She’s still the star of suits.
Meghan Markle is proving herself to be quite an effective communicator in the art of diplomatic dressing—on her own terms.
For her first official evening engagement last week with fiancé Prince Harry, the former actress broke with royal tradition eschewing a traditional princess-y gown in favor of an black trouser suit by Alexander McQueen.
Meghan accompanied Harry to the Endeavour Awards at the historic Goldsmiths’ Hall in London on Thursday and sent the British press into overdrive in an effort to decipher the message she was sending in choosing to wear the sleek wool suit which she paired with a silk crepe de chine bodysuit from Tuxe Bodywear.
The Daily Mail opined Meghan chose the chic yet intentionally understated look because she “was careful not to compete with the Duchess of Cambridge who was enjoying a gala dinner at Oslo’s royal palace at the same time.”
That very evening Kate wore a very different kind of look from McQueen. The pregnant duchess, dripping in diamonds, chose a custom diaphanous blush-colored gown with an empire waist, heavily jeweled neckline and attached cape. The Mail estimated the cost of the gown to be around £8,000.
The Guardian interpreted Meghan’s decision to wear the black suit as “the latest example of [her] zeitgeist-harnessing style” and ascribed canny political motives to the rule-breaking move. “It was notable because it didn’t feel like standard royal family dressing at all.” The McQueen suit, surmised the newspaper, “echoed debates about the way high-profile women get dressed in Hollywood in 2018. On the red carpets of awards ceremonies, trouser suits are still an anomaly, although they are being worn increasingly, often as part of explicit protests against Hollywood gender inequality as part of the Time’s Up movement. By wearing a trouser suit, Markle was aligning herself with that debate, rather than with royal protocol: among royal women, trousers are rarely seen after dark, with princessy gowns the default choice.”
It’s also possible Meghan was paying tribute to Princess Diana in choosing to forego a gown at this venue. In an odd twist of fate, Goldsmith’s Hall was the same place Diana attended her first evening engagement as a royal fiancée 37 years ago. At the time Lady Diana Spencer—as the shy 19-year-old was then known—had accompanied Prince Charles to the landmark building for an benefit of the Royal Opera House.
Diana, who once said she had only one evening dress before becoming engaged to Charles, chose a striking black taffeta ballgown by Elizabeth and David Emanuel for the occasion. The dress became a royal embarrassment because of its color and cut. Charles chastised his bride-to-be for choosing to wear black, which has been (up until now) considered inappropriate for members of the royal family unless worn in mourning. The strapless dress exposed more cleavage than was deemed acceptable at the time.
But it’s also possible Meghan had an entirely different motive in mind.
In opting to wear the minimalist black suit, perhaps she was letting the world know she has no intention of letting her clothes define, overshadow or undermine her. We get that message loud and clear. And for more on the royal fam, here’s why Harry and Meghan’s wedding is a serious, serious business boost for Britain.
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