*And by “life” I mean “outfit”. I’m dramatic like that.
It’ll be news to no one that Kate Middleton‘s fashion choices do not set my world on fire. Even when she wears designers that should send the blood rushing straight to my head, she somehow manages to suck the life out of potentially great clothes and make Christopher Kane look like a Mother of the Bride outfit from Debenhams, and McQueen look like it belongs on the Queen.
It’s a rare gift indeed, this ability to make some of the most innovative designers in contemporary fashion look staid and conservative, and most recently we can add “Roksanda” to the list of daring designers she has neutered by styling them with her predictable bouncy blow dry and her bad DIY make-up. Or maybe we should blame the Queen, because it’s true and it has to be acknowledged that there are rules and constraints that would prevent her inner fashion star from shining brightly. She has to wear knee length, she has to have sleeves, she has to wear tights, and we’ve all seen her boobs but the empire would crumble if anyone ever saw her toes. But even within those constraints – if she had any – it would be possible for her to show us a little bit of fashion flair.
With an occasional ponytail or a subtle eye and red lip combo she could she style it up and give us “a look” as opposed to “a change of dress on the Kate Middleton cut-out doll”, and let’s face it, asides from breeding heirs, spares and renovating palaces, she hasn’t got much else to be doing. If I was a British tax payer I would be demanding more bang for my buck, and the number one way she could deliver that without getting any royal knickers in a knot?
The Duchess wears terrible shoes, and there’s no reason why she should. Shoes could be her secret wink to the fashion world that tells us she wishes she could deliver more, sartorially, but hey “Look at my shoes, bitch!” Shoes could be the shrug that says “I wish I didn’t have to remove the skulls from my McQueen accessories, but Her Madge would have a seizure if I didn’t! And hey, look at my shoes, bitch!” Shoes could be the eyeroll that says “I know, right? I wish I didn’t have to get Christopher Kane to waste his considerable talents on a baby blue satin coat, but I’m trapped in my own fashion hell here! I mean hey, look at my shoes, bitch!”
Even mediocre shoes could help lift her looks from the mundane to the marginally interesting, and with what she spends on her wardrobe and the amount of attention it gets, surely she owes us that, for entertainment value alone? Because the occasional Topshop dress does not a thrifty shopper make, and while she might be the Queen of the Re-run she is definitely not the Queen of the High-street. Those reruns might lower the CPW (cost per wear) on her emerald green Erdem coat from its $3,000 price tag to a more modest $1,500 per wear, but given how easily patent leather wrinkles, let no one believe she has been rocking the same pair of LK Bennett “Sledge” pumps since FOREVER!
And so I give you the twenty times a better shoe could have elevated her look, and while picking alternatives it was, of course, at the forefront of my mind that the monarchy would implode if she wore an open toe! I tried to stay true to the brands she favours, but I added a couple I think she needs to look into, and to save my sanity I totally indulged myself with a few pairs of my dream shoes that I know Kate would not wear in a fit. But humour me!
1) This Erdem coat was debuted in New Zealand with some basic black shoes, and repeated in London last week with the dreaded nude “Sledge” pumps. Some of you will be thinking “Why do you hate them so much? They’re a wardrobe essential! Nude shoes go with everything!” while others among you will know that they aren’t and they don’t. What they are is the steamed chicken breast of shoes. If you go into a restaurant you don’t pick the blandest thing on the menu, and in LK Bennett alone there are a hundred pairs of shoes more interesting than these. I love these white Miu Mius with the floral motif, but even sticking with black pumps they don’t have be so basic, as these Charlotte Olympia heels with PVC inserts show. Ultimately though, I like the floral LK Bennett Fern shoe for this coat. The pointy toe is edgier than the shape she usually favours, but these are by no means a subversive shoe! A conservative but interesting choice from her favourite brand to kick things off. You can’t say fairer than that.
2) She wore this coral Goat dress earlier this month, and decided a variation on the steamed chicken breasts would best accent this gorgeous, summer colour. I disagree, and I think for contrast she could have repeated the floral LK Bennetts, or for a more conservative coordinating choice she could have gone for their low-heeled coral pumps with a cut-out detail. But because I played it safe last time, indulge me now with these super cool flamingo heels from Sophie Webster – a British shoe designer she definitely needs to be looking into!
3) This Alexander McQueen skirt and blouse she repeated last month is one of the few looks Kate has worn that I absolutely love. I can’t deny the navy pump is a good choice here, but again, the shape is so basic. The toe she favours is neither rounded nor pointy… it’s rointy! She could mix it up here by adding a splash of red, and these Charlotte Olympia suede heels (top) have the platform beloved of Kate and the pointy toe beloved of me. She could stick with navy but choose a more fashionable shape, like these Jimmy Choo Adison pumps (middle), or she could knock us all for six by choosing an uber-trendy white stiletto with gold metal insert from Nine West (bottom). Stranger things have happened.
