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Kate's £70,000 wardrobe: The true cost of looking like a Princess

June 28, 2012
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The Duchess of Cambridge's wow-the-world wardrobe has made her queen of the headlines – and this inevitably comes at a price. Estimates suggest that her attire has cost her father-in-law £35,000 for the first five months of 2012, which would be just over £70,000 for the entire year. Another figure drawn up by the Daily Mail is £105,000 – the price tag of her clothes for the period since the royal wedding.

More may well be revealed within the next few days when details of Prince Charles' household accounts are released. It may seem like a princely sum, but it's vital that she is always impeccably turned out for official engagements. Kate is one of the royal family’s most visible ambassadors, and she represents Britain whenever she takes to the global stage. What’s more, we should be extremely proud of the fact that she is such a style leader. The Berkshire-born brunette has championed homegrown talent and breathed new life into British brands including Alexander McQueen, Jenny Packham and Emilia Wickstead. This, in what has been dubbed the ‘Kate effect’, has given Britain’s retail industry – the largest employer of women in this country – a much-needed boost. While Prince Charles foots the bill for his daughter-in-law's outfits on official engagements in the UK, when she and Prince William go on tours abroad her clothes are paid for by the Foreign Office. The lilac Alexander McQueen gown she wore to impress the Hollywood elite in California cost £2,246, about the average amount for Kate's evening dress. But the pale pink, intricately embellished Jenny Packham gown that she wore for her first official engagement after the wedding set her back £3,835. And the fire-engine red wool and crepe Alexander McQueen dress that made her stand out at the Diamond Jubilee pageant was £1,195. I defy anyone to snap up a couture show-stopper for much less.

And while Kate is quite rightly praised for championing the high street day-to-day, we'd be less delighted if she attended important functions with the eyes of the world upon her clad in anything less than spectacular.But let's tip our hats to the down-to-earth Duchess, who goes to such lengths to keep costs down that she's earned the nickname ‘cut-price Kate’.The grey Jesire coat dress that she wore for a trip to the National Portrait Gallery back in February came from a second-hand agency in Berkshire called The Stock Exchange. And the blue M Missoni tweed coat dress that she sported for an appearance at Fortnum & Mason had been picked up from discount shopping outlet Bicester Village. Not to mention her recycling. The pink, pleated Emilia Wickstead creation that she showed off at a Jubilee lunch for monarchs  was relatively expensive at £1,200, but she got her wear out of it by sporting it again just two weeks later. Think what similar outfits cost other ladies in the public eye.

  On the US state visit to Britain with President Obama in 2011, first lady Michelle wore a floral, Fifties style swing-dress and jacket by New York-based Barbara Tfank, thought to cost over £2,400. And the black, off-the-shoulder Ralph Lauren evening gown that she donned to cap off their tour was said to be in the region of £1,000. Samantha Cameron, meanwhile, is regularly spotted in designer wares and she is also renowned for favouring British wunderkinds including Christopher Kane and Jonathan Saunders. Throwing a party in honour of the capital’s fashion week, the Prime Minister's wife sported a Christopher Kane galaxy ensemble that will have set her back around £1,000. 

Kate is said to have inherited her eye for a bargain from her mother Carole, but she also has a good role model in the Queen. Her Majesty is no stranger to thrifty habits, and often uses previously-bought fabrics to fashion new outfits. Her dressers purchase metres of fabric during trips to countries such as Singapore and Italy which are used at a later date. And a palace official once told HELLO!: “By buying expensive materials where they are cheaper, then using (personal dresser) Angela Kelly to create new outfits, the Queen is able to make a considerable saving.”

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