The real reason these Meghan Markle dresses were dubbed inappropriate

Nearly as soon as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle started dating, Meghan began making big changes to her wardrobe. As their relationship became more and more serious, her apparel changed to suit. Now that she and Harry are married and she is officially part of the royal family as the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan is subject to lots of scrutiny, especially regarding her appearance. 

Proving she is up for the challenge, Meghan is often clad in non-offensive neutral hues these days. Although it seems she is making obvious efforts to appease the masses, that definitely does not mean she's traded in her personal style for good. Meghan still manages to add her own royal flair, while following most of the rules.

Even with all of the refinements Meghan's already made to her fashion, she's still not exempt from being accused of dressing inappropriately. Here are some examples of what royal traditionalists would consider to be Meghan's most inappropriate dresses.

Untraditional and off-the-shoulder

As Harry and Meghan's wedding confirmed, the couple is seriously okay with putting some traditions to rest. However, there will always be people who think traditional is best — especially when it comes to the royal family. When Meghan attended her very first Trooping of the Colour, an annual celebration of the sovereign's birthday, in June 2018, her chosen dress was not exactly traditional. Sitting beside her prince, Meghan arrived to the event in a blush short-sleeve, off-the-shoulder dress by Carolina Herrera. Gasp.

Myka Meier, royal etiquette expert and founder and director of Beaumont Etiquette, explained to People why this was such a big deal, saying, "Traditionally, the Trooping the Colour events is seen as a more formal day event. In the past, we have seen female royals wearing conservative dress, much like that which you would see at a British wedding." That would include dresses with sleeves. 

People further pointed out that Kate Middleton has never even worn sleeves shorter than elbow-length at these events — true story. Even Princess Diana, who is quite notorious for her revolutionary fashion, never wore short-sleeves, let alone off-the-shoulder dresses, to the Trooping of the Colour.

Wearing black to a wedding: polite or faux pas?

While you probably wouldn't dream of attending a wedding dressed in white — unless you were the bride, of course — the decision to wear black is a bit more nuanced. StyleCaster explained how, in olden times, wedding guests who donned black dresses did so as a "passive-aggressive protest" against the impending union. Although times have changed, not everyone is on board. 

When Meghan attended the reception of Kate's sister, Pippa Middleton, she opted for a black dress. As British etiquette expert Jo Bryant told The Daily Telegraph, "Her choice of a black outfit, while untraditional, is still appropriate for an evening wedding reception." According to the report, Meghan paired the dark gown with a white jacket, which means she wore all of the risky colors at once.

While it could be reasoned that her choice was indeed inappropriate, it all really comes down to styling, not color. "The goal [of a wedding guest] is to look sleek and appropriate, not over-the-top or high-drama," Molly Guy, the founder and creative director of hip New York-based bridal boutique Stone Fox Bride, told StyleCaster.

The color of "mourning"

Meghan took another stab at wearing a black dress in April 2018. This time, she sported an LBD to the Women's Empowerment reception held in London. Of all times to be criticized for an outfit choice, an event celebrating female empowerment is perhaps the most ironic. 

Noting public "outcry," Alexandra Messervy, etiquette expert and chief executive of The English Manner, told InStyle, "Generally it is thought that black is not usually worn unless in mourning." Protocol dictates that Queen Elizabeth and, by extension, all members of the royal family must always take a black ensemble when traveling. The reason for this is a somber one. In the unfortunate event that there is a death within the family, each person must have a mourning outfit ready to go. 

Does this mean black is solely for funerals? Not necessarily, as Princess Diana and now Meghan Markle, have proved. Nevertheless, it didn't stop some folks from crying inappropriate.

Sleeveless and unsuitable?

When Kensington Palace tweeted a photo of Harry and Meghan meeting with young delegates from 53 different countries within the Commonwealth, it didn't take long before the criticism started rolling in. Not of what the couple were doing, no, but about what Meghan was wearing. The $1,197 sleeveless pinstriped Altuzarra dress inspired a slew of comments. "Ok, I love Meghan but someone needs to pull her aside and tell her that she needs to stop thumbing her nose at proper styling for events she attends," one person wrote. "She is too informal," another claimed.

