MEGHAN STYLE: The Duchess look on a high street budget

LOTS of fashion-y people are talking about ‘The Meghan Effect’ and whether we expected the new Duchess to be more directional with her outfit choices.
Our Meg’s in a bit of a no-win situation if that’s the pedestal we’re putting her on.
She’s trying to fit into a family steeped in hundreds of years of history and protocol. She’s attending lots of prestigious events…. what do you want? A sequin catsuit, for crying out loud?!
Yes there were a few weeks there when I thought her style was a little… confused.
The Oscar de la Renta dress she wore to Harry’s cousin wedding was beautiful – but swamped her figure. Perhaps she didn’t want to upstage the bride – imagine having that stunner at your wedding! No thanks.
All in all, though, I think she’s making the transition to Duchess very elegantly – helped by her seemingly go-to design house Givenchy.
Not only did its creative director Clare Waight Keller design Meghan’s wedding dress, but the Duchess wore Givenchy to two important events – her first public engagement with the Queen and Royal Ascot.
It’s no secret that Meghan spells quids-in for any designer she chooses to wear.
When she stepped out in a £45 Marks and Spencer jumper last March she caused a fashion frenzy.
The black, balloon-sleeved number sold out within hours, with women around the country clambering to get their hands on a touch of royal glamour.
It is the same story with every official engagement the couple have undertaken in the last six months.
The Chloe circle bag Meghan held during the Christmas Day church service at Sandringham has been replicated dozens of times over on the high street. I have a £10 version from Primark!
The navy and oxblood bag she took on her very first formal public outing to Nottingham last December propelled the brand Strathberry into the fashion stratosphere. Not only was the bag an instant sell-out, since being re-stocked it has been re-named the ‘Meghan.’
The difference between the Strathberry bag and the Marks and Spencer jumper is price. The bag retails at £425.
The fact it sold out in minutes shows that we are willing to splash the cash to feel, even for just a little while, as special as a Duchess.
As does the fact the £590 pale-pink Goat dress she wore for her first official engagement as a Duchess sold out overnight.
That beautiful £1,300 Brandon Maxwell yellow shift-dress she sported for an event last week? Sold out. And many a dedicated repliMeghan searching online for a cheaper alternative.
There’s been lots of criticism of the fact that the new Duchess has reportedly spent more than £750,000 on her wardrobe since becoming a royal. It’s an eye-watering sum. But can it be justified by the upturn in sales it has for the fashion industry?
The ‘Meghan Effect’, as it’s known, follows on from the ‘Kate Effect’ – our love affair with the wardrobe of modern royals.
Designers know that there is one sure-fire way to make their item a lust-have: Get the royal sister-in-laws to wear it.
Our obsession with royal fashion spans centuries; but we are in a new era.
Never before have civilians been able to get their hands so easily on items fit for a princess. Thanks to the internet, more disposable income and ‘fast fashion’, you can pick up an item worn by Kate or Meghan (or a duplicate thereof) faster than you can say ‘I want that’.
Dedicated sites – such as Meghan’s Mirror – document every item worn by the former actress, and links to where fans can get their hands on similar pieces.
Never before have we had such access to royalty, who they are, what they like and how they dress (though her social media accounts have been removed since the engagement was announced.)
Kate has proven invaluable to British, fashion, particularly to the labels she frequently wears such as Reiss, Whistles and Hobbs.
The Duchess’ preference for L.K. Bennett’s nude court shoes has seen the brand’s profits rocket and its extension into the US market.
Kate has been dubbed the ‘thrifty’ Duchess and has been known to recycle items from her wardrobe, reportedly to the pleasure of the Queen. Even a royal has to dress to a budget and spending is scrutinised by the press. So to be seen wearing items more than once makes Kate more relatable to the public.
Kate jetted off on her honeymoon in 2011 sporting a £34.99 powder blue Zara dress. Her ability to mix high end with high street makes us feel more in touch with the Duchess, fashion experts say.
Writing back in 2012 about Kate’s ability to pull off a high street ensemble, journalist Tom Sykes said: ‘No one could have blamed the girl for wearing McQueen or Dior to such a sparkling, glamorous event, but former PR girl Kate seems quite determined to telegraph a very specific message to her future subjects via her clothing choices: “I’m normal.”’
The message from Meghan, too, is ‘I’m normal’ – though perhaps, as she is not preparing for life as Queen, she is able to make a little more of a statement through her clothes.
Still, the evolution of Meghan’s style from working actress to royal-in-waiting is evident.
For her first public appearance with Harry, she wore jeans and a half-tucked shirt, the embodiment of sunny LA life.
Since the engagement was announced there has been a marked difference in Meghan’s outfits; grown-up glamour is now the aim.
Gone are the days of bandeau tops and trilby hats; in their place are pencil dresses, skirt suits and beautifully-tailored coats.
And it seems to be having ‘The Meghan Effect’ on the high street.
Here are some of the best bargains coming onto the high street from September if you want the Duchess look for less!
The coats
Last winter, Meghan really upped her coat game. And this year, the high street has taken notice. Get yourself down to M&S from September if you want to wrap up like royalty.


Suits you

Sharp tailoring is a Meghan-must. Make M&S, Dorothy Perkins and Next your high street go-tos. And for ultimate quality and a great price, do not overlook Mango. Its tailored blazers are a thing of beauty.



Meghan is known for sexy footwear. How she walks at some of those heights is beyond a mere mortal like me. According to the experts, she wears a size bigger so that if her feet swell they fit – and it prevents blisters. She’s been seen a few times in black, bow-back Acquazzura pumps. Closest I can find on a budget are there from Coast – down to £29 in the sale!


I’ve written before about how the high street has really upped its shoe game over the last few years – and that trend continues. Again, shop Mango, Next, Marks and Spencer et al – and take a look at Wallis, too.



Full on ‘RepliMeghan’

Yes. Some genius has cashed in on royal style good and proper. If doing your own version of Meghan and Kate isn’t enough for you, check out Royal Look for Less.

You can buy replica versions of every outfit worn by the royal sister-in-laws, like this version of Meghan’s sell-out £300 Self Portrait dress.

meghan dress


Fancy creations for the Trooping of the Colour and Royal Ascot, or sun hats at the polo – and even the odd ‘off duty’ beanie – Meghan is a woman who likes a hat.

And the good news if you’ve got a head for hats – they’re back in a big way for autumn. Even the beret is making a come back. If you want to get ahead of the curve, check out Debenhams – its selection is probably the best right now.

J by Jasper Conran, £30



YES it’s boiling right now. But we live in the UK. This will soon change.

Looking at the press previews for Autumn/Winter, ladylike gloves are big news.

Principles at Debenhams has the best selection. Below, £18.


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