This Is the Duchess of Cambridge's Secret to the Perfect Summer Dress

The Duchess of Cambridge's style is often considered a little bland for the fashion crowd—too many Breton tops, coat dresses and beige patent pumps for the street style set's liking. Given that she's representing the royal family on an international stage, Kate Middleton needs to look polished; select classic items she tends to choose will photograph well and won't date after several months.

It's not an easy task to tick all of these protocol boxes while also pleasing the fashion crowd. However, over the past few years, Kate has been making considerably more fashion-forward choices, favouring sharp tailoring, avoiding bold colours and experimenting with hair accessories. Rather than Queen Elizabeth–style coat dresses in primary hues, she started wearing outfits that we'd expect to see on Victoria Beckham or our favourite French influencers

And adding to this collection of great outfits, is a host of chic summer dresses. Like much of us, the DoC had been isolating at home during lockdown but now, with a mask on, she's started to attend more events. For these occasions, she's showcased a great collection of chic summer dresses. And we've worked out why they look so good—she likes to keep them belted or cinched at the waist. Keep on scrolling to see K-Mids's perfect summer dresses of 2020, and then revisit all of Kate's best style moments. 

LOOK 1
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Style Notes: Never forget how much the Duchess of Cambridge loves her Castañer espadrilles. A perfect pair of shoes for a floral dress. 

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LOOK 2
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Style Notes: A shirt dress doesn't have to mean corporate. 

LOOK 3
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Style Notes: Another dress that's belted at the waist. 

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LOOK 4
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Style Notes: While she might stick to quite a few of her tried-and-tested brands, sometimes Kate surprises us, such as wearing this floral dress from cool-girl label Faithfull the Brand

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Kate Middleton Style: Massimo Dutti Coat and Zara Skirt

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Style Notes: The Duchess knows how to make high-street look high-end. Here, Kate wears a Massimo Dutti beige coat paired with a leopard-print skirt from Zara. 

Kate Middleton Style: Needle and Thread Dress at Buckingham Palace

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Style Notes: Kate literally shone at the UK-Africa Investment Summit at Buckingham Palace, dressed in a sequin-embellished gown by Needle & Thread and Gianvito Rossi suede pumps.  

Kate Middleton Style: Alexander McQueen Coat and Zara Dress

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Style Notes: Whilst visiting Bradford, Middleton opted for a demure Alexander McQueen coat, and paired the designer item against a high-street dress from Zara. 

Kate Middleton Style: at the royal variety performance wearing alexander mcqueen

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Style Notes: For this year's Royal Variety Performance, Kate went for a black lace dress by Alexander McQueen. Another more interesting gown, rather than her usual more muted colours or sequin dresses. 

Kate Middleton Style: during the pakistan tour

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Style Notes: During the royal tour of Pakistan, this was one of Kate's best outfits, wearing a long white dress with a black jacket over white trousers and flat, navy Russell & Bromley shoes. 

Kate Middleton Style: attending the annual Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall

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Style Notes: When attending the annual Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall, Kate wore a navy dress and accessorised with a Zara headband. 

Kate Middleton Style: wearing alexander mcqueen to at the naming ceremony for the RSS Sir David Attenborough

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Style Notes: At the naming ceremony for the RSS Sir David Attenborough stuck to her classic style and wore an old favourite of hers—this Alexander McQueen coat. 

Kate Middleton Style:  For a visit to Sunshine House Children and Young People's Health and Development Centre she wore an Equipment polka dot top, Gianvito Rossi pumps and Zara culottes.

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Style Notes: Kate's love of culottes hasn't waned throughout 2019. For a visit to Sunshine House Children and Young People's Health and Development Centre she wore an Equipment polka dot top, Gianvito Rossi pumps and Zara culottes.

Kate Middleton Style: Kate at the Wimbledon 2019 Mens Singles Final in a custom creation by Brit designer Emilia Wickstead.

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Style Notes: Kate looked the epitome of chic as she took in the Wimbledon 2019 Mens Singles Final in a custom creation by Brit designer Emilia Wickstead. 

