When Prince William announced his engagement to Kate Middleton in November, 2010, royal watchers the world over were delighted that her 8 year stint as “Waity Katie” had finally come to an end. But what they had no way of predicting at the time was just how influential she would become. Or how quickly she would transform the global economy with a phenomenon known as “The Kate Effect.”
Want to know how Kate Middleton has pumped £2 Billion (and counting) into the global economy? With the help of Walt Disney, an occasional stylist, and a clever plan hatched by her mother decades ago. I encourage you to steal 7 of her habits to enjoy similar success yourself.
Kate Middleton Style
Let’s start with the basics:
“The Kate Effect” or “The Duchess Effect” is the term used when Kate Middleton wears a ready-to-wear item for a public appearance that immediately sells out that day. Clothes, shoes, hats, jewelry – as soon as the retailer is identified and reported through blogs, texts, or tweets, a global army of “Repli-Kates” goes online and starts buying. Often, items are snapped up in a matter of hours. A recent jacket sold out in 30 minutes. Even her one-of-a-kind Alexander McQueen wedding gown was being knocked off and sold within 24 hours.
So what is it about Kate Middleton that has spawned this fashion frenzy? Why are women printing off her royal engagement diary, then waiting with their iPhones in one hand, credit card in the other, waiting to see and buy what she wears?
Are they utterly insane? Have no life? Still live with their mothers? What?
They’re following a predictable psychological pattern known as “projection.” They’re “projecting” themselves into Kate Middleton’s life by wearing what she wears. Kind of like people who “go Goth,” dress like Harley Davidson bikers, or dye their hair the same color as Katy Perry’s. Everyone has a dream, and by dressing like people we like or admire, we try to capture some of what they have. The advertising industry was built on it.
Be Like Kate?
Remember those old Gatorade commercials from the early 90s that told you to “Be Like Mike” or Michael Jordan? It was at the peak of his career with the Chicago Bulls, and every little kid – and plenty of adults – wanted to “be like Mike.” Listen to the words and you’ll understand why this commercial resonated with so many.
The full one minute version of the original commercial from 1992.
Turns out, MILLIONS of women around the world want to “Be like Kate.”
Like a Disney Princess
Kate Middleton is living the Disney princess life we all learned about as kids. She had humble beginnings, met a handsome prince, had a fairy tale wedding. Now she’s famous, attends glamorous events, lives in a palace, and occasionally wears a crown.
But she’s doing it in such a friendly, fashionable, down-to-earth way that we can’t help but like her. She sweeps and cleans like Snow White and Cinderella. She’s smart and adventurous like Belle and Jasmine. She’s athletic and strong like Pocahontas and Mulan.
We feel like we know this girl, like we grew up with her, like we could laugh and swap stories over a cup of tea or a bottle of wine. She’s pretty, funny, and makes Prince William laugh, and we get the sense that unlike Charles and Diana’s marriage, this one is based on love and respect instead of image and duty.
The “Kate Effect”
In short, we CARE about Kate Middleton. She always dresses so nicely that we want to see what she wears to the next ball, and the next one, and the next. She understands that and doesn’t disappoint. But she doesn’t even need a Fairy Godmother to whip up a couture creation (although a few have done so on occasion). No, she’ll buy stuff right off the rack from High Street stores just like a “normal” person and look smashing regardless of the label or price point.
THAT is the true “Kate Effect,” in my opinion. Like Oprah, she can move up and down the social hierarchy with ease. She shops discount and couture, and makes it look SO easy, we can’t help but be impressed. She’ll have a pint at the pub, hang with cowboys in Calgary, rub elbows in Hollywood, and have tea with the Queen. Then she’ll go home, do a grocery run, cook dinner for her husband, and walk the dog.
She’s totally normal – yet ridiculously elite – all at the same time.
Which is why so many watch her every move. They want to “Be like Kate.”
And if you look beyond the labels and the glamour and steal some of her habits, you might enjoy similar success.
The Secret to Her Success
Let’s be clear: Kate Middleton did NOT get where she is today by luck or happenstance. She makes it look easy, but the reality is that she’s a clever, ambitious woman who was raised by a clever, ambitious woman. If you study the Middleton family’s success, you’ll see that it IS possible to go from average to extraordinary – even within the confines of the rigid British social system.
You just have to know which rules to follow – and which to break – in order to get what you want.
The Seven Habits
Here are seven habits that turned Kate Middleton into a global phenomenon, and they could probably do the same for you. She:
1. Works Hard
Kate was born in a mid-sized town to middle class parents working as flight attendants. When Kate and her siblings were little, Carole Middleton started a party supply mail order company called Party Pieces from the kitchen table. Homebased startups require A LOT of effort, a family effort, so Kate helped out by keeping house, watching her siblings, filling orders, packing boxes, etc. She is no stranger to long hours and hard work, and still prefers the DIY method for most things, like grocery shopping and keeping house.
