How Kate Middleton's Glamour Has Evolved Over The Years

While Kate Middleton was once an outsider to the impenetrable world of the British royals, she's now an essential part of the aristocracy and arguably one of the most popular members of the royal family. As wife to Prince William, Kate has climbed the ladder of aristocratic titles, from Duchess of Cambridge to Queen Consort when William becomes king.

Thanks to Queen Elizabeth II's longevity, and the fact that Prince Charles is next in line to the throne, Kate has had some time to adjust to royal life and get used to the demands that will only amplify as her responsibilities increase. While Buckingham Palace remains as tight-lipped as always, we can't help but wonder what Queen Elizabeth thinks of her successor? An insider told Us Weekly in October 2021, "Over time, Kate has proved to Elizabeth that she can be trusted and they've developed a great relationship." They added: "Elizabeth feels confident that Kate will make a great queen."

The source added that Kate was initially uncomfortable with the global attention that came with her marriage and title but over time, she's gained confidence and comfort in the spotlight. "She's always up for a challenge, believes in herself and feels that she has developed the wisdom, courage and strength to be a success," the source added, noting that the queen feels that Kate and William "cross all the boxes to rule." As Kate has evolved into this comfort, so has her look and glamor choices, showing she's preparing for her role as future queen.

Kate's tomboy side before royal life

Long before Kate Middleton had the looming task of being Queen Consort, she was a kid growing up in Bucklebury village with her two siblings and parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, per Hello!. While her upbringing was still privileged — her parents began the very successful business Party Pieces — it was still a long shot from the highly publicized and intense childhood of Prince William.

While we see Kate now as a picture representation of a royal woman, her early years were completely different. Author Marcia Moody, who wrote "Kate: A Biography," spoke with Parade about Kate's early attitude towards glamor. "She has definitely not always been so polished and poised," Moody explained. "She was a complete tomboy when she was a young girl, and even as a teenager she was more interested in sports and outdoors activities than fashion and makeup."

The earliest transformation began when Kate moved away from home. "I think as she grew into a young woman and moved to London she became more put together," Moody added. "The real Kate is very much a lady, and this comes across when she's in public, but underneath is still the girl who likes a bit of rough and tumble. She certainly doesn't mind getting her hands dirty." Even as a royal, a touch of Kate's younger style has remained. As a later publication by Hello! points out, she frequently goes out in athletic leisure and opts for comfort when spotted on her off days.

Kate's evolving attitude towards makeup

When Kate Middleton first started regularly appearing in the spotlight, she opted for a heavy makeup look, including eyeliner circling her entire eye. She also favored a heavier foundation and powdered blush. Even on her wedding day in 2011, Kate wore a full face of makeup with prominent eyeliner under her eyes. Her go-to product during this phase was Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner, according to Today, a liner famous for its ability to stay put for hours.

Obviously, Kate looked beautiful through her entire transformation, but when she turned 35, makeup artist Samantha Mercer told the Daily Mail that she noticed a dramatic change in Kate's look. The duchess was choosing a much more subtle pallet, with dewy and lighter foundations, creamy blush, and lighter eyebrows and eyeliner. Kate's choice to go more natural was a great anti-aging strategy. "By changing a few things in her makeup routine she's managed to transform herself," Mercer said.

Makeup artist Niki McEwan added, "As your skin matures you want your under eye area to look as clean, bright and fresh as possible. The more light you can allow under your eye the more refreshed, refined and youthful your under-eye area will look." The consistent message celebrated by makeup artists who saw Kate's changing look was that the lighter she went in terms of product, the more youthful and fresh she looked.

Kate stays humble about her look

While Kate Middleton has mastered an evolved look when it comes to her makeup, she is careful to send a message to other women (and girls) that she doesn't wake up looking like that. On a visit to Poland in 2017, a group of excited students waited to greet her. They were full of compliments for the duchess and relayed back to the Mirror her message. "We were telling her that she is beautiful and perfect, but she said it's not true – it's just the make-up," they said. Nevertheless, it was rave reviews all around. "She is a stunning lady – she has got class. I really love her attitude. I believe that she will be the next Diana," another fan said.

While we love a little healthy ego in our gals, it is nice to have a moment of normalcy. In fact, this seems to be one of the continued favorite attributes of Kate. As is common knowledge now, she did her own makeup for her wedding, Vogue reminds, while getting some prior coaching from artist Arabella Preston.

