In just a few days, Kate Middleton and Prince William will begin their royal tour in Pakistan, but what will Kate, who is already an expert in the art of diplomatic dressing, be packing for such a culturally important trip?
“I think this is a tour where the impact of her choices has the potential to be very significant,” Susan Kelley, editor and founder of fashion blog WhatKateWore.com, tells PEOPLE. “Textile manufacturing is an enormous part of Pakistan’s economy, so if Kate were to wear something manufactured locally, I think there would be a huge impact at a level not previously seen on tour before.”
The five-day tour — the details of which have been kept under wraps for security reasons — has been described by aides as their “most complex” tour to date due to security and logistical considerations. With a cultural need for modest clothing and a temperature of 88 degrees in the capital of Islamabad next week, Kate could follow the lead of Princess Diana, who undertook a solo royal tour in 1991, by wearing several traditional, lightweight styles.
“I think we will probably see at least one traditional shalwar kameez — the top and loose trousers look — from Kate on this trip,” says Kelley, who launched her blog that follows Kate’s fashion back in 2011. “Diana wore that look multiple times in Pakistan and I think she has on occasion looked to Diana for inspiration, while being careful not to copy her.”
While we haven’t seen this look from Kate before (although she did wear a floaty Beulah dress and headscarf to visit a mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2012), Kelley says Kate’s confidence has grown significantly since then.
“I think we will see her branching out more and taking more risks — she has become so much more confident in her role, she’s willing to take more risks, wear new designers and she even wore a blouse backwards and it worked!”
While on tour in India and Bhutan in 2016, Kate stuck to several of her favorite British designers — Jenny Packham, Alexander McQueen, Temperley London and Emilia Wickstead — and while we will likely see a repeat of some of those names, there’s a high chance that Kate will also wear at least a few local labels.
“There are some really tremendous designers either in Pakistan or with Pakistani roots. There’s one called Hassan Sheheryar Yasin (known as HSY) Asim Jofa, Osman, who is British-based but also has Pakistani roots and there’s a tremendous history of Pakistan fabrics with vibrant colors and patterns.”
And of course, just as Kate wore a red maple leaf hat by Lock & Co. on tour in Canada in 2011 and a silver fern-leaf embroidered dress by Jenny Packham in New Zealand in 2014, she will likely add a sprinkle of diplomatic nods to her style choices in Pakistan.
“I think we’ll see the color green incorporated [to represent the green flag of Pakistan], and I think we may see jasmine, the national flower, used somehow in her clothing choices,” predicts Kelley. Princess Diana also wore green, seen to be a customary color of respect when she visited the country, nearly 30 years ago.
As for her jewelry, Kate has already worn a pair of earrings by Pakistani brand Zeen for her meeting with Aga Khan in London last week (she also wore green on the outing!). “I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw something else from Zeen. And there’s a store called Generation and Almirah, a brand that Gigi Hadid has worn before.”
One thing we can be sure of, Kate’s wardrobe will be a powerful tool of communication, just like it has been for generations of royals before her.
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“Kate does diplomatic dressing very well and she doesn’t do a lot of public speaking, so I think she will use her clothing to send messages. It will be classic Kate: modest but modern with a newfound confidence.”