The thing about ordering a chopped salad while dressed exactly like Meghan Markle is that, well, no one knows you're dressed like Meghan Markle. There I was, asking for kale in 5-inch heels and wearing a blazer draped over my shoulders like it hadn't even once crossed my mind that it had holes created specifically for my arms. I was laughing in the face of practicality, and no one seemed to know but me. To me, this look was so clearly a choice. A statement. A message to the world that I was unconcerned about comfort, or the general ability to make sudden movements. "This is what it's like to be royal," I reminded myself as I walked out of the store with my $15 salad that I can't really afford at all. I hobbled back to my office with the caution of a newborn infant who knows that, at any moment, basically anything could bring it to its knees. Yes, there was a part of me that was terrified — well aware that if I took a corner too quickly or looked up from my feet that there was a real possibility my ankles would just turn to dust. But I also felt something else. I felt kind of great.
As I found with this particular outfit, and throughout four other days of dressing like Meghan Markle, there is a certain power in, well, power dressing. But that doesn't mean it felt even a little natural to me. For as many moments that I felt good, there were often times when I found myself entering public spaces like I was the one animal on Planet Earth that knew what was actually up. "And there she is, slowly entering the local dog park in stilettos, taking in her surroundings. The look of sheer panic, though alarming to us, is natural for her species," David Attenborough calmly narrated in my head as I wondered if everyone around me was asking the same question I was: "Who the hell wears a white coat and heels to the dog park?"
But those moments of panic were punctuated with moments of confidence. Moments that helped me re-learn what dressing like (almost) royalty really means. And, more importantly, what dressing in a way that is far, far out of your comfort zone can actually teach you.
The Engagement Announcement Outfit
I, unfortunately, did not have an engagement to announce or a very public function to attend for this look. So, instead, I decided to wear my version of Markle's white coat-and-green-dress look to a slightly less fancy, though equally enjoyable, event in my life — a trip to the dog park. While I do have a long-time boyfriend who could have taken the place of Prince Harry for these photos, I instead chose another very important fixture in my life: my dog Winnie.
This look was fancy. And as someone who does not even own clothing that could qualify as business casual, it felt weird as hell. I loved the shoes (a $45 pair from Public Desire that were dead-ringers for Markle's heels) and white coat as stand-alone pieces, but they didn't fit in with my personal style. And then there were the heels. As someone who is almost always in flats, I felt unsure about the whole situation, to say the least.
As I stood outside the dog park watching Winnie play, expecting everyone to look at me like I was a fish out of water, I noticed that, well, no one seemed to notice at all. It immediately dawned on me how something can seem so unusual to you, feel so out of your comfort zone that you think someone must notice. But, in reality, the only person thinking about it is you. I did, eventually, change back into Birkenstocks, though because... pain.
The Invictus Games Outfit
I immediately got home from the dog park and changed into a more casual, "I'm just hanging out right now but also, just so you know, I go to Whole Foods a lot" look. I figured this two-outfits-a-day thing was normal for Markle, and also a white wool coat paired with Birkenstocks felt strange. Normally, for a casual evening at home, I would opt for a lot of elastic-based clothing items. Sweatpants. Sweatshirts. T-shirts that I've had since I was 13. But today, I was Meghan Markle, so I went for something a little more elevated.
I recreated Markle's 2017 Invictus Games look. I was able to do this, surprisingly, with items I already had in my closet. I threw on some old Old Navy jeans, a white button-down from my boyfriend, and Madewell tortoise shell sunnies. I forgot shoes and also a pedicure, because I like to keep a hint of reality in every look, but also because I simply forgot (although I was planning on wearing these super similar Dr. Scholl's flats that are under $50). I would guess that Markle does not often forget to wear shoes or get a pedicure for six months straight. But, still, I was happy with how similar the looks were. Plus, while Markle was watching a sporting event in her photo, I am drinking wine in mine — something I consider a kind of sport in my own life.
This look isn't my style at all, but the idea of dressing up to do something super low key felt kind of nice. Sure, there was no one photographing me other than my boyfriend and I wasn't about to be plastered on any tabloid or internet article, but the idea that I was spending time to look a little nicer than usual to do nothing at all felt oddly mature. Like if someone were to show up at my door, I would answer it and not feel embarrassed or like I had to explain why I was wearing a Griswold Family Christmas-themed T-shirt in the middle of May. It was a different type of power dressing, sure, but still power dressing after all.
