen that neckline before.


We’ve even seen it with three quarter lace sleeves.

KateLaceNecklineThis is Kate’s first time representing Her Majesty at The Royal Variety Show.  And she chose the color black which Queen Elizabeth very rarely wears.  Her Majesty believes the monarchy should be visual representations of blossoming hope for the future.  The future that Kate is representing photographs flatly.

In 1962, this is what the then 36 year-old monarch wore to the Royal Variety Performance.

queen1962I’m not a fan of fur, but it was a different time.  Queen Elizabeth looks breathtaking.

Granted, Kate is a duchess married to the second-in-line to the throne and not the reigning queen, but she could have evoked the same kind of glamorous regal grandeur without overstepping her position.

Tonight’s accessories and make-up are unmemorable.


Kate’s gone with an ever-so-slightly darker version of her smoky-eye and nude lip day make-up which she never strays from despite a self-professed love of make-up.  The earrings are blue topaz circles with diamond accents designed by Kiki McDonough which she’s worn before at a Creative Industries reception and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert.  They are pretty, but certainly not spectacular.  Blue topaz is a semi-precious stone that tends to disappear on skin, the understated design makes these earrings more suitable for an awards luncheon.  From beneath her hem peaked black platform Jimmy Choos as she clutched a black beaded evening bag to her favorite resting spot, no nailpolish to even brighten up her crotch clutching, her hair the same loose chignon that has become one of the very few up-do’s she wears.

Kate’s look this evening is merely slight variations on other looks we’ve seen before.

It’s said that the Royal Variety Show is the least favorite event on the Royal Family’s official calendar, Prince Charles and Camilla have attended on the Queen’s behalf in recent years.  Last year Camilla wore custom Vivienne Westwood gown and a sapphire brooch converted into a pendant.


That necklace was not on loan from the Queen, but Camilla has on many occasions worn some of Her Majesty’s spectacular jewels, including major pieces such as the Boucheron tiara, the Delhi Durbar Tiara, the Collet Coronation Necklace, and the Greville Diamond Necklace.  To date, Kate has only been lent four pieces: the Cartier Halo Tiara on her wedding day, The Maple Leaf Brooch for the Canada tour, the Nizam of Hyderabad Necklace for the National Gallery Portrait Event earlier this year and the Fern Brooch for the New Zealand tour.  I was curious to see if The Queen would loan Kate any pieces for her first Royal Variety Performance, it would have been the perfect opportunity to dispel some of the swirling rumors that Kate is feuding with the Queen over her work ethic and that the marriage of Kate and Prince William is on shaky ground.  I wasn’t surprised that she hadn’t.  Maybe the Queen was just concerned she wouldn’t get one of the priceless pieces back in case Kate scampered directly back to Bucklebury and feared it would wind up on Pippa demonstrating the perfect keg stand on The Today Show.

So far I’m not impressed with stylist/assistant Natasha Archer’s choices for Kate, if she was involved at all with this look.  Kate looked beautiful but underwhelming.

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45 thoughts on “Lack of Sartorial Variety at Royal Variety Performance”

  1. Yeah, not a stellar performance for the Duchess.

    I’m glad her hair was up, but that’s all I can really say. The dress = meh. The jewelry = meh. Couldn’t see the shoes. And the crotch clutching is just getting old. YAWN.

  2. She doesn’t seem to really know how to dress herself and doesn’t appear to have anyone to tell her any better. At least the hair was up.

    1. She could benefit from some female friends or at least a gay bestie since she seems to have a distrust of other women. Her stylist doesn’t appear to be helping her evolve in a positive way, this was the same old, same old.

  3. She’s changed her makeup – and not for the better. She looks very washed out. Kate doesn’t have good skin naturally, so she needs some GLOW. There are infinite options out there for her to get some dewiness into her skin.

    Kate, while attractive, is not a great beauty and cannot pull off this look – although, the makeup is just dry and pasty. She wears more makeup during the day, particularly more blush. Every makeup savvy woman knows that evening events demand more makeup, even if it’s just a splash of red lipstick. The black dress only highlights this misstep. Even Camilla’s face glows more than Kate’s … if it is due to pregnancy, it’s easy to fake it. She’s just clueless.

    It’s as though she’s done with caring, frankly. She’s just going through the motions. Maybe she is still sick but has been forced back to duties?

