Arriving at Zahran Palace, Kate Middleton, 41, wore an Elie Saab custom gown featuring featured long sleeves, a ruffled high neckline and intricate detailing on the bodice.
Eagle-eyed fashion insiders may have spotted something in particular about her look – that it was yet another example of the way that Kate’s dresses are adapted from the catwalk to make them more suitable for royalty.
When seen on the catwalk as part of the Lebanese fashion designer’s Fall 2017 Ready-to-Wear collection, the dress featured sheer panels on the skirt and top area.
The Princess of Wales put on an elegant display in a soft pink dress as she joined Prince William for Crown Prince Hussein’s wedding to Rajwa Al-Saif in Jordan
When seen on the catwalk as part of the Lebanese fashion designer’s Fall 2017 Ready-to-Wear collection (pictured), the dress featured revealing sheer panels. These did not feature on Kate’s version of the dress
Kate’s however has clearly been altered to remove these see-through elements.
The mother-of-three has developed a trick for making sure her off-the-peg garments are tailored before wearing them, to remove revealing hemlines to suit her regal and elegant style.
While Kate looks fabulous when wearing the works of the world’s leading designers, less modest clothes that catch the eye on the catwalk rarely meet the standards of the royal dress code.
The British Royal Family is said to stick to a very specific style guide which rules out inappropriately short skirts, day dresses that are too long, plunging necklines, slits that gape if you bend or sit down, and fabrics that crease.
Since her marriage to Prince William in 2011, Kate has never faltered with her perfectly tailored garments.
An example of Kate’s simple yet effective alterations was the Princess’ show-stopping No Time To Die premiere gown. British label Jenny Packham dressed Kate in a dazzling gold number for the film premiere at the Royal Albert Hall back in 2021.
The £4,000 gown, which was originally thought to be a custom creation, featured one small change in comparison to its runway edition – an altered neckline to add a touch of modesty.
In December 2019, the mother-of-three transformed an Alessandra Rich dress before wearing it for the ‘A Berry Royal Christmas‘ programme.
By removing a waist-high slit and a revealing keyhole opening at the neckline, and adding a wide bow to the neck of the dress, Kate and her stylists made the piece a fitting outfit for a royal.
For the No Time To Die premier in 2021, Kate donned a stunning £4,000 gown, which was originally thought to be a custom creation, by Jenny Packham – but made a few alterations to the neckline to make the piece more modest
Kate regularly changes and adjusts high street and designer items to fit her personal style before adding them to her royal wardrobe, such as the Alessandra Rich dress. The original (pictured left) featured a large keyhole opening at the neckline, which the Duchess removed, before adding a large bow (right)
During the royal tour of Pakistan in October 2019, the Princess of Wales transformed a chocolate utility shirtdress from high street retailer Mint Velvet into a top.
Other transformations are a little less obvious, with modest alterations to garments including changes to the shape and style of the sleeves.
While attending Ascot in July of the same year, the royal was widely praised for wearing a tulle-rich, exquisitely embroidered bespoke Elie Saab two-piece.
While the pussy-bow collar and sheer sleeves gave the chic look standout credentials, the original piece actually featured shorter sleeves with lace panelling running along the hemline, as opposed to along the shoulders.
The royal made a similar small design change when she wore a slightly altered dress by Beulah London in January 2019.
While visiting the Family Action charity in London, the Princess wore the smart forest green dress, with the original garment’s fluted sleeves removed, and three buttons added to the sleeve instead.
The royal transformed the Chocolate Utility Shirtdress from the high street retailer Mint Velvet into a top during her trip to Pakistan in 2019 (pictured left, the original garment, and right, how Kate wore the garment)
The Duchess of Cambridge wowed when she stepped out in a bespoke Elie Saab ensemble for the Royal Ascot in June, with the sleeves of the top adjusted from the designer’s original piece (pictured left, the original Elie Saab top, and right, Kate Middleton’s Ascot outfit)
It’s not always big changes! The royal made a small design alteration to the sleeves of the Beulah London dress before wearing it to visit the Family Action charity in London in January 2019 (pictured left, the original gown with fluted sleeves, and right, Kate’s version differed slightly from the original)
And the royal was also thought to have had an Emilia Wickstead design tailored for the Queen’s Christmas lunch in December 2019.
The original garment’s sheer sleeves are believed to have been removed from the piece in favour of a more modest tartan finish.
The royal is also believed to have had another of the designer’s pieces tailored ahead of the Wimbledon final four years ago, with some speculating she’d had the fullness in the skirt removed to further flatter her figure.
But it’s not just the cut and shape of her royal wardrobe that Kate often has tailored for her personal style.
The royal also regularly amends the design of pieces before stepping out in a piece.
While visiting Wimbledon with sister-in-law Meghan Markle, the royal wore a Dolce and Gabbana dress, which was amended from the designer’s original piece to remove a large embroidered clock on the right-hand side of the bodice.
