The Real Reason Meghan Markle Stopped Wearing These Items Since Becoming A Royal

Meghan Markle has always had an eye for fashion, but her look has evolved immensely since leaving her acting career behind and joining the royal family. Back in the early aughts, you would have found Meghan embracing a simple style, favoring relaxed denim over big labels (via W magazine). By the early 2010s though, Meghan had begun embracing plunging necklines, shorter hemlines, and form-fitting dresses. She also started making some more daring fashion choices — like pairing a feminine ruched white dress with a statement gold-studded leather jacket. Later, she went on to show the world she could seriously rock an all-black outfit — complete with leather pants. Before dating Prince Harry, Meghan had tried pretty much every fashion trend — short suits, wrap dresses, and even mermaid gowns.

Once her relationship with Harry went public though, Meghan's style started becoming more conservative, more in line with the royal family's wardrobe. The change was gradual, but, by the time she became the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan had reformed her wardrobe to befit royalty. While she still maintains her own unique flair, Meghan has retired some of her tried-and-true trends. Why? Allow us to explain.

The crop tops

"This may be one of Meghan Markle's best looks yet!" reported HuffPost in 2015. The publication was referring to the then-actress' white pencil skirt with matching crop top by the Canadian label Mackage. The set was also "layered under a totally badass white leather moto jacket." At that time, crop tops had become a bit of a staple in Meghan's wardrobe. However, since becoming royalty, you certainly haven't seen Meghan — let alone any other member of the royal family — hopping aboard this crop trop trend. This really just boils down to the conservative nature of British royalty.

In fact, one time that the public got a glimpse of a royal family member's bare midriff, it was something of a scandal. So, what happened? According to American Photo: Secrets of the Paparazzi, photographer Bernard Wis actually got suited up in scuba gear and get a shot of Princess Diana wearing her bathing suit on vacation in the Bahamas.

Dresses with plunging necklines

Before having the title of the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle was free to wear clothing with plunging necklines — and, naturally, she did. After she began dating Harry though, the star's beautiful slinky ensembles seemed to find their way to the back of her closet. However, Meghan didn't completely give up low-cut numbers until after walking down the aisle. Just a month prior to the royal wedding, Meghan, alongside her fiancé, attended an official engagement sporting what Express dubbed a "daring" floral dress. Of course, many thought the dress wasn't just daring, but inappropriate or in "poor taste."

Although low-cut outfits are not outright forbidden by the royal family, it is true that they don't quite have a place in a royal's wardrobe — at least, not until after dark. "Cleavage is something that is not practiced," royal etiquette expert Myka Meier revealed to (via Fox News), "especially during the day."

Denim (in most situations)

When Harry and Meghan made their first public appearance together at the Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada in 2017 (via Vanity Fair), people were no doubt excited about the prospect of having a newbie welcomed into the royal family. Unfortunately for Meghan, though, this is also when the criticism of her wardrobe took root.

Harry's then-girlfriend showed up to the event wearing a pair of casual ripped jeans and, well, people were flabbergasted. "I'm thinking that you shouldn't be wearing ripped jeans while out walking in public with a Prince," one person tweeted. Vanity Fair writer Josh Duboff was also surprised to see Meghan sporting such relaxed attire. "Kate Middleton has not only never worn ripped jeans, she doesn't understand the question," he pointed out in an article.

Jeans — even ripped ones — are not necessarily a no-no for royalty, but it does depend on the situation. "Many places will not allow jeans as they are still seen as very casual wear, so it is better to play safe for both sexes," etiquette expert Diana Mather told BBC News. While you will spot Meghan wearing denim occasionally, she follows this situational rule of playing it safe.

Those fun short suits

Before becoming a royal, Meghan was basically the queen of short suits. The former actress pulled off the blazer and shorts combo effortlessly. But since becoming a duchess, we haven't spotted Meghan donning her classic look. What gives? Well, there could be a couple reasons for this.

For one thing, showing a lot of skin is not exactly the royal family's way. The day you see the Queen of England rocking a mini, you let us know. There may, however, be more to Meghan not wearing shorts than just trying to follow the conservative dress guidelines. Shorts are actually the official wardrobe of royal male children.

Prior to the 1800s, royal boys wore "gowns or dresses" until they were around 8 years old, etiquette expert Grant Harrold confirmed to BBC News. "Thankfully in late 19th Century and early 20th Century this developed into shorts," he added. "This tradition is carried on by the Royal Family to this very day." Now you know why Prince George is almost always wearing them. This shorts policy only extends to young boys and, as such, it's hard to imagine Meghan, or any other royal adult, wearing them.

Bright outfits

Meghan didn't always wear the monochromatic palette you're so familiar with today. Prior to her wedding day in May 2018, Meghan had worn a rainbow of colors (via W magazine). Back in 2012, she rocked the ever-popular color blocking trend with a mix of black, blue, and bright pink. In the years since, she also sported teal, royal blue, deep red, magenta, glittering silver, and more. However, Meghan made the decision to tone down her wardrobe upon becoming a duchess. And, because no fashion choice Meghan makes can go unquestioned, some started criticizing her new muted ensembles. Queen Elizabeth II is known for her seriously bright wardrobe — we're talking shamrock green and canary yellow, people — so we can understand why Meghan's choice to go neutral would be perplexing. But this wardrobe change was no accident.

