Cathy Cambridge’s Empty Closet

Posted on July 05, 2012

With American celebrities mostly off celebrating their independence this week, we’re forced to turn to our former rulers for fashion entertainment.


Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge arrives at St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh for the installation of Prince William Duke of Cambridge as a Knight of the Thistle. Catherine wore a pale yellow coat dress by Emilia Wickstead. Hat by Whiteley. Scarf by Strathearn. Earrings by Kiki McDonough. Shoes by Emmy Scarterfield.

A Knight of the Thistle! How Tolkien does THAT sound? Does he have to go off and rescue Princess Pinecone from the evil forest elves now? Oh, Brits. You’re such adorable little woodland creatures to us. And yes, we’re being totally disrespectful, but not as much as we were 236 years ago this week, right?

This is all very typically Cathy in shape and style, but it strikes us atypically Cathy in the color sense. Not that this soft yellow isn’t in her wheelhouse; just that it’s rare to see her wear an outfit where none of the pieces really match. Maybe that explains why the matching here is so lackluster. We don’t mind the black shoes so much, although they look heavy for this time of year and a lighter shade would’ve worked better with the dress. But that taupe hat is a really odd choice for her. Whatever she’s carrying in her hands doesn’t look like a purse, but whatever it is, at least it goes with the dress. This outfit looks like she got up this morning and realized it was wash day and she didn’t have one clean thing to wear.  Mrs. Cathy, you’re going to have to plan things better than that. A princess never faces an official function in her last clean pair of knickers.


[Photo Credit:]

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  • amian3


    • you’ve got fantastic cheekbones. don’t go all 80s on me now with that stripe of blush. like you always

  • Sobaika

    It doesn’t look like the most coordinated of outfits, but I’m just glad it’s not monochrome head to toe. That got very boring, even for royalty.

  • tallgirl1204

    I do love the way she swirled her hair around on the top of her head so that the little fascinator had a place to perch. 

    • Norm Deplume

      I just love her hair all around, and the fascinator too. 

      • CozyCat

        Yes.  The back view of her hair is so pretty. 

    • call_me_schmeg

      ditto on the hair. her blush/contour application makes my eye twitch. cathy gurl, you’ve got fantastic cheekbones. don’t go all 80s on me now with that stripe of blush. like you always do.

  • Judy_S

    She’s carrying a tartan scarf, which is probably appropriate since the Thistle is the emblem of Scotland. But she was carrying a similar scarf (I don’t know one tartan from another) at the Queen’s Jubilee Regatta or whatever that boat parade was.
    She looks lovely to me. It’s an interesting contrast with Katie Holmes–the two thin dark women in shirtwaist-style dresses.

    • NC_Meg

      Yes, I’m pretty sure it was the same tartan from the Jubilee Flotilla. (Although I like Regatta better because it sounds like pasta.)

      • Judy_S

         Regattoni? As other people have posted I discovered that she is not Cathy Cambridge in Scotland but Cathy Strathearn, so she is “wearing” her own tartan both times.

  • gabbilevy

    That looks like another folded scarf (tartan? they are in Scotland) in her hands. You guys are right though, this is sort of an odd choice for her.

    • the_valkyrie

      She carries that tartan because she’s the Countess of Strathearn and that’s their tartan

  • Amy Fee Garner

    She’s holding a tartan scarf she was given at another local event, so it’s plaid– maybe she was picking up the yellow in the plaid?  Long live the Knights of the Thistle!

  • deathandthestrawberry

    I believe that’s a scarf in her hands. She was carrying it during the Queen’s festivities too. No expert, but I think those are their colors? Plaids? Help me, royalists.

  • BazoDee

    It looks like a folded tartan -possibly a sash. 

    • A plaid sash is exactly what this outfit needs to give it a punch.

  • Oh boys. The shoes are dark brown. She’s carrying a folded tartan scarf that is from whatever their names are in Scotland – Earl and Countess of…er…Strathearn or something. And I hate that ugly hat and wish she would retire it.  So blah.

  • M_E_S

    At least she’s not wearing those LK Bennett pumps!  It’s a step in the right direction!  Now to add in some shoes that aren’t monochrome…

  • Jangle57

    Since it says: Scarf by Strathearn, I’m assuming what she’s holding is the scarf.  I think the dress looks lovely on her though think the hat color and shoe color seem a bit heavy handed in light of the pale yellow.