4) The Christopher Kane coat that brought fashion fans to tears, paired with the only thing that could make it even blander… a pair of rointy nude Jimmy Choo pumps. Why do they even make shoes that look like this? I’m drawn to a print here, and she could have climbed on board next season’s biggest shoe trend, the pointy snakeskin pump, with these aptly named “Catherine” shoes from Kurt Geiger (top), or she could have played it safe while letting us know she has feet in these strapy Charlotte Olympia closed-toe Minx sandals (second from top). But my choice is somewhere in the middle, with the more subtle Anabella shoes from Kurt Geiger (bottom). Also pictured, grey suede beauties from Saint Laurent and a matchy two-tone closed-toe sandal from Nine West.
5) This McQueen lace dress looks incredibly high-street, and is begging for a more interesting shoe to lift it. Sticking with nude, these barely open-toed Charlotte Olympia shoes (top) have a frill on the heel for interest, but it’s the designer’s elegant and refined burgundy and nude strappy closed-toe sandals (bottom) that I long to see with this dress. Another British designer making waves internationally, Kate should be checking her out. Also pictured, divine Nicholas Kirkwood two-toned pumps with metallic insert (second from bottom), and a snakeskin and PVC stiletto from Kurt Geiger.
6) A simple and elegant dress choice from May, she was right to go for a navy pump to accessorise this Jaeger dress, but again… why so basic? Can you believe these are McQueen? They have to be custom made, because the House that designed these could only have produced these by royal decree. Returning to Charlotte Olympia, her navy suede shoes (top) have a cute little buckle detail, while her wrapped satin shoe (middle) is elegant but eye-catching. But my choice here is the slightly edgier Jimmy Choo Addison (bottom) because a simple dress can take a little edge and no one needs to fetch smelling salts for the Queen.
7) A strange choice for May, this tonal striped wool coat, by Jonathan Saunders, is far too heavy looking for the Sledge pumps and she needs a colour on her feet to ground her. Just for laughs, why not these Charlotte Olympia love heart heels in coordinating tones of corals and reds? I know, AS IF! Apparently she wore the coral Goat dress underneath, so a more realistic choice would be the LK Bennett coral pumps I suggested for that. But how spectacular are these three-toned, scalloped Valentino shoes? I want them, and if she had any sense she would want them too.
8) I liked this Lela Rose dress Kate wore in Australia, but I’m less than thrilled by the basic black pumps. The scalloped Valentino heels (top) would have looked incredible with the white dress and black clutch, or she could have kept it monochrome with these black and white Kurt Geiger pumps (second from top). I’d love to see her rock a white stiletto, and these Jimmy Choo Abel pumps have the perfect point and heel height, but my dream choice for this dress are these stunning flocked velvet and glitter Iriza pumps by Christian Louboutin, which mirror the open circles of the lace in the sleeves and peplum of the dress.
9) This Michael Kors coat is accessorisied with a bright, shiny poppy pin for ANZAC day, and I’d love to see it with a pop of red on her feet too! Sticking with navy, the Charlotte Olympia or Jimmy Choos mentioned previously would be more interesting, but I’m stuck on red: the platformed Charlotte Olympia shoes are perhaps a bit towering, so the more modestly heeled, shiny red Jimmy Choos (bottom) are my choice here.
10) Another coat dress in Australia, this time from Catherine Walker, sees the return of the Sledge pumps and another case of the disappearing feet. I say if you’ve got ’em, flaunt ’em, so I’m going back to the floral LK Bennets or white Miu Mius as stronger options (top and second from bottom), but for a more subtle contrast the previously chosen Anabellas would be nice. But I think this green can handle the darker Catherine snakeskin shoes, also Kurt Geiger and clearly named for you-know-who, but I suspect they can dream on…
11) A perfectly lovely, sophisticated day look from McQueen, utterly let down by the Sledge pumps! The burgundy Charlotte Olympia shoes (top) from above would be lovely with this, or she could go with the previously described, edgier Nicholas Kirkwood or Kurt Geiger two-toned pumps (middle), but my choice for this skirt and top are these dainty, 80s-inspired Louboutin slingbacks (bottom). I suspect I can dream on…
12) This taupe Roksanda dress she wore in Australia is such a non-colour that it’s crying out for a stronger shoe than these damn Sledges. She could keep it simple and ground it with a two tone shoe, like either of these pairs from Nine West (left), but even taupe can be made interesting, as the crisscross inserts in the Charlotte Olympia pumps (top right) show. My vote, though, is for an unexpected pop of a complimentary colour, like the bright cerise in these two-toned Nine West shoes (bottom).