Kate Middleton Style: For another day at Wimbledon, Kate opted for this gorgeous white dress from Suzannah

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Style Notes: For another day at Wimbledon, Kate opted for this gorgeous white dress from Suzannah, complete with contrasting buttons. The contrast bow belt, micro basket bag and sunglasses, however, stole the show. 

Kate Middleton Style: Kate rewears a chic green Dolce & Gabbana dress

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Style Notes: She all know Kate loves to rewear her favourite pieces and this Dolce & Gabbana dress, which she wore in 2018, is no exception. The nipped-in waist, fluted skirt hem and puff sleeves were practically made for her svelte frame. 

Kate Middleton Style: Kate revisited The RHS Back to Nature Garden she designed at the 2019 RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in a printed Sandro wrap dress

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Style Notes: Kate revisited the RHS Back to Nature Garden she designed at the 2019 RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in a printed Sandro wrap dress. Her floral earrings elegantly finish the look. 

Kate Middleton Style: Kate pairs her Erdem gown with effortless espadrilles in versatile tan

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Style Notes: Kate gives a lesson in high-low dressing, as she pairs her Erdem gown with effortless espadrilles in versatile tan ahead of unveiling the garden she designed for 2019's RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show back in early July. 

Kate Middleton Style: Kate Middleton wears a pair of Massimo Dutti culottes and Superga trainers

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Style Notes: The Duchess of Cambridge proves she does casual dressing equally as well more formal attire in cropped culottes from Massimo Dutti and a M.i.h. Jeans blouse. Kate then finished her look with cool Superga trainers

Kate Middleton Style: Kate gives a masterclass in top-to-toe dressing at Ascot 2019.

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Style Notes: Kate gives a masterclass in tonal top-to-toe dressing at Ascot 2019. Her sheer Elie Saab dress in powder blue is a spring style dream. 

Kate Middleton style: white off-the-shoulder dress by Barbara Casasola

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Style Notes: In June 2019, Kate wore a dress which we've seen before, but thanks to a clever use of accessories and shoes, she made the outfit feel completely fresh. The cream dress by Barbara Casasola was accessorised with Jimmy Choo pumps and Kiki McDonough earrings, but the clutch bag really brings this ensemble together. From Wilbur & Gussie, the Charlie Steel Classic Silk Clutch (£205), comes with a silver bee clasp and made the whole look feel much younger and fun. 

Kate Middleton Style: In May 2019, Kate wore a gorgeous polka-dot midi dress from fashion pack favourite, Alessandra Rich.

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Style Notes: In May 2019, Kate wore a gorgeous polka-dot midi dress from fashion pack favourite, Alessandra Rich. The contrast collar and navy print bear a striking resemblance to a dress worn by Princess Diana in the '80s. 

Kate Middleton style: Sailor trousers and breton top

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Style Notes: Kate made an appearance at the Cutty Sark in London with Prince William, wearing a nautical ensemble that nodded to the occasion, but also had a very French vibe to it. The Duchess wore a pair of navy blue sailor trousers with white buttons at the hips, which are £150 by LK Bennett. She paired the trousers with a classic breton top, a pair of navy suede pumps and a bright red envelope clutch bag.

Kate Middleton style: Kate Middleton in Gucci blouse and Aspinal bag

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Style Notes: Kate wore a Gucci Silk Satin Shirt ( with a lilac mini bag by Apisinal and a pair of Links of London Hope Egg Sterling Silver & White Topaz Earrings.

Kate Middleton style: The Duchess of Cambridge wearing a tartan Alexander McQueen coat with a Manu Atelier green mini bag

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Style Notes: Kate's Alexander McQueen coat has been in her wardrobe since 2012 and still looks just as sharp. It's the Manu Atelier Micro Bold Bag (£423 available in a lighter shade of green) that provides a great update.

Kate Middleton style: A green blazer and wide leg trousers

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Style Notes: On a visit to Cyprus, Kate wore a green wool blazer by Smythe and a pair of navy Burberry wide-leg trousers. We don't know about you, but we think this looks exactly like the sort of thing Victoria Beckham would wear. Finishing off her attire with a khaki suede clutch and matching courts from her favourite accessory hotspot, L.K.Bennett, this outfit is as chic as they come. 

