Her sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, has been hugely influential in shaping fashion over the past decade.
The two have very different styles. As the royal wedding has now come and gone, we took a look at how they match up.
All eyes have been on Meghan Markle in the days before and after the royal wedding.
Since news broke that Markle was dating Prince Harry, her profile skyrocketed, and she became an international fashion icon. It’s a role that only one other woman in recent memory can directly identify with — her sister-in-law Kate Middleton.
It’s rare for the royals to speak their minds in public. That goes double for Middleton and Markle. As women in the spotlight, anything they do can spark backlash. As a result, fashion can provide a way for them to express themselves.
As Markle prepared to marry Harry, we found ourselves wondering how she would compare to Middleton when it comes to fashion. And, with the wedding in the rearview mirror, our fascination with figuring out how Markle will both compare and differentiate herself has only grown.
Let’s start with a Markle specialty: movie premieres. As an actress, she has plenty of experience dressing for the red carpet.
It’s a pretty simple look — a little black dress with strappy heels. Cute, but nothing groundbreaking.
As a duchess, Middleton also attends plenty of premieres. Here she is in 2012, at the premiere of “War Horse.”
Middleton took a more elegant approach with a full-length lace gown.
In general, Middleton’s approach is simple elegance, as seen in the gorgeous sheer gown she wore to the premiere of the James Bond film “Spectre.”
Markle and Middleton also make frequent public appearances to draw attention to issues they believe are important.
Markle is known for her straightforwardly bold looks, like this jewel-tone mermaid dress.
She works to be on the cutting edge of fashion — sometimes to her detriment, as in the case of this bizarre shorts-suit combo.
However, being a trendsetter can require taking risks. Searches for “vegan leather trousers” jumped 67% after Markle name-dropped it in an interview.
Middleton is far less likely to follow trends when appearing at events for charitable organizations or other fundraising functions.
Instead, she favors classic, longer dresses in plain colors or simple prints.
Even when Middleton wears something that’s a bit more fun, it’s not trendy. This polka-dot dress is pretty much as bold as she will go when it comes to a charity function — almost quirky, but mostly timeless.
The one place she is willing to let loose, both in fashion and more generally, is athletics.
While watching sports, she has a chance to wear more casual outfits, like this sleeveless button-down.
Twitter trolls slammed Markle for wearing casual jeans during her first public appearance with Harry, at the 2017 Invictus Games.
Even in their sportier outfits, Markle is more attuned to trends, while Middleton goes for classics.
It is somewhat unfair, however, to compare Middleton’s fashion decisions with Markle’s style before she became associated with the royal family.
Middleton met and began dating William while they attended the University of St. Andrews, so she’s been in the public eye as the prince’s significant other for most of her adult life.
A more direct comparison is how Markle’s post-engagement fashion has lined up with Middleton’s choices over the past decade. In her first public appearance as Harry’s fiancée, Markle wore a coat from Line, a little-known Canadian brand — helping to crash the brand’s website.
In the couple’s first post-engagement interview, Markle opted for a simple dark-green dress.
Middleton, meanwhile, went all-out with an instantly iconic royal blue Issa dress when the couple announced their engagement in 2010.
After her engagement, Markle’s outfits for the couple’s public appearances have been more muted.
Still, she brings her fashion sensibility in with the details — look at those boots!
Middleton brought her sense of style to one of her first public appearances after her engagement, wearing a fascinator, one of her favorite — very British — accessories.
The two were photographed together for the first time on Christmas Day. In typical fashion, Middleton went more old-school, while Markle imbued a traditional style with a more modern twist.
In the months leading up to the royal wedding, Markle has continued to try and wed traditional and trendy — and revealed a certain appreciation of hats.
So who comes out on top in a comparison of the women’s fashion senses?
Markle has the opportunity to bring a breath of fresh air to the British monarchy. Her willingness to experiment and behave more informally in public with Harry is a welcome change from the sometimes stiff and formal royal protocol.
But her sticking to trends has led to some fashion missteps. And her post-engagement public appearances still haven’t revealed any fashion game changers.
While Middleton’s dedication to more traditional fashion can sometimes feel a bit stale, she has turned out hits again and again over a full decade in the public eye.
And when it comes to iconic fashion, Markle hadn’t pulled off anything yet that can top some of Middleton’s instant classics in the months leading up to the wedding.
With the royal wedding, Meghan Markle had the opportunity to completely wow the world with her dress.
Markle wore a Givenchy gown designed by Clare Waight Keller.
The dress featured a wide boatneck neckline with long sleeves, providing a modern but elegant style.
The veil was more than 16 feet long and hand-embroidered with flowers in silk threads and organza.
By comparison, Middleton’s Alexander McQueen dress featured lacier sleeves and a more structured silhouette.
Middleton’s dress was both more old-fashioned and showed slightly more skin than Markle’s Givenchy gown.
Both Markle and Middleton wore tiaras and veils, a fitting nod to the royal family’s history.
While Markle looked beautiful, the fit of Middleton’s dress elevates it over Markle’s gown.
Markle’s simple and elegant dress needed to fit like a glove — and it just missed the mark.