The royal family may have spent much of last year quarantining and social distancing, just like us plebes — but thankfully, 2021 saw our favorite Duchesses stepping out in style once more.
From Meghan Markle’s symbolic Oprah interview outfit to Lady Kitty Spencer’s quintet of designer wedding dresses to Kate Middleton’s sparkling take on Bond girl glamour at the “No Time to Die” premiere, below are the royal fashion moments we couldn’t stop talking about this year.
Meghan Markle’s pregnancy announcement dress
In February, the Duchess of Sussex announced she was expecting her second child wearing a white Carolina Herrera gown custom-made by the brand’s creative director, Wes Gordon — who’s been a friend of hers for years.
Gordon said the style statement sent a “powerful message” about sustainability, telling The Telegraph, “I made [the dress] for her when she was pregnant with Archie, so almost two years ago.”
Added Gordon, “She wore a dress that’s no less beautiful, because it’s two years old… it makes her feel no less special or no less happy.”
Meghan Markle’s Oprah interview look
In March, Markle sat down with Oprah for the tell-all of the year, and chose a symbolic outfit for the occasion: a black-and-white Armani dress adorned with a lotus flower, long considered a sign of rebirth and resilience.
She accessorized with Princess Diana’s diamond tennis bracelet, which a spokesperson for Markle told the “Today” show provided a way “to have [Harry’s] mother there with them during the interview.”
Lady Kitty Spencer’s fashion-packed wedding
One big-day dress simply wasn’t enough for Lady Di’s niece, who married billionaire fashion businessman Michael Lewis in July; instead, she wore a whopping five different Dolce & Gabbana dresses, all custom-made.
On Friday night before tying the knot, Spencer donned a floral-embroidered baby blue tulle gown and cape as her “something blue.” At her Saturday ceremony, she walked down the aisle in a Victorian-inspired puff-sleeved lace gown, then changed into an off-the shoulder, hand-painted floral look for dinner.
Next up? A metallic cocktail dress dripping with gold and silver beads for dinner, followed by a silk frock embellished with tiny sequins, appliqué flowers and ribbons for Sunday’s continuing celebrations.
Alizee Thevenet’s hand-me-down wedding dress
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, French financial analyst Thevenet wed James Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge’s brother, wearing her mother-in-law’s off-the-shoulder lace dress in September.
“My something borrowed was in fact my dress from my mother in law Carole who last wore it 41 years ago on her wedding day in June, 1980,” Thevenet told Hello!, adding, “While talking about dresses with Carole and sharing ideas during lockdown for inspiration, I tried on her wedding dress and fell in love with it.”
Continued the bride, “”It fitted me perfectly and was exactly what I wanted. It always troubled me that wedding dresses are only worn once so it was amazing to give such a beautiful dress a second lease of life.”
Meghan Markle’s Princess Diana-approved Dior bag
During her appearance at Global Citizen Live with Prince Harry in September, the Duchess of Cambridge accessorized her white embellished Valentino dress with Dior’s Lady D-Lite bag ($4,900) — a modern version of the Lady Dior, which was named after her late mother-in-law.
Markle’s was even monogrammed with her title, “DSSOS.”
Kate Middleton’s golden gown at the Bond premiere
The Duchess of Cambridge struck sartorial gold at the red carpet opening of “No Time to Die” in September, dressed in a dazzling caped Jenny Packham creation dripping with sequins and beadwork.
Kate Middleton in 10-year-old Alexander McQueen
In October, Middleton brought back a familiar fashion favorite: the lavender McQueen gown she last wore to a July 2011 BAFTA event in Los Angeles, just three months after her wedding to Prince William.
The Duchess chose the look — this time updated with a gold glittery belt — for the Earthshot Prize Awards, which honors work in conservation and sustainability. Guests were asked not to buy anything new to wear to the event, making the McQueen a fitting pick.
Meghan Markle’s red-hot gala gown
Markle closed out the year on a high note, dazzling at November’s Salute to Freedom Gala in a scarlet Carolina Herrera gown with a deep neckline, slit skirt and dramatic train — a far bolder look than those she wore during her time as a senior royal.
Once again, she finished off the look with Princess Diana’s diamond tennis bracelet.
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