    1. Skin produces more oil during pregnancy (the so-called “pregnancy glow”). I think problem here is Kate HAS kept her make-up the same and it’s sitting on her face, she has naturally large pores and appears to be using too much powder to soak up the oil. Pregnancy hormones can further enlarge pores which might be why she’s using blush sparingly and is a little paler than usual, her regular Bobbi Brown blush has a slight shimmer to it which makes enlarged pores look even larger. Really, she’s finally wearing an appropriate amount of blush for the first time, usually it’s “Send in the Clown Hookers” with the heavy-handed application. Just like she should be using different make-up for warmer weather, so should she be changing it for pregnancy. I think her make-up is getting a little old, too. Her Lancome Artliner on her upper lids has that tell-tale sort of graying flakiness that it gets when it’s past its prime.

      1. I see what you present; but with one photo from that day event (with the hair piece) it looked like she had no mascara at all. Most likely, it was very light, but under the glare of the camera, washed it out. CP Mary of Denmark now wears false eyelashes. Not that Kate needs to do that, but still … maybe Kate is deliberately not applying her makeup accordingly so as to pretend she was and is still very ill?

        Also, under hot lights, more makeup is required … that is why Kate needs some professional makeup tips. The brilliant and lovely English Lisa Eldridge could work wonders with Kate. Lisa works on all major celebrities, but she has a very kind and soothing manner.

        1. I’m not sure what you mean about the hair piece, but her first event back after her “HG”, she applied a lighter matte lipstick than what she normally wears. That’s a little make-up trick if you play hooky and need to look like you are recovering from something the next day.

          She DEFINITELY needs to work with a professional makeup artist.

          1. Good observation re ‘lighter matte lipstick’.

            Lola, I’m showing my age. What are commonly referred to as “extensions”, I term ‘hair piece’. Maybe it’s an Anglo thing too, I don’t know.

            1. Do you know what’s funny?

              Now that she rarely has the extensions in (though tending to rely on a wiglet AKA fall hairpiece), she doesn’t touch the back of her head or the sides to check they are still in place.

              She still touches her hair, but now it’s more the front or she sweeps entire chunk of it to the side or behind her ear.

              Someone once hand a hilarious GIF where you could see her clearly using the base of the extension weave/clip to scratch her scalp at the back of her head.

              1. That GIF does indeed sound hilarious. Any idea what event that was at, or maybe what style or color outfit she was wearing? I’d be willing to spend 20 minutes or so trying to track that down.

                1. Time frame would be jubilee year, 2012. Might even be from the Jubilee Boat itself.

                  She wore full head extensions from engagement through to pregnancy with PGtips.

                  She was weaned off the full head extensions during the pregnancy because she also changed hairdressers just before the ‘gruelling’ tour of Asia though she still wore them for the tour.

                  If you look at all the head touching from that period, she’s touching the root of the extensions, especially at the back as though checking that they are still there.

                  It’s only later once she removes them, look at video from hospital presentation of PGtips, do you see the change in how she touches her hair ie at the front and only to tuck strays behind her ears.

  4. I find this look SOOOO boring. Like, to the point I miss the Temperley black lace dress – and I dislike that thing. Kate just looks so old in this dress. The boring all over lace in boring black with a high neckline seems like something an old woman would wear. Seriously, Carole was at the show and wore a dress very similar to the one Kate wore. Kate really needs a good stylist, like a real one – Natasha Archer, PA, isn’t cutting it.

    1. I really hope this isn’t Natasha’s work because if it is, it’s not reflective of someone who has a bright career ahead as a stylist.

      Regardless of who put this look together, it’s definitely time for Kate to get a real stylist.

  5. At risk of sounding like a broken record: Kate has no style. She wears whatever she thinks will look good, but she rarely gets it right. I swear, if you didn’t tell me Kate had a dresser, I wouldn’t have guessed. Honestly, is Kate trying to make lace her signature look? Because it’s not working.

    At least her hair was up, that’s good. It’s a shame that when HM loaned that necklace, she had poodle hair around it and it didn’t look good; now those earrings are nothing compared to the necklace, she wears her hair up.

    I’m not a fan of fur either, bit HM looked spectacular. I love seeing pictures when she was young because she always looked fantastic.

    Camilla gets points for both that really lovely shade of blue and that brooch/pendant.

  6. I’ll repeat my comment from RD.

    Who is that young matronly lady accompanying William?

    This dress together with that hair and accessories is saying well preserved 50something matron to me.

    I would wrestle my friends to the ground if they left the house looking 20yrs (minimum) older. I actually have a few friends pushing 50 and 60 and they wouldn’t be caught in this dress. Even Helen Mirren, the gold standard of older ladies, wouldn’t do this dress justice.