Later, in 2016, Kate appeared on the cover of British Vogue for its 100th anniversary issue. As Us Weekly notes, she drove herself and arrived with her hair in rollers, so it really doesn't get more chill than that. The lack of a driver is a nice mirroring of Queen Elizabeth II's own vibe. As People points out, the queen always favors driving herself over a chauffeur.

Are nails and toes under royal order?

The rules and stipulations of royal protocol have also impacted Kate Middleton's evolution in the world of glamor. Kate consistently opts for neutral nail polish tones and, as with much of her transforming look, she's following Queen Elizabeth II's lead. As Hello! reports, Queen Elizabeth has been a devoted fan of Essie's nail polish in the color "Ballet Slippers" since 1989.

Kate has followed her example and exclusively chosen a nude nail, occasionally breaking with tradition to sport a red color on her toes, especially if she's not at a royal event. While it's certainly tradition, the nude nail might not exactly fall under protocol. Omid Scobie, the British journalist who co-wrote "Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family," spoke with Harper's Bazaar about the subject. When Meghan Markle was spotted wearing a dark burgundy on her nails, he explained, "There's no actual protocol about dark nail polish. It's simply about being appropriate—we'd never see this at a royal engagement."

Much of the remaining royal protocol, at least when it comes to fashion choices, center around the same theme: being appropriate. A later publication by Hello! notes that modesty is a guiding principle and so royal women rarely show their shoulders, wear short skirts, or low-cut tops. While Kate has been seen wearing sleeveless or strapless dresses at movie premieres or other events, she consistently opts for demure, well-covered outfits at royal engagements.

Kate's hair: how much it costs and what she uses

While everything about Kate Middleton is beautiful, her hair often steals the show and this is one element of her look that has remained consistent since the beginning. She's worn it up, down, or in a ponytail but the unchanged factor is that her hair is perfection. It comes at a price, though. For a decent gauge, the Daily Mail reports that on Kate's 2014 trip to Australia and New Zealand, Kate's hair cost nearly $8,000. This was to pay for hair treatments and the fee of a traveling stylist.

While she spends a lot on stylists, her hair products are more reasonable. As Glamour notes, Kate's go-to stylist, Richard Ward, gets Kate to use the Chelsea Collection's Cleanse and Condition duo, which is really just a 2-in-1. The product costs $12 and is, unsurprisingly, frequently sold out. So it seems like the Kate Middleton effect, where consumers follow her lead, applies even to her shampoo.

Kate's hair, much like her fashion, incorporates both high and low maintenance techniques. While her shampoo is run of the mill, her hair for her wedding day involved more planning than some entire weddings. Ward and stylist James Pryce told HJ that they worked for three months on planning her hair and used three different mood boards to give Kate a choice. Once she picked her look, they practiced on a mannequin head in their back office and used a $10 fake tiara to nail the perfect style.

How Kate's hair has a global effect

It's not just products and expensive stylists that keeps us focused on Kate Middleton's hair. Her famous soft curls have become known as the "Chelsea Blow Dry" and stylist Richard Ward gave a tutorial to People because of the insatiable demand from fans all over the world. He literally made a video series called "Make Me Kate," so clearly there's an obsession with the duchess' look.

As Glamour notes, the look is polished and soft but she also uses the trick of backcombing the hair at her crown to give it volume. The outlet also notes that when Kate opts for an updo, she uses an-almost invisible hair net to keep everything in place, which is essential if an event is outside. No wind is getting in the way of her polished look. Her hair nets are so subtle that no one knew this trick until a very invested photographer caught a glimpse of the criss-cross design on one of her updos.

While Kate's hair evolution has become a cultural obsession, Ward spoke about Kate as a person and how she has remained unchanged in all the ways that matter. The duchess became a client of his when she was a college student, long before royal titles and endless photography added the pressure of perfection. "She's the same person that first came into the salon 10 years ago," Ward said of her. While her budget has obviously increased, Kate's still the same at her core.

Drama with hair stylists is all part of royal life

Kate Middleton obviously had strong rapport with her stylists, especially around her wedding, but there was a falling out with one of them. James Pryce was the creative director at Richard Ward's salon and was one of the key players in creating Kate's wedding hair. When Ward and Pryce spoke with HJ, Ward explained how Pryce was really the mastermind behind the whole thing. "I was so proud of James and my team that morning," Ward began. "I was there with James as he created Kate's bridal look – usually the pressure is on me, but that day was all about James."

Pryce decided to create his own brand and as he was establishing himself, he ended up heavily publicizing his link to Kate in a way that was too public for the royal family. "When he went solo and tried to tour around the USA," an insider told The Telegraph, "he launched a Facebook page and Twitter account which featured hundreds of pictures of Kate and her various hairstyles to promote his business –- obviously, that did not go down too well with the Palace at all."

