Why Kate Middleton is not a 'style icon'

ELIZABETH CLARKE
Last updated 10:53 11/08/2014
Kate Middleton
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PRINCESS OF BORING: Kate's love of safe pencil dresses and fascinators is hardly refreshing.

Opinion poll

Is the Duchess a style icon?

Absolutely! Kate is the epitome of class.

I'm torn - I love her look, but it isn't exactly groundbreaking.

No - she may look nice, but fashion isn't her forte.

Vote Result

Kate Middleton
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THE HITS: Kate looked flawless in a nude lace Alexander McQueen dress at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
Kate Middleton
Getty Images
THE HITS: With beautiful draping and a simple ribbon tie at the waist, Kate's silver silk Jenny Packham gown was a definite winner.

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OPINION: As the Duchess of Cambridge is awarded the serious sartorial accolade of a place in the Vanity Fair Hall of Fame, its International Best Dressed List's highest honour, I ask myself: why?

Is it right that Kate be ''lauded the most polished, eclectic and stylish of dressers''? Is it appropriate that she be rubbing shoulder pads with the likes of Anna Piaggi, Karl Lagerfeld and Catherine Deneuve? Do cap-sleeved shift dresses, nude hose and cork wedges a fashion icon make? Not in my style bible.

Not that it's Kate's fault; she never set out to be a fashion icon. She has been popped on a pedestal and expected to be one.

It's not an easy title to wear for a girl raised out of the spotlight by a sensible mother with a penchant for pumps. Kate is not and never has been a fashion girl. Nor has she pretended to be.

As a young working mum juggling George, Zara sales, ribbon cutting and the odd cocktail-do, Kate dresses sensibly and practically. Sometimes only skinny JBrands and a mid-heel L.K. Bennett will do.

Considering Kate's down-to-earth relationship with fashion, she does do her bit for the biz.

She regularly wears British designers - Jenny Packham, Alice Temperley and Alexander McQueen (the latter ravishingly well).

She is frugal, for a royal, subbing her wardrobe with cheap and cheerful pieces she picks up on the high street.

Kate is a renowned repeater and regularly reinvents fave frocks, coats and shoes for weddings, race meets and poppy planting.

She is desperately trying to bring back the fascinator (please stop) and has a major penchant for hardcore eye make-up.

And then there is the Kate effect, and the small fact that no matter what she wears, it sells out immediately, and reportedly brings about $1.5 billion into the British economy.

Yet Kate lives with a major fashion disadvantage. She will forever share her walk-in wardrobe with a ghost: Princess Diana.

Not only the people's princess, she was a style maverick, especially in the 1980s when she reigned supreme as Dynasty Di. A game changer and fashion risktaker, this was a woman who thought nothing of dressing like a military soldier or wearing a choker around her head.

Diana lived life on the fashion edge with her penchant for sequins, one shoulder ruffles, mad polka dots and giant shoulder pads. She was fashionably formidable, and it seems the public expect the same of Kate.

There have been moments when Kate has delivered. Her knee length, nude lace dress by Alexander McQueen in 2012 was breathtaking. The Jenny Packham Grecian style, silver silk gown in 2011 astounding.

She rocks casual daywear like an off-duty supermodel. Whilst these moments may earn her a best-dressed listing, her love of electric blue lace, stretchy wrap dresses and inexpensive shoes do not. 

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A style icon is born, not made. Personal flair is a talent, not a skill to be faked. However, should one have a desire to be an icon, they can hire a gun and bring in a stylist (hello Lady Gaga).

Heavens knows Kate has enough stylish princesses on speed dial for solid regal-chic advice. Princess Mary or Queen Rania of Jordan could dispense some surefire tips on how to translate a tiara into something slightly sexier. 

Which brings us back to said Hall of Fame and her new star billing. Let's leave Kate to be the loveable duchess she is; a fabulous royal with awesome hair.

In her place let's induct an equally splendid individual, but one that stuns us with their sartorial brilliance, fearful self-expression and impeccable taste in shoes. 

- Sydney Morning Herald

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