  • LP

    It’s still strange to me how old-fashioned these young royals dress for events.  This photo could’ve been taken 60 years ago.

    • formerlyAnon

       Your very apt observation is testimony that they are successfully broadcasting the intended image.

      • luciaphile

        There’s a difference between dressing conservatively and dressing in an old-fashioned manner. She was at a church for an official event. I think she looks fine for the occasion.  She dresses like the adult she is. 

  • Spicytomato1

    Head to toe, she looks way more early spring than midsummer. Just looking at her makes me itch and sweat and suck down an iced tea to combat that feeling.

    • Corsetmaker

      Yeah, maybe where you are. It’s been peeing down here in Scotland this week. Seriously, wellies wouldn’t have been out of order!

      • Spicytomato1

        Yes, it certainly doesn’t look very summerlike. It’s 104 degrees where I am, I suppose I shouldn’t be blaming the duchess for the itchy, sweaty feeling after all.

        • Corsetmaker

          Unfortunately it looks very summerlike for here 🙂 It isn’t all that cold though (around 20 C), just wet and dull.

      • kimmeister

        I have never heard the phrase “it’s been peeing” referring to weather until just now!

        • Corsetmaker

          I was trying to be slightly more polite than to say it’s pissing down, but that too 😀

    • Laylalola

      Way too heavy for July is all I could think, too — unless it’s a good 30 degrees cooler there than here.

  • Makes perfect sense given her history of event matching outfits (the Maple leaf outfit for Canada, tennis whites for Wimbledon) – the colours of the Order of the Thistle are grey and yellow…

  • Kyle Crawford

    Her skirt is above her lovely royal knee and she is in like a five inch heel : THIS IS SHOCKING AS HELL , seriously.

  • kdevale

    The Strathearn tartan scarf is the driving force behind this look.  It is a tough tartan to pull off but a politically wise choice.  I think she chose the pale yellow to coordinate with it as best as she could.  My guess is she knew she couldn’t work the putty shoes with this pale yellow and went for the appropriate black pumps.  The “hat” is recycled which is probably wise given that Prince Charles just disclosed how much he is spending – including Kate’s wardrobe.  (new dress, recycled “hat” sounds a bit thrifty) 

  • Corsetmaker

    Catherine is the Countess of Strathearn (and William the Earl) when she’s in Scotland, not Duchess of Cambridge. The tartan scarf is Strathearn tartan so that’s the important bit and the dress would’ve been chosen to match that. There’s black in the tartan hence the shoes. The taupe hat was probably just the best option. The other colour in the tartan is red and that would’ve made her look like the Lion Rampant flag!

    When it comes to stuff like this, nothing is accidental.

    • This is Cathy in another well thought out work outfit.

      I was in this church several summers ago, and while its architecture is undeniably lovely, it’s also very gray.  Cathy’s dress would stand out in a discreet way, without calling undue attention to her, when the focus of the day is on Bill. 

      The Strathearn tartan is bold, and I think the yellow of her dress tames it, while still acknowledging its significance in this place and this time.  The color of the hat seems off, but maybe that’s just my screen.

      I think a large part of Cathy and Bill’s appeal is that they seem honored to be doing what they’re doing.  Cathy in particular knows that her clothing will be scrutinized, and she makes every effort to be sure it sends the right subliminal message.  The Royal Family isn’t much given to public pronouncements, so the symbols need to convey all that words can’t.

      The Countess and the Earl project respect for each other, comfort in their shared career, and a desire to do well to honor the people they represent.  This is, after all, a job that doesn’t have a retirement age, so they’re in it for the long haul, and I think people sense that on a personal level.

      Pretty amazing what clothes can say.

      Oh, and no tacky public PDAs needed to hammer the message home.

      • Corsetmaker

        She is very careful with her choices and I agree she’s taking the subtle messages into account. As I mentioned above, Prince Charles’ accounts were released recently so a flashy new hat etc would’ve sent the wrong signals. Also using that tartan subtly rather than wearing it stops her looking gimmicky. She’s also knows when to keep it serious and blend in. Or she listens to who is telling her to,
        Diana, while giving everyone more to talk about fashionwise, was guilty of trampling all over those subtleties which did her no good long term.

