6 Rules of Holiday Dressing, According to Kate, Meghan & Other Royals

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Cherry reds, Tartan patterns and enough sparkle to brighten up any room—holiday attire a la the British royal family is equal parts festive, formal and fun. But just because you don’t have an invitation to sip bubbly at Buckingham Palace doesn’t mean you can’t infuse the royals’ signature Christmas style into your own wardrobe this season. Here, six royal holiday dressing rules to follow whether you take your cues from Kate Middleton…or Queen Camilla.

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1. A Full-Length Coat Is a Holiday Outfit-Maker

The royal tradition? Christmas Day at Sandringham. Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle—and many a royal who came before—have chosen a knee- or tea-length coat to hold its own as a holiday showstopper. TBH, with coat like these, who cares what’s underneath? The key is to choose one with a stand-out detail. For example, in the case of Markle, her Sentaler style is neutral, but has subtle ribbing along the sleeves. Kate’s gray Catherine Walker style is textured, but also has fur detailing at the collar and cuffs.

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2. Don’t Underestimate the Sparkle Achieved by a Brooch

Is it just us, or are brooches having a bit of a moment? When adorned on a coat or a blouse, much like a tiara, they really do help a holiday outfit pop. You can still wear other jewelry, but try to stick with pieces that don’t overwhelm (like Queen Elizabeth’s choice of pearls) so the brooch remains the centerpiece. Bonus points if your brooch of choice is an heirloom—or at the very least has a story behind it. (While the history of Kate’s brooch is unknown, her oak leaf and acorn bauble has long been considered a nod to the Middleton family crest.)

3. A Fair Isle Sweater Is the Ultimate Throw-on-and-Go

Cozy country style is another easy—and royally-inspired—holiday aesthetic, but one that doesn’t require major Christmas plans to pull off. A Fair Isle sweater anchors this look and, surprise surprise, was actually popularized by the royals themselves in the 1920s. Pair it with a headband or a pair of black trousers you’re good to go.

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4. To Dial It Up a Notch, Add a Bow

Bows in your hair, bows on your clothes—it’s a detail that’s trending and also isn’t just limited to the holiday season. In the case of Kate, she’s famous for seamlessly integrated them into her attire, like when she debuted an oversize bow in cherry red on a Catherine Walker coat dress at her now-signature Christmas concert at Westminster Abbey in 2021.

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5. Think Beyond the Traditional Red and Green Christmas Color Palette  

Princess Diana famously always followed her own royal rulebook—like when she wore yellow plaid to a Christmas morning walk-about. Or when she opted for an LBD instead of traditional red and green colors. The style lesson: Don’t be afraid to simply wear what you love.

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6. When in Doubt, Wear Tartan

Queen Elizabeth II adored the Scottish Highlands, home to Balmoral Castle and many a family memory, too. The history is complex, but as a royal style choice come the holiday season, Tartan is evergreen. Wear it as a skirt, a coat, even an accessory like a scarf or handbag, and rest assured that royals ranging from Princess Anne to Princess Diana all would have approved.

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Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...