The lowdown on pregnant Kate's MaxMara dress

Pregnant Kate Middleton looked radiant on Tuesday as she showed off her rounded tummy for the first time in public, wearing a monochrome MaxMara wrap dress from the brand's studio line. It is several seasons old and the thrifty Duchess managed to pick it up from the Matches website for £148, down from £298.

Speaking to HELLO! Online about the 'Kate effect', a spokesperson from MaxMara said that whenever Kate wears a piece from their line, "sales go through the roof" and revealed that there was a huge spike in sales after the 30-year-old was spotted sporting one of their cream coats with a bow belt for an appearance at King's Cross station in London last year.


With its stretchy jersey material, the frock accentuated the expectant beauty's new curves. The royal, who is nearly half way through her pregnant, paired the dress with simple black court shoes and her trusty tan tights.

As usual, no detail was overlooked, and the demure Duchess added a grey slip underneath the dress ensured the ensemble was appropriate for the official engagement, which marked her first of the year.

The appearance followed novelist Hilary Mantel's scathing character reference. But if the writer's comments had affected Kate, it certainly didn't show as she returned to work looking happy and relaxed.

Banks of photographers on 'bump watch' awaited the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge as she began her visit to Hope House in South London - an all-female rehabilitation centre which forms part of a chain of projects run by her patronage, Action on Addiction.

Earlier in the day, the charity's Chief Executive Nick Barton had defended his patron against Hilary Mantel's comments, describing her as an "intelligent" woman .

He was one of the first to greet Kate who was deeply tanned from her recent break in Mustique. Shaking his hand warmly Kate told him: "Its nice to be back here again".

Before the engagement began, the royal had been warned to "expect tears" as she met with young women , some mothers, battling addiction problems. Herself 19 weeks pregnant, their plight would have taken on extra significance.

Manager Suzanne Hakimi was waiting to greet Kate at the doors of Hope House where she spent the morning meet clients and staff at the 23-bed residential treatment centre.

When Kate became patron of Action on Addiction in 2012, Suzanne applauded her choice, saying: "It's incredibly brave for someone who's new in the royal family to take on a charity that works with the darker side of life, and also the lighter side of life".