Friday, 19 October 2012

Kate Loves: The London Years (Pre Engagement)

Kate graduated from St Andrews University in 2005 with a 2:1 in History of Art and like every graduate was no doubt considering various career options. Naturally, given Kate's high profile romance with Prince William and the strong possibility of marriage, careful consideration was given to which position would be most suitable for the woman who could one day be the future Queen Consort.



In November 2006, Kate accepted a position as an accessory buyer with British clothing chain Jigsaw. The well-known chain is owned by fashion tycoons John and Belle Robinson - close friends of the Middleton family. It was reported that on one of Kate's first days she helped out on a fashion shoot where she ran errands fetching tea and snacks.

It was a major coup for the brand and Kate was regularly described as a walking advert for Jigsaw, often being seen wearing their clothing and carrying their shopping bags. Below we see Kate wearing the very pretty Jigsaw Pansy Floral Dress. The £169 silk dress became very popular after Kate was spotted wearing it. Early signs of 'the Kate effect' :)


Kate shared a flat in Chelsea's Old Church Street with sister Pippa (who still lives there with James Middleton). The  flat was purchased by Michael and Carole Middleton in 2002 and is reportedly worth £1 million today. Chelsea is a very exclusive area of south-west London bounded to the south by the River Thames. The district is now part of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.


John Simpson Architects

Whilst working for Jigsaw, Kate collaborated with talented jewellery designer Claudia Bradby (you can read my review of Claudia's stunning pieces here) on striking pieces including the the Kate Quartz Necklace, as seen below. Claudia and Kate enjoyed working together immensely and Claudia described Kate as 'focused, creative, thoughtful and kind'.


In Style

William and Kate enjoyed their privacy in St Andrews but now that Kate was living in London, media and public interest intensified. As Kate opened her front door on her 25th birthday she was met by around thirty paparazzi who were joined by mainstream TV crews as she walked to her car. Prince William was angered by this and Clarence House released a statement saying 'Prince William wants more than anything for the paparazzi to stop harassing her.' Shortly after this incident Kate made a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission.


With the media glare firmly focused on Kate, William was training with the Royal Air Force, undertaking an intensive course which meant the Prince and Kate did not see much of each other and photographs emerged of William on night out with female friends without Kate. It was a straining time for the relationship and in April 2007 the couple briefly split. 

During their engagement interview Kate said: 'I wasn't very happy about it, but actually it made me a stronger person'. Kate and her mother Carole went to Dublin to attend the exhibition of Gemma Billington immediately after the break up to avoid the media glare.


Kate returned to London and was regularly pictured at hotspots Mahiki and Boujis in an array of glamorous party dresses showing William what he was missing. Kate attended the Diana concert in 2007 and the following day headlines emerged confirming the nation's favourite couple had reunited. It is thought that during this time William and Kate decided to get married. The only question on everyone's mind was when?



Living in central London certainly does have it's advantages including close proximity to some of the best night life, restaurants and events. Kate and Pippa regularly enjoyed dinner at the Bluebird Restaurant. Below we see Kate leaving the popular restaurant.


Kate and Pippa leaving the book launch of Simon Sebag's Montefiore at Asprey on Bond Street. Kate looked elegant in a lace Collette Dinnigan dress which is still one of my all time favourites.


Kate accompanied William to Peter Philips birthday party at Cocoon for Sushi and then on to Volstead nightclub.


Despite the media interest Kate was determined to live as normally as possible and was regularly spotted at her local laundrette and supermarkets such as M&S.


In November 2007, Kate decided to leave Jigsaw and began working as a catalogue photographer, webpage designer and marketing officer for her parents firm Party Pieces. In 2008, Kate launched First Birthdays, a junior brand to Party Pieces. Kate continued to work with the family firm until January 2011. 

There were persistent rumours that Kate had planned to pursue a career as a photographer. We could very well see Kate's work in the not too distant future as it has been widely reported the Duchess is planning an exhibition within the next couple of years in aid of her patronages.

Party Pieces

I loved Kate's pre-engagement style. It was fresh, youthful and sophisticated. I would love to hear your thoughts!

