Royal watchers have been waiting for Kate Middleton to get back to her royal duties with her first official engagement since she gave birth to Princess Charlotte in May. But style watchers also had their eyes peeled, playing close attention to the Duchess' new hairstyle – and her $1,595 Ralph Lauren shirtdress.

Kate, 33, looked picture perfect for her highly-awaited return to the spotlight, dazzling in the houndstooth print 'Austin' shirtdress, which was cinched in at the waist with a thin black belt, flared at the hem for a flattering finish.

The royal rocked a $1,595 Ralph Lauren shirtdress Photo: Getty Images

The brunette beauty, who was showing off her new hairstyle, complete with bangs, wore the dress with simple black suede pumps. Kate was visiting the Anna Freud Centre, lending her support to the center's work on promoting mental health in children.

The Duchess recently unveiled a new hairstyle with bangs, created for her by her trusted hairdresser Richard Ward. Richard – someone Kate has relied on in the past to transform her brunette locks into those flawless blow-dries – appeared on This Morning to talk about the new style, which he dubbed a "gringe", a spin on "fringe," the British word for bangs.

Kate paired the dress with chic black pumps Photo: Getty Images

Sharing his tips with HELLO!, Richard said: "A longer, sweeping fringe is a great way to experiment without the risk factor of a complete restyle."

"These kind of fringes suit most people as they're extremely soft and feminine. They work well whether you have long or short hair, especially if you tie your hair back or wear your hair up, as it makes the style look far less severe," he continued. "They aren't too bold but can completely change your look without having to lose any length, and are easy to grow out if you're not quite sure. They're timeless and ageless – they never really go out of fashion."

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