We felt something was different as the Duchess and Prince of Sussex entered the UN General Assembly in August. Meghan looked radiant with her shoulders back and her head up. She was ready to get down to business on the arm of Prince Harry, who was dressed in a suit and boots. Perhaps it was her Givenchy workwear which made her stand out a bit more. The Duchess’s luxed-up version of a classic tee and pencil skirt – a black take of the forest green set she wore in Ireland in July 2018 – was simplicity refined. Accessorised with classic pieces that spoke volumes – Cartier’s Tank Francaise watch and Love bracelet, a Mulberry Bayswater and Manolo Blahnik BB pumps – the royal looked comfortable in the can-do image she was portraying.
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Since stepping down as a senior member of The Firm in January 2020, we’ve seen Meghan in three modes: Santa Barbara mom, Hollywood businesswoman, and exiled royal on a mission to tell her side of the story. Either at home in her trademark skinny jeans and boyfriend shirts, growing the couple’s Archewell empire in slick Armani dresses, or reluctantly digging out her posh dress coats to head back to London, the Duchess is always ready to face the watching world.
Meghan was a bit more relaxed on her recent trip to New York. She brought a hard-working outfit of summer tailoring, and minimalist eveningwear. But most importantly, she looked like her own self. While Gloria Steinem was having lunch with Meghan, she looked less tidily dressed than usual. She wore navy wool Christian Dior Bermuda pants and heels (another pair BBs) to show off a playful side of her sophisticated public-facing wardrobe. The Gabriela Hearst monochrome Gabriela Hearst jumpsuit she wore to dinner with her friends came with a pair bow-flecked Aquazzura stilettos as well as a Bottega intrecciato pouch. The trip was a blurred blur of activity that left the impression that this woman had done a great job in personal PR. (See: Amal Clooney who is on-trend but timeless and knows how to work hard and play hard.
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For a while, glimpses of this more confident and laid back Duchess have been appearing. Meghan tried on the Bermuda shorts again at the Santa Barbara Polo in May. This was by Khaite, and a Pretty WomanCeline -esque polka dots blouse Days prior, and again at the polo, she wore Frame denim cut-offs – the kind that harked back to the ripped jeans fan that first caught Harry’s eye back in 2016 – and louche Anine Bing shirting. These are small subtle shifts – a whiff of distressed denim here, an artfully crumpled linen button-up there – but enough for eagle-eyed style watchers to pick up on, and note that it’s a shift away from the protocol dictated by the royal institution. No amount of boyfriend shirts or Cartier status symbols can buy self-assuredness, but for Meghan, it’s all part of her armour against the world. It will be fascinating to see where her calm, collected and cool fashion phase takes Meghan next.