While the commentary may be a bit harsh, there is a reason people noted the dress as inappropriate. "They don't usually wear sleeveless dresses," etiquette expert Alexandra Messervy said of the royal family when speaking to InStyle. Yet and still, even the Queen has worn some sleeveless pieces, meaning the style is selectively appropriate.

This dress had one missing detail

Just one month after marrying into the royal family, Meghan attended her first Royal Ascot, an annual five-day horse-racing event. This event also happens to have an incredibly strict dress code with detailed requirements for men, women, and even children. Ladies are required to wear hats, or headpieces with "a solid base of 4 inches or more in diameter," as well as knee-length or longer dresses or skirts, and, in some areas of the event, no sleeveless garments.

Meghan played it safe with a monochromatic ensemble. Her collared, long-sleeve, white dress by Givenchy and black rimmed Philip Treacy sunhat fit the requirements perfectly. However, there was one important detail missing from her outfit that day. According to Express, the event requires all guests — even royals — to wear a name tag. The only exception to this rule being the Queen of England. 

While Meghan did have her name tag in hand, she opted not to affix it to her lapel, which some could argue took her dress from befitting of a duchess to wildly inappropriate. 

Too much cleavage?

Before decidedly adopting a more neutral color palate when it comes to fashion, Meghan stepped out in a low-cut bright green and floral dress paired with a sleek black blazer when attending a meeting about the Invictus Games. Express dubbed the dress both "daring" and "risqué." 

Showing some cleavage may not be a big deal for us "commoners," but as a royal, it's not exactly commonplace. In fact, Princess Diana even had handbags designed that she would use to cover up her chest when exiting vehicles. She fittingly dubbed them her "cleavage bags," as handbag designer Anya Hindmarch divulged to The Telegraph

While low-cut ensembles are not expressly forbidden, you just generally won't see the royal women sporting plunging necklines. Of course, when it does happen — and it does happen — it can inspire some to dub the outfits as inappropriate, or, at the very least, "in poor taste." 

This "sexy" Christmas dress

Meghan's low-cut green dress may have incited some opinions, but that wasn't the only time she wore a plunging neckline. You may not have realized, but the dress (seen in full here) she was wearing when spending her first Christmas with the Queen and Prince Philip at their Sandringham estate was even lower in the front. 

While walking outside with her then-beau, Meghan was covered up in a camel-colored trench. Unfortunately for fans and fashionistas alike, only a tiny glimpse of her Christmas attire was actually visible. However, when the brand responsible for the dress, Club Monaco, posted the details of the outfit to their Instagram account (via Express), the "velvet Tay dress" was seen in all it's glory. Express then dubbed the ensemble "sexy" — and, really, they're not wrong. 

While the designer suggested wearing the garment "as a dress for nights out or open over jeans and a turtleneck for days off," it seems Meghan chose the former. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall when the Queen got a look at this modish holiday ensemble.

Sheerly inappropriate

In Prince William and Kate Middleton's engagement photos, Kate is dressed very conservatively and traditionally. Clad in cream in both sets of photographs, there's no arguing the tastefulness — and, yes, safeness — of the shoot. When Kensington Palace released Harry and Meghan's untraditional engagement photos, on the other hand, not everyone thought Meghan's outfit to be appropriate. One person weighed in, calling the top of the dress "a bit risqué for an up and coming princess."

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, the couple's engagement photographer, Alexi Lubomirski, said he was shocked at others' reactions to the dress. "To be honest, we tried on a couple of different things and that was just one that she felt comfortable in," he admitted. "So we weren't really thinking, 'Is it nude?' or anything," he continued, "We just thought, 'Feel comfortable and let's make some nice pictures.'" Outcry aside, they certainly did make some nice pictures.