Kate Middleton is seven months pregnant with her third child, and she’s probably feeling a lot of things, maybe all at once: Glowing, happy, voluptuous, or heavy, tired and achy. Who knows?
But as the wife of Prince William and as an international fashion icon, she has to step out in public and be massively photographed and judged for how she looks and what she’s wearing, which was the case this week when she accompanied her husband on a four-day trip to Norway and Sweden.
Things didn’t go so well — or, at best, reactions were mixed to two gowns she wore to official dinners in Sweden.
Some fans of the Duchess of Cambridge’s style talked about how she stepped “outside her comfort zone” in choosing dresses from the British designer Erdem that displayed bright colors and vibrant prints.
Independent writer Caitlin McBride noted that Middleton tends to like a sleeker look with solid colors for royal visits, so her choices in Sweden were a bold switch.
For a dinner on Tuesday night at the residence of the British ambassador to Sweden, the mother of two “stood out” in an elegant crowd dressed mostly in black, according to a story in Harper’s Bazaar. She wore a gold full-length silk Erdem dress. The dress boasted a colorful floral print, a frilled high collar and ruffles at the sleeves and hem, Harper’s Bazaar said.
But Sarah Burns, a writer for The Sun, said the flamboyant dress was a bit “frumpy,” while sympathetically saying that it’s never easy dressing while pregnant.
The website WhatKateWore, which tracks the duchess’s fashion choices, agreed that the design had “an awful lot going on” and that the duchess probably wore gold “as a nod to the Swedish flag.”
The WhatKateWore writer continued to put things diplomatically: “While it isn’t a design I am fond of, kudos to Kate for being true to her own choices and picking a piece in a bold look that she probably knew would be criticized, a design Erdem calls a ‘true standout.’ ”
For a dinner Wednesday night, Middleton stood out again in another Erdem dress — but again not necessarily in a good way. Daily Beast writer Tom Sykes called her blue velvet floral dress with an oversize oriental motif “bizarre.”
The reactions on social media were not kind about either of the Erdem dresses Kate wore, with royal watchers, journalists and the fashion press calling them matronly and unflattering to most anyone whose body isn’t as slim and straight as an ironing board. There were also comparisons to curtains.
Rebecca English, royal correspondent for the Daily Mail, had this thread going on her Twitter account:
I really think these Erdem dresses are a perfect example of something that people insist is ultra fashionable but just isn’t that flattering in real life. I also think (for what it’s worth) you need to be an ironing board to wear them – when she is a gloriously pregnant woman.
— Rebecca English (@RE_DailyMail) January 31, 2018
The Erdem dresses seem dated and matronly, especially the one with the frill around the high neck and the pleating at the bottom.
— Elizabeth J Duncan (@ElizabethDuncan) January 31, 2018
Reminded me of a 1970s polyester bridesmaids dress. I doubt we see it again. the designer and stylist let her down.
— Elizabeth J Duncan (@ElizabethDuncan) February 1, 2018
Rhiannon Mills, the royal correspondent for Sky News, agreed with English’s assessment and said the dresses looked like they were made from her grandmother’s curtains.
Have to agree @RE_DailyMail I think Kate’s Erdem dresses look like my nan’s curtains…I’ll just duck for cover waiting to be told I’m wrong! https://t.co/1P4CkKXkFd
— Rhiannon Mills (@SkyRhiannon) February 1, 2018
But Middleton seemed to recover her fashion mojo Thursday night in Norway, with her choice for a lavish dinner at the royal palace in Oslo, Norway, on the last night of the royal couple’s Scandinavia tour.
Her blush-pink Alexander McQueen gown, with a cape overlay and diamond-encrusted floral pattern across the neckline, had headlines comparing her to a Greek goddess.
Elle UK called the dress “stunning” and said its empire waist elegantly “grazed the top of her growing baby bump.”
For a brief time, Middleton was able to steal the spotlight away from her soon-to-be sister-in-law Meghan Markle, who nonetheless also drew headlines this week for her fashion choice for her first official evening engagement with Prince Harry.
For the Endeavour Fund Awards in London Thursday night, the U.S.-born former actress broke royal convention by not wearing a dress to the black-tie event.
Instead she chose a chic, slim-fitting trouser suit. Perhaps in sync with Middleton, her suit was by Alexander McQueen, according to the Independent.