It's not easy to make a centuries-old style seem current, but the royal 2 year old is just the future king for the job

By Erin Hill
Updated October 14, 2015 12:10 PM
Matt Dunham/Getty

It’s not easy to make a centuries-old style seem current, but 2-year-old Prince George is just the future king for the job.

Yes, we’re talking smocking.

Originally developed in England, smocking is an embroidery technique used to gather fabric so that it can stretch. Before elastic, smocking was used in cuffs, bodices and necklines.

The trend has had several resurgences throughout the years, most recently in the 1980s when smocked dresses and shirts were a popular children’s wear trend. In fact, Prince William also sported the look as a child.

According to Princess Kate‘s go-to children’s wear designer, Rachel Riley, the little royal has brought the trend back into the spotlight.

“We’ve seen Prince George wear smocking on quite a few occasions – and it’s very traditional,” Riley tells PEOPLE. “Prince George is the most influential toddler in the world. If he’s wearing smocking, then suddenly it’s okay to wear smocking. And if he looks as gorgeous as he does, it’s definitely going to set the trend.”

The royal trend actually dates back even further than William.

“If you look at what Princess Anne wore in the ’50s, there are pictures of her in smocked dresses.” Riley says. “I haven’t seen any pictures of Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret wearing smocks, because in the ’20s and ’30s, smocking was utilitarian, so it was used for laborers and for gym exercises, it wasn’t until the ’50s that it became more fashionable.”

Riley says she isn’t surprised that George’s nod to more traditional children’s wear has caught on.

“Sometimes the simplest things are the best,” she says. “Prince George’s pieces are very classic. He wears very simple, child-appropriate clothing for his age.

“I like seeing him in clothes relevant to his age, like dungarees for when he was crawling. Last year, I don’t know if many Americans knew the word ‘dungarees.’ Once he wore them it became part of common language.”

George isn’t the only budding trendsetter in the family. At 5 months old, Princess Charlotte is on the path to becoming a fashionista.

And the stylish apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Their royal parents have been making fashion headlines for years, most recently for the young family’s official portraits from Charlotte’s christening.

“They looked so glamorous and they also had that vintage pram – they just looked so cool walking together as a family,” Riley says. “And the way Prince William is so sweet with Prince George, there’s obviously such a bond, they’re both going to be king. It’s so lovely to see.”

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