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the royal visit...

Dressing for The Duchess – Finding the Perfect Fit

[  The accessories: J. Crew hat, Christian Louboutin wedges, Marc Jacobs bag...
And what ensemble would be complete without a media badge and red wristband for red carpet access!  ]

After landing the dream assignment (The Foundation Polo Challenge in Santa Barbara), I panicked! What’s a girl to wear when she’s in the company of royalty? Much less, Kate Middleton—a rising style icon. (And let’s be honest—women dress for women.) Much to my fiancé’s dismay, I spent a few days agonizing over wardrobe and dragged him along. I hit Los Angeles’ The Grove (a celeb favorite), the Century City Mall (a local favorite), and paparazzi haven Robertson Blvd… Too short, too long, too bold, too boring… what ever happened to the classic LWD? No luck. Anywhere. My prince agreed. Once home, I sifted through my closet and called a girlfriend to discuss the predicament. To my surprise, she offered me her vintage Missoni dress passed down from her great-aunt. I knew the ensemble instantly as I’d eyed it before. My size? Check! My style? Check, check! It was unmistakably Missoni with it’s classic pattern in beautiful royal blue, pink, and green. As I prepared a space for it in my closet, a garment peeked out from the darkness. How had I missed this before? It was darling… and electric blue. I’d worn a Ports 1961 shift dress to my bridal shower a few months earlier. Now this was the perfect fit. “Are you crazy?!” exclaimed my friend. “You’re not going to wear a classic chevron vintage Missoni to see the Royals? Your dress is cute, but you wore it to your shower. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge deserve more, don’t they?” My response? “If it’s good enough for my family, it’s good enough for the Royals!” And with that, I was ready to mingle with the Duchess. If she could rewear a dress or two, so could I!

Royal Watch: At the Foundation Polo Challenge in Santa Barbara

[Next to me is the lovely Marcy Medina of Women's Wear Daily]

At noon on Saturday, July 9th, it was as though time stood still when Kate Middleton and Prince William touched down from their private helicopter in Santa Barbara. “Wow, she flew the helicopter,” joked one photographer, breaking the group’s unusual silence. The Duchess’s delicate floral Jenny Packham flowed in the wind as she calmly walked from the plane to the red carpet. Unlike Hollywood royalty who often arrive with large entourages and/or flanked an abundant of security—the Royal couple were sans the bells and whistles. The Duke and Duchess walked casually, though with purpose, past the photographers and media who watched in awe. One reporter asked, “How are you enjoying America?” The Duchess began, “It’s very…” but declined to finish her sentence—perhaps realizing she advised not to speak. Red carpets are traditionally hectic and frantic with photographers and journalists shouting over one another to be heard. However, a hush fellow over the crowd as the pair walked passed. It was an unusually serene scene. Before the quick, surreal moment was over, I attempted to ask Kate who was wearing, but the couple kept walking with Prince William’s hand on the small of his wife’s back.

Once inside, all VIP guests were asked to be seated before the Duke and Duchess would enter the room. Eventually, after being asked more than a few times, the crowd followed suit and, with that, they entered and took the stage. As a few event organizers spoke, Prince William and Kate would occasionally whisper to each other and giggle—like a secret that only they were in on. Soon Prince William addressed his guests while his doting wife proudly watched on and she, occasionally, licked her lips… perhaps nervously so—understanding that her husband may have been speaking, but most eyes seemed to be on her.

Over lunch, Kate and William sat with a group of older gentleman and women. The duo was separated by a male guest between them. Kate was quite talkative. There wasn’t a moment she wasn’t speaking to someone at her table—particularly the guest next to her (an older, unrecognizable gentleman—a Royal insider). The couple stayed through the first and second course, but they disappeared before dessert was served—likely to get ready for the match. Not once did I see an entourage near the group yet somehow the couple would mysteriously come and go. They seem to have perfected Houdini’s disappearing act.

While VIP guests watched the game from the wooden polo stands, Kate sat in the one covered stand with a large, lucky, and unfazed group of unrecognizable guests. During the match, Kate shaded herself with a chic pair of oversized black sunglasses. She kept them rested on her head, but would put them over her eyes occasionally—frequently switching between the two. She held her program, which she bent in half, in her right hand while talking with an older gentleman.

When a group of excited guests realized their private box was in close proximity to The Duchess, they called over to her and waved from above. Middleton bashfully waved back. She smiled, giggled, then turned back to face her acquaintances.

Through out the day, Kate often ran her left hand through her hair. One quick sweep through the strands. Always with her left hand. She did this once immediately upon arrival, while she was walking from the helicopter to the red carpet; then several times over lunch; and at least twice during the polo match. It seemed to be her secret nervous tick. Gotta love a Royal who comes across human. Of course, once the day came to an end, I was reminded otherwise.

Prince William and his lovely bride were whisked away in an Audi A8L which drove them up to their private helicopter. Meanwhile, I traveled home on the highway. Traffic from Santa Barbara back to Los Angeles was a (ROYAL!) pain, but well worth it.

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