    The crazy thing is that I actually think that if she insisted on wearing this matronly dress, her hair should have stayed down. We’d have complained about it, but it would have added youth to the dress.

    There are actually other options on the DVF website that would have been conservative and better than this.

    There are also short versions of this dress, in jewel tones that would have worked better.

    Camilla looks so much better and spectacular than Kate.

    And yes, Kate looks very flat make up wise, but then she has no pregnancy glow this time round. That’s what happens when you force William to do what he doesn’t want to do. This pregnancy was an absolute surprise to him. And he’s reacted by keeping his distance. It wouldn’t surprise me if this was the source of their marital discord – as well as the usual reasons for their separate lives.

    William isn’t one to take anything calmly and forgivingly.

    The first pregnancy may have been announced with stunt queen theatrics to bring him home, but at least he was on board that train.

    This one, not so much.

    BTW: Ma and Pa Midds were at the show. Ma is also in Black lace. Wierdly, she also seems diminished and matronly. She used to stand tall, you could practically see the strut in her evening clothes, confident in herself and her good looks.

    She looks looks tired, slumped of shoulder and looks every year of her age in the photos from the show.

    1. The dress isn’t terribly exciting to begin with, it’s not a high-quality fabric, if she really wanted to wear it (and she really needs to address this lace addiction problem), the styling needed to be much better. She needed more visually interesting accessories and more youthful hair and make-up. Unfortunately, Kate doesn’t know how to accessorize. Apparently neither does this stylist. With all that Kate has access to, this is what she winds up wearing? That’s criminally lazy.

      It seemed a little strange to me that Ma and Pa Middleton showed up. Were they Kate’s ride back to Bucklebury? You’re right about Carole, she didn’t seem her usual self at all. I wonder if Party Pieces is having problems. Perhaps there were repercussions from Pippa’s and James’ media exposure. Whatever it is made her appear diminished as you pointed out.

    2. Thanks Herazeus. Why are the Midds back on show? Really, there are some strange dynamics with the Cambridges. Does Kate need parental support at all times now?

        1. Someone pointed out that it was odd that both Pippa and James were cashing in on media connections in America right now. And here are Carole and Michael rubbing elbows at the Variety Show, with Carole almost certainly dressed like her daughter’s “twinsie” to snare attention. I read suggestion that the Middletons know a scandal is a-brewin’, and they’re getting their ducks in a row while there’s still interest in them as a family.

  7. I thought she looked nice if you look at her as a rich celebrity. Her dress was nice, her hair was up, and she didn’t appear to have any social mishaps. People say that Kate only wants to do fancy galas, and this is why. She feels safe when meeting rich and famous people. May be she doesn’t have to try as hard to find something to say? May be she identifies herself more as a rich celebrity. Problem is, that she is a royal, not a rich celebrity. Shouldn’t there be a different set of expectations for royals that sets them apart from being rich celebrities? In my opinion, if you look at her as a royal, comparing her to other royals, she just doesn’t have “it”. I’m not sure exactly what “it” is, but she sort of falls flat.

  8. I saw a picture of Princess Madeleine in the exact same dress in a royal portrait of her. There’s a story on DM about Kate influencing a generation of royal women in dressing. Blah, blah, blah…spare me.

        1. P Madde glows with happiness and she’s not even pregnant that we know of … her makeup enhances her lovely features without being overdone. Kate needs her makeup artist, or at least just some tips.

  9. So, Princess Madeline wore this dress 2 years ago. What does that mean? Did Kate buy her dress two years ago and just not wear it until now? Or did she purchase it somehow on second run or discount and had it altered to fit her body now? Did She copy PM or is it just by chance she wore the same style dress as PM did 2 years ago? Are there really that few number of dresses available? Does anyone have any opinions?

    1. Most likely Kate bought this a while back and has been holding onto it as she does with most of her clothes until they are sold out of nearly sold out so other women can’t buy it once they see it on her. Since Kate is erroneously credited for influencing the fashion of other public figures (there was just a Daily Mail article about Sophie, Countess of Wessex following in her fashion footsteps), sometimes it’s fun to turn the tables when there’s photographic evidence of a royal wearing the same dress before her. I doubt she bought the dress because she saw it on Princess Madeleine, I think Kate’s got a lace addiction.

