Tonight, April 22, the 2022 Invictus Games will wrap up after a week of good ol’ fashioned friendly competition…and some must-see fashion.
Prince Harry, who founded the games in 2014 as a means to support wounded servicemen and -women, took care of the sports part, while his wife, Meghan Markle, brought the style.
Since they stepped away from the royal family in 2020, we’ve seen far less of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. So for fans of the couple, the past week has been a treat—a callback to the (brief) time when Markle was regularly photographed performing royal duties in the U.K., or taking tours of Commonwealth countries with Prince Harry.
Of course, Harry and Meghan have said that they are much happier after moving their family to California in 2020—and their radiance at the events is proof enough that they made the right move.
But don’t just take our word for it. The royal-fashion experts have spoken, and they concur that Meghan especially has embraced her preroyal sense of ease. She said as much with her clothing choices, which, as usual, were laden with meaning.
Below, Elizabeth Holmes, author of HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style, and Rachel Burchfield, editor at What Meghan Wore, reveal all of the messages you may have missed from the Duchess of Sussex. Be warned: There are a lot of them.
The white Valentino suit
Elizabeth Holmes: It’s so fun as a fashion person to see Meghan Markle really embrace fashion—and not the kind of fashion that you typically think of when you think of the royals…the princess-y stuff. To see that oversize double-breasted suit was just such a statement to me. When you’re wearing volume, you’re there to be seen, and that’s a big tenet of royal fashion. But it’s a different way to be seen. You’re taking up space. You’re standing out with that choice, and it’s not about you being some feminine ideal; this is menswear-inspired. It was so bold. I loved it.
She balanced [the suit] with that very delicate gold jewelry. Her earrings were her wedding earrings from Cartier, but she had worn them before her wedding to an Invictus Games reception in April 2018, so there was that tie-in [to the games].
That’s the thing about all of this: Meghan knows that there are blogs dedicated to every piece. Not just her clothing, but her accessories, her shoes, her makeup artist. There are fan accounts that follow every part of this, and they’re connecting the dots and recognizing the effort that she’s putting in. She didn’t have to say anything when she stepped out in that white suit. It said so much, just with her choices.
And she wore her wedding-reception shoes! Also super relatable. I have my wedding shoes and I’m like, “Gosh, where can I wear those again?”
Rachel Burchfield: That Valentino power suit was actually supposed to have a Ralph Lauren camel-colored coat over it, but she gave the coat away at the last moment. I’m kind of glad she did, because that ended up being a total badass power suit.
The Brandon Maxwell blazer
Burchfield: The photos [of Meghan in the Brandon Maxwell coat] look almost identical to the very first Invictus Games, which is where Harry and Meghan officially confirmed they were a couple. That was when she wore the Misha Nonoo husband shirt, the ripped Mother jeans, and the flats. The white-plus-denim combo reminded me a lot of that. It’s a total throwback, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. With Meghan and her style and her choices, it’s never a coincidence. It’s always very well thought out.
She is also wearing a pendant necklace that she first wore to a military base in New Jersey last November for Veterans Day, and that makes sense because obviously the Invictus Games is about celebrating veterans.
The Khaite bodysuit and navy trousers
Holmes: The whole Invictus Games, I will say, were very Diana-inspired. Some were very obvious—the Khaite bodysuit that she wore at the opening ceremony was such a specific visual parallel to Diana’s Mario Testino shoot in 1997.
Burchfield: That is not a coincidence. There’s no chance that’s not a nod to Diana.
[Editor’s note: Diana wore a white silk crêpe formal dinner dress by Catherine Walker in a photo shoot for Vanity Fair in 1997. The dress was originally ordered in 1993 for a state banquet honoring the king and queen of Malaysia. After the photo shoot, Diana auctioned the dress, with proceeds going to five charities.]
Holmes: Anytime—and this is where royal fashion gets divorced from reality, because it’s not a big deal to wear trousers; it should not ever be a big deal to wear trousers—but every time I see Meghan in those moments where you could wear a dress but instead you’re wearing trousers, I think it’s so meaningful. She didn’t wear a dress until that very last Valentino. It’s such a reminder of the ways that she fuses modern dressing into the royal fashion equation. Because most women wear trousers all the time. So for her to be on that stage, coupled with the white Valentino suit—it’s just a reminder that she’s a woman at work and a modern woman. That’s a really important thing that she’s brought to the royal fashion discussion.
When she spoke at the closing ceremony in 2018, she wore a tuxedo dress, a green halter dress, so it’s nice to see that evolution.
The Celine jacket
Holmes: [Meghan] embraced luxe logos, with the Chanel shoes and the Celine bag on Saturday. Diana, in her postroyal life, was all about logo moments. Again, I love to see it. Diana wore those same tan and black cap-toe Chanel shoes, but the heeled version.
