Meghan Markle wearing an Altuzarra dress with a Camilla and Marc blazer over her shoulders in London last week. Photograph: Pool/Reuters
Meghan and her soon-to-be-sister-in-law Kate have modernised royal style in different ways. Kate shook things up by showing that you can look like a fairytale princess while wearing high-street pieces; Meghan is shaking things up by showing that this fairytale doesnt have to mean dressing like a princess.
Kate wore a 34.99 Zara dress for her going-away outfit after her wedding, and her love for a comfortable LK Bennett shoe is well evidenced.
The budget-friendly piece is important, and Meghan plays thisgame too. She wore a dress bySelf-Portrait to meet the Queen for the first time, which made her seem super normal, Self-Portrait being everyones go-to special occasion label. (She wore
Self-Portrait again, on Saturday, prompting about half the women who saw the image on Instagram to shout out Ive got that dress!.) AndI am quite sure that the 45 Marks & Spencer sweater she wore in January was at least a semi-deliberate ploy to win over the British public. But what stands out most about her look is how functional it is. Hownon-princessy it is. For her very firstofficial evening engagement withHarryon 1 February, she choseablack Alexander McQueen trouser suit with a crisp white blouse, whenshecould have chosen a floor-length gown.
In 2014, the actor spoke at the One Young World conference aboutchallenging TV producers over the sexualisation of her character, the lawyer Rachel Zane. In the show, this season, every script seemed to begin with Rachel enters wearing a towel, she said. I said, No, Im not doing it any more. She has applied a little of the same approach to her public persona sincethe engagement announcement. Hemlines are longer,clothes are looser, colours more muted in her official wardrobethan they were when she was dressing for the red carpet.Meghan, who has written forElle magazine about being biracialand is a longstanding ambassador for UN Women, is deliberately playing down the dazzle to ensure that she frames herself in public as a thoughtful andsubstantial person. Sustainability is a theme in Meghanswardrobe, with lots ofStella McCartney pieces, and jeansby the ethical Welsh denimlabel Hiut.
Meghan Markle wearing an Alexander McQueen trouser suit for her first official evening engagement with Prince Harry in February. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock
There is a Rorschach test element to the way we view the royals.
When Meghan wore a white beret in March, some style observers took it as a tribute to Princess Diana (the same milliner, Stephen Jones, designed both womens berets) while others took it as a nod to her feminist credentials (berets being a standout accessory of the latest collection from the house of Dior, whose designer Maria Grazia Chiuri has putfeminism at the centre of its world). Perhaps the British public falls for each new princess figure who joinsthe firm because, in the absence of them actually saying verymuch, we see what we want to see. But Meghans messy bun makes her perfect for 2018. Or, at least, itlooks that way to me.