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Yesterday was hailed ‘Super Saturday’ in England as pubs and restaurants reopened and weddings were allowed to go ahead again. After months of lockdown, we can get all dressed up with somewhere to go other than to put our bins out. Although Amanda Holden might have done a fine job of making a household chore seem as glamorous as a red carpet, a proper outing calls for a suitably celebratory outfit.
The Duchess of Cambridge didn’t accompany her husband when he dropped into the Rose and Crown in Snettisham on Friday, but the couple did attend an outdoor tea party at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn on Sunday afternoon to celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the NHS.
This was an opportunity for the Duchess to do her first ‘dressed-up’ post-lockdown look, after the garden centre skinny jeans and gilet duo seen in mid-June and the relaxed sundress and espadrilles which she wore to The Nook children’s hospice last weekend.
True to form, Kate not only dressed for the occasion, but imbued her outfit choice with meaning, too.
The Duchess wore Beulah London’s ‘Shalini’ tea dress. Originally costing £525, the design, which comes in a delicate vintage floral pattern, was most recently reduced to £210 in the sale on Matchesfashion.com but is now sold out. Known for its bohemian yet polished pieces, Kate has evidently taken a shine to the label’s recent shirt dresses which feature a sharp white collar, giving a more polished look to their usual floaty aesthetic; in May, she appeared on one of her many lockdown Zoom calls wearing Beulah’s ‘Calla’ dress, a similar style to today’s choice but in red.
The chic tea dress was an appropriate choice not only for a tea party, but one celebrating an institution founded in the 1940s, the era which popularised this style of frock. It’s a design which the Duchess has made her own in recent years, via a series of dresses by Alessandra Rich who creates similar nipped and tailored, feminine pieces. Kate’s first Rich dress- a navy and white polka dot style - was from a collection inspired by Alfred Eisenstaedt's famous ‘Sailor’s Kiss’ image taken on VJ day in 1945 so it was apt that she wore it to visit Bletchley Park, home of the World War II codebreakers.
After Windsor Castle was lit up in blue on Saturday night in tribute to the NHS, it was apt that Kate’s new dress came in the same colour palette.
Kate is a longtime supporter of Beulah London which she first wore in October 2011. Not only do its floaty dresses and pretty prints chime with the Duchess’s personal style preferences but the label’s charitable slant must appeal, too. Founders Natasha Rufus Isaacs, an old friend of the Cambridges, and Lavinia Brennan use their business to help the fight against modern slavery by creating employment opportunties for women who have been victims of sex trafficking and donating part of their proceeds to anti-slavery causes.
It’s a backstory which brings added poignancy to the Duchess’s choice of dress for a weekend when feelings are mixed about the route out of lockdown - it’s at once celebratory and glamorous whilst acknowledging the difficulties which still exist.
The Duchess is not the only royal who has turned to Beulah for lockdown occassionwear. In June, Mike Tindall posted a picture of himself with wife Zara showing them both dressed up in their Royal Ascot finery, despite the event taking place behind closed doors this year. She chose Beulah’s elegant blue ‘Darsha’ dress for the picture.
Was there a hint at wanderlust in Kate’s choice of earrings? She opted for an £800 pair of milky quartz and silver earrings by African jewellery brand Patrick Mavros. Inspired by the Indian Ocean, the style is made in Mauritius but they translated seamlessly to being the perfect touch of bling for a tea party in Norfolk.