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Meghan Markle has worked over the past year to establish her fashion identity as a working duchess—and consciously create a style different from Kate Middleton’s, a royal insider tells ELLE.com. Despite salacious tabloids alleging Kate and her team are annoyed that Meghan has copied her, Kate is not actually upset by or jealous of Meghan, as the women have very different styles and interests. In fact, Kate has been helping her. “Kate has been on hand to help guide Meghan with advice about certain designers and royal protocol,” the royal insider explains.
Meghan and Kate have different teams to plan their outfits. Meghan works with her friend and stylist Jessica Mulroney to review what she’ll wear to events long in advance, as Mulroney is based in Toronto and visits Meghan only periodically.
Kate, meanwhile, works with Natasha Archer Jackson, who often has designers send samples to Kensington Palace. Kate will try the clothes with her there, and the two will choose what Kate ultimately wears to events.
From the very start, Meghan and Mulroney knew that the Kate comparisons would be inevitable—and they treaded carefully in the beginning. The royal insider explains that there was a “conscious effort” by the two women to “not be accused of copying Kate’s style.” Their goal was to give Meghan her own unique wardrobe. But Meghan and Mulroney aren’t completely opposed to taking a little inspiration from Kate since the Duchess of Cambridge dresses so well and according to royal protocol. Mulroney has “certainly kept an eye on Kate’s style because she hasn’t put a foot wrong and is a great role model,” the insider says.
But the differences between Kate and Meghan can be seen in the colors they choose (Meghan: more blacks and more muted colors; Kate: brights, prints, and pastels) and the designers they wear. While Kate and Meghan both wear designers like Emilia Wickstead, Erdem, and Amanda Wakeley to events, the two have different go-to designers—part of what makes their individual styles so distinct.
Meghan has worn Givenchy by Clare Waight Keller to many of her first big events as a working royal in addition to her wedding, from her first event with the Queen to her first solo event period in September. Her reception dress designer, Stella McCartney, is also a favorite of the Duchess, along with Aritzia, Brandon Maxwell, Canadian label Mackage Coats, and Maison Birks Jewellery.
Like Meghan, Kate also often wears her wedding dress designer, Sarah Burton’s, work for Alexander McQueen to significant events. Kate wore McQueen to Meghan’s wedding, for example, along with to Prince Louis’s christening earlier this year. Kate also often wears Emilia Wickstead, Jenny Packham, and Catherine Walker, a favorite of her late mother-in-law Princess Diana’s.
Both women believe in “diplomatic dressing” on royal tours: paying homage to the hosting country by wearing local designers. For Meghan, this was especially pronounced during her and Prince Harry’s tour of Australia, Fiji, Tonga, and New Zealand, where in Australia alone, she wore multiple looks from Australian designers like Martin Grant, Dion Lee, and Karen Gee.
On the whole, Meghan know the clothes she wears matter in carving out who she is as a duchess, but she has tried—with the help of Mulroney—to choose pieces for events that aren’t a giant distraction from her work. “Meghan is conscious of making her work wardrobe become too trend-conscious,” the royal insider says. “Meghan is still new to this and aware everyone still watching her and wants to be respectful and doesn’t want her style to take away from the very important work she’s doing.”