58 comments:

  1. What a great post! Thank you. I love seeing these photos (a couple for the first time). This young lady was polished and charasmatic from the very beginning. She's a credit to her family, and a lovely addition to the royal family.

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  2. Pauline California20 October 2012 00:51

    Thanks Charlotte for this trip down momery lane. It is nice to see how she has grown to be the woman William loves and married. The Duchess was so beautiful then and is so now.

    Another great post.

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  3. thank you for the retrospective!

    this reminds me of what a relatively fun style she used to have - lots of dangly earrings and other jewelry, pretty and youthful separates and dresses, hair which moves. her outfits have become soooo studied and, if this is a word, urelaxed, and her jewelry so conservative and limited (what does she have 4 pairs of earrings she wears nowadays?).

    i also miss the pounds she's since lost. she had a nice softness to her face and body.

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    1. YOU ARE ABSOULUTLY CORRECT.

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    2. I completely agree with you!!! She was soooo cool back then, now she´s beautiful, don´t get me wrong, but there is something so boring about her...

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    3. I completely agree with you, she was soooo cool back then, now she is beautiful, don´t get me wrong, but she looks so boring...

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    4. I totally adore Duchess Cathrine and Prince William. I think she looks healthier at her slightly thinner weight. I love to see what she is wearing & learn about what she & Prince William are doing. Frequently I have found many of her dresses (short styles) rather matronly. She is so young that I don't understand who is influencing her choices. She looks smashing in everything she wears, but the old lady prints/styles have to go. It will be fun to watch her style evolution after the royal baby is born! Happy Birthing Day Cathrine!

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  4. Thanks for this great post Charlotte! Loved all of the pictures,,and the Collette DInnigan dress is my fave too!! Her sense of style has evolved after the wedding, and I also noticed(like Apla) that her style has become more hemmed in,,more conservative.. just my observation :) xoxo
    I hope she recylces her before wedding dresses more often,,would love to see her in those dresses again!

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    1. I agree with you with her style. It is now really hemmed. In old pics we can see a very natural beauty. She is still a beauty but now very controlled. Very sad.

      After the marriage she looked more older....For me she lost a little bit of the charisma you can see in the old pictures but got some new as a royal. I cannot describe it so good...sorry..But I'm still a huge fan of her! :-)

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    2. Yes, her style is more conservative, but I think it's appropriate for her new position. It's also just more "grown up" which is also appropriate—she isn't a 20-something anymore.

      I think we'll see more and more of that old charisma come back as she grows into her new role and becomes more comfortable. And I personally hope she keeps slowly putting those few extra pounds back on...it's helping her look more natural and healthy:)

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  5. Sarah from CA USA20 October 2012 01:50

    I really like the fact that she has a little bit more ( meat on her bones) Don't want them to feel pressured but looking forward to one day seeing her pregnant. I think that's what they want. Hope they can relax and not have to be so scrutinized so they can have the desire of their hearts.Wow hope I didn't open a can of worms.

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  6. Sarah from CA USA20 October 2012 02:12

    This is way off topic but why dont we see any of the fancy tiaras on Kate that other royals have worn? Is it just because times are changing or is it Kate's style to not be so extravagant does anyone know?

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    1. We haven't seen her or William attend a black tie reception, state dinner or wedding of another royal. They chose a more casual dress code for their wedding and had no formal dinner before as compared to Daniel and Victoria whose wedding was white tie and had a dinner the night before

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    2. The UK, with most of the rest of the world, is in the midst of some very trying economic times and families are really struggling. I'd imagine the Queen, ever mindful of PR and the tone the family sets - and criticism of extravagance, has ordered that the trappings of the family's extraordinary wealth be toned down, including the tiaras and other gems. In addition, I think we tend to forget that Will and Kate are not NEXT in line for the throne, as was the case with Diana - she was the wife of the heir. And it doesn't seem Kate's style to be dripping in estate jewelry at every public appearance.

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    3. Thanks ladies I get it. Ooops forgot that Camilla was next. We are all in hard times and I appriecate their toned down manner.

