…and the rest of Meghan’s £1 million wardrobe. Claudia Croft charts – and rates – the looks that made a Duchess.
It’s been a fairy-tale year for Meghan. Not only did she marry her handsome prince, she made the transition from hard-working actress and women’s rights activist to 21st-century Duchess – with a wardrobe of dreams to match.
From high-street pieces to bespoke designer clothes, Meghan’s carefully curated 2018 closet comes with an estimated £1 million price tag. During her two-day tour of Ireland in July alone, she wore outfits that totalled £28,000 – including £9,000 diamond earrings from Canadian jewellery brand Birks.
The former Suits star has brought some serious US glamour to the royal family and transformed the fortunes of labels such as Scottish luxury line Strathberry and Welsh brand Hiut Denim thanks to the ‘Meghan effect’. But while her pre-wedding outfits read like a best of British, after the marriage in May, there was a notable shift in her style. The dazzling Duchess of Sussex emerged in custom looks from big international designers such as Prada, Dior, Oscar de la Renta and her new favourite, Givenchy.
Here we look back at her year in fashion – with the definitive ranking of her 30 best looks.
The dress that wowed the world. Jaws dropped when Meghan stepped out in her second wedding dress, a fluid Stella McCartney halterneck gown. It seemed to pay tribute to Carolyn Bessette’s look at her wedding to John F Kennedy Jr which Meghan has cited as her favourite bridal gown. It showcased her glowing skin and her easy American glamour.
One of Meghan’s best evening looks from the royal tour in October, which covered Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga. Meghan showed she has the hang of diplomatic dressing in a sinuous, Fijian-blue £1,095 caped gown by London-based brand Safiyaa.
Meghan’s Givenchy wedding dress was a vision of elegance with its bateau neckline, sculpted waist, held together by just six seams.
With a summery dress, a cross-body bag and her jacket draped over her shoulders, Meghan looked smart and refreshingly un-royal in April.
Heading to The Endeavour Fund Awards for injured servicemen in February, Meghan delivered a sartorial surprise with her most fashion-forward engagement look. Instead of bowing to royal tradition and donning a classic gown, she chose an Alexander McQueen tuxedo suit, with a white pussybow blouse and high-heeled black pumps for a thoroughly modern evening outfit.
Meghan waited until the royal tour in October to embrace the fairy-tale princess look. Channelling Grace Kelly, she wore this romantic £4,600 Oscar de la Renta tulle dress to an awards ceremony in Sydney.
For her first visit to Scotland in February, Meghan teamed her Burberry tartan coat with a pair of wide-cut Veronica Beard trousers – and broke with tradition by wearing a Strathberry cross-body bag (royals tend to carry clutches).
At an event in London in July, Meghan gave a masterclass in how to wear colour in an egg-yolk yellow sheath dress by Brandon Maxwell.
A radiant Duchess took to the stage at the British Fashion Awards earlier this month in a one-shoulder black velvet Givenchy gown. Meghan showcased her instinct for elegant simplicity and showstopping pregnancy style with a low bun, on-trend dark nail polish and gold bangles by ethical jeweller Pippa Small.
Denim is an unusual fabric choice for the polo in July, but the classic 1950s cut of this Carolina Herrera dress with cap sleeves and a wide belt, styled with Tom Ford shades, gave this look a classic Hollywood feel that Meghan can pull off. Even more chic, her hair was pulled into her trademark bun.
Meghan is supremely comfortable with evening dress. In a £1,147 caped Stella McCartney gown in April, she was the epitome of elegant party style.
The Duchess turned to Givenchy for her first joint engagement with the Queen in June. The caped shoulders covered her arms in a fashion-forward way.
For a black-tie reception in Tonga in October, the Duchess oozed sophisticated style in this white column dress by US brand Theia.
A huge fan of the trench coat, Meghan embraced the trench dress in July, choosing a House of Nonie number for a Nelson Mandela exhibition. Belted and tailored, it was smart but unconventional.
Meghan wore an Oscar de la Renta top to cleverly disguise her then unannounced pregnancy in September.
This masculine blazer with a floral dress was a perfect pairing at a reception in April.
A glimpse of Meghan in super-flattering high-waisted Veronica Beard trousers with a soft black poloneck in Edinburgh sent searches for ‘wide-legged trousers’ soaring in February.
Meghan showed off her put-together American chic on her first visit to Sussex with Harry as Duke and Duchess of the county in October. She teamed an & Other Stories silk shirt with a Hugo Boss leather skirt, her trademark high heels and undone bun. Although a leather skirt is a wardrobe staple for us, there’s something racy about a royal wearing one.
A picture of style, Meghan wore a white Brandon Maxwell shift dress and Burberry trench during her visit to Australia.
Meghan gave a nod to the emerald isle in this green Givenchy ensemble on a working trip to Dublin with Harry in July.
The Duchess’s Emilia Wickstead dress – worn to a garden party at the British Ambassador’s residence in Dublin in July (her first official tour abroad with Harry as husband and wife) – had a 1950s feel with its square neckline and belted waist. Her hair, falling in soft waves, had a touch of Old Hollywood.
