There’s no doubt that Kate Middleton expected a fair amount of public scrutiny when she married into the royal family, but it’s unlikely she expected the world's most reputable fashion magazine to produce a detailed analysis of everything from the diameter of her curls (25mm) to the average number of teeth she bares when she smiles (8.6).
Yet the February issue of British Vogue contains just such an analysis of the Duchess of Cambridge. The fashion magazine's multipage “Katepedia”, picks apart the minutia of Middleton's physical appearance in dazzling statistical detail.
Kate wears blue 24 per cent of the time, holds her clutch in both hands 48 per cent of the time, tilts her hats and fascinators at a perfect 50 degree angle, sports something called a "Chelsea blow dry” 73.4 per cent of the time, and wears earrings with an average drop of 33 mm.
“I think the 'Katepedia' reflects the popular fascination with the Duchess of Cambridge's style choices,” says Carolyn Harris, a historian lecturer at the University of Toronto and a royal history blogger at Royalhistorian.com. “There was even a recent article about Orthodox Jewish women emulating the Duchess's comparatively modest style choices.”
One needs to look no further than the many blogs and Twitter feeds devoted to emulating Kate’s style or adapting it for a smaller budget to see evidence of this public fervor.
Harris also points out that Kate is far from the first royal to have her style heavily scrutinized.
“For example, Queen Marie Antoinette of France helped popularize French 'fashion almanacs' which displayed examples of her style for the general public,” says Harris.
But other royal experts find the Vogue story in poor taste.
“Personally, I think Vogue is overdoing it,” says Marilyn Braun, a royal commentator at Marilyn’s Royal Blog. “The scrutiny Kate faces was predictable but I didn't expect it to be on this level. I mean, do we really need to know what hand she prefers to carry her purse in or what angle she wears her hats at? Is Kate going to start a trend for how many teeth to show in a school photo? No.”
Braun thinks that while a certain amount of fascination with an iconic figure’s style is to be expected, the "forensic detail" in Vogue’s article goes too far and could be dictating Kate’s fashion sense.
“If I was under this much scrutiny, I think I would have run for the hills a long time ago,” says Braun. “She’s been accused of playing it safe fashion-wise, so the intense scrutiny may have a lot to do with that. Not wanting to make any fashion mistakes, to look perfect, maintain public approval. No one is perfect nor should they put pressure on themselves to be. Kate included.”