Think lace, LBDs, plunging necklines, JEANS!
A few weeks back, March 9 to be specific, the pair completed their last official royal engagement before stepping back as senior royals and assuming a more private life in North America. The event was at London’s Westminster Abbey in celebration of the U.K.’s Commonwealth Day.
Over the past month, we've seen some of the most exciting, adventurous outfits from the former Duchess of Sussex – something I can't help but presume is a result of the couple's impending exit from the Royal family.
Meghan has unquestionably had to confirm with a strict and conservative dress code as a senior member of the royal family, but it's rather safe to say that despite the rules, her sartorial choices have always been impeccable.
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That said, Meghan did blend in all too well as the noblewoman she's expected to be and for the most part, played it safe in the wardrobe department. I mean, she was daring on some occasions: most notably when she layered a red wrap coat by Sentaler over a purple dress from Babaton by Aritzia, a tea-length number with a subtle thigh-high slit. But, for the most part, she kept things pretty neutral.
Looking back at Markle's style before she became a royal – even when she was dating Harry – the former Suits star possessed typical Hollywood It-girl fashion taste: lace, LBDs, plunging necklines, JEANS! But these are just a mere example of what's mentioned in a long list of no-noes as a Duchess, which also included mandatory pantyhose, dresses at or below the knee, and neutral nail polish only.
It's oppressive, really, especially considering how much fun Markle appeared to have with fashion just five years ago before she was launched into life as a Royal and held to impossibly high standards by the public.
So with that mind, I can't help but wonder what the next chapter will mean for her style choices. After all, there are no rules now.
Denim isn’t banned in the royal household, but it’s definitely not preferred. According to the BBC, men usually wear khakis if it’s a casual dress code, while women wear trousers or day dresses—though, if it’s an extra low-key occasion, such as out walking the dog, jeans are fine. Likewise, the royals’ clothes are supposed to be neat and put together, which is why her ripped jeans from the Invictus Games in September 2017 (before she and Harry were even engaged) were never seen again.
Aside from the yellow Brandon Maxwell dress, Markle hasn’t worn many bright colours since becoming a royal, and there’s a reason why. Bright colours are usually reserved for Queen Elizabeth II, who is often seen in coats and dresses in vibrant hues, such as lime green and baby blue. The Queen often wears bright colours to differentiate herself from the public and stand out in a crowd. This past week, we have already seen Meghan in array of bright colours so we can only imagine she has a bright wardrobe ahead.
Like sleeveless outfits and showing her shoulders (more on that later), outfits, where one’s midriff is showing, is almost unheard of in the royal family. Most of their clothes are modest, knee-length with their skin covered up. Before becoming a royal, Meghan was fond of subtle midriff on show.
Before she was a royal, Markle showed her bare legs more often than not. Now, it’s the opposite. It’s a well-known rule that royal women are prohibited from showing their bare legs and must wear tights. Markle already broke the rule once when she didn’t wear stockings for her engagement announcement, but ever since then, her legs have been well covered up. Now, Markle has more freedom to ditch tights, while Kate Middleton is expected to continue to wear them almost anytime her hemlines are shorter.
Under royal protocol, skirts and dresses should be kept around knee-length for royal women. According to Harper’s Bazaar, they should never be “more than three or four inches above her knee.” Oh, and modesty is the best policy in the royal family, so you won't find many (if any) cleavage-baring tops in their closets...until now.
dark nail varnish
Unless you're eagle-eyeing the royal family's hands, you might not notice that the women are never spotted with coloured nail polish. According to OK! magazine, the royal family—particularly women like Kate Middleton, Queen Elizabeth, and Meghan Markle—are prohibited from wearing non-natural-looking nail polish, which is why they often stick to nude and taupe colours. In fact, according to Refinery29, the royal women swear by Essie's $9 nude nail polish. Middleton's favourite shade is Allure, while The Queen is known to sport Ballet Slippers. However, Meghan Markle infamously broke this rule back in 2018 when she presented at The Fashion Awards and opted for a dark wine shade.
Clothes With Designer Logos On Them
The royals are notoriously nonpartisan and are prohibited from voting. But how does this affect their style, we hear you cry? Well, whether it’s politics or business, you won’t see a royal wearing name brands on their clothes. Likewise, you won’t see the royals participating in sponsored events, such as when Markle played in the DirecTV Beach Bowl, with a DirecTV jersey, in February 2014.
While Markle has opted for totes, crossbody bags and sizable top-handle satchels in the past, any bag bigger than a clutch is strictly forbidden at formal events. (It's said to help them avoid awkward handshakes and cover up cleavage when exiting a vehicle.)
Or any fabric that creases easily is a major royal no-no. In order to maintain a polished appearance, the royals opt for heavier fabrics that won't easily crease (e.g., tweed or wool). Fun fact: Princess Diana's wedding dress received criticism for being made of a crinkly fabric. Embrace the creases Meghan, embrace the creaes.
The tradition for royal women to keep their hair sleek and fuss-free dates back to a decades-old rule barring women from showing their hair. Queen Elizabeth frequently nods to this tradition by keeping her hair hidden underneath a hat, while Kate Middleton has been photographed with her locks neatly tucked into a hairnet. Given this tradition, Markle made big headlines when she stepped out twice with a messy bun. Now she can step outside without even putting a brush through her hair if she wants to.
Ever notice how Meghan Markle very rarely wears open-toed shoes at all, but when she does, they almost always have a heel. Hence the countless pictures of her playing sport in wedge espadrilles. When she wanted to wear flats for a less-than-formal occasion, she stuck to ballet flats, boots or trainers.
Main image by Page Six