All celebrities are scrutinised and always have been, but the members of the royal family are watched, discussed, and judged with an intensity that’s unmatched. It’s believed that around two billion people around the world watched Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. The royal family is an institution that’s steeped in tradition and formality, and while it does evolve and modernise, it does so at a gradual pace. Since clothing determines how we represent ourselves to the world, it’s understandable that there’s a lengthy set of wardrobe-related protocols that the royal family must adhere to on royal tours and visits.
In the spirit of the royal family’s newest member (Markle, in case you forgot), we’re highlighting some of the major wardrobe rules that she’s going to have to get used to.
While a turtleneck isn’t required, modesty is the best policy in the royal family, so you won’t find many (if any) cleavage-baring tops in their closets.
Kate Middleton very rarely wears open-toed shoes at all, but when she does, they almost always have a heel. Hence the countless pictures of her playing sport in wedge espadrilles. When she wants to wear flats for a less-than-formal occasion, she sticks to ballet flats, boots, or white sneakers. That said, her most-worn shoe style is classic pumps.
While this tradition is said to be loosening up, royal family members usually wear stockings with dresses and skirts for formal occasions, and short hemlines are a no-go. (We fully expect Markle to ignore this “rule” on occasion, as she did for her and Harry’s engagement photos.)
While Markle has opted for totes, crossbody bags, and sizable top-handle satchels in the past, she’s been carrying clutches more and more as of late, as most royal family members almost exclusively do. (It’s said to help them avoid awkward handshakes and cover up cleavage when exiting a vehicle.)
Say goodbye to delicate linen and silk if you join the royal family. In order to maintain a polished appearance, they opt for heavier fabrics that won’t easily crease (e.g., tweed or wool). Fun fact: Princess Diana’s wedding dress received criticism for being made of a crinkly fabric.
Unless it’s a funeral or another somber occasion, the royal family steers clear of black during the day and instead opts for colors that help them to easily be seen in a crowd.