I’ve been interested in royal fashion since I was young. Princess Diana seemed so glamorous to me. My focused interest in royal fashion really started in 2009, when Catherine came onto the scene and was dating Prince William. She was just in the news so much – they were pretty young things on the town, a real-life fairytale.
I’m a traditionalist. I like being current but also timeless in my approach to fashion. From the start I appreciated that Catherine dressed in pieces that were fashionable, respectful and appropriate, but that would look just as good in the future. Also, I’ve had extremely long hair my whole life, so her gorgeous long hair really stood out. The timelessness and the hair – that’s where my fascination came from.
I live in the US, so it’s not like we were seeing coverage of every look in the early days of their relationship. It was only the very special, big occasions that would be covered. That was before 2010. When Instagram launched, royal fashion coverage changed in a major way. Between iPhones, Twitter and Instagram, suddenly every photo and article was instantly available. Not only to see, but also to ID, and sometimes people provided links. Now I was able to go to Zara and buy it right then and there. Royal fashion was instantaneous and a real phenomenon.
One of her first full looks that I spent time tracking down was the going-away outfit she wore after the royal wedding. It was the blue Zara dress, with a black Ralph Lauren three-quarter sleeve blazer over it, and black LK Bennett wedges. I just had to go out and get that outfit.
It sounds funny, but I felt so special wearing it. Not that I was a real duchess – but I felt a slight connection to her through wearing the same outfit. Even though in my mind I thought, “Why did she wear that? She could have easily worn more expensive, bespoke items,” I loved that she was wearing high-street fashion that I could also wear. I could envision her going and making the purchases herself. It made me feel slightly royal and part of a small group of people who were dedicated and really followed and appreciated her fashion.
I started @royalreplikate on Instagram in 2010. At the time, there were only maybe about 12 people dedicated to replicating Kate’s looks – or “replikating” – worldwide. The #replikate hashtag was brand new, and even then there were only around 200 or so posts using it. Well, that was then – now I have about 75,000 followers on my @royalreplikate and @royalreplimeghan accounts combined As worldwide fascination with Catherine’s fashion and then Meghan’s fashion grew, interest in replikating has only grown and grown with it.
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In the beginning, I would see Catherine wear something, perhaps mull it over, decide if I really wanted it. Sometimes I would wait a month or two before purchasing or trying to source the item. Now, with the immediacy of social media, as soon as it’s identified – and Twitter is quickest with IDs – I tend to buy it immediately. There’s so much interest in her fashion that things sell out really fast now, and waiting only adds to the cost as the resale of that item looks likely to make a profit.
One of my favourite replikate pieces is the black suede and shearling Odele coat from Temperley London. It’s my rarest find. Catherine has worn it many, many times, and I love that she’s worn it off-duty. I have a particular fascination with collecting things she wears off-duty. For official appearances, she might choose something to honour the people involved, or the occasion or the country she’s visiting. Off-duty, it’s something she personally chose to wear. I like that connection.
Of course I couldn’t afford to buy the coat immediately when she first wore it. But on one of my trips to London with my family, we went to Bicester Village and I saw the coat displayed in the window of the Temperley store. I couldn’t believe it. They only had one, they’d received it just that day, and it was my size. It felt like fate. Obviously I bought it and I was thrilled!
Where I live, in Arizona, we only have two seasons: hot and not hot. England and cool London can seem very far away. Luckily I’m always cold, so I do get to wear the winter items during the cooler months. I make four seasons out of basically two and wear all my outfits.
Several years ago I tried to tabulate how much I’d spent replikating over the years, and at that point it was probably about $30,000. I try to spend my money really wisely and save wherever I can as this is definitely an expensive pursuit. I bought an AliExpress dress and a vintage hat that I personalised with silk flowers to replikate Catherine’s blue Elie Saab Royal Ascot outfit.
For Remembrance Day, I wore the same black Zara headband Catherine wore, my Kiki McDonough hoops and Annoushka pearl drop earrings – but I shopped my closet for a black dress and heels and made my own poppy pin from red felt, black buttons, and a vintage brooch. It took hours of hand-stitching to get my homemade felt poppies just right. The time spent was so reflective and my own way of honouring the fallen. Doing all my own tailoring and keeping an eye out for affordable re-sale items helps me keep costs down.
The total includes everything: jewellery, accessories, bags, boots, dresses, coats, etc. But that’s an estimate, and some items I can’t remember exactly what I paid for them. I’ve been doing this since 2009 and that’s a long time to tabulate all my royal fashion purchases.
My husband might be happier if I just did replikate and replimeghan shopping, but I love shopping for every occasion that might come my way. I like to have different clothes for when I go out with friends and family and live my life, so my wardrobe reflects that. I baby my royal clothes and I’m very careful when I wear them as they would be so difficult to replace. I tend to save everything in my closet and hold onto items just in case the occasion arises to wear them again. My closet is split between royal clothes and my personal clothing.
The last thing I bought was last week, the day she appeared in the royal-blue Zara blazer. It was identified and I bought it right away. I know that if it doesn’t work out, I can resell it pretty easily.
The Ghost London Avery dress Catherine recently re-wore to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary has to be one of my favourites. She first wore it on the Royal Tour of Pakistan. I adore her Royal Tour fashion and bought the dress from the website as soon as it was ID’d. The dress is just so Catherine – it’s blue, with delicate florals, elegant sleeves and a feminine silhouette that is so ladylike. The dress must be a favourite for her to rewear it in her 10th anniversary photo. I love that Catherine saves and rewears her fashion, just like I do.
I still wear items from Catherine’s early days. There’s a poignancy to those older outfits that she wore pre-engagement and in the early days of her marriage. I guess I feel like now it’s more of a machine, with more people involved; in the beginning it may have been just her, her mother and her sister helping to select her outfits. Her choice of what to wear seemed more personal. I love those early outfits. I collect the pieces she wears now and I do love them too, but somehow those early pieces always stand out to me.
What do I think she would make of me and my replikating? They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I think – I hope – that she would be pleased. I don’t know what she would make of the whole community of replikaters who live and breathe every dress, coat, blazer, hat, bag, jewellery item or shoe that she wears. She might find that a little strange. I hope she’d be honoured by how she has touched all our lives.
Since I became aware of Catherine, she’s been my biggest inspiration. While it may look on the outside like it’s just the fashion I’m interested in, it really isn’t. I’m interested in her as a person – the mother, the wife, the daughter, the Duchess – all the roles she plays. The elegance and grace with which she fulfils all her different roles is such an inspiration to me. I just think she’s someone to emulate because she’s handled it all so amazingly.
As told to Emily Cronin
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