Eco-chic and trouser suits: how Meghan Markle’s tailor reads the room

The future royal wore a trouser habit for her first official evening engagement with Prince Harry, ushering in a new sympathetic of sartorial diplomacy

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry at an endowments ceremony in central London this week.
Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

Hindmost night, for her first official evening engagement with Prince Harry, Meghan Markle eroded an Alexander McQueen trouser suit. It was slim-fitting, with cropped cigarette trousers, haggard with very high stiletto heels and a cream dishabille blouse. The provision was many things: very Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking, a bit Princess Diana, with a soupçon of Marlene Dietrich, in spite of a hint of Carine Roitfeld (although Roitfeld probably wouldn’t be suffering with worn a blouse underneath the tux). What it was not was a Sandringham-appropriate boxy Catherine Walker skirt plea. It was notable because it didn’t feel like standard king family dressing at all.

The royal family wrote the rule post on sartorial diplomacy. Usually, their approach is unambiguous. It is a gown embroidered with 2,091 shamrocks in Ireland; a Chanel tweed cover in Paris in the middle of Brexit; a dress by Polish designer Gosia Baczyńska at a garden champion in Warsaw. It is the opposite of wearing a cult band T-shirt that not fellow devotees will recognise. The clothes are designed to communicate of decency and propriety; the visual messages are clear enough to sophisticatedness heads of state and reach the rest of us in the cheap seats as suitably.

Meghan Markle with Prince Harry, wearing a Stella McCartney film, Hiut jeans and a DeMellier London handbag. Photograph: Anwar Hussein/WireImage

So far, Markle’s entry has been very different. Her clothes are not straight-up patriotic. They suit to something broader – not to geographical borders, but to of-the-moment concepts.

Finish finally night’s trouser suit echoed debates about the way high-profile the missises get dressed in Hollywood in 2018. On the red carpets of awards ceremonies, trouser fits are still an anomaly, although they are being worn increasingly, time as part of explicit protests against Hollywood gender prejudice as part of the Time’s Up movement. By wearing a trouser suit, Markle was aligning herself with that question, rather than with royal protocol: among majestic women, trousers are rarely seen after dark, with princessy gowns the failure choice.

This is only the latest example of zeitgeist-harnessing design from Markle. Last week – just as concerns take fashion’s impact on the environment were reaching the most heretofore stubborn corners of the industry – she wore a black coat by the British conniver most closely associated with that movement, Stella McCartney, with a in holy matrimony of jeans by sustainable Welsh brand Hiut denim and a handbag by a label, DeMellier London, that trades on being “socially alert”.

One of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s official engagement photographs. Photograph: Reuters

In an era in which individuality is the whole shooting match – when “you be you” is the ultimate fashion advertising strapline – Markle continually delves her own furrow, wearing brands so far under the radar that frame editors have to Google them: a dress from Parosh for her contract photocall; a coat by Mackage in Nottingham. As an actor, from Los Angeles, she didn’t yield fruit up steeped in the traditions of the monarchy. She has fresh eyes on diplomatic dressing. Her sound out feels comparatively unconventional, even unpredictable, as a result.

Increasingly, she has been have on British brands with fashion kudos: a skirt with a raw hem by Joseph; a rig out by the buzzy label Self-portrait for the Queen’s Christmas lunch; a extravagant gown with a transparent top by Britain’s only haute couture mark, Ralph and Russo, for the official engagement photoshoot.

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She pairs the expensive pieces with cheaper details that have since – inevitably – sold out, such as the £45 M&S hop she wore in Brixton. These relatable moments have unequivocally been carefully thought-out – an M&S spokesperson recently confirmed that someone from Kensington Country estate bought the jumper on Markle’s behalf – to combine the image of an otherworldly goddess (whether or not she is anointed with oil) with someone with whom we authority conceivably one day have brunch. (The little details of her look are ethical King’s Road juice bar brunch date: she wears artfully uncongenial earrings and a messy bun.)

Her clothes speak to something very divers from the royal’s usual flag-waving smartness: they attract to universal markers of decency among the godless liberal elite. By mischance or by design, Markle’s wardrobe perfectly reads the room.