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The mystery of Kate Middleton's two $6,000 designer dresses.

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Planes have been grounded, Saudi women are on trial for wanting to drive and cheating college parents have been arrested, but that pales in comparison to the significance of this important news: Kate Middleton may have worn the same dress she wore two years ago, slightly altered.

This is why, dear readers, we have devoted our resources (okay, actually one journalist and a computer) to the important task of investigating whether the Duchess of Cambridge did, in fact, alter a dress from 2017 and wear it again to the National Portrait Gallery Gala on Tuesday.

This is what we know for certain:

Kate stepped out in this Alexander McQueen gown on Tuesday.

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Image: Getty

And in 2017, she was photographed wearing this very similar-looking dress to British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards:

kate-middleton-dress-alexander-mcqueen
Image: Getty
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Are the dresses different in appearance? No question. The 2017 one is off-the-shoulder, the 2019 has short sleeves, even a man could tell you that.

The question is: is the 2019 dress (as we shall refer to it henceforth) the same one from 2017 with a bodice that a seamstress has reworked?

We're not on our own here in trying to figure this out. The woman behind the website What Kate Wore, Wall Street Journal reporter Elizabeth Holmes and hundreds of social media users are all on the case, presenting varying conclusions.

Susan from What Kate Wore pointed out that the flowers of the pattern appear to be in different places below the waist of the dress, which otherwise looks identical. In that case, it seems like it could be that Kate's 2019 dress is an entirely new, unaltered, dress.

BUT THEN that print difference only appears to be from the hip area upwards - so it's very possible she had the middle part of the dress altered along with the bodice.

This case could be closed in seconds if both dress designs could be located online.

But a Google search only shows up this dress, now sold out, on the designer's website, the bodice of which matches neither dress. There's also a version with the same bodice and a shorter shirt.

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The original dress. Image: Alexander McQueen.

So it seems that Kate had the dress's design altered in 2017 - a request she often makes of designers - and made with a new, more royally-suited bodice.  What we need to know now is, did she order two dresses with different necklines in 2017 or did she alter the one she already had?

Neither option really seems more likely than the other: that she would order two very similar dresses in 2017 and not wear one for two years, or that there would still be spare material lying around for two years to make a new bodice or at least new sleeves.

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One social media user suggested that Kate may have had both gowns made being unable to decide what one she wanted to wear, and then kept the one she didn't choose because she liked it so much.

And unfortunately, that's where we have to end this investigation. Because without talking to Kate herself (or the designer) we can't know for certain what happened.

So if Kensington Palace wanted to break protocol right about now and comment on a royal's outfit, we would very much appreciate it. Please.

What do you think? A new dress or altered?

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