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Kate's Style Secrets: Where (and How) She Gets Those Clothes

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Tim Rooke/REX/Startraks

During the 19-day Royal Tour of New Zealand and Australia, the Duchess of Cambridge lived up to her reputation as savvy at wardrobe rewearing — while also debuting more than a dozen new fashion finds. Which begs the question: What’s her shopping strategy?

Unlike Hollywood royalty, Kate doesn’t rely on a personal stylist to dress her for public appearances. But she does have some behind-the-scenes help.

One member of the small entourage that traveled Down Under was Natasha Archer, whose official title is Personal Secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. In the weeks leading up to the trip, it was Archer who called in an array of designer dresses and various accessories for the Duchess to choose from. Merchandise was delivered care of Archer to Kensington Palace with the understanding that anything Kate wore she would pay for. (No freebies allowed!) Clothes that didn’t make the cut were politely returned.

Archer is also the day-to-day contact for fashion labels who want to send look books of new collections for Kate to peruse, often acting as the middleman for wardrobe purchases. Still, the Duchess enjoys hitting the stores herself for a little retail therapy.

One of her go-to destinations is London’s Selfridges, which offers the services of personal shoppers to its VIP clientele. According to store sources, Kate used to browse the rails herself but these days she’s more likely to be found in the luxurious personal shopping suite, browsing racks of clothing selected just for her.

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Though there is no charge for a two-hour private consultation, buyers are expected to spend a minimum of £2,000 (about $3,400 US) per visit. “She chooses what she likes beforehand and sometimes I think her friends come in and help look for her and she tries it all on in the suite upstairs,” a staffer tells PEOPLE.

Kate’s bespoke pieces are made-to-measure, but even off-the-rack items are tailored to fit her lean frame. “All of her clothes are altered and that’s a good lesson to us all,” says Lisa Armstrong, fashion editor of The Daily Telegraph. “[Any woman can] just get [her clothes] altered at the local dry cleaners.”

While hairstylist Amanda Cook Tucker is often on hand to style her tresses, Kate prefers to do it herself when it comes to makeup. The Duchess has been known to stop by the Lancôme counter at Peter Jones in central London to pick up products like Artliner liquid eyeliner (in black) and Advanced Génifique serum. Other beauty must-haves include Bobbi Brown eyeshadows and Acqua di Parma’s citrusy Colonia scent.

As designers like Diane Von Furstenberg can attest, many of the things Kate buys become instant best sellers. But it’s nice to know she has a little help finding those perfect dresses!

Are you surprised to hear about Kate’s shopping habits? Do you love her style? What would you like to see her wear next?

-Bronwyn Barnes, reporting by Monique Jessen