Meghan Markle’s New York Wardrobe Is All About Autumn Big Hitters

What the Duchess wore in the Big Apple – and her right to wear expensive clothes.

meghan markle prince harry new york

by Laura Antonia Jordan |
Updated on

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are back on the road. For their first public appearance since the birth of daughter Lilibet Diana in June, the power couple hit New York for a trip that saw them visit the UN, a Harlem school and the 9/11 memorial, and which culminated in an on-stage appearance at the Global Citizen Live festival.

It’s doubtful Meghan Markle travelled with hand luggage only, but nevertheless her looks for the three-day trip were a masterclass in keeping things simple. On the sartorial agenda, then? A perfectly curated capsule wardrobe that spelled September back-to-business polish. New York is unseasonably warm right now – but Markle is already in an autumn state of mind.

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In a Max Mara coat and Valextra handbag ©Getty

And who could blame her? Markle is a sucker for the charms of a Great Coat. If anything can convince you to prematurely give a coat an outing, surely it’s a single-breasted navy Emporio Armani or a camel Max Mara Rispoli wool number. They spell authoritative, professional elegance and if you invest in one thing for your office return wardrobe, start here (you can find some very Meghan options at Cos, Arket and Marks & Spencer right now).

What she also understands is that in order to build a chic capsule wardrobe, it’s important to start with solid foundations. For her this means fitted polo necks (hers is, apparently, by The Row – you should look in Uniqlo), tailored trousers and pencil skirts – all in black. And accessories come from the same elevated playbook: Manolo Blahnik pumps, Valentino sunglasses, a Valextra Isolde top handle bag, a Smythson folio and a sprinkling of status jewellery.

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Wearing Loro Piana in cashmere ©Getty

But this trip wasn’t all about executive elegance, two looks were also the definition of relaxed sophistication. If you suddenly have an urge to wear a burgundy two-piece set, you can thank Markle. For her trip to Harlem she wore a Loro Piana cashmere jacket with coordinating trousers, cut with a looser fit than we normally see her in. It had all the professionalism of a suit but had a refreshingly modern ease.

In between her global power player hobnobbing and Time covers, it’s easy to forget that Markle is also a 40-year old woman. And for her final look of the trip, she proved that she still has her finger on the fashion pulse. At the Global Citizen Live festival, Markle wore an embellished Valentino mini shift dress. Its simple silhouette and capped sleeves were proof that this season’s high-hemlines (seriously, they are everywhere) don’t belong exclusively to Gen Z; and props to the mum of two young children for giving white a whirl when away from home.

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In a Valentino mini dress ©Getty

At this point it goes without saying that Markle is one of the most scrutinised women in the world. And despite the pitch-perfect aesthetic of her New York wardrobe (formal, but not stuffy) there have been predictable grumbles about the price tags of the items worn, as if a woman in a £3,300 dress is inherently hypocritical if she then wears it to talk about vaccine equality. But what would they prefer? A tracksuit and slippers? Or, is it fine for her to wear expensive clothes if she then sits at home lighting scented candles, getting her hair done and trilling "Let them eat cake"?

The barrage of criticism that high-profile women receive when they dare to enjoy fashion and have something to say is reductive and sexist. Do we ever look at the price tags of Prince Harry’s suits, or any of our male politicians? You know the answer. You need only look at the fuss surrounding Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner's leopard print jeans and biker bootsfor proof that criticism of this kind is not limited to luxury fashion, it's about having the nerve to be seen and heard. It is to completely miss the point that we as women, as people, contain multitudes. In the fashion vs social change debate, one doesn’t need to take sides. A sense of style, an interest in clothes, shouldn’t and doesn’t mute our right to say something. To appreciate and wear brands like Valentino, The Row and Loro Piana is, of course, a luxury – but it is not necessarily an indication of frivolity and vapidity. A woman doesn’t need to choose between heels and integrity – she can have both.

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In an Armani coat with Prince Harry ©Getty

And that, perhaps, is what irks people about Markle. She is someone who has gone out to get not both, but all. Isn’t that really an admirable ambition (shockingly still, in 2021, a dirty word when used in the context of a woman)? She hasn’t got it all, because nobody has – but there shouldn’t be shame in striving for it. The price tags might be hugely inflated compared to our lives, but Markle is in an almost unique position where everything she does, says and, yes, wears is inflated, blown up to cartoonishly large proportions in the glare of the global spotlight. She’s more than paid the price for entry to the 0.0001% and that she is still getting out there, head held high, best clothes on - still trying - is a lesson for us all.


SEE: Meghan Markle's Best Fashion Moments

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Meghan Markle wears a strapless magenta gown

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Meghan Markle wear an all white ensemble

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Meghan Markle wears a tailored shirt and white trousers

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Meghan Markle wears a printed pencil skirt

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Meghan Markle wears a metallic mini dress

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Meghan Markle wears a printed dress

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Meghan Markle wears a short suit

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Meghan Markle wears a lace midi dress

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Meghan Markle wears an all black ensemble

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Meghan Markle wears a dark red mini dress

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Meghan Markle wears an off-the-shoulder dress

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Meghan Markle wears a pleated midi skirt

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Meghan Markle wears a white skirt suit

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Meghan Markle wears an off-the-shoulder mini dress

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Meghan Markle wears a black midi dress

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Meghan Markle wears an embellished mini dress

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Meghan Markle wears a fishtail gown

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Meghan Markle wears a strapless jumpsuit

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Meghan Markle wears a strapless gown

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Meghan Markle wears a red dress

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