As Meghan Markle demonstrates the art of effortlessly chic dressing, Stephanie Smith says we can learn much from her signature style.
Some women have a gift for making it all look so easy.
Style, that is. Take Meghan Markle. She’s been a royal-to-be for less than two months, and already she has shown the whole of Britain how a cosy coat should really be worn. She’s from California, the sunshine state, so it’s not as if she was born to styling outerwear, but there it is. As I say, some women have the gift.
Presumably, Ms Markle has been preparing for a bitter UK winter for quite some time; she certainly appears to have acquired an impressive wardrobe, at least as far as coats are concerned. If it was all a bit of headache, deciding what to wear on Christmas Day for the Royal Family’s annual church photo call at Sandringham, she didn’t show it. Indeed, she didn’t put a foot wrong, effortlessly out-chicing the regular royals and ticking off style point after style point in a pale beige alpaca coat teamed with perfectly sized chestnut brown hat, gloves and a Chloe bag. The tonal colours, the flattering wide neck and wrap style of the coat, the unusual tying of the belt, the way in which the round brown bag echoed the colour and the sleek dome shape of the hat – everything about that outfit purred nonchalance and glamour.
The coat, incidentally, is available to buy in Yorkshire. It’s by Sentaler, a Canadian outerwear designer also favoured by the Duchess of Cambridge (she wore one of its coats on her Canadian tour) and it can be found at Walk In Style, a womenswear designer boutique in Saltaire, currently the only official UK stockist of Sentaler (see www.walkinstyle.co.uk for details).
As the store itself points out, alpaca has close links with Saltaire. In 1833, Titus Salt noticed some alpaca wool in a Liverpool warehouse and decided to try to make something of it. He found that, by weaving it on a cotton or silk warp, he could transform it into fine cloth. This was the key to his success, leading to the creation of Salts Mill and the village of Saltaire. It’s fitting that alpaca should put the village on the style map once more.
Meanwhile, as spring fashions approach, what other lessons can we learn from effortlessly stylish women? It’s one thing, so the argument goes, making it all seem easy when you look like Meghan Markle and have an impressive budget to spend on your wardrobe. But for the rest of us...
JD Williams, the online fashion retailer specialising in women aged 45 plus, is doing its bit to show that all ages and sizes can also do effortless and glamorous, through a campaign championing what it calls “Midster” women. The model featured here, for example, is aged 43 and size 16-18, and the whole outfit costs less than £100. Yet it still adheres to the same key style rules that Meghan practises: soft, flattering, tonal shades; a touch of statement detail (note the high ruffle neck); luxe fabrics; sleek, fluid silhouettes; and subtle notes of interest bordering on edginess, to keep the feel modern (here, large retro spectacles and bright red heels (although I’d call those heels “optional”).
New season shades can be bewildering but, by sticking to a tonal palette and echoing shape, detail and colour, it is possible to put together outfits that look fresh and considered, without trying too hard. In this way, the new lavenders, lilacs, pinks, pale greens and soft blues can look elegant and sophisticated, rather than insipid, although there will always be those who fear complex colour. As Meghan is already well aware, head-to-toe ensembles in black, or in pale neutral and earth tones such as camel, sand and cream, always look flattering, luxurious, elegant and classy. We’ve seen her winter recipe for style success; now let’s see what she can come up with for spring.