        And yes, St Giles Cathedral is beautiful but Edinburgh generally is a restrained and grey city. Gorgeous, but not flashy.

        • The Daily Mail website has more pictures of the ceremony.  Edinburgh does indeed look gorgeous in its own refined gray way — just like Granny Betty!

          Cathy’s dress is very textured, which doesn’t show up well here.  It also has the same closing issues that bothered me with the pink Emilia Wickstead from the garden party — the front looks dimpled, for lack of a better word, where there are obviously some sort of snaps/button devices keeping everything securely fastened.  Clearly intentional, as it’s noticeable on both dresses.

          I’m not sure if this is supposed to be slightly high-waisted or if that’s a fit issue.  And the collar is very odd — it almost looks as if it were sewn onto a mandarin collar instead of at the neckline of the dress.

          But still — Cathy looks happy and confident, proud of Bill, thrilled to be in Scotland, and just really enjoying her life.  We should all be so lucky!

  • frappefest

    the shoes don’t look heavy for this time of the year to me, don’t forget it’s still the UK 😉  weather is mostly crap

  • Countess_Emma_Von_Stonevski

    Google for the picture of him in his hat.  Now there is some weird stuff.

  • PeaceBang

    The Princess Pinecone riff was hilarious. I love you guys so much. As for Catherine, her hair is totally Quick-Curl Barbie, Princess Edition. 

  • MzzPants

    I like the taupe hat-yellow dress combo.  The whole look does feel a bit autumnal.

  • crash1212

    Huh. I really like this look for its simplicity. Love the taupe hat with the pale yellow and think the shoes are just fine. I think that plaid thingy is a scarf folded up held against what is really her clutch. She does this a lot. I suppose the scarf has something to do with the official tartan of the Knight of the Thistle…such a cute country!

    • Corsetmaker

      It’s the Strathearn tartan for their title in Scotland, not the Knight of the Thistle 🙂

  • Who’s the woman in white? And why walk around carrying a folded scarf?

    • Monday1900

      Lady Sarah Chatto, Princess Margaret’s daughter.  I think I might like her outfit better than Cathy’s!

    • The woman is white is Lady Sarah Chatto, the daughter of Princess Margaret, and only niece of Queen Elizabeth. In my opinion, she is easily one of the best dressed members of the Royal Family. Lady Sarah opts for very simply styles and always looks very chic.

  • VeryClaire

    Always with the long sleeves. Is she allowed to wear short sleeves or is it just the horrible weather?  At least she gave up the Monochromatic Queen look this time.

  • Jill Roberts

    The only thing I don’t like about Cathy’s fashion sense is that there are a kajillion other women trying to copy it.  The world doesn’t need any more pretty princesses – CC holds down the job quite well, thank you very much.

    • MilaXX

       This look really only works because she is a royal. The matchy matchy – ness would otherwise be a fail.

  • lilibetp

    The plaid thing is kind of like a pashmina.  She carried the same thing on the boat during the Jubilee.  She’s also carrying what looks to be a black clutch.

  • PinkLemon

    she shoulda been in head-to-toe tartan!!

  • lilibetp

    Because she might have to unfold it and throw it around her shoulders to kettp warm.

  • fringebenefit

    Wow. Completely disagree on this one, TLo. I can’t imagine her looking more stunning than she does here. I love the subtle play of color. But love the post, anyway. 

  • lilibetp

    It’s in the upper 50s and blowing, apparently.

  • lilibetp

    That’s Princess Margaret’s daughter, Lady Sarah Chatto. 

  • Sue_Asponte

    Her hair is amazing, though.

  • suzq

    She’s carrying a tartan wrap (William’s colors) and a black purse.  She looks fine.  She’s not the center of attention and isn’t trying to steal the show.  Her outfits sometimes have to mind the protocol.

  • Beth G

    I believe it’s the Tartan that goes with whatever William was getting.

  • Dr. Derf van der Derf

    I’m so sick of her dumb little hats.

  • MilaXX

    Even though the black shoes/purse are a bit heavy, it’s the hat that throws this look off for me. I think she’s carrying a folded up tartan of sorts, but I’ll see what the Brit kittens have to say.