I love how much Meghan channels Diana because I think there’s obviously a lot of parallels there. I think Meghan is looking very closely at Diana’s style. There was a very short time in Diana’s life between when her divorce started and when she died, and that was some of her best fashion—Diana was free from the confines of royal life, and she had grown up in her role. At that time she didn’t feel the need to rely on British names the way you do when you’re in the royal fold.
When Meghan stepped out with the Celine jacket and the Celine bag and the Chanel shoes, I was like, “That’s what Diana did.” You don’t have to play by those royal rules anymore. You can wear what you like, and you can be free to be a little bit fancy in that sense. You can be free to wear those logos—and we know that Meghan has always liked the logos. She worked it into her time as a royal too, but she keeps it nonchalant, not too fussy.
I think she did a great job with that outfit because she wore the Celine and Chanel, but the jeans were American [Moussy] and the sunglasses were a British brand [Linda Farrow]. She’s very cognizant and spreads the designer love around. Meghan and Harry still have ties to the U.K., so she works in those British brands.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the queen, Diana, Kate, and Meghan; out of all four of them, Meghan was sort of the most well versed in fashion before she entered the royal scene because she had been an influencer and had worked with a costume designer on set. She knew how to talk through her clothes in a way that Kate and Diana did not when they joined the royal family. You’ve always seen that savvy and that sophistication in her choices.
Burchfield: Her jacket and a pair of jeans look was as chic as ever. There’s such an effortlessness to Meghan’s style that is so cool and compelling.
If I could sum up this weekend in four words, fashionwise, it would be: white, blue, coats, denim. It really does feel like Meghan preroyal. Meghan is a minimalistic dresser. Her fashion icon is Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, who was the minimalist of all minimalists in the ’90s. [Editor’s note: In 2016, Markle told Glamour that Bessette-Kennedy’s style was “everything goals.”] Meghan’s style is what I call “minimalistic sophistication.” She’s also a very thoughtful dresser. You will always see her telling a bit of a fashion story. That is a very royal thing to do. Kate does that. Diana did that. The queen does that. But she always brings Diana in, which I find so special because of course Diana means everything to Harry.
Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy pretty much wore nothing but black, white, and camel, with some creams and nudes—I can think of one picture of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy in a red coat. That’s how Meghan is too.
Those women shared the experience of having their whole life upended after marrying into a legacy family.
The white Valentino dress
Holmes: She seems very back in her element [in this look]. Not having to conform to the ideas of royal fashion, which are limiting, frankly. They’re not relevant to her life now.
Burchfield: I loved the berry lip on that look. You can have a great fashion selection but then totally blitz the hair and makeup and it ruins it. I thought that Valentino dress, which I really loved, was made better by Daniel Martin’s makeup. He did a great job.
Hair and makeup
Holmes: Saturday morning was the Land Rover driving event, a sponsored event. She went to that event in 2018 and wore a white Altuzarra blazer over her [Invictus Games] logo shirt. She wore heels and her hair down.
It looked so much better, I think, this time around when she’s wearing flats and her hair is in a ponytail. She was more of the casual vibe.
It’s a Celine jacket, so it’s not casual, but it was relaxed. The blazer with the ponytail—I think that really helped. It was just such a vibe. My kids just started playing sports and I thought, Gosh, if I could look that chic on the sidelines.
Burchfield: She’s been wearing Diana’s Cartier bracelet almost every single time we’ve seen her in public. She wore it on the Oprah interview, she wore it all weekend—but this weekend she also pulled out some things from her wedding day.
She always wears the Diana Cartier Tank watch. That was a gift from Harry, and that had been a gift from Diana. She also always wears her own Cartier bracelet, which she bought herself; she famously wrote that blog post, “I bought this for myself. I’ll give it to my daughter one day.”
But this weekend we saw her bring out this diamond tennis bracelet by Bentley & Skinner that was a gift from Charles for her wedding in 2018. So that says to me, “Hey, there’s an olive branch here. We love our father-in-law too.”
With her first look, the Valentino suit, she has on this Sophie Lis pendant, which says, “Qu’hier que demain.” It translates to “More than yesterday, but less than tomorrow.” I assume that it’s a gift from Harry that says, basically, “I love you more than yesterday but less than tomorrow.” How doggone romantic? I live for this stuff!
It’s at least the second time she’s worn the necklace, if not the third. It’s so romantic, and they were just so obviously in love with each other onstage during the opening ceremony. With the kiss—I melted.
Holmes: The [Sophie Lis] necklace was just oozing with love for Harry. The Invictus Games are Harry’s passion project, and it’s his signature cause. So for her to make this bold statement in this menswear-inspired voluminous suit but then balance it with these very delicate, beautiful accessories that are steeped in her love for Harry—she’s so good! She knows!
Burchfield: The bottom line is, Meghan looked amazing. She looked healthy, she looked happy, she looked in love—she looked radiant. I live for that.
Originally Appeared on Glamour