From traditional salwar kameez to incorporating local designers into her royal tour wardrobe.
As someone who travels relatively frequently, I think that I have really considered what I am packing if I have written a list and separated my underwear into discarded dust bags. At a stretch I would have packed three black dresses should a last minute occasion occur. And that really is the extent of how much I think about my travelling wardrobe.
For Kate Middleton, that lack of consideration just isn’t an option. This week the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge embarked on a five-day royal tour in Pakistan, which has been dubbed by Kensington Palace as a “most complex” visit to the country. For many (if not all) royal occasions, what Kate wears makes headlines – sending fans into a shopping frenzy and editors into a trend spin.
Many people might comment that these are ‘just clothes’, but as we have seen on this recent Pakistan tour, the Duchess’ carefully considered outfit choices have been as much a political statement and a deep consideration for the country she is visiting, as they have been a choice of personal style.
Take her first outfit on this tour as prime example: she stepped off the plane at Rawalpindi’s Nur Khan Airbase in a custom-made Catherine Walker & Co outfit that saw her pay homage to both the country and to her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana. The turquoise colour that she chose is said to bring protection and the design was made to look like a salwar kameez – a long dress and trousers that is traditional dress in both Pakistan and India – even down to the ruching at the back of the dress that was akin to a scarf that would be commonplace with this sort of outfit in Pakistan.
The Duchess’ next outfit on the tour was even more traditional than the first; she opted for a cornflower blue salwar kameez with delicate embroidery on the neckline. For me, as an Indian woman, it was quite remarkable to see a member of the British royal family wear something so similar to clothing I would wear for a special occasion.
A sentiment that contributing digital editor, Sarah Shaffi shares, “As someone who grew up wearing shalwar kameez - and as someone who still wears it on an almost daily basis - seeing Kate embrace the clothing of Pakistanis has been wonderful. She’s shown respect for Pakistani people, supported local designers, and put her own sartorial spin on her outfits, marrying style and substance in the best way possible. There’s not an outfit she’s worn on this tour that I wouldn’t love for my wardrobe.”
Even more importantly, this particular outfit was created by local designer, Maheen Khan, and the earrings Kate chose to accessorise the look come from Zeen – an online retail platform from Pakistan that brings affordable fashion to women worldwide.
For her meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan, Kate chose a green dress coat with contrasting white trousers and traditional scarf. The coat dress was chosen in that specific shade as a nod to the green in the Pakistan’s national flag (she continued with the colour theme with a glittering green dress from Jenny Packham) and even the style of the collar was in line with the most traditional design for both men and women in the country.
Naturally, there have been elements of the trip where Kate has had to take on traditional dress like when she visited Chitral and wore the regimental cop of the Chitral Scouts (which were the same pieces Princess Diana wore to in trip in 1991), cementing just how willing Kate has been in this trip to show her embrace of the country and its heritage.
Even something as small as the cricket match she undertook involved a considered sartorial choice. Kate sported another salwar kameez, but this time one from Pakistan brand Gul Ahmed that was light in cut and fabric in keeping with traditional cricket whites.
For her last look on the Pakistan royal tour, Kate went back to her designer of choice, Maheen Khan, and wore a turquoise salwar kameez for her visit to the Badashi Mosque. On such an occasion, the Duchess could well have chosen to wear a western style trouser suit or even a long dress but that’s not been Kate’s style at all on this trip – she has wanted to show the importance of traditional dress and the meaning that it holds for not only the country but for its people. She finished her tour (and her ensemble) with a matching headscarf, and went against royal protocol with bare feet.
Whilst many people might dismiss this royal tour as a public relations stunt or hold little value in the royal family all together, what Kate and her clothes have achieved on this trip has been nothing short of wonderful.