Because of this, Kate chose to drop Pryce as a trusted stylist. "Richard Ward still cuts Kate's hair and she has her color done at the salon," the insider added. "Plus, she has her stylist, Amanda Cook Tucker, who blow dries her hair for events, but James has really been pushed out." Privacy is paramount for the royals.

How Kate's pregnancies impacted her beauty routine

Kate Middleton and Prince William share three children: George, Charlotte, and Louis. One of Kate's ongoing charms is how down to earth she is and this includes her conversations about parenting. In 2019, she made an appearance at the Lewisham Local Family Action in London, a charity that focuses on helping families and discussed her struggles as a mother. "Everybody experiences the same struggle," Kate began, according to Hello!. "Even for me, who has more support at home that most mothers do not. Nothing can really prepare you for the sheer, overwhelming experience of what it means to become a mother." She added: "For many mothers, myself included, this can at times lead to a lack of confidence and feelings of ignorance."

This is a lot, but what does it have to do with Kate's evolving glamor? Well, pregnancy actually significantly changed the way she approached makeup and skincare. She opted for much more natural products while pregnant and was especially committed to using Trilogy's Rosehip Oil daily as an anti-aging effort, according to Us Weekly. When not pregnant, Kate gets regular spray tans to keep a healthy glow but when pregnant, these stopped. "Kate is very cautious of products and treatments," an insider told the outlet. "Baby's health comes first." To at least get some bronze on her face, Kate used the Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in Bronze as a way to get a break from the chemicals in spray tans.

Kate's royal arsenal

Queen Elizabeth II's handbag has become an iconic part of her look. She's so into bags that she granted her favorite brand, Launer, a royal warrant, "the ultimate seal of approval and prestige" for brands who supply products for the royal family, the website states. So what does the queen carry around in these illustrious bags? Phil Dampier, an author who has covered the royal family for decades, told Hello! that the queen carries her reading glasses, a pen, treats for her corgis (!), a compact mirror, and a handkerchief. Occasionally, she'll even pack a crossword puzzle in there.

Following the queen's lead, Kate Middleton has created a must-have list of supplies that she always keeps with her in her purse. Marcia Moody, who wrote the 2013 book "Kate: A Biography," said that the duchess never leaves home without lip balm, a handkerchief, a compact mirror, and blotting papers to take care of any excessive shine (via Glamour). Sounds like Kate is pretty adept at watching and learning from her royal predecessor.

Unlike the queen though, Kate hasn't attached to one brand for her bags, a later publication by Hello! notes. She has been seen sporting LK Bennett bags, a favorite of high street London, as well as clutches and bags by Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana, and the very chic, if somewhat more casual brand, Longchamp. Clearly, she likes to keep her options open when it comes to bags. 

Kate's anti-aging strategies

Kate Middleton's interest in anti-aging strategies, like the rest of her life, shows attention without excess. In the early days of her royal life, she began visiting the London's Hale Clinic for bee-venom facials at $250 a pop, Vanity Fair wrote in 2012. The facials are, allegedly, "a natural alternative to Botox" and it was Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, who got her into it. For take-home remedies, Kate used the Heaven Bee Venom Mask by Deborah Mitchell. But this isn't the only product Kate uses. According to InStyle, the duchess regularly uses Biotulin Supreme Skin Gel, a plant-based, organic botox gel called "Botox in a bottle." The product is such a hit because it offers instant results without invasive procedures.

While Kate is obviously a fan of anti-aging products, she hasn't gone (at least publicly) in the direction of Botox injections. In fact, there was some palace drama when a London-based plastic surgeon tried to use Kate as a promotion for Botox. What happened, as Page Six reports, is that Dr. Munir Somji, affiliated with the Dr. Medi Spa Clinic, posted two photos of Kate side by side on Instagram and wrote: "Our Kate loves a bit of baby Botox."

Well, the royal family wasn't standing for this and a rep from Kensington Palace told the New York Post (which operates Page Six) that Dr. Somji's hints were "categorically not true" and "in addition, The Royal Family never endorse commercial activity." Clearly, the royal family shut that down right away!

How the James Bond premiere changed everything

Something special happened at the September 2021 James Bond premiere for "No Time to Die." Kate Middleton has always looked stunning on red carpets but this night, she took it to a whole new level. The James Bond premiere marked a massive shift in her aesthetic.

