scorecardHow Meghan Markle followed Princess Diana's lead by sending messages with her clothes
  1. Home
  2. life
  3. news
  4. How Meghan Markle followed Princess Diana's lead by sending messages with her clothes

How Meghan Markle followed Princess Diana's lead by sending messages with her clothes

Celia Fernandez   

How Meghan Markle followed Princess Diana's lead by sending messages with her clothes
LifeThelife6 min read
  • Princess Diana had her fair share of royal fashion statements, from her black-sheep sweater to her off-the-shoulder "revenge dress."
  • Meghan Markle also used fashion thoughtfully as a member of the royal family.
  • While Princess Diana further developed her sense of style with help from British Vogue editors, Meghan Markle entered the royal family with prior experience working with a costume designer and being an influencer.
  • Meghan Markle and Princess Diana both represented the crown and maintained their sense of style, according to royal fashion expert Elizabeth Holmes.

While they were generations apart, both Princess Diana and Meghan Markle used their personal style in similar ways and represented groundbreaking eras of royal fashion.

Elizabeth Holmes, a fashion journalist and the author of "HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style," told Insider that Diana and Markle were able to maintain their sense of individuality while still representing the royal family.

"As much as I saw connections between the Queen and Kate, I saw them between Diana and Meghan," Holmes said. "They embraced more trends and a more contemporary and modern style that they had fun with."

"Diana delighted in clothes, and what we saw from Meghan was exciting, too," she added. "Seeing something different can draw in a whole new audience."

Holmes described Princess Diana as a 'master dresser'

In her book, "HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style," Holmes said that Diana would tailor her style "not just to what she was doing or who she was meeting, but how she was feeling."

For instance, many people think Princess Diana made clear her feelings on where she stood in the royal family when she wore her famous black-sheep sweater to attend a polo match with Prince Charles in 1983. The sweater, which was created in 1979 by Warm & Wonderful, featured one black sheep surrounded by rows of white sheep.

Based on an interview she did with the BBC in 1995, it seems Diana always saw herself as an outsider in the royal family. Wearing the black-sheep sweater could have been her way of revealing her feelings to the public.

"I'd like to be a queen of people's hearts, in people's hearts, but I don't see myself being Queen of this country," Diana said in the famous BBC interview. "I don't think many people will want me to be Queen. Actually, when I say many people, I mean the establishment that I married into because they have decided that I'm a non-starter."

In "HRH," Holmes points out that Princess Diana drew even more attention to her sweater by wearing a blouse with a black ribbon that pointed directly down to the black sheep.

While the original sweater is now on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum, New York fashion designer Rowing Blazers collaborated with Warm & Wonderful to reissue the garment in October.

From the moment she joined the royal family, Markle followed in Princess Diana's footsteps by being deliberate with her fashion choices

According to Holmes, Markle entered the royal family several steps ahead of her late mother-in-law in terms of fashion. While Diana got a makeover from British Vogue editors after marrying Prince Charles, Markle already had experience working with a costume designer from her time as an actress when she got engaged to Prince Harry in 2017.

"Meghan knew how to tell stories through clothes," Holmes said. "She was very fluent in fashion thanks to her time as an influencer, too. She put together a really thoughtful progression in her visual brand so people would pick up on that."

"Her approach to fashion is very sophisticated and modern," Holmes continued. "Meghan understood very clearly that the royal family has a certain set of expectations around it and what a traditional royal look would be. What Meghan did was maintain her sense of individuality with her very relaxed, sophisticated, Southern California vibe."

At the 2018 Endeavour Awards, Markle gave a nod to Princess Diana by wearing a black Alexander McQueen suit to her first evening engagement. Her late mother-in-law was also one to wear pantsuits from time to time.

"The black trouser suit got a lot of attention because it's something we haven't seen from the royal family since Diana," Holmes said. "It sends a very strong message that Meghan understood this was a job and she was showing up to work."

Holmes wrote in her book that when Princess Diana and Prince Charles' marriage started falling apart, the late royal wore more blazers and sheath dresses. After her divorce, she was photographed wearing sexy dresses at night and bike shorts to the gym.

Before her untimely death, Princess Diana spent most of her time focusing on humanitarian work. She auctioned off numerous gowns and often wore button-down shirts and pants.

One of Princess Diana's most iconic fashion moments was in 1994 when she wore an off-the-shoulder number that became known as the 'revenge dress'

According to "HRH," Princess Diana was meant to wear another dress to a Vanity Fair event at the Serpentine Gallery, but she decided against it after the brand behind the gown released a statement alerting the press of her garment.

Instead, she pulled from her closet an off-the-shoulder black dress by Greek designer Christina Stambolian.

The same day Princess Diana wore the black dress, an interview aired where Prince Charles publicly admitted to his affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles. From that moment on, the Christina Stambolian garment became known as the "revenge dress."

"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. But also: fashion hath no greater thrill than when being deployed for the purpose of expressing rage," Holmes wrote in her book, quoting Bethan Holt in The Telegraph on the 25th anniversary of the dress.

Markle's equivalent to Princess Diana's revenge dress is the Emilia Wickstead cape dress she wore on her final engagement as a senior member of the royal family

In March, Vanity Fair described Markle's wardrobe choices during her "farewell tour" as an example of using clothes to send subtle messages. She and Prince Harry showed a united front during their final days as working royals. For example, Prince Harry's suits subtly coordinated with her clothes, whether it was his tie or the lining of his jacket.

Holmes echoed a similar sentiment and said that her book serves as a time capsule of Markle's working wardrobe as a royal.

"Meghan's fashion was her best yet, a sartorial master class in how to dress to be seen. Meghan stood out in every crowd with her trio of tailored dresses by British-dwelling designers in vibrant shades of blue, red, and green," she writes in her book. "Some of the most iconic photographs of the couple to date, and specifically of Meghan, came from this whirlwind good-bye, projecting poise and confidence as she closed this chapter."

Since stepping back from royal duties, Markle has embraced her Southern California roots by wearing more relaxed outfits, including items such as a casual denim shirt from Anthropologie, and striped trousers during a sit-down interview with Gloria Steinem.

Although Markle is embracing a more casual style, she is still being purposeful with what she wears. In October, she paid tribute to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a T-shirt and face mask.

The face mask was embroidered with an excerpt from one of Ginsburg's famous quotes: "People ask me sometimes, 'When do you think it will be enough? When will there be enough women on the court?' And my answer is: 'When there are nine.'"

Holmes added that Markle will likely continue to make symbolic fashion choices in her new chapter.

"She's putting every bit as much thought into her outfits as she was when she lived back in the UK. I do hope we will see a bit more freedom," Holmes said. "We've only been able to see glimpses, so I'm excited for what's to come."