Think back a year ago, and little did we know that walking down the royal aisle in Westminster Abbey was a British style maker who would quickly become a fashion icon, admired the world over for her easy elegance. Indeed it seems that whatever Kate Middleton wears is an immediate hit at retail — Zara's tangerine jeans, a green Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress, a Burberry trench coat, Adidas sneakers — they're all snatched up by followers of the chic Duchess of Cambridge.
But you don't have to be able to afford High Street prices to get the young royal's high style. Yes, you, too, can get the Kate Middleton effect on a budget. Her look is easy to mimic with clean classics that never go out of fashion. Here's a list of some of Kate's favorite looks that retailers and designers have copied at all price points:
—The sculpted dress. The British icon has single-handedly made the dress once again a wardrobe favorite. In simple, elegant silhouettes, she stands out in royal style, particularly in shapes that are fitted and sleek on top, belted and more flared on the bottom. The wrap dress is another one of Kate's essentials — again highlighting the waist and showing off one of her best assets. Green is one of her go-to colors for dresses, but she also likes navy and even white. The creamy white dress by Joseph that she wore on her visit to Quebec was very unexpected and a stunner.
—The colored jeans. Making a casual statement is another one of Kate's most photographed moments this spring with Great Britain's hockey team in the tangerine Zara jeans complete with navy Pucci blazer and printed "Olympic" official scarf one moment and out on the playing field sans blazer and in a hoodie the next. Add some colorful sneakers to the mix and you've got a unique approach that we can all appreciate for function and versatility.
—The trench coat. Of course, another British classic, the trench coat (hers was by Burberry, a British favorite since 1846), this ultimate symbol of style always seems cool and chic. And of course, a trench coat in rainy London is always a must-have. If you're lucky enough to be going to the Olympics this summer, be sure to pack this essential.
—The skirt suit. Tweeds are so, so British and oh, so Miss Marple, but Kate has managed to make the tweed suit look modern by wearing updated designs like the ones she's worn from designer Rebecca Taylor that feature sexy slim pencil skirts and crisp sharp jackets with frayed seams.
Peplum jackets are another Kate favorite, once again showing off that fabulous figure.
—The elegant coat. Fall may be a few months away, but a standout coat is always a good investment at any time of the year. Kate takes a streamlined approach to her outerwear — from fitted princess styles worn over dresses to sportier shorter jackets trimmed in fur and worn with jeans. (My personal favorite? Her chocolate brown shearling jacket from Darwin that she often wears.)
—The evening gown. Of course, all royals need a few glamorous gowns to round out their wardrobes. And if you're planning on attending a ball yourself in the near future, then you'll want to take some cues from Kate herself. The all-over lace gown from Alice Temperley she wore to the "War Horse" movie premier was a stunning example of one of her finest moments last year, but you can't go wrong with a black strapless number, either. And if you don't want to spring for a high-priced designer gown, check out the great finds at renttherunway.com.
—All the extras. Between nude pumps and cowboy hats, what's not to like about this newest member of the British royal family? She loves Jimmy Choo stilettos, but she is just as at home in a pair of Adidas sneakers, too. She and her sister, Pippa, have also inspired us with their fascinating "fascinator" hats. And she loves her clutch handbags by Anya Hindmarch — another British designer. Then there's the famous sapphire ring copied by jewelers everywhere, and we all know the story behind that ... don't we Diana?
Image: Get the Kate Middleton look on a budget with a chic dress like this belted green-stretch, linen V-neck dress with a skinny leather belt from Lands' End for $100. (www.landsend.com)