Various media outlets—reputable fashion ones included—have recently implemented a volte-face on their feelings towards Meghan Markle’s wardrobe. While The Meghan Effect shows no sign of slowing (only a few weeks back did a pair of £160 “Meghan” jeans garner a 400-person waiting list), critics are not as convinced of her high-fashion powers as they were circa October 2017, aka the early engagement era. Apparently, some believe that the actress and soon-to-be royal has not lived up to the expectations we had of her as a beacon of fashion rebellion in the midst of a somewhat stuffy business: Where are the daring designs and flagrant disregards of protocol? Why is she dressing beyond her years, they ask? I say: What a load of tosh.
In this supposedly more liberal period of increased acceptance and purposefully blurred style boundaries, I’d like to know what exactly is “dressing too old”? Is that offensive to “old” people? And just who is out there deciding what can be categorised as old? The fashion industry is breaking free from the chains of youth—a quick glance at the over-50 women influencing on Instagram show this axiom is fast on its way to being dead and buried.
Is this kind of criticism one big fat assumption that a girl can’t enjoy classic, demure or sartorially “safe” clothes and accessories and not feel “young” or “stylish”? I question the notion because whatever Meghan feels comfortable in for her work uniform (because that is what this is, let’s remember) is good by me. Whether she’s opting for relatively fail-safe combinations because she’s in a public position where her every move gets analysed, or whether she’s just having one of those mornings like the rest of us when jeans, a trench and a jumper make for a perfectly relaxed, sensible formula, our wild bets should never have been hedged on a woman who never really indicated she’d be any different from what she’s pictured in now.
By that, I mean that I’m not quite sure why the fashion press had set such an incredibly high bar in the first place. Let’s be frank: Markle is no RiRi and never has been. She has always had lovely taste that many would like to emulate: a smart, sophisticated, occasionally sassy version on Hollywood dressing. As a modern, 36-year-old woman, she has already bent some of the old-fashioned royal codes out of shape—and hallelujah for that, because no grown-up should really be told to carry a bag like so, only wear skirts that are this length, no shorter, or be restricted to nude courts alone (we’re fans of Meghan’s rusty velvet Jimmy Choos, thanks for asking).
Who knows how Markle dresses for a Saturday night dinner party Chez Harry—perhaps that is when she breaks out the skimpy NSFBP (that’s Not Suitable for Buckingham Palace) cocktail frocks or opts for a sassy tuxedo sans blouse. Maybe she wears a slanket like the majority of the British population on any given rainy Sunday.
There’s even the chance that—gasp—she wears exactly the same kind of wide-leg trousers, crossbody Strathberry bag and checked coat you’ve seen her in at an event visiting Edinburgh Castle. This woman is no stranger to the spotlight, and she’s more than aware of fashion playing a literal part in anyone’s public persona, but it seems that Meghan is using her fame to showcase more than just trends. The actress has promoted little-known designers from Canada (her home country for many years), as well as introducing us to sustainable, worthy new brands such as a Princes Trust–endorsed bag designer called Charlotte Elizabeth, for example.
So let’s not start labelling outfits as “old” or “boring”—it seems rather archaic to me. One woman’s “boring” might be another woman’s dream workwear. One women’s “old” outfit is another woman’s ideal way to dress modestly during a time when modest fashion is booming because we appear to be craving it. Just because we’d like to see her wearing a fabulous “naked” couture dress like the one in the official engagement photos every day of the week, keep in mind that we have many years of Meghan fashion moments to come: Could you imagine having to hit it out of the ballpark every damn day of the week?