In Auckland during the royal tour, Meghan recycled her navy Antonio Berardi dress with an asymmetrical hemline – first worn last year – with her trusty Stuart Weitzman heels.
At the Queen’s Young Leaders award at Buckingham Palace in June, Meg channelled Jackie O in pale pink Prada.
A £1,000 green and white cotton Martin Grant dress, teamed with a sleek ponytail, looked terrific in Tonga.
An elegant military-style overcoat was perfect for the Anzac Day service in London in April. A wide-brimmed hat and black Gucci bag completed the smart but sombre look.
Looking effortlessly casual in Tonga, Meghan had her sellout £464 sky-blue crepe shirt dress, by US label Veronica Beard, altered by sewing up the two side slits so that they ended just above the knee rather than at mid-thigh. She finished the outfit with a pair of £70 Banana Republic heels.
The Duchess again used ruffled detailing to distract from any hint of her pregnancy in September, in this Jason Wu shift dress.
This time her baby bump was kept out of sight in an understated Givenchy coat for Princess Eugenie’s wedding in October.
In another carefully planned frilled outfit, Meghan provided a splash of colour in October in a maroon crepe knit wrap top by Aussie designer Scanlan Theodore, at the Sydney Invictus Games.
The Audrey-Hepburn style bateau neckline is one of Meghan’s favourites. This Dior dress, picked for the RAF centenary ceremony in July, had echoes of the label’s classic New Look silhouette.
The ones that missed the mark(le)
The Duchess appeared swamped by this billowing Oscar de la Renta dress at a June wedding. It was too big, too long and the M&S fascinator looked plonked on.
This short tuxedo dress by Judith & Charles at a performance of musical Hamilton in August provided the first sighting of Meghan’s knees since her wedding – not to mention a good few inches of thigh. It pushed the rules of royal dressing a bit too far.
In her Ralph Lauren striped shirt and white wide-leg trousers, Meghan looked more like she was at Wimbledon to umpire the tennis championships than as a spectator.
Meghan looked stunning in this Self-Portrait dress in October but leaving the sales tag attached to the hem of her dress was a rookie mistake.
In Tonga, wearing this printed Figue bohemian wrap dress with pompoms and espadrilles, Meghan strayed too far from her usual sleek one-colour aesthetic.
For her first public engagement after her wedding, at a Buckingham Palace garden party, the Duchess chose this simple shift dress with a modest hemline and veiled neckline. Many wondered if this dull look with nude tights signalled an end to the rule-breaking modern style she’d forged before her nuptials.
The Queen is said to disapprove of showing bare arms at official engagements but Meghan, perhaps inspired by Michelle Obama’s toned biceps, has broken this rule several times, most notably in this Carolina Herrera dress at Trooping the Colour in June.
The Duchess flashed far too much royal leg in this skimpy £151 Reformation dress in Australia. The thigh-high split and strappy style left little to the imagination.
Even Harry’s had the Meghan effect!
After years of questionable clothing choices, Prince Harry has finally found his fashion feet. It seems that only one person can be credited with the transformation: Meghan.
During his on-off relationship with fun-loving South African Chelsy Davy from 2004 to 2011, Harry’s favourite look was a rumpled shirt and a pair of suede desert boots. Style writer Simon Mills observed at the time: ‘He dresses for his jaunts to [nightclubs] Boujis and Mahiki like an eternal gap-year student: rugger shirts, frayed baseball caps, bad jeans and friendship bracelets.’
Little changed when he dated Cressida Bonas from 2012 to 2014, but royal-watchers admitted his Sloaney look had its own charm. Former Tatler editor Kate Reardon wrote: ‘Prince Harry is no fashion plate but, blimey, he looks good.’ Then Meghan arrived. Out went the old, wrinkled, baggy gear and in came sleeker pieces, often by her favourite brands, such as Club Monaco. Behold, the evolution of a prince!
MORE BBQ THAN POLO
Chelsy loved Harry in spite of his baggy white T-shirt and combat shorts. The less said about his surfer shades at the polo, the better.
DRESS CODE: CRUMPLED
Leaving London’s Boujis nightclub, Harry looked as though he’d picked his shirt and jeans off the floor rather than out of his wardrobe.
SCRAP THE CAP?
On a weekend away with Cressida, Harry’s look had matured. He should have ditched the baseball cap, though.
TIME FOR A REBOOT
Harry looked remarkably casual on a night out, in his old suede desert boots, ill-fitting jeans and a zip-up cardigan.
WHAT A DAPPER DUO!
Harry was the definition of classy in a beautifully cut coat and slim trousers, all in Meghan-approved neutral shades.
KEEPING THE ROYAL TOUR REAL
In Sydney, his old uniform of shirt and chinos were given a smarter, slimmer-fitting upgrade.
THE NAME’S HARRY… PRINCE HARRY
He looked like a leading man at last month’s Royal Variety Performance. Well done, Meghan