Habit: Hard work is appreciated everywhere in the world; laziness is not.
2. Has a Plan
While William and Kate have not shared their plans with the world, it’s clear that they have them. Charles once complained that he, “Should have had two wives, one to work either side of the crowd while he directed things from the middle.” But William and Kate work the crowds together, have fun together, and clearly have a distinct direction in which they want to take the monarchy. When William’s away attending to military duties, Kate sees to their public engagements alone. She doesn’t wander and drift and get into trouble like Sarah Ferguson did when Andrew was away. No, Kate holds down the fort and keeps things in order, according to their plans.
Habit: Failing to plan means you’re planning to fail. Figure out where you want to go, and then determine the necessary steps to get there.
3. Sticks to a Budget
Kate still practices a lot of the budget-conscious ways she learned as a girl. While many royal brides have spent recklessly on clothes and jewels – both Wallis Simpson and Princess Diana come to mind – Kate does not. She may have worn an £80,000 bespoke gown for her wedding, but she typically keeps her purchases in the £50-£500 range, and wears the same clothes several times. She’s even been known to swap clothes with her mother, and doesn’t really care whether it’s reported in the press. She still looks great regardless.
Habit: Wealth comes from saving, not spending. Live below your means, regardless of your income.
4. Is Likeable
One of the most remarked-upon things at the Royal Wedding was the diversity of guests at the church. Royals, rock stars, and celebrities sat alongside William and Kate’s middle-class friends, school mates, and neighbors. Once upon a time, that would have been unheard of in royal circles. For William and Kate, it’s par for the course. They get along with everyone all along the social strata, which is why they’re as popular as they are.
Habit: Be likeable. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to certain types of people, read a copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, do what it says, and watch your income grow.
5. Has Connections
Influential families have always sent their kids to expensive schools. Which is why one of the first things Carole Middleton did with her business income was to send her children to the best schools she could afford. The connections made there last a lifetime, particularly among the British elite.
William and Kate met at college, as did Pippa Middleton and her current beau, George Percy, the heir to the Duke of Norththumberland. The Norththumberland title is one of the oldest in England, and the family castle – Alnwick – is the one used for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films. If Pippa should marry George, the middle-class Middleton sisters would have come from nowhere to marry two of the most powerful men in England. Edith Wharton would swoon.
Habit: Expand your social circle. If your current friends and associates don’t move in the circles in which you’d like to move, it might be time for a change. Change jobs, change neighborhoods, or change your children’s schools. It could do wonders for your income and future.
6. Dresses for Success
Kate Middleton has been both praised and criticized for her fashion style. While the fashion forward think she dresses too conservatively, the “average” woman loves how she looks…which is why they’re running right out to buy what she wears. Her style appeals to a wide range of people, whereas an extreme look would be off-putting. What’s more, Kate’s mastered the secrets of other style icons, like dressing in her best shapes and colors, while also paying homage to people and places. For example, on her Canadian tour, she wore the colors of the Canadian flag. She paired her engagement photo cream dress with a red maple leaf hat and the Queen’s diamond maple leaf brooch. It’s a perfect example of her fashion savvy.
Habit: Dress for success. Those who dress appropriately make more than those who don’t. Period. If you want to make more, dress better.
7. Understands She’s a Role Model
With so many people “projecting” themselves into her life, Kate knows she’s a role model and takes the role seriously. While the ever-present paparazzi can be a trial to anyone, she still manages to smile and be friendly. No foul language, no bad behavior, no nasty Tweets or Facebook posts. No early morning coffee runs in sweats and no makeup. In fact, the only “racy” picture you’ll ever find of Kate was the time she wore a sheer dress at a college fashion show before she and William started dating. Compare that to most celebrities. Or to any reality show on television that requires constant bleeping for all the bad language.
Habit: THINK before you do ANYTHING. We’re not perfect, we all make mistakes, we all do stupid stuff we wish we could take back later. But if you think through the potential impact of your words, emails, tweets, posts, behavior, etc. – BEFORE you do them, you’ll have a lot less to regret or explain later. If you want a following, BE SOMEONE TO FOLLOW.
Now I know some of you might be saying, “Well, who couldn’t do all that stuff if you had Kate’s friends and income?”
Remember, she didn’t always have them. The Middleton money is new. They got it by following the 7 habits listed above, and it’s paid them handsomely.
Just as it will for you.
Start with what you have, set goals on where you want go, and starting working your plan.
Remember: you have what you have because of the decisions you’ve made. If you want a different outcome, make different decisions.
Start projecting yourself into a more successful life, and you may be surprised by just how quickly you can “be like Kate” and have a Kate-like effect of your own.
Diana Pemberton-Sikes is an author and fashion blogger who’s been helping women online dress better since 2000. Ready to add some Kate Middleton style? Signature Style Blueprint can help.