How the Duchess of Cambridge has styled the same blazer 9 different ways in 9 years

Bethan Holt
·5-min read
The Duchess of Cambridge has been wearing her favourite navy blazer since 2011 - Getty/ PA
The Duchess of Cambridge has been wearing her favourite navy blazer since 2011 - Getty/ PA

Wearing the same item over and over again might be second nature to many of us, but it can still seem like a novelty when someone whose style is as closely watched as the Duchess of Cambridge’s does it. Especially when the re-worn item is a wardrobe veteran.

Last night, Kate and William presented a Pride of Britain award to NHS workers on behalf of the nation, meeting six members of the frontline team at St Bart’s hospital in London. The segment was filmed last week after Kate made a quick change from the scarlet Alexander McQueen coat which she had worn in the morning into a chic navy tailored ensemble comprised of some old favourite pieces - a pair of Jigsaw trousers and a blazer by Smythe - with a new silk shirt by London-based label Lisou.

What’s striking about the blazer is that the Duchess has been wearing it for more than nine years. In fact, it was a favourite in her first couple of years as a royal and became a familiar tool which she used to smarten up her beloved skinny jeans. 

The blazer may have remained the same, but Kate’s style has not, as a study of all the different ways she’s styled it over time reveals...

2011: Business chic

Wearing a blazer by Canadian label Smythe was one of Kate’s first acts of diplomatic dressing after joining the Royal family, sporting her new purchase as she boarded her flight to Canada for her and William’s first tour as a married couple.

Kate wearing Smythe in June 2011 - Getty
Kate wearing Smythe in June 2011 - Getty

For its first outing, the newly-minted Duchess paired the jacket with a matching Roland Mouret dress and Mulberry handbag - a polished, professional look which showed she meant business as she embarked on the first foreign visit of her life as a working member of the Royal family. 

2011: With a ruffled blouse

The Duchess of Cambridge in Canada, July 2011 - Wireimage
The Duchess of Cambridge in Canada, July 2011 - Wireimage

A few days into the Canada tour, the blazer made another appearance, this time with a more smart/ casual vibe. It was the first of many times that Kate wore it with skinny jeans (these ones were by J.Brand) but she added a playful, pretty element in the form of a ruffled blouse from Lauren by Ralph Lauren, giving it an early ‘80s Diana or New Romantic feel. 

2012: with a sporty polo top

The Duchess of Cambridge at the London 2012 Olympics - Getty
The Duchess of Cambridge at the London 2012 Olympics - Getty

The Smythe blazer really came into its own in 2012, when the Duchess made it her Olympics-watching uniform. This ensemble, worn to watch the equestrian eventing competition, is classic Olympics Kate; the smart-but-more practical-than-heels wedges, the timeless sunglasses and, crucially, the official merch polo shirt.

2012/ 2013: with Breton stripes 

The striped top is synonymous with early royal Kate. It was always her favourite way to do dressed-down.

Kate wearing her favourite blazer with striped tops
Kate wearing her favourite blazer with striped tops

Layering her Smythe blazer over the top of her Bretons was a quick and easy way to make the look a bit smarter, as seen at the Olympics and again a year later for one of Kate’s first outings after the birth of Prince George - this outfit made headlines when Kate played netball in skinnies and wedges three months after her firstborn’s arrival.

2014: tone-on-tone 

Kate wearing Smythe with Stella McCartney - Getty
Kate wearing Smythe with Stella McCartney - Getty

When she visited Glasgow to mark the Commonwealth Games in 2014, the Duchess brought back the blazer and shift dress combination first seen in 2011, this time teaming her Smythe jacket with a sky blue dress by Stella McCartney. This tone-on-tone pairing was a clever nod to the official Games colour palette - and a nice recall to her Olympics style.

2016: with an Alice band

Kate loved the Smythe blazer with the Stella McCartney dress so much that she revived the outfit two years later at the Royal International Air Tattoo. This time, though, she added an unexpected accessory - a tortoiseshell Alice band. 

Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge attend the The Royal International Air Tattoo - Corbis
Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge attend the The Royal International Air Tattoo - Corbis

Its primary function was to keep her hair off her face in the howling wind on the runway, but it also imbued the blazer with a touch of  Sloane Ranger chic. 

2016: with patterned trousers

The Duchess wears her Smythe jacket with Gap trousers in September 2016 - Getty
The Duchess wears her Smythe jacket with Gap trousers in September 2016 - Getty

Later that summer, Kate re-wore the jacket again, this time for a visit to Cornwall. The biggest talking point of her look this time was her patterned Gap trousers, the first time she’d worn trousers which weren’t skinny jeans in public. 

Once again, the trusty Smythe blazer added a sophisticated spin to an otherwise releaxed look. 

2020: with trainers

Four years after its last public wear, Kate brought back her old Smythe favourite in February wearing it for a SportsAid event in London. Although she’d worn it for plenty of sports-themed engagements in the past, this was the first time that she’d worn it with actual trainers (these ones were by M&S). 

Kate wears the Smythe blazer with trainers - AFP
Kate wears the Smythe blazer with trainers - AFP

It was evident just how much Kate’s style had changed in that time - now she was wearing culottes, too - another new addition to her repertoire with marked out her more grown-up, experimental attitude. 

2020: wide-legged trousers

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge speaking to frontline workers for the Pride of Britain awards - AP
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge speaking to frontline workers for the Pride of Britain awards - AP

Which brings us to the latest fresh spin on styling the Smythe classic. For the first time, Kate used the jacket to create a kind of trouser suit, pepping up the cokmbination with Lisou’s joyfully colourful patterned shirt. This more nuanced and confident styling twist might be most exciting interpretation of the jacket yet. And no doubt we’ll see it again soon… 

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