      In terms of it fitting her now, this dress is made of a nylon/polyester blend and the lining has spandex in it. While the dress has some give to it, I do believe it has been altered because of what is being misidentified as a “belt” on some sites. I think part of the torso of the dress was cut then hemmed to give a higher waist which would accommodate a baby bump (or her obsessive need to have her torso appear shorter, your choice). Additionally, it looks like after the alteration was made, the dress was ironed. Unfortunately, when you iron black lower quality fabric like the polyester/nylon lace used for the dress, it can create a bit of a sheen caused by the heat of the iron, that altered ironed portion does look a bit like a belt when photographed.

      1. I don’t know why Kate would have such a complex about women copying her clothing selections. She’s helped plenty of designers sell in record numbers that way. It’s one of the few positive effects she’s had on the British economy/British people.

  10. Her hair is up, but that’s it. It’s UP. It’s not DONE. It looks like she stepped out of the shower and had the cleaning lady pile it back there with some pins.

    Posture = atrocious as always. No elegance or grace.

    Like mother, like daughter. Kannot’s royal role has brought her nothing but ‘access’ to the best. She simply doesn’t know HOW. Did Grace Kelly need 15 years to appear classy? To know how to hold a clutch bag? Oh I could go on. The mother stepped out in all her parvenu glory last night. (Why she was even there is another tale.) Did she bother to style her hair with some hairspray? Hangy hair for a black tie event? Yep, like mother like daughter. And now I see why Kate always wears those stupid thin chains with pendants. I’ve never thought they were appropriate for formal events. They look insipid.

    Kate = Klutz

    1. Carole did not look good at all last night. I saw a picture of her from last night that was out of context and at first I thought she was in her nightgown, with her shoulders hunched, unkempt hair, and those ghastly geriatric slippers. Sadly, Kate inherited a propensity towards small insignificant jewelry from her mother. The chain of Carole’s necklace got lost in the lines of her neck, the pendant looking like a stray piece of lint.

      1. That’s my vision of Ma Midds also, Lola, ‘unkempt’, untidy, unwashed [nasty, I know], ungracious, etc and @sage, ‘insipid’ too! It’s just how she appears to me, perhaps no truth in it at all.

        1. This is such a better description of Ma Midds following her appearance at the RVP.

          We haven’t seen her look this bad before. She always looks very well put together, good posture, everything on point. Sometimes a little sleazy, but never unkempt.

          And Sage has articulated what was bugging me about Kate’s hair. I couldn’t decided why I thought it looked unpolished despite being UP, aside from thing it aged her.

          She didn’t blow it out before putting it up.

          Plus, someone posted a picture close up of her eye make up, she’s wearing dark blue mascare on her lower lids which is why they look softer. They also look like no time was spent applying make up.

          All in all, I think somebody was dressed in Bucklebury, arrived at KP to drive to theatre with hubby. Hence the accompanying parents.

  11. I recall admiring in awe the stunning Carolyn Bessette- Kennedy’s natural style and grace. Sure, she was a natural beauty in her own way, but Kate doesn’t even try to venture out of her boring, staid, dated and unglamorous look. I recall that CB-K used to spruce up a black evening dress with a dash of red lipstick, whilst paring down her eye makeup. Could Kate get a clue? She’s utterly hopeless on her own.

    Agree with all about her overall dress sense, jewellery and her atrocious posture. She used to ungraciously jut out her pelvis when dating PW … she’s no lady. Is she a natural tomboy?

    1. I think she still juts out her pelvis which is why her hands rest so easily at her crotch.

      BTW: I was and I remain a huge fan of CBK’s style. She was so effortless. isn’t it funny that Gwyneth Paltrow tries to emulate her style?

      1. Both Diana and Samantha Cameron (our current PM’s wife) AND Carla Sarkorzi (despite being a former Supermodel) called in Vogue to help with their public presentation.

        The result is effortless fashion.

        And both Bruce Oldfield and Catherine Walker have given enough interviews about Diana’s approach to public dressing for the SWF’ing Middletons to know what is needed. Ditto the book published by Angela Kelly, HM’s dresser, on how to dress for public view, which includes several chapters on wardrobe mishaps AKA how to prevent them.

        1. The fact is that Kate isn’t ‘getting it’ & is making such a mess of her public role. Long may she continue on her trajectory of ineptitude, waltzing right out the door into the land of ex-wifedom !

  12. Kate must have rushed to her last appointment from Mummy’s house as she looks like she grabbed to first items to hand in her wardrobe… Gosh that girl does love her black lace!

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