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The Powerful Message Behind Kate Middleton's Newest Wardrobe Staple

The Duchess of Cambridge's latest look "seems to signal a new confidence in her," an insider says.

Ever since Kate Middleton stepped in front of a wall of cameras wearing that now-famous blue Issa dress when she became engaged to Prince William in 2010, she's been an international style icon. Like her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana, she has become proficient in the language of clothes. During the pandemic, she relied on affordable "high street" brands like Zara and Boden for her almost daily Zoom calls with essential workers in London. For more formal occasions in the U.K., she's often chosen demure, elegant looks from royal favorites including Erdem and Jenny Packham. But there is one label the Duchess of Cambridge relies on almost exclusively when she wants to bring on the glamour and look her absolute best—Alexander McQueen. This week, when Kate eschewed her usual somewhat safe and understated coat dresses and stepped in front of the cameras to film a video at the Natural History Museum in London, she wore an impeccably tailored black trouser suit from the famed British design house. Royal watchers everywhere were wowed by her fresh take on the '80s power suit. Read on for more on Kate Middleton's new look, and for how another royal communicates with fashion, find out The Hidden Messages Behind Meghan Markle's Post-Royal Wardrobe.

"Catherine looked stunning in her tuxedo jacket with its padded shoulders and puffed sleeves," said a Palace insider. "It's a gorgeous silhouette and a very of-the-moment look. Rather than play it safe as she's done in the past, the duchess seems to be embracing more high fashion looks when appropriate. It's brilliant. She has been wearing blazers and trousers more and more. This seems to signal a new confidence in her that makes her even more attractive and appealing."

Kate's chic new look went viral in a video announcing she will reveal the winner of the wildlife photographer of the year contest at a virtual ceremony. In the video, which was also posted on Kensington Royal's Instagram page, Kate, who's a patron of the Natural History Museum, glows in the power suit. Of course, as is the case with virtually everything the duchess wears these days, the Daily Mail reports that the £1,240 tuxedo jacket has sold out.

It's no surprise Kate chose Alexander McQueen for this important appearance. After the designer's sudden death in 2010, Sarah Burton took the helm of the label and designed Kate's instantly iconic wedding dress for her wedding to William in 2011. Since then, the duchess has chosen to wear Burton's designs for Alexander McQueen for many important occasions (as you can see in the photos that follow).

This also isn't the first time Kate has surprised royal watchers by reviving what was thought to be a passé fashion trend. Last year, the duchess made headlines when she wore a bespoke headband by Juliette Botterill with her Stella McCartney dress in the official family photograph taken at the christening of Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.

"Catherine has always had a strong sense of what to wear and when to wear it," said a Palace insider. "Right now she seems to be telling the world not to underestimate her. She doesn't have to be out front telling the world that she's a modern, empowered woman. She's not a woman who needs a suit to feel powerful, but she's well aware of the message wearing one conveys."

Read on to see Kate's best McQueen looks, and for more on this royal favorite, here's Why Kate Middleton Is the Royal Family's "Secret Weapon" in 2020.

Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.

Kate looked chic in cream McQueen at Prince Louis' christening in 2018.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis after Prince Louis's christening at the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace, London.
PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

In Sept. 2018, Kate wore a chic cream Alexander McQueen dress at the baptism and christening of her third child, Prince Louis. And if you can't enough of the Cambridges, here are William and Kate's Most Adorable Couples Moments Through the Years.

And she glowed in baby blue McQueen at 2018 Trooping the Colour.

Trooping the Colour Prince Harry Prince Charles Andrew George William Kate & Charlotte Balcony Queen Birthday Buckingham Palace stock

For the 2018 Trooping the Colour celebration, Kate wore a light blue Alexander McQueen dress with a square neckline and slightly puffy shoulders. And if you can sense the chill in this photo, find out Why a Kate Middleton-Meghan Markle Friendship "Was Never Going to Happen."

Kate stunned in a white lace McQueen look at the 2017 Royal Ascot.

Royal Ascot 2017 held at Ascot Racecourse - Day 1 Featuring: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton in Alexander McQueen
David Sims / WENN Rights Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

At the 2017 Royal Ascot horse racing event, Kate opted for a white lace Alexander McQueen dress with a high neckline and a cinched waist.

And she was all smiles in another McQueen number at her sister's 2017 wedding.

The Duchess of Cambridge, left, stands with her daughter Princess Charlotte, bottom left, as they arrive for the wedding of her sister Pippa Middleton to millionaire groom James Matthews
PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

For the wedding between her sister, Pippa Middleton, and James Matthews, in May 2017, Kate was pretty in pink in this blush McQueen dress. And for more on the duchess' evolution, find out How Kate Middleton Took on a Royal Favorite—And Won.

Kate also stood out in a magenta McQueen look at another royal wedding.

Prince William, William Duke of Cambridge, and Kate Middleton, Catherine Duchess of Cambridge, at the wedding of Princess Eugenie of York and Jack Brooksbank in Windsor on 12 Oct 2018
John Rainford/ WENN Rights Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

At the royal wedding of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, Kate wore a bright pink McQueen gown with velvet heels in a rich jewel tone. And for more on her pre-royal past, check out Kate Middleton Was Bullied in School for Being "Too Skinny and Meek."

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