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  7. Deborah from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil20 October 2012 04:09

    Another amazing post, Charlotte. Thank you so much!!!!

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  8. Thanks for the great post! I always wanted so see the flat where she lived in London! Thank you :-)

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  9. Brilliant, thanks for these great pics and post. Charlotte.

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  10. amazing both ladies Charlotte and catherine.

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  11. I love seeing how her style has evolved from girl-next-door to duchess :) great post! The part about the photographers waiting outside her door is a sharp reminder that she really has had to forego 'normality' in recent years.

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  12. aqueena
    I think you do a great job Ms.Charlotte.thanyou for this.

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  13. what a beautiful woman the duchess is!

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  14. Fifi from Texas USA20 October 2012 13:21

    Thanks for the great post. I really like the photo of Kate and Pippa! It shows how close the sisters - like best friends. I hope that Kate still meets up with Pippa regularly and we just don't hear about it.

    Kate fans: love to see where y'all are from. If you haven't tried it yet - When you post a comment, select Comment as "Name/URL". Then type in you first name and where you are from state USA or city country. You can skip the URL field. Then click Continue to preview. Then Publish. Once Charlotte has a chance to review the post as moderator - you will see it pop up live on the. blog! It's that easy!

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    1. Hi Fifi I'm finally getting this whole blog thing. I love the pic of Kate and her sister too. So glad she has someone to share the ups and downs with.

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    2. Fifi from Texas, USA21 October 2012 17:31

      Hi Sarah! So glad to see you posting comments. I think there's another Sarah or Sara that posts too - that's another reason to use "from..." so we can know who's who. I think it makes it much more fun to know where we are following from rather than lots of "anonymous" postings.

      Can't wait til the next post and engagement!

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  15. Charlotte, I also love that lace dress, and the pic with Pippa is so sweet. I always love seeing the sisters together!

    I don't know much about Kate's pre-engagement style at all (except for some of the great Kate Loves posts!) and the variety of earrings she is wearing definitely pop out to me. Would love to see more of that now! Obviously she is more restrained in what she wears now, knowing that it will be photographed and speculated on to no end, but I wonder if that is all her own choice, or if there is pressure from the palace to dress a certain way? What do you all think? Like the last photo of her outfit in the white jeans is so great, but I doubt we would see that now. In fact it's pretty rare to see her in pants, except at the Olympics or hiking, but there are times when I think it would be great if she wore a sophisticated outfit with slacks, like when she's doing events with kids and is always kneeling down and crouching down to talk to them. It seems it would be more comfortable. Or I remember some of the pre-Olympics sporty events when she was wearing dresses and wedges, it seemed a little silly and like a classy outfit with slacks would be more appropriate. But maybe that's word from on high? When doing royal engagements dresses and heels are a must??

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  16. Sue from the USA20 October 2012 19:37

    Thanks Charlotte! Your blog is by far the best!

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    1. I agree too! this is great fun and encouraging to hear from ladies who are supportive.

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    2. Charlotte who is the lady with Kate and her mom in the bw party pieces picture?thanks :)

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    3. I believe it is a lady who worked/works at Party Pieces!

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  17. I loved Kate's pre-engagement style. I think we do see the touch of a stylist nowadays, if not full-time then certainly in an advisory role and I think it's very noticeable when Kate is making her clothing decisions and when the hand of a stylist is involved. When it's Kate, we see the recycling which is absolutely terrific and commendable, given that she could afford to wear any garment once and throw it away and we see a more practical approach to her ensembles. When there's a stylist involved, the choices seem to be a LOT more expensive and older-looking. I'm sure there's more protocol and rules involved now but her style pre-wedding was still conservative and expensive but very up-to-date and wearable by anyone. That's what made her so popular, the fact that she seemed just like anybody.

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    1. I don't believe there's a stylist - even in an "advisory" role. It would be counter to what William and Kate have stated/want for the earliest years of their marriage/royal life (namely a low key lifestyle with minimal staff).

      I think what we see is the evolution of Kate's own style and what she likes to wear, how she likes to look.

