Duchess Kate gives old threads new life

The Duchess of Cambridge, lauded for her chic style, is recycling clothing in more ways than one.

Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, pays for a book and small figurine after attending the opening ceremony for a new EACH charity shop in Holt, England. AP Photo | Arthur Edwards | Pool

Often praised for re-wearing her outfits to public events, The Duchess of Cambridge has done it again. Recently, Kate stepped out to support one of her favorite causes wearing a sophisticated M. Missoni tweed number that she’s worn several times before. Most notably, she appeared in this stylish coat at the marriage of Lucy Meade and Charlie Budgett in 2014.

But it seemed especially fitting for Kate to slip on an old favorite before heading to the official opening of a new thrift shop to benefit East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH), a charity that aids families and helps provide care for kids with life-threatening conditions. One of the ways EACH raises funds for these services is through non-profit shops that sell gently used and donated goods. So far the organization has 20 shops in England, including the newest location that Kate helped open just a few days ago in the town of Holt (for all the Americans wondering where that is on a map, it’s a small market town in Norfolk, England here).

Publicity for the thrift shop and the cause behind it is undoubtedly a good thing of course, but why the fuss and delight every time Kate shops her closet and steps out in pre-worn threads? Well, for starters, whenever the Duchess of Cambridge is spotted recycling her wardrobe, it makes her seem relatable, like a practical, ordinary gal. You can almost imagine her staring at her closet, wondering what would be most appropriate for the event, maybe gravitating toward a favorite outfit she feels comfortable in, and then eventually selecting a blue dress with the M Missoni coat.

It’s a typical morning routine most of us go through—choosing the right outfit for a meeting, or wondering if you’ve already worn your favorite red sweater to the office too many times. Sure, Kate probably has a stylist or two on hand to help her reinvent old outfits and make sure she doesn’t re-wear any fashion item too often, but, given that Kate is a celebrity figure who easily could have an endless wardrobe, it’s nice to see that she lives by a more practical limit. ( … It’s not as easy to imagine say, a Kardashian, going through that same closet thought process before a red carpet appearance.)

Her practical fashion attitude also speaks to the larger issues of sustainability and constraint in a very consumer driven, single-use, throw-it-away culture. Kate doesn’t just talk about the importance of reuse and constraint, she puts it into practice. In fact, after browsing and gamely trying on a cute hat, Kate even purchased a few items from the shop: a Fireman Sam book for her son Prince George, and a Tom Kitten Beatrix Potter figurine, supposedly for Princess Charlotte. It’s a lovely thought: royal kids playing with hand-me-down toys, and a mother that will teach them to care for their possessions, and give back to their community.

More of Kate’s favorite recycled outfits

Left: Kate Middleton donned a bright Luisa Spagnoli skirt suit and black gloves for her chilly visit to The University of St Andrews. Photo by Mark Cuthbert | UK Press via Getty Images Right: In April of 2014, Kate also wore the red number, this time ditching the tights and turtleneck, as she walks through Latimer Square in Christchurch, New Zealand. Photo by Martin Hunter | Getty Images
Left: Back in the summer of 2012, Kate left Westminster Hall after a Diamond Jubilee luncheon wearing an Alexander McQueen lace dress, belted. Photo by Peter Byrne | WPA Pool | Getty Images. Right: Two years later, Kate recycled the dress at a garden party held at Buckingham Palace, leaving off the belt, but wearing a similar chapeau. Photo by John Stillwell | WPA Pool | Getty Images
Left: Kate arrives at a dinner hosted by The Thirty Club debuting a Roland Mouret gown, paired with a chic white clutch. Photo by Samir Hussein | WireImage Right: The next year, the dress made a return on the red carpet for the film screening of ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.’ The Duchess paired it with a statement necklace to create a more modern look. Photo by Max Mumby | Indigo | Getty Images

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Natalie van der Meer
Natalie van der Meer

Senior Editor Natalie van der Meer is a former editor for Redbook, Woman’s Day, Reader’s Digest and Allure, covering fashion, beauty, travel, family, book reviews, and much more. She lives in New York City.

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