Kate Middleton Channels Vintage Royal Style for Commonwealth Service

Kate Middleton made a bold fashion statement on Monday attending the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey, her first since becoming Princess of Wales last September.

The princess arrived at the abbey, alongside Prince William, wearing a vintage inspired, sharply tailored, skirt suit with structured jacket and a fluted calf-length skirt by one of her favorite designers, Erdem.

The ensemble was paired with a large picture hat in navy suede and matching shoes, handbag and gloves.

Kate Middleton Commonwealth Day Service Fashion
The Princess of Wales photographed wearing Erdem or the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey, March 13, 2023. Kate paired her look with earrings and a brooch formerly belonging to Princess Diana. Samir Hussein/WireImage

To accessorize, Kate wore Princess Diana's sapphire and diamond drop earrings which compliment her engagement ring, together with a diamond Prince of Wales feathers brooch, also formerly belonging to Diana.

The princess has often referenced vintage fashion silhouettes in her working wardrobe, notably her collection of 1980s inspired Alessandra Rich dresses worn throughout 2022, including a cream and chocolate brown outfit worn to Royal Ascot.

The highly structured skirt suit is reminiscent in ways to Christian Dior's 1947 Bar Suit, the look that revolutionized post-war fashion, earning itself the nickname of "the new look."

The "new look" was replicated by major fashion houses around the world and inspired many designers throughout the 1940s and 1950s. At this time, Queen Elizabeth II regularly wore similar fit-and-flare jackets with skirts, as did her fashion minded sister, Princess Margaret.

Kate Middleton and Queen Elizabeth II Fashion
The Princess of Wales (L) wearing Erdem, March 12, 2023. And Queen Elizabeth II (when Princess Elizabeth) (R) in Paris, May 14, 1948. Neil Mockford/GC Images/AFP via Getty Images

Celebrity stylist and royal fashion expert Miranda Holder told Newsweek that the princess' overall look was in keeping with her new "serious" style aesthetic, adopted since becoming Princess of Wales.

"Kate remained elegant and poised despite the gusty winds at today's Commonwealth Service. Wearing a stunning navy skirt suit by London-based design powerhouse Erdem, a designer known for his exquisite prints and fabrics, the princess looked composed and regal in the subtle floral print which added interest without being at all girly, in keeping with Kate's new, more serious style aesthetic following her recent appointment as Princess of Wales," she said.

"The peplum detail was a welcome fashion-forward detail, providing a welcoming point of difference from an otherwise familiar, signature silhouette. The outfit was completed with matching navy gloves, Emmy London clutch bag, Gianvito Rossi court shoes and a navy hat, creating an imposing monochromatic look.

"The entire look felt reminiscent of Princess Diana," she continued, "which was accentuated by the sapphire and diamond earrings Kate wore, which had previously belonged to her late mother-in-law."

The 2023 Commonwealth Day service is the first to have taken place since the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and tribute was paid to her dedication to the organization in the celebrations on Monday.

In previous years, Kate's style choices for the Commonwealth Day services have been highly anticipated by both royal watchers and the fashion press.

Kate's first attendance of the annual ceremony occurred in 2015 when she was pregnant with her second child, Princess Charlotte. The royal wore a pale pink Alexander McQueen ensemble comprising a coat with pearl effect buttons, a matching under-dress, pink sculpted hat and accessories by the fashion house, Prada.

Most recently, in 2022, the princess wore an all-blue outfit, in a shade similar to the ground color of the Commonwealth flag.

The finely tailored coat dress worn for the occasion was designed by Catherine Walker & Co. and the royal paired it with a matching pillbox hat and accessories.

Kate Middleton Commonwealth Day Fashion
Kate Middleton photographed attending the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey wearing an Alexander McQueen ensemble (L) March 9, 2015. And wearing a Catherine Walker coat dress look (R) March 14, 2022. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images/Samir Hussein/WireImage

The theme of this year's Commonwealth Day service is "Forging a Sustainable and Peaceful Common Future," which appeals to a cause close to King Charles' heart, climate change.

In his first Commonwealth message as head of the organization, released on Monday, the monarch said: "Whether on climate change and biodiversity loss, youth opportunity and education, global health, or economic co-operation, the Commonwealth can play an indispensable role n the most press issues of our time. Ours is an association not just of shared values, but of common purpose and joint action."

Also in attendance at this year's event were Queen Camilla and the new Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh—Prince Edward and his wife Sophie—as well as Princess Anne and her husband Sir Tim Laurence.

Royal Family Commonwealth Day 2023
L to R: King Charles, Queen Camilla, Prince of Wales, The Duke of Edinburgh, Princess of Wales, Princess Anne, Duchess of Edinburgh, Sir Tim Laurence attend the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey, March 13, 2023. JORDAN PETTITT/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

James Crawford-Smith is Newsweek's royal reporter based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jrcrawfordsmith and read his stories on Newsweek's The Royals Facebook page.

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