Monday, May 7, 2012

The Duchess Effect

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I've been seeing lots of stories recently about "The Duchess Effect" or "The Kate Effect," about how the Duchess of Cambridge's clothing choices are wielding considerable influence on the fashion industry, especially over the last year since her marriage to Prince William.

While I'm not a rabid royalty watcher, I have always felt sympathetic toward Kate (I'm sorry; I can't yet bring myself to call her Catherine.) I hated how the British tabloids trashed her and her family in the years before her marriage and can't help but feeling a bit of "haa haa on you" when I see these same tabloids tripping over themselves, breathlessly covering her every move. I don't think Kate has made one misstep, which has got to be hard with potentially billions of eyes on you every time you run out for a Starbucks.

I have noticed the effect the Duchess has on fashion. Indeed, I've even fallen head-over-heels in love with a shawl she wore while shopping (I blogged about it here) and the white coat she wore to Prince William's passing-out ceremony. But model my wardrobe after Kate's? Hmmm.

First, have you really studied a picture of her? She's TINY. Not short tiny, but skinny tiny. A single thigh of mine is bigger than her torso. Okay, not really, but let's just say a lot of the stuff she wears wouldn't look good on my "curves." For example, before she was married she was frequently photographed wearing skinny jeans stuffed into boots. First, I consider "skinny jeans" to be a pair of pants I can fit my butt into after a week of dieting. Second, if I stuffed my jean bottoms into a pair of skinny boots, I'd cut off circulation to my feet. The bottom line: where Kate looks slim and chic, I'd looked like an overstuffed sausage.

Then there's the fact that you have to shop to get Kate's look. And frankly, I hate to shop, except if the shopping involves yarn ... then I'm up for the game. But people who really love Kate's look must have to spend a fortune by quickly snapping up an original the moment Kate's photographed in it (the royal blue engagement dress by Issa) or spend too much time hunting down a knockoff.

And then there's that fact that I'm 17 years older than the Duchess. I'm more in Princess Diana's generation, but NOT Prince Charles's, thankyouverymuch. It's weird because I don't think the Duchess dresses in a particularly youthful manner (a criticism she receives from a lot of print journalists who cover fashion), but maybe it's that I don't place as much emphasis on fashion as I did in my 20s and early 30s, and go more for what looks good on me and what fits the life I have today. I'm more apt to look at a pair of wellies the Queen is wearing and wondering if they'd be a good choice for summer gardening ... or should I get less sexy rubber gardening clogs? Does that make sense?

I like seeing how her fashion choices inspire others, though. The blog What Kate Wore reports on everything Kate wears and gives details on where you can buy. The green shawl that I adore has its own Ravelry group. BurdaStyle offers pattern suggestions for Kate fans who like to sew. And not Kate fashion, but an Australian pattern company developed a pattern for "The Pippa Dress." Now that's something you'll never catch me in, although Gorgeous Things did "gorgeous things" with it ... and she's even in my generation! (She looks seriously stunning in it.) Don't sew or knit? The Daily Mail frequently covers Kate and will tell you what brand she's wearing.

So what do you think about all this "Duchess/Kate Effect" business? Do you think it will wear off? Do you catch yourself admiring certain clothes Kate wears or would you rather not be bothered? Please comment below. As for me, I'm sure I'll keep watching but I don't see myself patterning a wardrobe based on another person's look. I am, however, going to cast on that shawl. Kate seriously ripped off my style.

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