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  18. I love seeing her more casual and eclectic pre-wedding style!! That lace dress is GORGEOUS, and pretty sexy!

    Just out of curiosity, what do you all think Kate would have done post-college if she hadn't been William's girlfriend? I bet she would have still moved to London and lived with her sister, but I have a hard time guessing what her career would have been - would she have worked for Party Pieces, or sought out a graduate degree, or used her History of Art degree to get a job at one of the London galleries/museums?

    - W

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    1. She definitively would have moved in with Pippa and James, parties with friends, maybe she would have worked with mom and like Pippa (they are a wonderful family, (the Middleton's are portray awfully in the U.S. media I take back anything bad I ever said about Kate and family),and they can hang out like friends, I have a brother who I am close to, its nice to have a sibling and pal.

      Sorry back to Kate, she maybe would have married a family friend, a fellow co-worker. I sometimes think this perhaps sounds more idea. But,I think that is just my opinion as I prefer a small life. Ans I do love that lace dress had to find that type of lace in a dress. With her degree she also could have work for Christie's or a gallery.

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  19. Eve from Colorado USA21 October 2012 01:08

    I appreciated Maeve's speculation that the Palace may be requirIng Kate to wear heels. She wore a lot of flats or at least low heels pre-wedding. Which I thought was a good look for her, although not as dressy as very high heels.

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  20. I love everything About Kate :) & there's just something about Kate :)

    Thanks Charlotte xxx

    Lena from Malaysia

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  21. Oh i love the duchess wore it a simple dress and where flats now she revolving to her a young lady commener before and now she became most beloved duchess or princess

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  22. Ana B. from Brazil21 October 2012 04:09

    Thank you, Charlotte, for this great, great post!
    I am from Brazil and, before the engagement in 2010, the press over here haven't paid much attention to the Royal Family. So, basicaly, I've been following Catherine since then. Loved the post because you there is a lot of things I have never heard before!
    Thank you again!!

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  23. Summer Kansas City Missouri21 October 2012 04:47

    I'd like to see her wear a pair of slacks to an event. After all, she is a modern royal.

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  24. Angie from St Louis, MO USA21 October 2012 06:05

    I love everything about Kate and William. They are so cute;) Maybe she wears the same earrings so often because William gave them to her as gifts.

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  25. thankyou for publishing my comment:aqueena.I am a distant relative of diana spencer and would also like to hear of kate.can you make a post on the differences btw kate and diana?if not please reply.your blog is an excellent one.i am using a nick name to comment.

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    1. I'm not sure about a post on differences but I will do something on Diana if enough people are interested.

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    2. Fifi from Texas, USA21 October 2012 20:19

      I think a post on how Diana has influenced William would be neat. I've heard that they are similar but I'm not sure how. I'm really interested in knowing more about the time when she was mother to the princes. You could include some things where Kate was with him: concert for Diana, engagement interview, Diana's orchid.

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    3. Charlotte if you are to busy to do things about Diana there is a great blog called Princess Diana Remembered. I am Diana's age and had 3boys with in the same time as William and Harry. I'm just mentioning it to you if you want to pass it on or are to busy. Please don't write about their differences. I really feel that could be very hurtful to Kate and the boys.

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  26. cannot we discuss of kate's makeup?

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    1. Ana B. from Brazil21 October 2012 23:47

      Hi, Anonymous! I love everything about makeup! In fact, I have asked Charlotte to make a post about Catherine's makeup and she did it (an awesome post, by the way!)! I am almost sure the post was published in May/2012. I hope it helped!

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  27. kate is very different from other royals.she behaves kindly to everyone.why is kate not prescribing a tiara.did she think that it was an old fashion not fit for a 30 year old or simply donot like it?

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  28. Do you all (that talked about her looking softer before with a few more pounds) think its the weight that makes her look so different before 2010 or just her getting older. I've tried to pinpoint what it is but I'm baffled! I agree she looks better- more serene.

    Wonderful blog Charlotte! I'm a big fan and lots of these pictures are new to me!

