Britain may be in the middle of a heatwave, but you would never know it from Kate Middleton’s appearance on the fourth day of Royal Ascot. Days after news broke that the Cambridges would be relocating from London to Windsor, Kate joined Prince William for the traditional carriage procession at the Berkshire racecourse wearing a polka-dotted Alessandra Rich dress paired with a Sally-Ann Provan hat.
The look calls to mind both the Cecil Beaton-designed costumes in 1964’s My Fair Lady and Julia Roberts’s turn at the races in 1990’s Pretty Woman. (Rich’s designs often have a specific backstory to them; the navy dress that the Duchess selected for Prince Charles’s 70th-birthday portraits is inspired by Alfred Eisenstaedt’s celebrated 1945 photograph, “V-J Day in Times Square”.) The Duchess’s clearest style reference here, though? Diana, Princess of Wales’s own monochrome look for Royal Ascot back in 1988.
Of course, the Duchess has turned to Alessandra Rich’s myriad polka-dotted designs countless times before, including for several high-profile appearances. Earlier this year, she wore a pleated midi dress from the brand with Gianvito Rossi pumps for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Service of Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey, accessorized with a boater by Lock & Co and a pair of gloves by Cornelia James.
Kate has a history of making a fashionable splash at Royal Ascot, too. For her first appearance at the Berkshire races in 2016, she threw a sartorial curveball in an ivory lace dress by Dolce & Gabbana. For her most recent trip to Ascot in 2019, on the other hand, the royal topped a pale-blue Elie Saab look with a Philip Treacy hat and matching topaz earrings. Consider it further proof that the Duchess’s summer style is most definitely her best.