I Recreated Kate Middleton’s Zoom Outfits for a Week & I’m No Longer Wearing Sweats While I Work
Back in March, when most of the world pivoted their in-person meetings over to Zoom, even members of the crown went digital for a variety of official duties. Royals, they’re just like us. Without missing a beat, Kate Middleton launched her “Hold Still” photo campaign with the National Portrait Gallery and put a spotlight on important causes such as Maternal Health Awareness Week and the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Throughout it all, the Duchess of Cambridge mastered something else: The art of looking impeccable on Zoom.
As co-host of the Royally Obsessed podcast, I watched the mother of three on numerous video chats posted to her Instagram feed and began to wonder: Would it be possible to replicate her style for my own packed schedule of Zoom calls? I was determined to give it a try for a whole work week, with a little help from PureWow’s fashion director, Dena Silver. Here’s exactly what went down.
Day 1: The Mustard Yellow Sweater
For her Zoom session with staff and children of front line workers at Casterton Primary Academy, Middleton busted out an oldie, but a goodie: A crew-neck Zara sweater from a previous season (ah, we love a royal rewear). For the first day of my challenge, I whipped out a similar mustard yellow style, in dress form, that I had purchased right before the pandemic. This may sound vain, but on the day I wore the dress, I was actually quite distracted by my thumbnail appearance in a big Zoom meeting. And I wasn’t alone; one colleague’s quipped: “Whoa, why are you so dressed up?” I topped off the look with a near-exact replica of Middleton’s Catherine Zoraida fern leaf earrings, then threw my hair half-up. I’m a mom of a toddler and honestly, this was the most effort I’d put into, well, anything in weeks.
My Takeaway: There is something so amazing (and timesaving) about only having to dress professionally from the waist up. In other words, below the belt, this dress was totally wrinkled. But in addition to wearing a dress in a striking color, I loved the ease and added finesse of a half-up hairstyle that took seconds to achieve.
Day 2: The Breton Top
Just days after I ordered a striped Breton top from Boden, Middleton rocked a nearly identical style for an interview on the BBC to promote the NHS’s Every Mind Matters mental health campaign. This outfit was going to be a breeze to recreate. But copying her wavy-but-not-messy hair? Not so much. I tried my best to achieve soft, tousled waves with my Beach Waver and a bit of hairspray, but I was dreaming about GlamSquad the entire time.
My Takeaway: Other than the hair, this no-frills look couldn’t have been easier to pull off, since almost all of us have a striped shirt in our closet. It really shows what a difference a classic and visually sharp piece can make on a video call. But back to the hair: As long as my Zoom meetings are internal, I intend to keep throwing my locks into a messy top-knot bun. Styling sleek waves upped my game but added unnecessary time to my morning routine.
Get the look: Boden top ($38)
Day 3: The Blue Floral Dress
Middleton chose this Boden wrap dress—first seen in her Christmas card photo from last year—to chat with health care experts in honor of the UK’s Maternal Health Awareness Week. She paired it with drop earrings from Patrick Mavros, a subtle detail that dressed her appearance up. I shopped my closet again for a similar blue floral. The dress I wore has a different neckline, but proves that a seasonal pop of color (even one that’s significantly more muted than mustard yellow) gave the effect that I was putting a huge amount of effort into a humble video chat.
My Takeaway: All hail the half-up hairstyle; it’s so easy! And I love the way it looks so sleek on a computer screen. Middleton’s makeup is also worth noting. In retrospect, I can see she is a bit more heavy-handed with her eyeliner than I dared to be. Still, seeing the side-by-side comparison, I realize that you really do need to overdo things to define your features in 2D. As for the dress and the earrings? This shade of blue is so soft and flattering that, when worn with a delicate bauble, you’ve got instant elegance. An all-around win.
Day 4: The Red Dress
L.K. Bennett is this royal’s go-to brand, as proven by this shift dress that she first wore to Wimbledon back in 2015. This spring, she resurfaced the bright and powerful shade of red to drop in on a variety of virtual VE Day celebrations with Prince William. Plus, Middleton is proof that you don’t have to retire your “work” dresses just because you’re no longer going to an office. My version of her red number was an easy one-and-done for a video catch-up I had with one of my direct reports. Yes, this look also required bringing back the waves, but a less voluminous version of them. Phew.
My Takeaway: I love the color scheme, although Middleton’s candy red is much more vibrant than mine. I also like her long sleeves. The dress I wore is gorgeous, but I prefer the slimming effect of covering up your arms, especially when they’re on display, front and center, in video calls. Still, red is a power color that really translates on Zoom. I’m into it.
Get the look: M.M. Lafleur dress ($265)
Day 5: The White Scallop-Necked Top
Hello, low maintenance duchess! I like to imagine her chasing after Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis right before this call with Shout volunteers, taking one glance at her royal curling iron and deciding to hell with it! Still, Middleton made up for her low-lift ‘do with an eye-catching Sandro top. The scalloped neckline makes a statement—and I was happy to try out a similar version on a Zoom call to prep for the podcast. I added the replica of the leaf earrings I’d found et voilà, I felt exactly like the duchess.
My Takeaway: I worried that a white top against a white background would wash me out. But that detailed neckline worked wonders. Plus, the earrings helped draw a little more attention to my face. Swapping out a regular T-shirt for a slightly more interesting one? That’s a royal hack I’m willing to add to my WFH wardrobe.
Day 6: The Yellow Floral Dress
Day 6: The Yellow Floral Dress
Sure, I’ve learned that mustard yellow is a win on Zoom, but yellow that’s a bit more pastel is much harder (at least in my case) to pull off. Middleton wore this Raey style to announce her “Hold Still” photo campaign on ITV’s This Morning, pairing it with her fern leaf earrings—a now-signature piece of Zoom jewelry.
My Takeaway: If I’m being honest, the combination of the pattern and the neckline on this dress made me look a bit chesty—even though the dress was significantly more flattering when seen in full. This taught me that, in the same way that you test an outfit in a fitting room by sitting down in it, you should really examine the fit from the waist up for important video calls.
Dressing like Kate Middleton for the week taught me that a bit of extra effort in the morning—or, worst case, a top change and a half updo right before a big call—really does make a difference when it comes to feeling more professional while working remotely. I was under the impression that my daily WFH wardrobe had to reflect my new normal: Juggling a full-time schedule with childcare. In other words, most days I bounce from big-deal meetings with my boss to begging my toddler to pretty please eat the vegetables on his plate.
After this style experiment, I’m definitely a lot more inclined to put a royal effort into my professional appearances, even if they are just digital. In addition to feeling more polished, I’ve found it to be the ultimate mental boost to pick out my clothes, do my hair and makeup and feel good about my appearance. In a lot of ways, it’s self-care, especially for a time-starved mother, like myself. In fact, I kind of relished having an actual reason to carve out extra “me time” in the morning, especially since the pandemic has led to a less structured way of life.
Could I watch a few YouTube videos to improve my technique with a curling iron? Sure. But can I also put down the sweatshirts, shop my closet and embrace bright hues that pop on-screen? Absolutely.
About This Photo Shoot
For this digital shoot, we tapped lifestyle photographer Ana Gambuto, who screenshotted and art directed our Zoom session via her laptop. Her number one Middleton-inspired tip that applies to all video chats: Eyes on the camera. “It’s tempting to look at the person you’re talking to or stare at your own image on the computer screen, but if you look directly into the camera (that little dot at top center of your laptop), your posture will improve and your gaze will appear that much more direct.” Genius.