"Meghan's mission from the beginning was to create a functional work uniform," a royal insider told Elle. "Looks that weren't overpowering that wouldn't take away from the work itself. When there was criticism of Meghan in black and muted colors, it was intentional so her style didn't become the story and distract from her charity work."

Anything orange

You may totally get why Meghan would want to avoid wearing bright colors alongside the queen. Yet and still, there's an entirely different reason the Duchess of Sussex avoids wearing the color orange. In fact, her sister-in-law Kate Middleton has also never worn the color since becoming royalty. So, what's up with orange? The exact reason for the wardrobe exclusion is unclear. "There is no royal fashion rule preventing the royals from sporting the vibrant hue," Express revealed, "but it is believed orange does not photograph as well as other colours."

The duchesses' grandmother-in-law doesn't seem to much mind wearing orange, but, then again, the queen doesn't ever wear bright colors to look good for the cameras. "She needs to stand out for people to be able to say 'I saw the Queen,'" the queen's daughter-in-law Sophie revealed in the documentary The Queen at 90 (via PopSugar). "Don't forget that when she turns up somewhere, the crowds are two, three, four, 10, 15 deep, and someone wants to be able to say they saw a bit of the queen's hat as she went past." Different strokes for different folks.

Branded items

As much as people may love to rag on Meghan's style, pretty much anything she wears is guaranteed to sell like hotcakes. "On average, if Meghan wears a designer, that brand will see a 200 per cent increase in search demand over the following week," Yasmine Bachir, senior communications executive and royal expert at Lyst, told Elle. At times, the items worn by Meghan have increased sales by 300 percent and, in the case of her Castañer espadrilles, a whopping 442 percent. Meghan has such an influence on consumerism that this phenomenon has rightfully been dubbed "the Meghan effect."

While people are always going to clamor to find out the brands of Meghan's — and the rest of the royal family's — apparel and accessories, you won't see the royals sporting any overly obvious brand or company logos on their clothes. This is something Meghan was able to get away with in the past, of course, but, since becoming a duchess, it's a hard no. According to the royal family's official site, the family does not accept any items that "would, or might appear to, place the Member of The Royal Family under any obligation to the donor."

Free clothes

Before Meghan shuttered her personal instagram account, she had amassed a large following of around 3 million people. As it turns out, she had actually become somewhat of a bonafide social media influencer and is estimated to have earned thousands of dollars for all that #sponcon. While she had every right to accept freebies or paid promotions from brands back then, the online hustle is off limits to members of the royal family. For the very same reason that royals don't wear conspicuous logos, members of the royal family avoid accepting free clothes.

Ahead of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's royal tour in 2011, a spokesperson for Kate Middleton explained to People the royal family's stance in more detail. "[The duchess] has a policy not to accept any free offers of clothing. We would never discuss the prices paid for individual items — these will remain private between the Duchess and the designers."

Linen blends

While on the Australian leg of a royal tour with Prince Harry, Meghan donned an airy, sleeveless linen dress. In doing so, you could argue that she broke all sorts of royal fashion rules. Etiquette expert Alexandra Messervy told InStyle that royals "don't usually wear sleeveless dresses." She also told the publication that the royals choose their fabrics carefully, often opting for stronger materials. "Perhaps a silk and wool mix rather than too much linen content — all things to note for durability but also to stop unsightly creasing," the expert explained. But it's important to note that these rules only apply to most situations. While some may have thought the outfit was inappropriate for royalty, Meghan was on vacation. And, you know, pregnant

However, it is true that Meghan no longer wears linen with the same frequency that she once had. It's also likely that you won't see her donning this style at any formal official engagements in the future.

Open-toed shoes

Aside from the gladiator sandals worn on her Australian vacation, Meghan has retired all of her open-toed shoes. Why, Megs, why?! Etiquette expert William Hanson has the answer. Speaking with Harper's Bazaar, he revealed, "Open-toed shoes are considered informal footwear and inappropriate for formal occasions." As such, even Meghan and Harry's wedding guests were told not to wear this type of footwear to the royal wedding. "Regardless of how relatively relaxed it was in the grande scheme and precedent of the British monarchy, May's royal wedding was still a formal affair and so it was quite right that guests were asked to avoid wearing open-toed shoes," Hanson added.

Like the Duchess of Sussex, Kate Middleton is a strict follower of the footwear rule. She, too, has worn sandals in Australia and will only very occasionally sport a peep-toe. Other than that, you can expect both sisters-in-law to hold steadfast to this closed-toe guideline.

Crossbody bags

Back when Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were dating, the actress' staple handbag was the ever-functional crossbody. After the couple got engaged and started performing official royal engagements together, Meghan stayed true to her over-the-shoulder style bag. It wasn't until Meghan became a duchess that she traded in the crossbody for a clutch. And this wasn't a coincidence. 

"I suspect that when Meghan was an actress and not a member of royalty, she kept money, make-up, and the kitchen sink in her cross-body bags — as we all do," royal expert Penny Junor told Harper's Bazaar"Now that she is a duchess, she doesn't need anything more useful than lipstick, and possibly her phone."

Royal women have also been known to use clutches to avoid awkward encounters. Etiquette expert Myka Meier told Good Housekeeping that Kate Middleton holds her clutch with both hands when she wants to avoid shaking hands with someone. As great as the crossbody may be, hands-free bags just do not come with this cool perk.