Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex and wife of Prince Harry, 35, stunned the world with her fashion choices during their 2019 Royal Tour. Known for her bold and iconic looks and routinely speaking about causes close to her heart, the Duchess used her ever growing platform to subtly support her favourite issues without having to say a word – did you notice?
When it comes to royal fashion, nothing is accidental. Each outfit is carefully planned well in advance in order to have the most impact.
Fresh off her 2019 Royal Tour of South Africa, during her engagements Meghan used her high-profile platform to champion one of the many causes she cares dearly about – sustainable fashion.
The Duchess of Sussex traveled to South Africa with a luggage full of low-key looks, and recycled pieces she had previously worn out in public, this sent a subtle, but clear message of: Don’t focus on what I’m wearing but what I’m doing during on this trip.
During the official trip, eagle eyed fans kept a close eye on her fashion choices. Previously, the Duchess of Sussex had come under fire for wearing a £130,000 wardrobe during her last Commonwealth tour but this time around Meghan’s wardrobe was worth a fraction of the cost, estimated at £9,000. Wearing some fan favourites, like the sleeveless stripped maxi dress by Martin Grant and her House of Nonie trench dress, the Duchess kept the focus on substance.
Christine Ross, editor of Meghan’s Mirror, an online blog dedicated to Meghan’s outfits said: “Any time a royal re-wears something, there’s usually a reason.
“They want to redirect the conversation, and it shifts that conversation from fashion to substance.”
Prior to the tour, Meghan didn’t ‘recycle’ her outfits that often. After all, she only joined the Royal Family in May of 2018, and has been steadily building a wardrobe that suits her new career and lifestyle over the past year and a half.
Elizabeth Holmes, a well-known journalist for her popular #SoManyThoughts series on Instagram, where she provides commentary on the royals’ sartorial choices, found Meghan’s re-wears on the tour as ‘incredibly notable.
“First and foremost, I thought that it was about taking the emphasis off of the clothes and onto the engagements.
“Every normal person wears their clothing more than once, but these are people who have access to any designer and any style on the planet. So when they choose to re-wear something, it’s significant,” Elizabeth said.
Sometimes the Duchess’s attire even helped to make unspoken connections between an event in South Africa, and Meghan’s previous work back in the UK.
For example, she wore a blush-coloured House of Nonie trench dress to meet with Nelson Mandela’s widow, humanitarian Graça Machel. She had worn that same dress to a Nelson Mandela memorial event in London back in 2018.
According to Elizabeth, ‘re-wears’ often give the media a chance to resurface these old appearances.
“That was a really thoughtful re-wear. It reminds people that this is something that Harry and Meghan have cared about for a long time,” Elizabeth continued.
The Duchess, chose to step out a recycled nylon dress from Los Angeles brand STAUD during her visit to the Aural Mosque and it had a huge impact.
The floor-length, olive green, belted shirt dress made entirely from recycled nylon has been sold out since Meghan wore it, retailing at $325, the in demand dress is now available for pre-order, just in time for Christmas.
Opening up to People magazine, co-founder of STAUD, Sarah Staudinger said: “The eyes of the world are constantly on the royal family, so it is very meaningful that the Duchess has placed a focus on sustainability.
“We [were] honoured that she chose to wear a dress from our brand.
“The response has been incredible and has exposed us to a much wilder audience.”
While royal aides will sometimes share information about the outfits Meghan wears, on this particular trip, details about her clothing were not always instantly available, demonstrating how low on the agenda fashion was during the official visit.
Overall, Meghan’s sartorial symbolism was subtle, but clear: the focus of the tour was not meant to be on fashion, but rather on the work.
“Meghan has learned how to send a message with her clothing,” Christine Ross said. “Now she’s being very careful about what she’s saying.”