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    1. Respectfully, I think the area around Kate's eyes looks better now than in many of these old photos. Perhaps she has more rest now, or a stricter skin care regime (and better products), or she has had some minor plastic surgery (bags removed, skin above eyelid removed, dark circles treated in some way). Regardless, she looks much better in the eye area now.

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    2. I hadn't noticed that, but I think you are right. Her cheeks seem so different too- fuller?

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  29. I loved this post!
    The London years were certainly interesting and challenging years for Kate, despite all the media pressure.
    Her style was lovely then. Before Kate's world wide success I didn't even like floral print dresses or wedges (very british style) and now I'm a big fan, I wear them all the time. :) So, it is indeed the "Kate effect".
    Big hug from (sunny) Portugal
    Z.

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  30. Claudia from Austria23 October 2012 09:21

    Thanks for this great post! It‘s wonderful to look back at Kate’s pre-engagement style. I liked her choices very much, her outfits were youthful, fresh and fun. I love the Collette Dinnigan dress, the boots, the coats, the jewelry… everything :). Her style has clearly evolved since then; I think partly because of her new role but she is also in her early thirties now and I think it would look slightly odd if she would still always dress like in her early to mid-twenties. I love when she recycles older items from her wardrobe from time to time, or chooses something similar to her pre-wedding style, but all in all I think she dresses appropriately for her age and role now.

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  31. Catherine is definitely more polished, refined, and the product of a no expense spared faahion icon post wedding. For all the media attention she recieves she really has no other option. Her hair is now always flawless, her wardrobe enviable, and just all around a vision of the perfect woman. Classy, and demure Catherine is an inspiration to women all across the world to dress more conservatively but with an edge. Her style is impeccable. No other compares. Pre wedding her style was appropriate for a woman of her age. Fun, flirty at times,but always classy. I love that she still wears pieces from her pre wedding wardrobe. Keeping with her personality and not leaving her true self behind to succumb to for.lack of a better word royal. I love her style both before and after. She is beautiful!!

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  32. I love this blog! Luv all things Kate/Catherine being from the USA! Kate is your national treasure, (luv to Duke William) her style is simple, elegant and I agree that she has some advice from the Queen or some guidelines; it was stated on US news that from the Queen after the engagement that her hemlines would come down, and her necklines would come up; and it is obvious that for royalty pants are too common (obviously) but there are some glimpses of Kate that still resemble the pre-roalty beauty she had, but she now represents Great Britain; on a world-wide platform, and she had to become a little more refined, buttoned up, and a little more formal, while trying to retain her essence, after all if Duke William said he did not want to wear the red uniform for his own wedding but the Queen said you will wear it, I am sure that there are some concessions to her in most things that are part of their public service. She is so lovely and he is so sweet I hope they are always as happy as they obviously show the world, it is beautiful to see after the misery the royals made of precious Princess Diana; she was really bullied for being shy and bashful, and not coached, or assisted, just thrown to the wolves and criticised and when she fought back and started being Diana (and when she went to the press, a terrible choice; it was obvious she hated her life at this point)she was damned if she did and damned if she didn't by some, but Diana and Kate have that similar love of life and people, so refreshing! Princess Anne at 30 was a beautiful and happy mother for the first time and if she had been a little more independent she may still be a beautiful, slim, beauty and notlook so hard and unhappy. I hope Kate never ends up like that!

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  33. She obviously refined a lot since her engagement years. She seems to have lost a lot of weight and her style evolved significantly for the better. Not that she was not OK before, but now she clearly has profited from her new lifestyle to enhance herself further. Wonder how she lost so much weight on her face - it looks so different from some years ago!

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  34. I just love Duchess Kate, she is so classy, elegant, and sophisticated. She carries herself with respect and dignity, but does not come across as being snobby in any fashion. very down to earth. Keep it up Kate, and Charlotte, I love your blog and enjoy reading new posts and seeing new pictures.

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  35. What I love most about these pictures is the sister bond Kate and Pippa have. If you have this sister relationship like I do with my sister, you know what I'm talking about: an unbreakable bond that surpasses all understanding. One can almost finish the other's thought...

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