13) It’s hard to tell the exact tone of blue in this Stella McCartney dress as it has photographed differently both times she’s worn it, but both times she’s gone for a (rointy!) black pump when the simple shape is begging for something more stimulating. The crisscross detail in the black Charlotte Olympia pumps (top) or the stripes on the Zara shoes would be the lift it needs, but, depending on the true colour, either the leather LK Bennetts or the suede snakeskin from Carvella would work well here too.
14) Another day, another snoozey coat, this time from McQueen, for a church visit in Australia. It’s dove grey with a darker grey hat, so she could keep it keep it matchy with these gorgeous grey Saint Laurent pumps (top), but it’s simple enough to take a tonal print, like the Stuart Weitzman floral pumps (middle). However, this one’s a no brainer for me. This coat needs my favourite shoe of this summer: The 80s-tastic Christian Louboutin white Kate stiletto with the asymmetric blue-toned vinyl inserts. Imagine! Because I can, and it’s a bajillion times better than the rointy LK Bennett Harper pump she’s chosen, and it’s not even an AS IF choice! It’s an elegant, closed-toe pump that just oozes style, if only she had the imagination to go there.
15) I’d love to have seen this LK Bennett dress with white stilettos too, so this one’s a tie between the Jimmy Choo Abel in white or this fabulous blue, but if she’s tied to navy, why not the two-tone LK Bennetts (top) so we still get an extra pop of that signature colour?
16) At this point it’s like “Anything but Sledge!” and LK Bennet do their classic Floret pointed pump in yellow (top), but I’m staying on the white stiletto train for the infamous Roksanda “banana” dress (“William said I look like a banana.” Oh yeah? Well look at William, ok? Don’t listen to William!), and there’s a number of white options I’d like for this, including (from top) the Nine West with the gold band, the Jimmy Choo Abel, and a beautifully wearable shoe from Sophie Webster. But for the thrill of some texture the staggeringly beautiful Louboutin python shoe (bottom) gets my vote.
17) Another repeat, black pumps are the obvious choice for this Luisa Spagnoli suit, but both the Charlotte Olympia red suede and the shiny Jimmy Choos from above would be an option too. Once again, even with a black pump, there’s a multitude of more interesting ways she could go than these frumpy looking Angel shoes by Episode. The thick strap on these Stuart Weitzman heels (top) mirrors the waistband on her jacket, while the mesh inserts on these Stella McCartney shoes (third from bottom ) are cool but very chic, and the little lip also seen on the suede Ari pumps by Jimmy Choo (bottom) is going to be big next season. But it’s the gold toe caps on the McQueen shoes (second from bottom) that have won me over here.
18) Indulge me, I’ve been so conservative in most of my choices so far, so while she could easily have teamed this Emilia Wickstead dress with the LK Bennett floral pumps, or their classic Floret in teal, oh how I would have loved to see the Duchess trot off that plane in New Zealand in one of this season’s most lust-worthy shoes: the smartie studded Louboutins. She could have gone all out in the fully studded version or kept it slightly subdued in teal with a studded toe, but either of these would justify a smug grin and a knowing wink to the waiting press. Look. At. My. Shoes. BITCH!
19) The Australia/New Zealand tour was short on dressy events, and this Jenny Packham in New Zealand didn’t exactly wow. I’m not crazy about the shape on her, but I understand the fern on the shoulder had some significance so I guess the feeling was, keep it understated with the emphasis on the fern. And fine, but sweet mother of Jesus, those shoes. Again, if she must with the black, it doesn’t have to look like she’s at an office night out but she forgot to bring her going-out shoes to work with her. There’s the Charlotte Olympia criss cross pumps again, and there’s the black version of the dreamy Louboutin Kate with the vinyl insert. But if ever a dress was screaming for some sparkle toes, it’s this one. The silver Tilly shoe, by Jimmy Choo, would echo the fern and lend some much needed lightness to such a dour look, but why stop there? The sparkly silver Abel (bottom) does all that, and then some!
20) Not counting the dreadful red air-hostess outfit she wore off the plane, this was the first look from the New Zealand leg of the tour. It’s a Tory Burch dress, and the first outing for her basic black pumps, but a summer dress needs a lighter shoe. For this I would go with the LK Bennett nude “Sledge” pump… LOL, just kidding, I’m clearly delirious now! But for real, it needs something lighter so I’d introduce some white with a two-tone pump like the Kurt Geiger shoes (top), the round-toed Miu Miu’s (second from top), or the LK Bennetts (second from bottom), but the more fun option here would be to keep it monochrome but mix pattern with more pattern. The woven LK Bennetts (middle) are a nice choice, but I’m loving the shape and the patent finish on these Stuart Weitzman heels (bottom).
So there you have it! A slightly more adventurous shoe would be one small step for Kate, one giant leap for fashion, because if she’s going to be the world’s most talked about clothes-horse, she could at least give us something slightly interesting to talk about! You could call it her civic duty to “Ban the Sledge”.
Someone start the online petition.