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FashionFeatures

Our 2020 royal fashion favourites

It’s been a weird and wild year, but even with lockdowns and a lower number of engagements, we’ve still been treated to some great royal fashion. Our editorial team is taking a look back at 2020’s most memorable looks and sharing some of our favourites.

Kristin Contino, Chief Reporter

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Looking back I can hardly believe some of these engagements actually happened in 2020; browsing the photos from this Buckingham Palace reception, I swore it took place last year! In any case, I absolutely adored the Duchess of Cambridge’s sparkly Needle and Thread midi dress she wore for a January UK-Africa Investment Summit event. Red has always been a fabulous colour for Kate and the beautiful lace and sequin detailing really made her stand out from the crowd, plus I also loved how she coordinated with the Countess of Wessex. Following the departure announcement the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made earlier in January, this was a subtle reminder that these two women would be working together as senior royals for years to come.

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I didn’t think we would see a Windsor royal wedding this year after COVID caused Princess Beatrice to postpone hers, but 2020 being a year of surprises paid off this time. Even more unexpected than Bea’s surprise wedding was the fact she wore a re-worked version of one of The Queen’s Norman Hartnell gowns. This particular dress is actually one of my favourite vintage looks from Her Majesty, so I recognised it instantly when the pictures were released. It was such a touching nod to her grandmother, and the dress has the most gorgeous detailing … it really was the perfect wedding look for a scaled-down celebration. I’m so disappointed I couldn’t travel to Windsor to see the dress in person when it was on display, but hopefully, a larger exhibit of royal wedding dresses through the years might take place in future (paging Historic Royal Palaces!).

Elisabeth Toll, The Royal Court of Sweden

My final favourite pick from 2020 is the Frida Jonsvens Couture gown Crown Princess Victoria wore in one of the photos to mark her 10th wedding anniversary. I know some of her busy floral looks aren’t everyone’s taste, but this was a gasp-out-loud dress for me. The intricate floral appliques covering the sheer beige dress are just stunning, and I can’t imagine the hours of work that went into this design. The wildflower-pattern gown also looked really lovely amidst the peaceful green nature setting of the photo and contrasted with Daniel’s tux beautifully. I can’t wait to see her wear this again.

Brittani Barger, Deputy Editor

This year has seemed like it has gone on forever, and it’s hard to believe that royal engagements took place earlier this year without the fear of the pandemic. One of my favourite outfits this year was the Duchess of Sussex’s red Safiyaa gown that she wore to the 2020 Mountbatten Festival of Music in March. I’m a sucker for a gown with a cape, and this is an overall stunning look. She was so poised, and I love that her gown matched the Duke’s uniform. Meghan is one of my favourites when it comes to royal style, and this is one of her top looks, in my opinion, since becoming a member of the Royal Family.

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Princess Sofia of Sweden started 2020 off with a bang. She attended the Sports Gala at the Ericsson Globe at the end of January alongside her husband, Prince Carl Philip and brother-in-law, Prince Daniel. She wore a halter-neck green gown. I loved the dramatic, yellow feather earrings that she paired it with and a black clutch. It was an unexpected design in the Stockholm winter, but she looked gorgeous!

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My last choice is the outfit the Duchess of Cambridge wore in January to visit Ely and Careau Children’s Centre in Wales. She wore a tan Massimo Dutti coat over a leopard-print Zara skirt, black turtleneck and black knee-high boots. I’m usually not a fan of animal prints, but in this instance, Kate pulls it off. I really like the outfit all together as she was arriving at the event. It was sleek and polished – a lovely outfit for the future queen!

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Lydia Starbuck, Associate Editor

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Like Kristin and Brittani, I was struck by how long ago actual royal engagements, as we know them, seem now after this challenging year! Way back in February, Queen Letizia packed her diary out, and this red print dress, chosen for the opening of the International Art Fair, ARCOMadrid, is still a standout for me. I love the bold pattern and shaping, but most of all, the sleeve detail. It adds so much interest without being over the top, and Letizia’s usual pared-down attitude to accessories lets this dress by Maje really shine. The classic snake print shoes by Manolo Blahnik complete the look to perfection.

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We’ve missed our usual dose of royal sparkle this year, with most of the State Banquets and gala events cancelled because of the pandemic. But in September, Princess Charlene brought all the glamour in this stunning sequinned gown by royal favourite, Jenny Packham. I particularly like the crossover effect on the bodice, which adds a layer of texture to the dazzling display of glitter on show here. If you can call a diamond choker by Repossi simple, then that is just what the necklace is, a perfect foil to a much needed glitzy royal moment.

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Let’s face it, in an ordinary year, we’d now be looking back at a crazy collection of hats and coats worn by the Queen of the Netherlands in her own, inimitable way. She has a style all of her own, summed up in that well-worn phrase ”only Máxima”. And while her opportunities to amaze us with fashion picks that somehow work against the odds have been fewer this year, Máxima has still given us some special style moments. I’m adding her all-pink look, by Natan Couture, from this summer to my favourites of the year. I love the colour, I love the fact that it is head to toe, I love the loose shirt effect, and I love the pearls. Because that is an integral part of Máxima’s magical style, always enough royal jewels to sink a ship, even in the most relaxed of outfits, and this year, we’ve needed that more than ever.

Jess Ilse, Senior Royal Reporter/Editorial Assistant

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There wasn’t really a lot of in-person engagements this year, but when there were, the royals brought their A-games! I love all of Kristin, Brittani’s and Lydia’s choices, so it was especially hard to find three more looks that I also loved. For Kate, I love this casual, everyday look from her visit to the University of Derby in October. The oversized, unstructured look isn’t really in Kate’s repertoire, but it works with this look, and the soft colours play well together. This is definitely a look I’d ‘repli-kate’ in real life.

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As the younger generation of royals start to attend public engagements, it’s also fun to dissect their fashion as well. I always enjoy seeing Princess Leonor and Infanta Sofia out with their parents and grandmother. The Spanish Royal Family is definitely one of the most stylish, and I love how the sisters’ fashions complement their parents’ outfits in some way. Here, I love Princess Leonor’s striped red dress that she wore to a theatre performance in June. It’s age-appropriate and stylish, and a sign of things to come as Leonor becomes more visible as a future queen.

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Another future queen whose style I’ve grown to appreciate is Princess Elisabeth’s. The 19-year-old, when she attends royal events, leans into long dresses and a mix of both pastels and prints. As she finds her style footing, I think an early entry for any ‘best dressed’ retrospective to come will be this pink patterned dress she wore on Belgium’s National Day while visiting a residential care centre. It’s fun yet appropriate, stylish yet classy, and perfect for a teenage princess.

About author

Kristin is Chief Reporter for Royal Central and has been following the British royal family for more than 30 years. Kristin has appeared in UK and U.S. media outlets discussing the British royals including BBC Breakfast, BBC World News, Sky News, the Associated Press, TIME, The Washington Post, and many others.