Laid-back luxe: how Meghan Markle's understated glamour sets the tone for her year of change
If Meghan Markle’s debut ensemble for 2020 is anything to by, there is an exciting fashion year ahead.
After a six-week break to enjoy some private family time, Britain’s Duke and Duchess of Sussex made their return to public life, with a brief appearance at Canada House; a savvy PR move in order to thank the Canadians for their recent hospitality.
They requested to meet with Janice Charette, Canada's High Commissioner to the UK, as well as staff to "thank them for the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during their recent stay".
The Sussexes managed to keep much of the details of their trip secret and it was only after speculation in a Sunday newspaper that Buckingham Palace confirmed they were enjoying respite in the country.
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And it was only when music producer David Foster, a former reality TV star whose fourth wife Katherine McPhee knows Meghan since their high school days, let the cat out of the bag about the private Vancouver Island mansion they rented that any real information about their trip became available.
But it was, for better or worse, Meghan’s outfit choice that attracted the most attention.
Her style choices are dissected by journalists, bloggers and commentators around the world and Fashionista.com summarises her appearance in their aptly titled series ‘Meghan Markle wore a thing’.
It was a welcome change to the familiar, a nod to the days of her engagement tour with Harry in 2017: her bust-length hair, with its trademark middle part, worn in boho waves in contrast to the overly coiffed styles she was shoehorned into after her wedding.
We began to see this return to form in late last year during her South Africa tour, during which she made it clear she would be listening to herself and raging against the royal machine.
Tonal browns are famously difficult to pull off, as any stylist will tell you, but she did so effortlessly in a Massimo Dutti polo neck knit and brown satin midi skirt. Contrary to her usual coat-over-the-shoulders style, she embraced a more down-to-earth approach by simply wearing her camel Reiss wrap coat, before eventually carrying it in her arms on exit.
Usually, royals forego coats altogether if it’s a case of moving from car to venue, even in the depths of winter. In this case, a coat is more than just a coat. It’s an opportunity to dispel pregnancy rumours. It’s an upscale British high street label not already ‘owned’ by Kate Middleton.
It’s the display of a relaxed woman on a mission with some New Year joie de vivre.
Some eagle-eyed fans noticed she was also perspiring, adding that extra dose of humanity to arguably the most famous woman in the world.
Her decision to recycle a pair of velvet Jimmy Choo pumps, first worn on a surprise trip to Belfast during her engagement tour, and a pair of Catherine Zoraiada earrings from the early days of her relationship are a conscious choice.
The only hint of royal traditionalism was a pair of flesh-coloured tights, reportedly a non-negotiable fashion requirement Queen Elizabeth imposes on all senior female royals.
2020 is a difficult one for the Sussexes - already, Buckingham Palace has refused to comment on “speculation” they’re moving to Canada after their recent time there. They are bolstering their respective lawsuits against various media organisations: Harry is suing The Mirror and The Sun for alleged phone hacking and Meghan is suing the Mail on Sunday, accusing the newspaper of breach of copyright for publishing a private letter she sent to her father Thomas Markle.
They are trying to carve out a suitable path for themselves in public life, capitalising on their global fame and satiating their ambitions, while focusing on being new parents to their baby son Archie.
At least it won’t be boring.