Daisy Dumas August 01, 2012
Kate Middleton's Olympics has so far been an exercise in blues and greys. We say go for gold, Duchess.
Greyer, beiger, safer. Kate's trailing in the fashion Olympiad.
Yes, it's a sporting competition, but it's also grade A royalty-watching territory.
Besides the diving boards, run-ups, starting blocks and serving lines, London 2012 is one long catwalk for Kate Middleton and her dignified cohorts and we can't help rewarding fashion points where points are due.
Despite once again claiming a coveted place on Vanity Fair's Best Dressed list, for Kate the Games are so far, so safe. The Duchess' wardrobe has been an exercise in blue and grey - from royal to navy, to dove and pale lavender.
Wearing a Roksanda Ilincic gown to the UK's Creative Industries Reception at the Royal Academy of Arts on Monday, the 30-year-old proved her prowess at recycling as well as transformation - earlier in the day she wore an entirely sober navy blazer and white shirt combination to Zara Phillips' equestrian cross country race in Greenwich before changing into the gown that we last saw at her 2011 North American tour.
The same blazer (official kit, we see), jeans and wedges combination was wheeled out to watch Zara take silver in dressage, this time swapping a white shirt for a navy-and-white striped number.
A reception for Heads of State and Government attending the Olympics Opening Ceremony saw a shiny take on the blue hue, with the Duchess sporting a Christopher Kane coat dress and grey McQueen clutch bag, demure as ever, and, forgive us, exhibiting nothing too out-of-the-blue.
Then there were the too-tight blue trousers combined with a too-small white T-shirt at the arrival of the Olympic Torch at Buckingham Palace. The trousers with an oversized shirt could work, or the shirt with less figure-hugging trousers could work, but ne'er the two will meet with princessly success. And what's wrong with a splash of military red every now and again?
It's a $52 Hobbs frock that pleases us the most - although, strictly speaking, Kate wore the cut-price grey checked design to a pre-Olympics event.
Her sober choices are a far cry from team GB opening ceremony outfits, the improbable lovechild of a moonwalker and Austin Powers' Goldmember. We applaud the spirit of fun they embody - as if team GB is imploring the world to "laugh with us, not at us". But they were designed by Stella McCartney, a fashion heavyweight that forces us, we suppose, to give the designs the benefit of the doubt.
The Duchess' unimaginative get-ups are more in-line with team USA's Ralph Lauren threads. But she has heavy competition from other pockets of the US, not least from FLOTUS, who looks just as at home hugging sweaty basketball players as she is pulling off $6,800 capped-sleeve jackets.
Michelle Obama has drawn both praise and criticism for her choice of the silver-and-white jacket, an embellished, structured, gutsy and elegant number by J Mendel. That her wardrobe is rather more contentious than Kate's, is, in an election year, a given, yet still she takes risks - and lands slam dunks. It makes us yearn for an injection of Mobama-style energy into the Duchess' wardrobe.
Medals tables will tally up the hardware, but there's all to play for in the next two weeks of the sartorial stakes.
Round 1: Kate 0, Michelle 1.