Kate Middleton style: tartan

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Style Notes: K-Mids proved her fashion prowess by wearing a beautiful tartan midi skirt by Emilia Wickstead with the key knit of the season—a classic cardigan by Brora. Walking through cascading fake snow in her red plaid, she looked like she was shooting the Cambridge family Christmas card. 

Kate Middleton style: Green polka dot dress

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Style Notes: A polka-dot dress fit for royalty, Kate's great green midi is from L.K. Bennett and looks all the cooler for being worn with slightly mismatched khaki accessories.

Kate Middleton style: Burgundy suit

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Style Notes: There is something rather French about Kate's burgundy miniskirt suit paired with a classic black roll-neck and a black ribbon in her hair. 

Kate Middleton style: check dress

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Style Notes: For an evening event at the V&A, Kate wore a tweed off-the-shoulder dress by Erdem with a purple belt at the waist. 

Kate Middleton style: The Duchess of Cambridge wearing an off-the-shoulder red Alexander McQueen dress

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Style Notes: On the royal tour of Germany, Kate opted for a more fashion-forward outfit for her evening look, wearing an off-the-shoulder red maxi gown by Alexander McQueen. She also swapped her nude court shoes for a pair of scalloped stilettos by Prada and wore a pair of Simone Rocha tassel earrings.

Kate Middleton style: The Duchess of Cambridge wearing a tweed Chanel dress

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Style Notes: The Duchess of Cambridge always masters diplomatic dressing, wearing looks that celebrate British fashion and designers of her host nation. A trip to Paris only meant one thing: head-to-toe Chanel. If we were princesses, we would wear this fitted Chanel bouclé dress with a waist belt complete with the double-C logo and a classic quilted Chanel bag at all times.

Kate Middleton style: The Duchess of Cambridge wearing a Gucci shift dress

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Style Notes: Even the Duchess of Cambridge wasn't able to avoid the Gucci effect, as on a visit to the V&A she wore a Jackie O–style fitted dress with red and navy stripe detailing and attractive gold buttons. She was never going to wear the brand's tee, but we love how she supported Alessandro Michele by turning to Gucci.

Kate Middleton style: The Duchess of Cambridge wearing a red Preen dress

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Style Notes: The Duchess of Cambridge loves this Preen by Thornton Bregazzi dress so much that she also owns it in black. And we can totally see why, as this is an elegant, classic evening dress that she can wear for years—if not decades. However, the asymmetrical neckline and pleated skirt also make it a firm fashion-editor fave.

Kate Middleton Style: The Duchess of Cambridge wearing a yellow Jenny Packham tea dress on the Canadian royal tour 2016

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Style Notes: One of our all-time favourite DoC looks came during the Canadian royal tour in 2016. This yellow Jenny Packham tea dress caused quite a scene amongst military men when repeated gusts of wind kept creating a series of "Marilyn moments." We've never been more proud.

Kate Middleton style: The Duchess of Cambridge wearing a lilac dress from Emilia Wickstead

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Style Notes: Lilac is a notoriously tricky colour to pull off, but this bold colour move paid off for Kate on her royal tour in Germany, where she wore this elegant sleeved dress by Emilia Wickstead. It's appropriate but not too safe.

Kate Middleton style: The Duchess of Cambridge wearing a blush-coloured Alexander McQueen dress at the wedding of her sister Pippa Middleton

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Style Notes: While many fashion experts are still sceptical about fascinators in general, you do have to admit there's something very current about the DoC's head-to-toe blush ensemble (from Alexander McQueen) at Pippa Middleton's wedding.

Kate Middleton style: The Duchess of Cambridge wearing a Barbara Cassola off-the-shoulder dress

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Style Notes: At an event at the Natural History Museum, Kate wore one of her most "fashion" looks to date. Not only did she sport a more daring off-the-shoulder silhouette with a fitted fluted skirt, but she also opted for a new industry name, Barbara Casasola, a Brazilian designer who presents at London Fashion Week.

