Caitlin McBride: Meghan Markle's €5,000 outfit at a children's charity event reeks of bad taste
Meghan Markle's first few months in the British royal family hasn't been without its hiccups - in fact, it has been mired with more criticism than most 'normal' people's transition into the upper echelons of society.
But for every nasty comment made by her father or sister, there has been one area nearly free from critique: her personal style. Markle emits a natural elegance, injecting some fresh life into the can-be stale wardrobes of the British royals. Instead of pleated skirts, it's a trouser suit. A modest wedge? She wouldn't be caught dead in anything but a four-inch pump!
However, it's her consistent strength that will prove to be her eventual foot-wrong - an exclusively designer wardrobe will rub people the wrong way in the long run, and an inability to distinguish between investment pieces and simple spending-for-the-sake-of-it isn't endearing to the public.
There is a time and place for couture - the Oscars, the Cannes Film Festival, a state gala dinner - but Meghan hasn't quite grasped the concept that just because you have it doesn't mean you have to show it off.
The occasion to display your obvious wealth is not at an event honouring extremely sick children who are doing their best to live as normal lives as possible as she did at last night's WellChild Awards in London. It's a cause close to Harry's heart and he has been a regular guest at the awards in recent years, joined for the first time last night by his new wife, whose black power suit elevated her on top of best dressed lists everywhere.
While the couple's intentions to use their profile for good causes are noble and unquestionable, the optics leave a lot to be desired - perhaps least of all the fact that they arrived via limousine and most of all, it was with Meghan showing off the extent of her clothing allowance, wearing an ensemble worth an estimated €5,000.
The Altazurra trouser suit, €1,650, the Falabella Stella McCartney clutch, €425, the black suede Aquzurra pumps, €220, a €325 camisole by Deitas and a pair of pearl earrings gifted to her by Queen Elizabeth (price unknown, but worth at least €2,000) does not exactly exude a 'princess of the people' image she seemed so keen on pursuing just a few months ago.
There's an obvious disconnect between Meghan's extravagant taste and the gravity of her duties, which is largely comprised of meeting members of the public who could never fathom access to her new personal fortune.
Fashion is how royals lure attention to their personal causes - Meghan or her sister-in-law Kate Middleton wearing a dazzling dress or debuting a new hairstyle at an event will gather more columns inches for their respective charity visits than that of their husbands in a different variation of their trademark navy blue suits. Women's fashion is just more captivating, case in point: Barack Obama wore the same tuxedo for his eight years at the White House, while Michelle Obama's outfits were often the ones dissected.
But it's important to know when the line between the fantastical and real life needs to be drawn.
Meghan's new life as the Duchess of Sussex might be the stuff of real-life fairytales, but she knows better than anyone than life without the financial security is difficult and a little humility - or even, say, a high street dress - can go a long way in turning public favour.
Kate mastered the high-low balance long ago, famously peppering €30 Zara necklaces and €11 Accessorize earrings with Emilia Wickstead and Alexander McQueen coats and L.K. Bennett heels, while Meghan has much more expensive taste.
For her first overseas tour with Harry in July, the former Suits star chose labels over diplomacy, shunning any Irish brands in favour of British, French and Canadian talent - instead of an obvious couturier like Louise Kennedy or even, wearing designs exclusively from the country she is representing.
There is, so far, no consistency to her public style and soon enough, 'She's still new to it all' won't be enough of an excuse anymore.