Kate Middleton Wears $60 Dress. Too Bad It's Already Sold Out

Middleton scores one for Hobbs. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Middleton scores one for Hobbs. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Not long after Kate Middleton wears a designer dress, an affordable knock-offdebuts for the rest of us. But on Thursday, she cut out the middleman and wore a discount dress right off the sale rack of Hobbs, a mid-priced British department store and label.

The '50s inspired, knee-length linen"Check Wessex," dresspriced at around $60 dollars,
(slashed by 70 percent!) was her sporting uniform at a pre-Olympics launch of a school program promoting future athletes.

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Joined by Harry and William, Kate played ping pong and tossed around a soccer ball as well as anyone could, wearing wedge platform espadrilles. Those Pied a Terre Imperias shoes, by the way, have become a staple of Middleton's wardrobe. And while they're hardly in the Louboutin range, they're still worth more than twice as much as her dress.

Usually it's a McQueen dress for Middleton. Sometimes Reiss or Catherine Walker, a favorite of her husband's late mother.

But this flattering mass-market decision is less Lady Di and more Michelle Obama.When a fashion icon of the Middleton or Mrs. O level wears an affordable and widely accessible item, it makes news (case in point, this article).Remember the first lady'shigh-low fashionchoices on the campaign trail?Her J.Crew accessories, not only breathed life into the company, they contributed to presidential campaign's overall brand. Now that Middleton's looks are equally scrutinized, she may have an agenda of her own with this affordable number: distract from baby bump talk at all costs!

Photos: famous political fashion statements

Already the pregnancy buzz is forming beehives in anticipation fo the Olympics. An appearance last week in a slim-fitting Stella McCartney dress was a little too loose and belt-free at the waste according to some over-eager tabloids.

At least, wearing a cheap dress (notably cinched at the waste this time with a rope belt) inspires a different story, and momentarily quiets the speculation. This Hobbs dress in particular is like a younger, more contemporary version of Michelle Obama's
$148 White House Black Market dress, a look that spawned its own news when the company sold out of the item within hours of her appearance on "The View." Hobbs may be in for a similar fate. As of this afternoon Kate's linen dress was still on their website but completely out of stock. (The company has yet to confirm whether that's a direct result of Kate's public appearance.)

If it was a strategic move on Kate's part, it was clever. But with 15 more appearances scheduled during the Olympic games, she's going to need a team of strategists and a wardrobe donation from Cher to keep the baby bump scrutiny to a minimum.

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