The Public Outing Outfit
I wanted at least one look that was kind of close to my personal style, and wearing all black head-to-toe seemed easy enough. Finding a black coat (this one is from Eloquii, and you can find a somewhat similar version here as this one isn't available right now) and knee-high boots (also from Eloquii, similar here) was a piece of cake, but tracking down the perfect green bag proved a little more difficult. This little green crossbody bag from Angela Roi is $145 popped up on my computer screen one day and I knew it was the perfect alternative — and the perfect color. Given that Markle is totally cool with breaking the slightly strange royal tradition of not wearing crossbody bags, I know she'd be cool with this replacement.
All in all, this outfit felt effortless. The low, messy bun? Also effortless. I love the idea of wearing simple items and pairing an unexpected pop of color (the green bag) and still feeling confident about a look. Markle's style (like that of most royals) isn't flashy, but it still manages to translate into something that's polished and very her. That's how this look felt to me. And, for the first time, it was something that actually felt comfortable in. While I'd probably make a few tweaks here and there — maybe a longer, more oversized coat, this is something I can see myself wearing again, messy bun and all.
The Church Outfit
Given that, unlike Meghan Markle, I very rarely find myself attending church with royalty, I opted to try out this outfit on a cold, rainy day in Manhattan — well, for as long as I could stand it anyway. When I put on this outfit on and asked my boyfriend to take photos, the first thing he said was, "Why do you look so sad?" The answer was that it was raining, and I was wearing a various assortment of brown-toned items that all seemed to... not work for me. The outfit also included this brown hat (photographed below) that I'm fairly certain the bell hops in the Tower of Terror movie also wore.
It turns out it is a little bit difficult to find a brown fascinator, let alone one that doesn't look like you just covered an old peanut butter jar lid in fabric and hoped for the best. In the end, I ended up with a felt situation from Amazon that had an elastic chin strap. I, determined to maintain some of my dignity, opted to not use the chin strap. This meant I just had to balance the thing on my head. So, yes, I was a little sad.
This look was all the evidence I needed that sometimes an outfit that is great in theory is... only great in theory. However, there were certain aspects of it that I did like in the end. I loved the gold-handled bag in particular. In fact, I almost preferred it to Markle's version (a $1,700 Chloe purse). For only $175 and made of vegan leather, this Angela Roi Ella bag is definitely making its way into my collection this summer.
The look overall, though? Kind of a flop — and definitely the look I felt least confident in. But the reward of finding a bag I loved just as much as the Chloe bag was well worth the challenge.
The Slightly-More-Fancy Public Outing Outfit
This was the outfit I wore to go get the previously-mentioned salad and also what I like to call the "why future princesses probably don't wear linen" outfit. Even if they do wear linen, I'm fairly certain that Markle has someone on-call to make sure nothing she wears is ever wrinkled. I, as a normal person, do not have that person. In fact, I don't even own an iron. So, I am not even that person for myself, as you can very clearly tell with the above photos of this dress.
This dress was one of the trickiest items to recreate. Markle's original striped Altuazarra dress is almost $2,000, after all. I eventually found this similar option from ASOS, which I love on its own and is pretty true to my personal sense of style. Adding a blazer (I found this one from Eloquii) and stilettos is not my style, but that was kind of the point.
Even though the style wasn't in tune with my own, something about wearing something so different made me feel confident. Like I was trying out a new attitude. This was my second day of wearing stilettos (the same style as the first Public Desire pair), and I was starting to feel something different. The apprehension I had the first day I wore them had gone away. Even though I had moments in them of pure terror, they also made me feel confident, stand up a little straighter. I'm 6 feet tall flat-footed, so I had expected to want to shrink away wearing stilettos in public, but in fact, I actually found myself wanting to buy and wear more of them.
The Final Takeaways
The truth is that dressing like Meghan Markle for an extended period of time was, in a lot of ways, exhausting. Most of the looks weren't comfortable for me either physically or mentally. I went in to a lot of settings feeling unsure of myself and what I was wearing. Changing multiple times a day into slightly-less-comfortable-than-usual things also was exhausting. Wearing heels every day isn't exactly relaxing, either. But... in all of this, there was the realization for me that going outside of my comfort zone, though sometimes draining, can ultimately be beneficial.
I'm probably not going to be wearing only Markle-inspired clothes going forward, but I do feel a little braver. A little more aware that a high heel might actually give me a boost in confidence every now and then, and that the hesitations I have about pieces are probably more in my head than I ever realized. Dressing yourself and feeling confident and put together doesn't have to look like only dressing like Meghan Markle. But, as all of these outfits (well, most of them), taught me, is that it also doesn't necessarily have to look like your usual style, either. You can go out of your comfort zone and still feel confident in whatever you're wearing — whether you're announcing your engagement to a prince of England or, you know, just going to buy a salad.