The real fashion queen? What Kate can learn from Camilla

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In a 2020 BBC radio interview during lockdown, the then Duchess of Cornwall extolled the virtues of dressing down during the lockdown period.

“I’ve been very, very happy with my jeans,” Camilla said. “It will be very hard to get out of them again. I think you get into a sort of way of life, don’t you?”

Photographs of Camilla at Clarence House for the interview show someone relaxed, with a loose blazer and feminine white shirt, not afraid of the odd crease.

The lesson for Kate: Casual dressing is a mood and a mindset.

Camilla Tip No. 2: Let the jewels do the work.

There are times when Kate leans into sparkle at the risk of falling in, such as the bedazzled Jenny Packham cape dress worn at the South African state dinner at Buckingham Palace in November and a green sequin Jenny Packham dress worn in Pakistan in 2021, but it’s time to dim the dress wattage.

Any celebrity can dress like a disco ball, but Camilla understands that it’s access to the crown jewels that set the Windsors apart from the Beckhams and Beyonce. At the South African state dinner in November and diplomatic corps dinner this month, Camilla’s dress was cut to accentuate the sapphire tiara, necklace and earrings that once belonged to Princess Louise of Belgium.

Queen Camilla at Buckingham Palace, December 6 and Princess Catherine’s rented lime green dress worn to the Earthshot Prize in Boston. It was given the meme treatment on social media.Credit:Getty/Twitter@rossisacoolguy

At the banquet in November, Kate’s use of the familiar Cambridge lover’s knot tiara had to compete with the disco ball glare of her dress.

By looking for dresses that act as a backdrop to priceless pieces from the family vault, Kate can dazzle without the razzle. The rented green dress worn with Princess Diana’s emerald choker, was a nice try but the countless memes that followed with different images imposed on the green screen fabric, including one of William, suggest trying again.

The lesson for Kate: Jewels first. Dress second. Lime green never.

Camilla Tip No. 3: Don’t play it straight

Kate has been leaning into the stylist’s trick of fitted monochrome dressing that accentuates her height (175 cm) and trim figure. Even a patterned Emilia Wickstead dress on the recent royal visit to Boston featured a matching belt so that the eye was not interrupted on viewing the hounds tooth ensemble. The resulting effect is as though she has been literally stitched up, into the outfit.

When Kate does break things up, such as with her burgundy Alexander McQueen pantsuit with a pink pussy bow blouse in the US and a cream Zara blazer with navy trousers in June, she appears more relatable and active.

Camilla will often break up monochrome looks with a V-neckline, bell sleeves or contrasting black accessories.

The lesson for Kate: There’s room to be playful.

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