Kate’s fashion evolution from preteen to princess in 26 images (PHOTOS)

Follow the Duchess from age five to 35.

From left to right: The Engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton, London, Nov 2010. Tim Rooke| REX | Shutterstock. Kate Middleton at 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom' film premiere, London, 2013. David Fisher | REX | Shutterstock. Kate Middelton visit to the Netherlands. Oct 2016. Tim Rooke| REX | Shutterstock

Kate Middleton may only be 35 (as of January 9th!), but she’s already come a long way from the little blonde preteen she once was … in adorable, high-waisted multi-color floral shorts, no less. (To be fair, I’m sure that I, too, have a 1980s photo of myself in similar attire—though thankfully it’s buried in a photo album somewhere, not online. Ah, to be a child of the ’80s.)

Today, Kate is a fashion icon for millions of women, from her fabulously British hats right down to her nude L.K. Bennett pumps. But so much happened in between the then and now, we simply couldn’t resist taking a quick Pinterest stroll through Kate’s burgeoning fashion sense over the years from five to 35. Won’t you join us?

Age five

In this photo of Kate from 1986, you’ll see arguably the world’s most famous brunette with completely different coloring—just look at those blonde tresses! And, yes, that sweet little floral outfit complete with tucked in tee is pretty amazing, too.

An 11-year-old flower girl

It’s now 1993 and the Middleton family are gathered at church for a wedding. While we know Kate probably didn’t pick this ensemble, it seems like good training for her future church appearances later in life, with the royal family.

Middle school

Sure, it’s safe to say that this outfit was also not her choice, but we needed an excuse to show you this old school photo of a sweet baby-faced Kate in her green jumper.

High school

Kate’s still in uniform, but you can start to see just a hint of her style with the choice of V-neck sweater and layered necklaces.

MORE TO READ: What 10 celebrities looked like as kids

Sweet teens

A young Kate stands with her sister, Pippa, in very long skirts. These days, she’s all about the knee-length and tea-length.

University

This 2005 paparazzi shot of Kate in casual supermarket attire was taken while she was attending St. Andrews, and first caught her Prince Charming’s eye.

2006

This youthful fall number is muted and well put together, much like Kate’s style today (but, of course, slightly more casual. After this, you won’t see her in pants often.) The hat here complements her bag perfectly (another style staple of current Kate), but the hat itself is a far cry from those elaborate ones we’ve seen her wear at weddings, formal to-dos, and horse races in the past few years.

2007

This street style shot of the soon-to-be-Princess in a white Reiss trench coat seems to foreshadow her love of trenches at royal public appearances later in life. (Though most British ladies probably learn the value of a well-fitted trench early on, given the country’s penchant for rainy weather.)

MORE TO READ: Game for anything: Duchess Kate tackles sports in heels

2010

There’s no ring on that finger yet, but as Kate watches Will and Harry play polo, it’s clear her style of dress is already starting to look a little more royal: feminine but conservative in a quiet pastel color, and belted neatly.

Engagement

This blue dress made by Issey (still a favorite designer of the Duchess today), became instantly iconic when Kate wore it to the announcement of her engagement with Prince William in 2010.

Flouncy, floral & affianced

Just a month after the announcement, Kate made an appearance in this cute but conservative black-and-white outfit. Best accessory? William on her arm. (And, yeah, that giant sapphire engagement ring is pretty noteworthy, too.)

Britain’s bride

In 2011 the fairytale wedding finally happened! Kate’s wedding dress with its long train, lace sleeves, and large skirt was simply stunning. The world watched in awe as Kate glided up the stairs. (And then eyes lingered a little on sister Pippa, who made a press sensation in her form-fitting white bridesmaid gown.)

Wimbledon whites

In 2012, a newly married Kate appeared at Wimledon in this outfit, which is just so … tennis-y.

2013 red carpet style

Kate paired this expensive Roland Mouret gown with a $35 Zara necklace.

Pregnant with Prince George

In the winter of 2013, we couldn’t get enough of Kate’s coats, and that little growing baby bump underneath.

In June of 2013, her bump had grown much larger, and her sense of style seems even more secure in this all-nude ensemble: fancy hat, belted dress, cute coat, nude pumps, matching bag. All the Kate staples are here!

Maternity

Right after the birth of Prince George, a very chic Kate posed in front of the hospital, in pale blue polka-dot Jenny Packham dress and cute shoes. Has anyone ever looked this good after just giving birth?

Also, note that the color and polka dots on Kate’s maternity dress are an ode to Princess Di’s maternity dress, as seen here:

MORE TO READ: A sneak peek into princess Diana’s iconic wardrobe

Early motherhood

Kate truly glows in this bright blue outfit, holding her new arrival Prince George, on her hip. (As you’ll see, this is a familiar color dress and pose … we’ve seen a lot of pictures like this in the past few years!)

Pregnant with Princess Charlotte

Is it just us, or does this purple maternity number sort of echo those 1986 shorts?

Taveling the globe

We couldn’t get enough of Kate’s wardrobe while she was in India with William. The gowns! The colors! Her trip was a fashion triumph. But here are our favorite three:

A proud mother of two

Arriving in Canada, Kate looks fantastic, once again descending from a plane in bright blue with a baby on the hip.

2016 and still recycling gowns

Recycling her old dresses is the one fashion trend we hope Kate keeps. Not just because she still looks so good in them (and she does!) but because it’s just so nice to see a royal treasuring and reusing something from her closet, rather than having a disposable wardrobe just because you can.

Duchess of the skirt-suit

On a recent trip to the Netherlands, Kate wore one of her classic skirt suits: a powder blue peplum cut with oversize buttons.

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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