Kate Middleton style: The Duchess of Cambridge wearing a green Dolce & Gabbana outfit

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Style Notes: This fluted green Dolce & Gabbana midi dress with a nipped-in waist and statement shoulders is demure and stately but also won Kate praise from the fashion crowd.

Kate Middleton style: The Duchess of Cambridge wearing a white gown from Self-Portrait in 2016

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Style Notes: Reminding us of the good ol' times when K-Mids wore things we could afford, this was a major red carpet moment when the royal stepped out wearing a gown from Self-Portrait in 2016.

Kate Middleton style: The Duchess of Cambridge wearing a cream See by Chloe dress

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Style Notes: Here we have another example of Kate winning in a French designer, as on her royal tour of Canada she wore a knitted, cream-coloured See by Chloé dress, which was on trend thanks to the ruffled piecrust-collar neckline.

Kate Middleton style: The Duchess of Cambridge wearing a yellow Dolce & Gabbana dress to Wimbledon 2018

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Style Notes: Kate's Dolce & Gabbana dress at the Wimbledon Gentleman's Final of summer 2018 highlighted the colour of the season, Meghan wore a similar version the week priori (less floaty, more structured, sans sleeves) and, according to many retail sources—including our friends over at data agency Launchmetrics and the buying team at Net-A-Porter—it's the fresh dress trend everyone's been buying since last year. In fact, you could say K-Mids starting the whole thing when she wore a very similar-looking yellow Roksanda dress to Wimbledon two years ago. Trendsetter, hey?

Kate Middleton style: The Duchess of Cambridge wearing a Troy London parka, skinny black jeans and Superga trainers

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Style Notes: Every now and then, we get a glimpse at "Casual Kate," and she often chooses fashion-approved staples like Superga sneakers or a parka coat (like this one from Troy).

Kate Middleton style: The Duchess of Cambridge wearing a blue velvet Erdem dress during her maternity in Sweden

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Style Notes: Kate ticked plenty of boxes with this velvet dress by Erdem while on tour in Sweden. If the flocked finish and fluted sleeves weren't enough, it's also a super chic example of maternity occasion dressing.

Kate Middleton style: The Duchess of Cambridge wearing an off-the-shoulder floral Erdem gown to the BAFTAs

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Style Notes: Alexander McQueen is always a strong choice for the DoC, and this floral gown on the BAFTA red carpet is no exception. Points for the off-the-shoulder cut.

Kate Middleton style: The Duchess of Cambridge wearing a pleated polka dot dress from Kate Spade

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Style Notes: Shirtdress? Check. Polka dots? Check. The Duchess made a smart fashion choice with this super flattering Kate Spade New York dress.

Kate Middleton style: The Duchess of Cambridge wearing a Burberry trench coat with black tights and court shoes

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Style Notes: Ask any cool Brit and she'll tell you the same thing: Trench coats are forever, and an essential. A Burberry one makes the staple even more attractive.

Kate Middleton style: The Duchess of Cambridge wearing a sequined Jenny Packham gown for a gala in 2016

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Style Notes: Maybe it's the twilight, maybe it's the wine, maybe it's the incredible sequinned Jenny Packham gown, but this gala dinner look from Kate will forever be etched into the fashion history books.

Kate Middleton style: The Duchess of Cambridge wearing a floral Orla Kiely midi dress

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Style Notes: In another stylish maternity moment, Kate ditched her buttoned-up coats and opted for this Orla Kiely floral-print dress instead, paired with her trademark nude pumps. 

Kate Middleton style: The Duchess of Cambridge wearing a knitted nautical dress from Alexander McQueen

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Style Notes: From Coco Chanel to Madonna, every fashion icon has to have their nautical fashion look down. This natty knitted Alexander McQueen number was Kate's take on a classic summer trend.

Kate Middleton style: The Duchess of Cambridge wearing a blue lace Temperley London dress

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Style Notes: Possibly a favourite look from the DoC, this sky-blue dress by Temperley London perfectly balances Kate's penchant for lace with a fashion-forward finish.

This post was originally published at an earlier time and has since been updated. 

Want more? See Meghan Markle's style file for starters.

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