When the new Princess of Wales showed up at the Order of the Garter Service in Windsor last week in a vintage Alessandra Rich polka dot tea dress, I knew it would only be moments before she was once again considered Diana’s doppelgänger.
Diana also wore polka dots!
The two Princesses of Wales have been proclaimed sartorial twins from the moment they came into the limelight. Diana wore a sheer Laura Ashley skirt. Kate Middleton walked the catwalk in a sheer black dress.
They were both clumsy, shy, and wide-eyed. Both shopped on King’s Road for ballerinas, so, as the saying goes, they could be twins!
When Catherine, Princess of Wales wore polka dots to the Garter Service at Windsor, there were immediate, but misguided, comparisons to Diana
Just because Diana wore polka dots from time to time doesn’t mean Kate is her double, says Liz Jones. Pictured here is Diana at Ascot in 1988
Liz Jones says no meaningful style comparisons can be made here between Diana, pictured here in 1986, and Catherine, Princess of Wales
The Princess of Wales is very much her own woman and should be able to follow her own path. Kate is pictured here at this year’s Commonwealth Day Service
Body language experts have called Catherine a “perfect copy” of the late POW. When she emerged in custom Erdem for Commonwealth Day, “the whole look felt reminiscent of Diana,” one celebrity hairdresser told Newsweek.
Nooooo! There are no deep and meaningful similarities in their style, nor should there be.
Yes, Diana and Catherine patronized Catherine Walker, Jenny Packham, and milliner Philip Treacy. Both have worn a puff sleeve, a bit off the shoulder. But this applies to all women who need to dress formally from time to time.
There are only a limited number of couture-level designers to go around. And, to be brutally honest, Diana was not a style icon, while Catherine certainly is. Not Di’s fault as she came of age in the 1980s. She was often ill-advised, not worldly at all.
Even the revenge dress worn by the Serpentine the night Charles revealed his infidelity on TV was too short, along with black opaque tights. These looks should be relegated to history, and Catherine should be allowed to follow her own path.
Because she is very much her own person.
Just because she might be wearing Diana’s brooch doesn’t mean she’s thinking about her every waking moment.
She doesn’t live in the past and besides, what good would that do? William, once so wisely quoted: ‘No one will try to fill my mother’s shoes and what she did was fantastic. It’s about making your own future and your own destiny and Kate will do that very well.’
Being myopic about what Catherine is wearing is like overanalyzing Love Island: The blue of her Erdem skirt suit was compared by an expert to the color of the Commonwealth flag.
I imagine Catherine just wants to look pretty and appropriate most days.
Going back to Diana endlessly isn’t just unimaginative, it’s sexist. We’re not comparing the cut of William’s suits to his father’s; in fact, as Julie Burchill opined, let’s hope William is nothing like his father.
But with women? We do it all the time. Even by comparing Meghan to the late Duchess of Windsor, when nothing could be further from the truth.
Diana was not a style icon, says Liz Jones. Even the so-called ‘revenge dress’ was too short and wore the wrong tights. Diana wore the Christina Stambolian dress to an event at the Serpentine Gallery in 1994
Some commentators like to point out similarities in design choice and designer. Here Diana can be seen embracing William and Harry aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia in 1991
But the truth is, there are only so many couture-level designers to go around, says Liz Jones. The Princess of Wales greets Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden in 2018
Diana, Princess of Wales in Nottingham in 1992
Catherine, then Duchess of Cambridge, in Coatbridge, 2021
Mrs. Simpson was so fussy that she had her sheets ironed if she had creased them during a nap. She was truly an ambassador for Dior, as the V&A exhibition proved.
It’s like women don’t have ideas of their own, which we always have to copy. That we live in the past. We need our hands.
Catherine is nothing like Diana. She radiates sunny optimism, stability, confidence. We used to be afraid of Diana.
We thought, if she can’t be happy, what hope do the rest of us have? We look at Catherine and everything seems fine with the world.