The Duchess of Cambridge is the queen of condensing her personal effects into a clutch, but her collection of ladylike top handle bags has become a true hallmark of her royal style. While her grandmother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth, has been carrying patent styles from Launer London for decades, Kate has cherry-picked from myriad handbag brands that befit the wardrobe of a modern-day duchess.
Aspinal of London’s Midi Mayfair bag – which Middleton owns in both black and lilac croc – and Mulberry’s Mini Seaton share the same sleek lines and discreet gold hardware. Dolce & Gabbana’s rose Sicily model also has the curved handle and front flap reminiscent of vintage bag styles, but comes with soft, rounded corners that make it more capacious.
Two perfectly-formed Alexander McQueen bags sit at the petite end of Kate’s feminine bag collection. The black leather and raffia styles are variations on the brand’s micro Wicca satchels, and – like her bottle-green Manu Atelier model – make for chic day-to-night accessories owing to their compactness.
The Duchess’s burgundy Chanel bag is the highlight in her edit of timeless handbags, none of which are defined by the season they were created or the designer who conceptualised them. As Coco Chanel herself once said, “Fashion passes, style remains,” and Kate’s polished bags are emblematic of quality fashion that holds its value. Testament to this is the frequency with which the Duchess wears her accessories (the Aspinal of London and Chanel styles are rotated most often).
As always, there is a democratic undertone to Kate’s wardrobe. Her Dolce & Gabbana and McQueen bags might cost upwards of £1,000, but the Manu Atelier and Aspinal of London styles retail at less than £400. More recently, the Duchess has incorporated vintage accessories into her wardrobe – sporting a 1960s Wayne Taylor bag in orange for an overseas visit to Jamaica.
The price of an investment bag of course varies for everyone, but, as always, Kate is conscious that her public-facing fashion should incorporate an element of accessibility. The difference between her once beloved LK Bennett Sledge pumps and her current roster of Zara knitwear is that Kate’s handbags come with the responsible message long touted by another designer, Dame Vivienne Westwood: “Buy less, choose well and make it last.”
Below, take a closer look at the Duchess of Cambridge’s ladylike bag collection.
Mulberry small Amberley bag
Vintage Wayne Taylor bag
Aspinal of London black croc Midi Mayfair
Aspinal of London English lavender Midi Mayfair
Alexander McQueen raffia Wicca bag
Chanel burgundy quilted calfskin bag
Alexander McQueen black leather Wicca bag
Manu Atelier green leather top handle bag
Mulberry black leather Mini Seaton
Dolce & Gabbana rose Sicily
Originally published in Vogue.co.uk