How Kate Middleton's Power Dressing Moment 'Marks a New Era in Her Royal Life'

Kate has been making some subtle style tweaks since becoming the Princess of Wales

kate-middleton style tout
Kate Middleton's recent style transformation. Photo: Getty (2); Shutterstock

Kate Middleton is shaking things up when it comes to her style.

"I think this is her power moment — she's easing into the Princess of Wales role and that promotion that she's had in such a beautiful way," Bethan Holt, fashion director at the Daily Telegraph tells PEOPLE, adding: "She's got this big new title, and she's dressing for that job."

Not only did Kate, 41, move up the family hierarchy by becoming the Princess of Wales after Queen Elizabeth died in September, but last month saw the royal mom launch her Shaping Us initiative, an awareness campaign on the importance of early childhood, which resulted in a flurry of fashion-forward outfits in quick succession.

The most glamorous ensemble was a scarlet red Alexander McQueen pantsuit that Kate wore to a pre-campaign launch event at BAFTA headquarters in London on Jan. 30.

"We've seen her do tailoring before but what I really loved about the red suit was that she was wearing it to an evening event," says Holt. "I loved seeing that kind of spicy experimentation, it almost had a slight Studio 54 vibe to it."

Prince William and Catherine Princess of Wales attend a pre-campaign launch event, hosted by The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood at BAFTA, London, UK - 31 Jan 2023
Kate Middleton at BAFTA on Jan 30, 2023. Eddie Mulholland/WPA Pool/Shutterstock

Accessorized with a clutch bag and shoes in the same color, the crepe suit featured asymmetrical detailing on the jacket and bootcut pants.

"She was wearing that suit for the launch of an initiative that is her passion project — red is the color of passion, it was a big moment on her CV," says the author of The Duchess of Cambridge, A Decade of Modern Royal Style.

Traveling around the U.K., Kate spoke with students and experts, took selfies, launched a new Instagram account, released a Claymation film about the impact of a happy childhood and even posted a throwback picture from her own childhood on Instagram, inviting others to do the same.

Catherine, Princess of Wales arrives for a tour of Kirkgate Market
Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales in Leeds, January 2023. Samir Hussein/WireImage

"It was all about her, and I think that's such a telling gesture from William that he was happy for her to take center stage and share the limelight with her, rather than the other way round," says Holt.

Tailored pants have been a go-to for Kate in recent months, a departure from the fit-and-flare feminine dresses the royal was once so closely associated with. It's a shift that fashion insiders have noted and applauded.

"I think what's really interesting is how it's taken quite a serious slant. There's a lot of very polished tailoring, and it's a very sleek silhouette — I really think it marks a new era in her royal life," says Holt.

The Princess of Wales Hosts Reception For England Wheelchair Rugby League Team
The Princess of Wales Hosts Reception For England Wheelchair Rugby League Team. John Phillips/Getty

In addition to some braver choices with her clothes — let's not forget that vintage Chanel tweed double-breasted blazer she wore twice in recent months and the neon green dress from Solace London that she rented for the Earthshot Prize awards in Boston late last year — Kate has also been more experimental when it comes to her jewelry.

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The Prince And Princess Of Wales Celebrate 10th Anniversary Of Coach Core
Kate Middleton Celebrates 10th Anniversary Of Coach Core. Yui Mok - WPA Pool/Getty

"She has maintained that classic look, but I think she is definitely more daring with her love of hoops and larger earrings," Emily Foskett, founder and creative director of Emily Mortimer jewelry tells PEOPLE.

"She looks powerful and strong, and she knows what suits her," Foskett adds.

Prince William and Princess of Wales Kate Middleton arriving at Greentown Labs in Boston Massachusetts
Kate Middleton. Elder Ordonez /

The sentiment was reflected in her look on Thursday during a joint visit to Cornwall with Prince William, marking their first official visit to the region since becoming the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall. She accessorized her outfit with a pair of diamond pear drop earrings from Foskett's Hera range.

"The collection is named after the Queen of the Gods, it's all about empowerment and strong women," notes the Suffolk-based jeweler, who says was thrilled to see Kate wear the earrings a second time.

Catherine, Princess of Wales arrives at The National Maritime Museum
Kate Middleton in Cornwall on Feb 9, 2023. Samir Hussein/WireImage

While the style shift may be subtle, the messages behind her new look couldn't be stronger.

"She might not be able to say to us, 'Look, my life is now completely different — my husband and I are one step closer to the biggest job of our lives,' but she is saying all of that through her fashion choices," says Holt. "Kate has this platform, and she is out there on her own, nailing it."

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