  • She looks like two flavours of fro-yo that don’t go – lemon and cappuccino.

  • The shoes are chocolate brown suede.

  • Judy_J

    I think she looks stunning.  The soft colors suit her.

  • Aurumgirl

    I can imagine her looking more stunning.  That hat could be replaced with a real hat, not just the puny, bland fascinator–and the hat can have some real colour (if she must be matchy, she could choose a colour or two from the plaid).  I actually like the chocolate brown suede shoe as an idea, but I just don’t understand why it has to be (basically) another LK Bennet pump.  There are all kinds of great shoes out there–lots of British shoe designers!  Kathy is not supposed to bore us into a stupor with her clothes but to date, it’s what she does best.  And I cannot imagine the kind of woman who would be “told” to rein in her style expression and then willingly submit to the request.  Without even so much as a peep of contempt for the cheek of the request.  

    • Adriana_Paula

      But it’s her job, as others have pointed out.  If you went to work at a conservative law firm and there was a clear dress code, you would abide by that, and it wouldn’t be cheeky of them to expect you to, because you’re representing the firm.

      • Aurumgirl

        But she’s not working at a conservative law firm, and from what I know of conservative law firms, women who work there have wardrobes far more polished and attractive that Kathy’s dowdy-wear. All she’d really have to do is borrow some hat sense from Camilla, a lively colour or two from Lillibet, and some shoes that Diana might have found interesting (though god knows, she was extremely downplayed there too). No one is saying she has to wear Alexander McQueen’s most wild fauna-evocative clothes and shoes, but she could have refrained from turning his design house from a cutting edge, truly original and provocative look towards one that can only be defined and “nice” and “mousy”.

        • Adriana_Paula

          Well said.  And I am charmed by your use of “Lillibet”!  Though I’ll just say that if your points above about Camilla and the Queen are true then it can’t be the case that she’s being “‘told’ to rein in her style expression and then willingly submit[ing] to the request”, at least not by the other royals.  It may be, as others have suggested, that she’s naturally a bit conservative anyway, and Lord knows if a million people photographed me every time I stepped outside I’d play it safe too, at least for a while.  Diana was all frills and girly chintz for the first few years of her marriage, before she started to splash out.

          • filmcricket

            Diana didn’t start to get super flashy until her divorce. She had some lovely clothes and wore them well – she was a good-looking woman with a gorgeous figure, it was hard for her to look bad – but the six inches above the knee and plunging necklines stuff were post-Buckingham Palace.

            I think it’s absurd to expect someone representing one of the oldest monarchies in Europe to be a fashion plate – that’s not her job. Just because people are going to be taking pictures of her all the time does not mean she’s obliged to make those pictures more interesting by dressing in any other way than what’s expected of a royal.

        • Adriana_Paula

          And (I’m posting this after the post right below, though it will probably display above) your points about Alexander McQueen are well taken.

  • Joyce VG

    Very appropriate for the occasion.  I like that the shoes are chocolate brown suede (thanks fabulous) – because then the hat makes more sense.  But she can do no wrong in my eyes and I adore the tartan pashmina.

  • sherrietee

    It’s probably the family tartan that she’s carrying.

  • formerlyAnon

    The only thing with which I would quibble is the hat color. The shoes I can accept at what must be a formal function.

    I love what that lovely yellow color looks like on a brunette. (Half of the rooms in my current house are that color. My last house had that color as the inspiration for the exterior, though the execution was too pale. Yes, I am perhaps inordinately obsessed with it.)

    Edited to expand upon my personal affection for that color yellow, despite the fact that said affection is not really of general interest.

  • I wish the hat was plaid.

    • Corsetmaker

      Oh no… she’d look like a shortbread tin piss take. That would not go down well at all 🙁

  • Charmella…a DIVA at large!

    OK Guys…
    Cathy and Will now have Scottish titles…the Earl and Countess of Strathearn. She carried a scarf made of Strathearn tartan to ring in the occasion.
    Her suede pumps were brown. She has also worn that darn curlique fascinator to several events last year. I don’t know why the heck she found it proper to repeat it again. She should understand that it is a no-no for a fashion icon. Keep the repeats for Sunday morning church.

