THEY’VE only been engaged a few weeks but already “the Meghan effect” is in full force.
Now that she’s set to marry Harry in the spring, American actress Meghan Markle has taken her place alongside Kate as a fashion icon to millions.
The coat she wore for the couple’s engagement announcement sold out in minutes, and Canadian brand, Line, announced they’ll reissue it as The Meghan next year.
Fellow Canadians, Mackage, reported a 630% bump in web traffic when Markle wore their coat to her first royal engagement in Nottingham; and Scottish company Strathberry, who made the bag she carried that day, had a sellout in just six minutes.
This was, of course, entirely predictable, and any partner of Harry’s was bound to have aroused our interest.
That Meghan is a seasoned red carpet pro with a strong interest in fashion, personal friendships with designers like Roland Mouret, and well-honed personal style is just a bonus.
Speculation that she’ll soon take the lead in the Kensington Palace style stakes is rife.
While her new neighbour, the Duchess of Cambridge, manages well enough on the fashion front, a dive into the Markle archives reveals she has a stronger sense of self and a more natural flair for style than her soon-to-be sister-in-law.
Though Kate — who began dating William in her early 20s — had to find her fashion feet in the full glare of the media spotlight, at 36, Markle comes to the role fully formed, and the beneficiary of what she calls “an education in fashion”: playing Rachel Zane on TV’s Suits.
Having grown up in LA, she told The Outnet in a 2014 video series that her early style was just “jean shorts and flip-flops”, adding: “It has definitely evolved.”
Describing her character’s aesthetic as “someone who comes from money and has a classic sensibility,” she said working on the show had made her style “more polished”; teaching her “what works for my body and what doesn’t”.
Though she works with a Canadian stylist — her pal Jessica Mulroney — her aptitude for fashion shines through even in her everyday attire, and her first public appearance with Harry was a master class in making a white shirt and jeans look effortlessly chic.
But it’s on the red carpet that her fashion education really stands to her. She’s been cultivating a classic style for years, and is now the queen of keeping it simple. She rarely wears print, though she’ll sometimes team a statement skirt with a white shirt or black polo neck — an approach that works well for evening or for day.
She favours monochromatic or tonal dressing, and appreciates good tailoring, clean lines and structured shapes.
If Markle has honed her red-carpet style almost to polished perfection, then that ‘almost’ is definitely by design.
She points to a Diane Von Furstenberg lace dress she wore in 2012 as the start point on her red carpet learning curve.
“It was too tight, too short, and my hair was too polished,” she told The Outnet.
“Everything about it was trying too hard.
“I think as you get older you feel more confident and you don’t need to put that much effort in.” Her top styling tip, she added, is “Nothing has to be perfectly polished”.
“If your outfit is perfectly put together, something about your hair or makeup has to be just a little dishevelled so you look effortlessly chic.”
It is, she acknowledges, a very “French way doing things”, and she cites Vogue Paris editor-in-chief Emmanuelle Alt as her “style spirit animal”.
It’s a good comparison, and her aesthetic could best be described as an American sensibility with a Gallic twist.
She doesn’t shy away from an edgier approach — she’ll team leather trousers with a blazer, or a cocktail dress with a biker jacket — but for the most part she keeps it classic and chic.
How much she’ll have to tailor her approach for her new royal role remains to be seen, but an American-born English princess with a Gallic sensibility is certainly an interesting fashion proposition.
As far back as 2013’s Hunger Games premiere, her style formula was established — great dress (McQueen), great shoes (she prefers a pointed pump), and you’re done. She never kills a look with accessories.
It’s a formula many of us could adopt, as too often we overcomplicate occasion dressing and let the pressure to look perfectly stress us out.
But Markle’s pared-back approach proves it doesn’t need to be that hard. So with the festive season in full swing, tear a leaf out of her playbook and nail your party look by simply keeping it simple.
Sequins are best showcased on simple shift or sheer styles. Ombré sequined midi-dress by Mint Velvet, €249, mintvelvet.co.uk.
Steal her flirty Hunger Games premiere style with this girlish Fee G frock, featuring frilled hem and floral embellishment. €263, Mac- Bees, Killarney.
Meghan went for a cool, flowing midi dress with an edgy oxblood biker jacket for the opening of this year’s Invictus Games. Dress, €59.99, H&M.
With its modest length and form-fitting cut, the Harlow dress by Meghan’s friend Roland Mouret would be right up her alley. €1,930, Brown Thomas.
The devil’s in the detail and Meghan often completes her red carpet look with her favourite pointed pump, Aquazzura’s Matilde. €495 at aquazzura.com.
Short and sweet. Meghan is a fan of simple showstoppers, and with its easy shift shape and feminine detailing, this quirky Zara dress (€89.95) hits the mark.
Choose a tailored jumpsuit for the one-and-done appeal of a dress with the ease of trousers. Jumpsuit by Phase Eight, €165, littlewoodsireland.ie.
A beautifully-tailored blazer is a party season essential that will stand the test of time. Wool and mohair blazer, €195, & Other Stories at stories.com.
A longtime fan of the classic black polo neck, Markle knows the power of a great statement skirt. Sequined and fringed skirt, €59.95, Zara.
Strapless styles showcase her strong shoulders, so Meghan tends to soften them with draping, folding or fuller prom shapes. Dress, €111, Oasis.