Going Vogue: Kate versus Michelle
In case you hadn’t heard, Prince William married Kate Middleton in April. Duchess Catherine is now being heralded as a fashion icon. Apparently she is the “anti-Kardashian” of the the fashion world right now. Anna Wintour told The New York Times that “there is nothing trashy or vulgar about her.” Catherine has captured the world’s attention, and she’s holding on tight. She’s changing the way people think about getting dressed.
I think she’s boring. Good for her for bagging the future king of England, and goodness knows she dresses appropriately for her age and position, which are lessons that all women should have drilled into their heads before they leave the house in ripped stockings and belly shirts. But the girl wears tweed pencil skirts and blazer sets. Yawn. Am I being unfair? Maybe. But I scrolled through pages of her outfits on Google and the most eye-catching garment I saw was an (ugly) violet knee-length coat printed with a white paisley pattern.
Kate is beautiful, and elegant, and entirely classy. But style icons experiment and play with fashion. Michelle Obama is who Anna should really be praising here. Conservative, but still playful, the First Lady is the epitome of class — and yet she still manages to work bright colors, new shapes, and sometimes even edgy patterns and details. Remember that black-and-red dress inauguration dress she wore? That was a risk. Michelle doesn’t play it safe, but Kate does. The only thing captivating about Kate is that she was just a common girl who charmed a prince — she’s living out the fairy tale us girls grew up with, the one we are told doesn’t exist as adults.
Not that anyone has been ignoring Michelle’s style; her clothes have caught so much attention that even Glenn Beck has commented on them. The real misfortune here is that Kate is being placed on the same level as Michelle. Kate can be praised for dressing appropriately for her position—a feat that many women in less prestigious positions than her’s but that require far more hard work and ambition to hold, accomplish everyday—but to claim that her style is anything more than suitable is unfair to the women like Michelle who actually have distinct stlye.
The real fashion pioneer of elegance and style is The First Lady, but she just married the man who would become the first black president, not the literal Prince Charming women everywhere are clamoring to find themselves. The public manufactured Kate’s style as just another thing to praise about this future queen. While women and girls should look to her for inspiration on how to keep it classy, she’s not the fashion icon we’ve been looking for in a female public figure.