    Anyway, HuffPost is reporting that Cathy held her plaid scarf directly
    in front of her abdomen in most of the photos…so here we go with the baby bump rumors again!

    • Corsetmaker

      There’s been some grumbling about Charles’ expenditure over the last week or so. That may have something to do with the repeat. Most fashion icons don’t have quite so much politics and diplomacy to take into account. 
      And the title is long rung in, William was made Earl of Strathearn when they got married. The scarf is just a nice touch to make a public acknowledgement of their Scottish titles when in Scotland.

    • Joyce VG

      She always holds her purse and things in front of her abdomen.  Sometimes I think it’s to tell us to leave her abdomen alone.

    • filmcricket

      She’s not a fashion icon. Her primary job is to produce an heir – she’s an incubator on (great) legs. The baby bump watch is not the same as seeing how far along Snooki is, just as the fashion watch is not the same as seeing whatever Emma Stone’s stylists could rassle up for free this week. Someone in the Windsor clan has to pay for her clothes, and the kid, when s/he comes along, will be a monarch. I’ve got no problem with people criticizing her clothes, or the monarchy for its ridiculousness, but let’s remember she’s not really a “celebrity” and the same rules do not apply.

  • another_laura

    Wouldn’t a little red fascinator have been better?  Then I could deal with the black shoes. Okay, fine, dark brown shoes. But still.

  • nannypoo

    I think everything here is fabulous. I would bet she chose the yellow dress so it would look nice with the plaid scarf she’s carrying. She is incredible.

  • sagecreek

    Good God she’s tall.

  • VultureCulture

    Her hair looks nice, but the careful curls on the back remind me of octopus tentacles.  Love the color of the dress.  Too much blush.

  • DeGuz

    I can’t believe I’m saying this because I always love Cathy’s outfits, but I really hate this look. 

  • SapphoPoet

    I think she looks really pretty–love those soft, glowing colors on her. I like the dress better from the back than the front, but overall she looks wonderful and appropriate. Keep in mind that every time you see her, she’s “working.” Wearing the right clothes comes with her job and she’s being very careful and is clearly well advised by someone. 

    • filmcricket

      Thank goodness someone said it. Her job isn’t to be stylish, it’s to be the wife of the future King. If people find her style too boring, they can always go look at pictures of Nicki Minaj or something.

  • littlemac8

    What???  She doesn’t have a thistle pin???

  • Melissa Brogan

    She’s carrying a tartan scarf and a handbag. I don’t know anything about tartan tradition at all, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was either a traditional tartan for her position (Countess of Strethearn) or just picked out to coordinate with her dress.

  • The Thistle Chapel is the one area of the Cathedral where pics are not allowed. (Boo!) I think I read somewhere that the Order of the Thistle is Scotland’s equivalent to England’s Order of the Garter with similar membership restrictions.

  • siriuslover

    I like it, but then I like nearly everything she wears. And the item in her hands looks like a throw or a scarf.

  • guest2visits

    I disagree; I think this is matchy without being 100% the same color. It feels more natural than one shade all over.
    Although I would not exactly call this ‘at ease’ – I think it’s a more light and summery feel, especially with the woven texture of
    the hat in a more natural earthy shade. And I love what was done with her beautiful tresses. Yes; she has royal-Disney-tresses.
    This looks great on her.   Who’s beside her? – Feels frosty on the porch.

  • holdmewhileimnaked

    i think it’s the scarf. i looked up the specs for the photograph specifically cos i liked the color combination of this mysterious item w/ the dress [i thought it was a handbag] & that’s all it could be. in additional reportage, i think the subdued but rapturous tones of this one thing tie the whole outfit together.

    i usually dont much care for what she wears, filing it away in the commoner but royalty section of my brain along w/ exceptionally thin & tall to boot so can wear anything & thereby pay it little mind. but for some reason i do like this outfit, from tip to stern in fact.

  • siriuslover

    Has this already been noted? I got it from People of all places: “In a nod to her Scottish title as the Countess of Strathearn, Kate wore a soft yellow coat dress specially made for her by Emilia Wickstead, and she carried a scarf decorated in the classic Strathearn tartan pattern.”

