She may never be the literal queen, but there’s no doubting that Meghan Markle is *the* official Queen of Style in the royal fam (sorry, Kate!). Never one to pass up a good leather pencil skirt or show-stopping arm moment, Megs has been style goals since the moment she announced her engagement to HRH Prince Harry. And that hasn’t stopped. Since touching down in Australia for her first royal tour on October 16, the mama-to-be has proven that #MarkleMania is most definitely still a thing. From cap sleeves to wedge heels to trench coats, oh my, it’s been a non-stop fashion whirlwind—and now that we’re more than halfway through the tour, we have some thoughts. Someone else who has some thoughts? Elizabeth Holmes, former Wall Street Journal reporter and the woman behind “So Many Thoughts”—the hilarious, thoughtful and wildly accurate royal fashion commentary that has quickly become must-see Instagram Stories content.
Having followed the royals religiously since 2011 (Holmes was married the same year as Wills and Kate, and began her royal commentary last year after their official Christmas card dropped), Holmes knows what the royals choose to wear is anything but unintentional. “I think Meghan is sort of positioning herself in a very different aesthetic than we’ve seen from Kate,” Holmes says of HRH’s initial, more fashion-forward tour looks. While hesitant to compare the two stylish sisters-in-law, Holmes does think that the rapidity with which Markle came onto the scene is important to consider (talk about a steep learning curve), as is her previous public persona as an actress on Suits. “She knows the power of clothes and of story telling through clothes, and I think she’s being very cautious in her choices,” she says. “I think she’s still figuring out what works best and what photographs best.”
Here, Holmes shares her favourite—and least favourite—looks from the royal tour so far.
Style Win: The #Blessed arrival dress
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Effortless Elegance. Ms. Meghan Markle the Duchess of Sussex wore @karengeeofficial “Blessed Shift Dress” to visit Admiralty House for her first official engagement on the Australian Royal Tour. There has been an incredible amount of interest, so to reach us you can also email us at email@example.com for direction of enquiries ✖️✖️✖️ Photo Credit: @instylemag #royaltour
“I loved that first white [Karen Gee] dress that she came out in,” Holmes says of HRH’s debut look as a pregnant lady. “I thought that was really lovely… it was simple and it fit her fairly well.” It’s also worth noting that Markle wasn’t holding a clutch, for once—signalling she’s ready to show off the BB bump, a brave and scary move. “I thought that was a huge moment, and I think for anybody that would be a hard one, to present your body and have the whole world looking at your abdomen.” Also among her early tour faves? The green Brandon Maxwell shirt dress HRH wore that same evening. “Those were [both] really solid choices and suited her well,” she says.
Style Win: The Invictus Games merch
Pretty much the spousal equivalent of rocking a “University Dad” sweatshirt, Megs wore Invictus Games merch not once, but twice, supporting her hubs both on land—at the Land Rover Time Trial on Oct. 20—and by sea—rocking an Invictus appropriate windbreaker with vegan sneakers while watching a sailing competition outside the Sydney Opera House on October 21.”I think that’s a pretty solid, sporty look,” Holmes says of the latter, “and casual is a hard thing for royals, or it seems to be, and it’s certainly been a hard thing for Meghan, so I was glad to see her appropriately sporty and fashionable.”
Style Miss: The trench coat on the beach
“I think there’s no reason to ever wear a trench coat to a beach,” Holmes says of the look. “It looked like they had just been doing things and came across a beach, when [the visit was actually] long planned.” Rankings-wise, this look falls to the bottom of the list, and Holmes emphasizes it has nothing to do with Markle’s pregnancy or all the wrinkles. “I’m sure she has a trunk full of clothes, and that she changed into that is a real head-scratcher to me.”
Style Miss: Stilettos on the grass
In this department, Rihanna she is not. Don’t @ us. While otherwise an A+ outfit, Megs’ choice of stilettos at the Land Rover Time Trial had us all high-key anxious—and this isn’t new. “She wears heels in the grass all the time!” Holmes says, “and I don’t understand it.” While Holmes says that heels can obviously be a confidence booster (hey, even Lizzie is a fan), there *are* limits. “I just picture those heels spiking into the turf and her sinking and it makes me kind if crazy,” she laughs. Us too.
— Born-Again Kwaito (@2ChainlezChainz) August 1, 2016
Style Miss: The navy Dion Lee dress
HRH isn’t a stranger to comments about ill-fitting clothes, and with a changing body and the toll of travel, Holmes says fit issues are to be expected. “That Dion Lee dress did not fit,” she says of the navy-coloured gown, “and I think you can tell the different ways that it tugged and pulled.” While some jumped on the dress as evidence of a growing bump, Holmes says Markle’s bod absolutely wasn’t to blame, but the dress. “It was just not flattering,” she says. “And not that you always have to wear things that are flattering, [because] I don’t think that’s quite interesting either, but that just looked like a poorly constructed dress.”
Moving forward, Holmes says she hopes Markle continues pushing the envelope and trying pieces that are unique to her, and that includes breaking her streak of black and white. “Colours would be a welcome treat, ” she says. “She’s visiting a very colourful part of the world, and I think the more she can embrace that, the better.” [FYI, Megs must have been listening in, because after FLARE talked to Holmes, she debuted a series of *seriously* colourful garments.]
Also on the list of new things to try: a different stylist, perhaps? While Holmes understands Markle’s rapid rise to prominence and the need to keep a tight circle—which includes her longtime stylist and BFF Jessica Mulroney—she says it might be time for a change.
“My personal opinion is that [Meghan] is in a different league entirely now and it would behoove her to seek some style guidance from other people,” Holmes says. “I don’t want to be mean to Jess Mulroney, but I think she’s out of her league.”
And with her Hollywood connections and love for suits and other fashion-forward pieces, the sky’s the limit, style-wise, for Markle. “I’m trying to think what it would be like if Karla Welch [who, btw, is Canadian!] styled her or Elizabeth Stewart,” Holmes muses. “I think either one of those names would provide a fresh perspective.”
That said, in both fashion and life, HRH has handled the first half of this tour—and her accession into the royal family—like a true, well, queen. “I think she’s in a very difficult position and by and large, with her fashion she has done very well, and certainly, becoming a member of the royal family, she has done spectacularly,” Holmes says. “I really think we can’t over appreciate how much pressure she’s under and how much her life has changed in a short amount of time. I really respect her.”