Meghan Markle made her first official public outing. The international press published the images at lightning speed, which proves just how fascinated we all still are with the royals and their paramours.
What the coverage also illustrated is our ongoing obsession with what royal women—potentials or otherwise—wear. There is an obvious double standard here: We're less concerned with what the princes or dukes choose to clothe themselves in (who cares about where Harry acquires his polo shirts from or where William buys his chinos?), but what the royal women look like is still a captivating subject.
Queens and princesses are supposed to represent the ideal fantasy of what a woman should look like, so our critique and analysis of what they wear and how they look says a lot about how progressive we are. For example, when it was first revealed that Markle was dating Harry (via a public royal statement after press harassment began to cause safety concerns) the tabloid media seemed shocked and slightly perturbed to discover that she was a brunette. She was "not in the society blonde style of previous girlfriends," wrote the Daily Mail. What many outlets found difficult to discuss openly was the fact that Markle is mixed-race, so they decided to focus on her hair color instead.
So what does a modern princess wear now? Well, if the rumors are true and Markle is soon to be a princess, then it looks as if she's taking a different road from the Duchess of Cambridge, who favors shift dresses, skirt suits, and sensible nude LK Bennett heels.
Markle, fully aware that all eyes would have been on her during yesterday's hand-holding outing with Harry, chose a relaxed outfit. It was an informal, accessible look—jeans, shirt and ballet pumps. Her loose shirt by friend Misha Nonoo (named The Husband, which the tabloids are naturally obsessing over this morning) was left half hanging out of her jeans, which gave a relaxed appeal.
Her slim-cut jeans, which have been claimed by both J Crew and Mother Denim today, were frayed at the hem and distressed at the knee, again a very low-key, insouciant touch. It also shows an interest in fashion – frayed denim hems are
In May this year, the Suits actress described French Vogue editor Emmanuelle Alt as her "style spirit animal." For those who aren't familiar with the nuances of French style, it's about control and restraint. Parisienne women have a uniform and they stick to it. Key items include ballet flats, trench coats, a good pair of jeans and disheveled hair. It is never shouty or try-hard, but no doubt requires as much behind-the-scenes work as any other way of dressing.
"I think as you get older you feel more confident and you don't need to put that much effort in—to be able to throw your hair up in that very French way doing things," Markle told Glamour. "If your outfit is on point, one thing has to be off for you to look perfect."
Markle's casual style is also her first attempt at grappling with the impossible contradictions inherent in this kind of royal-adjacent scrutiny. Wear a designer dress and the media will brand you extravagant, indulgent, and moan about the cost to taxpayers. Wear something accessible—or leave the house without a blowout—and you'll be chastised for damaging the image of the royal family and for not supporting British designers.
So maybe Markle is