02/08/2012 03:26 pm ET Updated Feb 10, 2012

Kate Middleton Visit To Lucien Freud Exhibit Marks Duchess' First Solo Appearance (PHOTOS)

Wave lots and speak little: that's been Kate Middleton's mantra thus far.

But as she settles into her role as a royal, the Duchess of Cambridge is stepping out solo for her first public engagements sans Prince William, beginning with Wednesday's visit to London's National Portrait Gallery.

Catherine attended a preview of Lucian Freud Portraits, a new exhibit of works by the famous British painter. It's an appropriate first engagement for the duchess, who last month became a patron of the National Portrait Gallery and studied art history at St. Andrews University (where she met her prince).

For her artsy visit, Kate wore a feminine frock by Jesire with a full skirt and oversized collar, cinching her waist with a wide black belt. She accessorized with a diamond bracelet.

She also was wearing much higher heels than we're used to seeing on her -- are those platforms we spy?

While much has been made about this week and next's "solo engagements," technically this isn't Catherine's first time flying solo. In October 2011 she made first formal appearance without Prince William, donning a vintage Amanda Wakeley gown for a private dinner for the Prince of Wales' charity, In Kind Direct. (She also likes to run errands by herself, but we're guessing that doesn't count.)

But Wednesday marked her first solo public engagement, as her husband is away on a six-week deployment to the Falkland Islands in his role as a search and rescue helicopter pilot.

From a fashion perspective, she passed with flying colors. Check out the duchess' day at the museum and chime in: is this one of Kate's better looks?

UPDATE: A previous version of this post suggested that Kate wasn't wearing stockings, but she may in fact be wearing sheer tights.