  • Maggie_Mae

    How many people only read Tom & Lorenzo’s comments & then go on to post without reading the other contributions?  Well, I’ve read everything posted so far. And also checked Wikipedia on the Order of the Thistle.  Not posting a link because the anti-spam filter holds such posts for checking.  But you’re all smart!  Do check it out to see some gaudy costuming & decorating. 

    As Countess of Starthearn, Cathy is carrying the rather gaudy Starthearrn tartan.  She seems to have chosen her colors to suit–although a red hat & green shoes would have been a closer match. Nope! Wearing that hat again may well have been a response to family budget matters in the news Over There.  And the weather in Edinburgh is not the weather here in Houston–which is, right now, far from the hottest place in the USA.  

    Cathy’s dressing to suit the family business. In this Summer of the Jubilee, we’ve seen her at some seriously official events. What will she wear to the Olympics?

    • Corsetmaker

      Haha… yes, it’s quite frustrating when you’ve posted early on what the scarf etc is to then come back and see loads of ‘I think it is… comments’ that were answered on page 1. But then I always read through the comments and obviously loads of people don’t. So thank you for the summary 🙂

      I think the Olympics will bring out the more casual outfits. Apart from any official occasions for visiting dignatories. But I think the younger royals will be around a lot at the actual events, especially as they are mostly quite sporty. And of course Zara is competing so there’ll be a big royal turn-out for that.

  • quiltrx

    I feel like we’ve seen this whole outfit before, just in different colors.  And I think she’s carrying that scarf she had before.

  • RzYoung

    Hmm i reckon it’s a black purse and a yellow scarf. I don’t mind the mismatching really. But i do LOVE this colour on her and this colour in general. 

  • Wow, Princess Margaret’s daughter sure got old.

    I like that color on Cathy though.


  • Beardslee

    I love the shape of the skirt on this.  So pretty.  That waistline is odd but I imagine in real life it is fine.
    When I saw the hat, I was dreading the scrolldown to her go-to shoes but there she is in chocolate suede pumps!  Great!  I wish I had a pair.
    Love that yellow.

  • ChaquitaPhilly

    I thinks she looks very nice. It’s probably a plaid scarf wrapped around a black clutch purse. aThe scarf could have added a bit of color to the outfit. I wonder why it’s not being worn.

  • Scarlet39

    I don’t think this is her color.  She looks really washed out in it.    Although the fascinator is cute, it doesn’t work with this outfit.   This is a rare misstep for the Duchess.

  • Anabag

    She wore a Jenny Packham dress in a similar soft yellow color almost a year ago during the Canadian tour.  That one had short sleeves and she wore it with her nude LK Bennett pumps.  I think she looks really good here considering the occasion and the weather which was apparently cold & foggy.

  • Guest

    The plaid she is holding is a scarf of Strathearn Tartan.  She and her hubby are the prince and princess of Strathearn while they are in Scotland.  She is carrying their tartan, folded over what appears to be a simple black purse.  Keeping a low profile in difference to all the other royals in their velvet capes, I suspect.  The rest of them were  wearing many layers of tradition… hope it was a cool day.

    • Corsetmaker

      Earl and Countess of Strathearn.

  • bitchybitchybitchy

    Perhaps doing a colorful hat or fascinator just isn’t done for watching hubs become a Knight of the Thistle.  I’m liking the coatdress.

  • ASK26

    You are too damn skinny when your shoulder blades protrude almost as much as your breasts.

  • voter1

    Princess Bumblebee!

  • Vic

    She’s carrying a tartan scarf that goes with the title. She’s carried the same scarf once before on a visit to Scotland.

    • Vic

      Actually, she is playing matchy matchy. Note that the hat and shoes echo the colors in the scarf.

  • Rebecca Jay

    Her makeup looks particularly heavily spackled today, more than usual.  

    I like that twisty thing she did with the back of her hair.

  • luciaphile

    She’s nearly 50, I think. 

  • frite

    The way her hair is done up with the hat is adorable. *sigh* oh to have a dresser…

  • TomBord

    Talbots circa ’62. 
    (So tired of the english and their insipid and dated pomp ‘n drag show. Come on girl, get a clue; get that stupid thing off your head and start using your platform to do something productive other then looking like a overly made up  fool in a dumpy hat. )

  • Srw27

    I think it’s pretty, if a bit dowdy on a girl her age.