The duchess slayed us all in a gold cape dress by long-time favorite designer, Jenny Packham, according to Elle, and wore her hair in a glamorous updo, a nice departure from her usual long and loose style. What caught everyone's attention was how sophisticated Kate's makeup look was in combination, of course, with her impeccable style. Hello! went so far as to call it a "beauty overhaul" and they're not wrong. Makeup artist Sara Sordillo told the outlet that one of the biggest changes was Kate's use of false eyelashes, calling the effect "fluffy and fluttery." Sordillo explained, "The false lashes have a lifted appearance which helps to open up the eyes and give a youthful appearance."

It wasn't just her eyes though. Kate's skin was glowing that night and skin expert Abbi Ingram told the outlet that Vitamin C serum can be responsible for this healthy, youthful look. She also urged fans to "apply a hydrating night time moisturizer that is suitable for the winter months to avoid any dryness and keep your skin dewy and radiant." Kate really stole the show that night. Who knew we'd get the ultimate Bond girl on the red carpet rather than the movie?

Kate's commitment to ecology has impacted her fashion choices

Kate Middleton's glamor has evolved into a more mature and sophisticated palate, but it has also evolved ecologically. First of all, Kate frequently reuses outfits. For the average reader, this might not be such an extraordinary thing but for those with celebrity status, there's an unspoken expectation of providing audiences with new looks. In fact, Kate's habit of repeating clothing is a subtle rebellion against royal tradition. As the Mirror reveals, "Monarchs are traditionally limited to dressing in the same clothes no more than twice." While Kate isn't a monarch yet, she will be one day.

This commitment to repeating clothing is something Kate has mimicked from Queen Elizabeth II. The queen has abided by this tradition of limiting repeated clothing but broke the rule after her husband, Prince Philip, died. As My London notes, the queen wore a muted, lilac coat three times in one month. This comes from the tradition that royal widows wear black for two years after their husbands die, but may also wear grey or lilac.

While Kate obviously recycles clothing for different reasons, her investment in it likely also comes from an ecological perspective. At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2021, Kate didn't repeat a dress but she did wear a blue coat dress made by Eponine, a London-based brand known for recycling materials and lessening its carbon footprint, per Vogue. So while she and Prince William gave awards for the Earthshot Prize, she was setting an example.

Kate's similarities to the Queen shows that she's forging a well-planned royal path

A common and very nostalgic comment about Kate Middleton's fashion choices is that she channels her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana. This might be true in some cases. Her epic moment at the James Bond premiere, in the glittering gold dress, was deemed by many to be a tribute to Diana's glittering silver dress when she attended the "View to Kill" premiere in 1985, Marie Claire notes.

But in many ways, Kate emulates Queen Elizabeth II just as much as Diana. Royal commentator Kinsey Schofield told The Mirror that Kate might be more like the queen than Diana because she's "low maintenance" and "plays by the rules." Schofield adds that the queen and Kate have grown very close over the years and that in terms of temperament, Kate is a lot like Queen Elizabeth. Perhaps most significantly, both women are fully dedicated to serving the crown.

Another royal expert weighed in on how this bond has influenced Kate's fashion over the years. Elizabeth Holmes, who wrote "HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style," spoke with Insider and said, "It feels as though Kate has studied the Queen's wardrobe and what she does with those brightly colored coats and hats. I think that Kate is embracing the attention around her fashion." Holmes went so far as to say that Kate's growing confidence in her fashion and her evolution into sophistication is a conscious decision in her preparation to become queen consort.

The changes we can expect when Kate becomes queen

If we've learned anything about Kate Middleton, it's that she can adapt to her changing circumstances. She took to royal life with grace and flourished as a mother and popular royal figure. So she'll certainly take to the role of queen consort with the same flexible interest in growing to fit the role.

While this will come with responsibilities and added pressures, the change will also impact her fashion. Bethan Holt, author of "The Duchess of Cambridge: A Decade of Modern Royal Style" explained to Vanity Fair that Kate's charm is in being relatable. "The public mood now is much less towards wanting royals that are very distant ... People want to be able to relate, and I think the royals realize that clothing is a way that they can do it." Holt also addressed the very legitimate concern that royal women are reduced to what they wear. "The truth is — and it may be a sad truth for some people but I think it's an exciting truth — without the style the substance wouldn't have the same impact," Holt said.

On Kate as queen, Holt said: "I hope that she still keeps those experimental fashion moments in there — it keeps everyone excited. Obviously when she becomes queen, there will possibly be more of those really formal moments as well, which would be really interesting to see." Kate's attitude towards fashion and her approachable yet glamorous look may well be what keeps the monarchy relevant in the years to come.