Kate is believed to have had the Emilia Wickstead desig tailored to remove the garment’s sheer sleeves before the royal wore it to the Queen’s Christmas lunch in 2019 (pictured left, the original design, and right, The Princess of Wales)
The royal is believed to have made a similar small adjustment to an Emilia Wickstead gown for the Wimbledon Men’s Final in July 2019, with some suggesting the fullness of the skirt had been removed (pictured left, the original gown, and right, Kate’s version)
And it’s not just the fit of the clothes! The royal donned an adjusted Dolce and Gabbana dress while attending Wimbledon with sister-in-law Meghan Markle, with the gown’s original clock design removed from Kate’s version (pictured left, the original, and right, the Duchess at Wimbledon in July 2019)
Meanwhile, she wore a bespoke version of a Ridley London dress when visiting the Royal Photographic Society again in 2019.
Kate’s version was created in a Liberty of London print called ‘Peach Flourish’, with Kate’s skirt detailing also differing slightly from Ridley’s original dress.
On a tour of South-East Asia in September 2012, Kate chose an oriental-print dress with soft tone colours for an engagement in Singapore. The floaty dress appeared to be adapted from the Meryl dress from Erdem’s Spring/Summer 2012 collection.
Both had the same pattern, pleating and waist detail, but while the original dress was sleeveless and sheer, Kate’s featured a wider neckline, revealing her collarbones, and chiffon sleeves to give a softer look.
Kate’s white slip also changed the background colour, making the print stronger and more vibrant.
In the summer of 2019, Kate wore a pretty Ridley London dress which had been created in a Liberty London fabric, with the hem detailing of her piece also differing from the company’s original (pictured left, another of the designs from Ridley London, and right, the Duchess of Cambridge in her bespoke piece)
On a tour of South-East Asia in September 2012, Kate chose an oriental-print dress in soft tone colours for an engagement in Singapore. The floaty dress was adapted from Erdem’s Spring/Summer 2012 collection. Both have the same pattern, pleating and waist detail, but while the original dress is sleeveless and sheer, Kate’s has a wider neckline and a white slip
For the Queen’s 90th Birthday Commonwealth service in March 2016, Kate wore a £2,500 grey coat by Erdem, a bespoke version based on one from the London label’s Pre-Fall 2015 collection
For the Queen’s 90th Birthday Commonwealth service in March 2016, Kate favours a £2,500 grey coat by Erdem, a bespoke version based on one from the London label’s Pre-Fall 2015 collection.
It featured a tiny checked background with lace-effect print overlay, but Kate’s design removed much of detailing – making the ensemble appear more sleek and simple.
On a seven-day tour to India and Bhutan in April 2016, Kate looked stunning in Temperley London’s Desdemona design for a lunch with the Indian prime minister.
The jade dress, made of 100 per cent cotton, displayed a high neck, fitted waist, fluted hem and cotton voile pleats.
But the original had a bodice that’s predominantly sheer — far too risque for Kate — so a modesty panel was been added across the bust, and the underskirt lengthened so it is only sheer from the knee down.
On a seven-day tour to India and Bhutan in April 2016, Kate looked stunning in Temperley London’s Desdemona design for a lunch with the Indian prime minister. But Kate had the sheer jade dress adapted with additional panelling to make the piece more modest
In September 2016, while on tour in Canada, Kate wore a bespoke Alexander McQueen design adapted from a dress from the Resort 2017 collection. The original version was a tiered mini-dress with cropped bell sleeves, but Kate’s version featured a lengthened skirt lengthened
In September 2016, while on tour in Canada, Kate donned a bespoke Alexander McQueen design adapted from a dress from the Resort 2017 collection.
The original version was a tiered mini-dress with cropped bell sleeves, but Kate’s version, which she wore for a visit to Vancouver with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, featured a lengthened skirt, so it stops just above the knee rather than mid-thigh.
The voluminous tiered sleeves were also replaced by full-length ones, finished with white cuffs. The safer, more sophisticated choice gave the Princess a much smarter and more business-like silhouette
For the 2018 Tusk Conservation Awards, Kate opted for a Jenny Packham gown she first wore to the Royal Albert Hall in May 2012.
Compared to the original, Kate’s was much more conservative — and a much more striking colour. It was stitched up to give a peek-a-boo of detail rather than a full lace bodice.
For the 2018 Tusk Conservation Awards, Kate opted for a Jenny Packham gown she first wore to the Royal Albert Hall in May 2012, but compared to the original design Kate’s was a more vibrant shade of teal and had a few tweaks to the design
For her first engagement after her latest maternity leave, Kate chooses grey tweed Erdem for the launch of a photography exhibition at London’s V&A Museum in October. The catwalk version includes a risque cut-away detail in the designer’s spring/summer 18 collection. Kate’s has the keyhole detail removed and a plum belt added, ensuring her midriff is covered up.
For her first engagement after her latest maternity leave following the birth of Prince Louis, Kate wore grey tweed Erdem for the launch of a photography exhibition at London’s V&A Museum in October 2018.
The catwalk version included a risque cut-away detail in the designer’s spring/summer 18 collection, but Kate’s had the keyhole detail removed and a plum belt added, ensuring her midriff is covered up.
Since 2014, her personal stylist Natasha Archer has made the sartorial decisions for Kate’s wardrobe.
As catwalk shows work almost a year ahead of production, Natasha will look through the season ahead, choosing styles, prints and patterns that are suitable, then discuss with Kate before designers are contacted.
Small changes, such as sewing up plunging necklines, are likely to be made by Natasha. But more fundamental changes to a design happen at the design house that made the piece.
It is a collaborative effort, to ensure the design is preserved but royal modesty met and will cost more than buying ready-to-wear off-the-peg outfits.