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Discount Duchess: The secrets of Kate's luxe for less wardrobe
The Duchess of Cambridge’s Emilia Wickstead number made her look blooming lovely at the Queen's recent Buckingham Palace garden party. But the pale pink dress also had an outing two weeks previously at the Windsor Castle lunch for crowned heads of state.
Fashionistas and royal watchers recognised the dress immediately. With a £1,200 price tag, Kate was doing the sensible thing by getting a few wears out of it.
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True to her style recycling techniques, the pretty pleated number was paired with different accessories – including a matching pink Jane Corbett hat – to change the look.
Her decision to wear the same dress within a space of two weeks may have been accidental. However, the new royal might be looking to making a point, showing the thousands of women who admire her that she too has to work within a budget.
One fashion house revealed to YOU magazine that she is “given a budget for each of her trips”, but the amount available for charity engagements is less than for tours abroad.
To help look Princess-perfect without sky high costs, Kate shops at stores such as Stock Exchange. The dress agency, located at an industrial estate just outside of Ascot, sells recent runway looks for just a fraction of the original price.
Kate may well have been there recently to source an array of show-stopping outfits for her Diamond Jubilee appearances this weekend. For the festivities, including the Epsom Derby and the Diamond Jubilee concert, she will need several outfit changes.
A spokesperson from the store – where you can find bargains such as Issa dresses under £50 – revealed that Kate may have picked up the Jesire dress that she wore for a recent engagement at the National Portrait Gallery from there.
“We were really excited when we saw Kate wearing it on TV,” said the spokesperson. “But we didn’t see her in the shop – a secret shopper could have picked it up for her.”
Kate will may abide by what fashionistas call the four-season rule. Out of season designer fashion is usually a fraction of the price, but wear anything more than four fashion seasons-old and you could look dated.
For example, the M by Missoni coat that she wore to team up with the Queen and the Duchess of Cornwall at Fortnum & Mason was from a few season ago. But its timeless elegance made it a modern-looking choice.
She picked the coat up from Bicester Village, a shopping designer outlet in Oxfordshire that offers designer brands from previous collections with up to 60% reductions.
Another favourite trick used by the most photographed woman in the world is seeking out unknown stores and secret sample sales. She reportedly visits Bruce Oldfield’s invitation-only cut-price sales on selected Saturday mornings with her mother Carole and sister Pippa. It's so exclusive that guests have to know what time to ring the bell of his basement Beauchamp Place store.
The Duchess isn’t afraid to haggle over price either – a number of local sources from her Berkshire home told the magazine that Kate has a reputation for asking, “Is that your best price?”.
“Despite being royalty, she still asks for a discount,” said the owner of Kate’s favourite antiques shop, Youll’s Antique in Hunterford. He believes she may be following Carole’s example.
“Carole is a true bargain-hunter,” he said. “She has always been very strict with her money and would never allow her daughter to be ripped off – so she taught her how to barter.
“I always end up giving her the best price – how can you refuse a Princess?”