Style Fashion

Thursday 18 July 2019

The golden rules of dress recycling: how to pull off a re-wear like a pro

Kate Middleton was spotted giving her beloved tartan Alexander McQueen coat yet another outing this week. Deirdre Reynolds asks the experts how to pull it off

Kate Middleton's Alexander McQueen coat is a hit
Kate Middleton's Alexander McQueen coat is a hit
Kate changed her hair when she rewore her navy Jenny Packham dress
Kate Middleton in her navy Jenny Packham dress
Kate Middleton on Tuesday
Kate wore it before in 2012

Deirdre Reynolds

Kate Middleton this week sealed her status as a recycling McQueen. The Duchess of Cambridge was on trend in tartan as she visited Dundee in Scotland alongside Prince William on Tuesday.

But it's not the first or even the second time the 37-year-old has stepped out in the elegant Alexander McQueen coat dress.

Serial closet recycler Kate first debuted the green and blue design from the McQ by McQueen diffusion line when she returned to St Andrew's School in Berkshire in 2012.

Styled up with a green Gina Foster hat, it got another outing at the Windsors' traditional Christmas Day service at the Queen's Sandringham Estate the following year.

Originally costing around €1,800, her 'thrifty Kate' title might be something of a stretch, particularly since she accessorised the coat with a €486 Manu Atelier green box bag and sapphire earrings previously owned by Princess Diana, believed to be worth in the region of €16,350. Nodding to the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, however, the re-emergence of the 'Black Watch' style after six years shows the mum-of-three hasn't entirely lost touch with reality since marrying into the British Royal Family in 2011 either.

"Most women want a functional, reliable wardrobe, so many of my clients aim to have staple pieces that they can count on season after season," says Natalie Svikle, a Dublin-based personal stylist and shopper. "This is the number one request when it comes to personal shopping. I am a big believer in buying the best quality you can afford if you want longevity. I always tell my clients that you can't expect an item to serve you for a long period of time if the quality isn't durable."

Keira Knightley on her wedding day (left) and at a charity event
Keira Knightley on her wedding day (left) and at a charity event

Night School star Tiffany Haddish took the concept of 'cost per wear' to new heights by donning the same Alexander McQueen dress for several high-profile events, including last year's Oscars and hosting Saturday Night Live.

"I hired a stylist for Girls Trip, and she said, 'Girl, if you're trying to make it to the next level in your career, you're going to have to spend a little money'," she explained to W Magazine. "I said, 'I'm down to look my best. Whatever it takes'. I should've known - wasn't no price tag on that dress. When I saw the receipt, I cried. The dress was $4,122! So I'm wearing it multiple f****** times."

"The number one rule to being able to rewear an item is having at least three to five things in your existing wardrobe to go with it," advises Natalie, found on Instagram @stylists_notes. "Otherwise you will have a one-trick pony on your hands that won't give you much recycling potential. When it comes to being able to get lots of wear out of the item, most people think that colour is the most important factor, but it is actually the cut of the piece that will determine its versatility.

"Aim for a cut that is like a blank canvas, with little detail, clean lines and good potential for layering. You can then dress it up and down, as well as accessorise."

A Chanel wedding dress might not sound like the most obvious go-to gúna, but that hasn't stopped Keira Knightley from wearing hers over and over again. In fact, the actress had already worn the dreamy tulle creation to a BAFTA after-party in 2008 when she dug it out to wed rocker James Righton in 2013, and again to a fundraising gala later that year, employing black tights, a Chanel blazer and sheer embellished bodysuit to make it look brand new each time.

It's a style trick the star of The Duchess and real-life duchess are both famous for, with the Countess of Strathearn - as she's also known in Scotland - swapping the black knee-high boots she previously paired with her beloved McQueen coat for more demure black courts in Dundee this week.

As identical twins, as well as dedicated followers of fashion, bloggers Dawn and Davinia Knight from Offaly know all about designer déjà vu.

"We always recycle looks just like Kate Middleton," says make-up artist Davinia, one half of @twoglamorousknights on Instagram. "Rewearing clothes gives you the opportunity to restyle and reinvent a look, not to mention save money!

Tiffany Haddish at the Oscars (right) and on Saturday Night Live
Tiffany Haddish at the Oscars (right) and on Saturday Night Live

"Accessories are the most obvious way to change up an outfit. Simply adding a little bag, statement necklace or colourful belt can really make a difference to an outfit. Of course, you can always dust off your sewing machine and really get to work, or just make friends with the local dressmaker, who can work their magic and completely change the style, making it strapless, adding straps, changing the length - the list is endless."

Hair is also a cheap way to reinvent your image like Kate did when she recycled the navy Jenny Packham gown she wore to a fundraising event at Kensington Palace in 2013 for an event in New York a year later just by having her crowning glory pinned up.

"Don't forget your hair when you're trying to breathe new life into an old outfit," says Wicklow-based hairstylist Sandra Berstock. "Although the duchess is famous for her Chelsea blow-dry, she also knows the power of a good updo to upgrade an outfit. Something as simple as a clip-in fringe, changing your parting or a loose plait pinned up is a cheap and easy way to change your entire look."

In an era of fast fashion, stylista Dawn Knight reckons Kate is a great role model for girls.

"As we regularly attend the races, me and Davinia are constantly restyling old looks using all of the above tips," she says. "We love getting more bang for our buck.

"Repeating an outfit is no longer the fashion faux pas it used to be. If you love something, my advice is to wear it - again and again!"

Irish Independent

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