Our So Many Thoughts column with the genius Elizabeth Holmes is back, along with more written commentary per reader requests! Today, she’s discussing these colorful ensembles worn by Meghan Markle and Princess Diana. Also, stay tuned for more posts from Elizabeth — she’ll be chatting about red carpet looks and costume designers soon, too. Here we go…
WOWSA, Meghan! In the first nine months as a member of the royal family, the Duchess of Sussex has favored neutral tones. There have been pops of color, to be sure. But Meghan has, by and large, gravitated towards subtle or classic shades (think: blush, cream, navy). So this ~lewk~, a one-two saturated punch of a red coat by Sentaler (a high-end Canadian brand) and a purple dress by Aritzia (also Canadian, although accessibly priced), was a jolt better than a double espresso as soon as I saw it in my Instagram feed. Her red Stuart Weitzman heels served as a sort of Dorothy-esque exclamation point on the whole ensemble.
What would inspire Meghan the Muted to live her best technicolor life? Some on the Interwebs floated the theory that she was dressing to coordinate with the logo of a charity, Tomorrow’s Women Wirral, she was visiting that day. While anything is possible, my hunch is she was also taking cues from two stylish royal women who came before her.
Have you ever noticed that Queen Elizabeth II dresses as if she is a rainbow personified? The long-reigning queen has worn *all* the colors in her six decades, many times over in fact. Lemon yellow, neon green, electric blue — she does not steer clear of any shade. That’s because bright colors serve a terribly practical purpose for the royal family.
The colorful hues help the Queen’s security detail keep tabs on her when she is out and about. Wearing vivid ensembles also helps the public spot her from afar. The Queen is always keen to be seen — isn’t that what being Queen is all about?! — and dressing brightly helps the people pick her out in the crowd.
These two colors feel particularly regal. Purple is a long-standing symbol of royalty, having once-upon-a-time been the hardest to dye and therefore the most expensive. Red is a charged shade, too, symbolizing love, fire, and blood. The combination is dramatic af!
Meghan chose these two shades for a particularly busy day of royal engagements in Birkenhead. The schedule included what’s known as a walkabout, where the public can come crowd the barricades for a glimpse of the royals. This particular group included loads of children, who are sure to love a colorful moment.
To me, perhaps the greatest influencer of this particular color combo is the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Di burst onto the royal scene in the 80s, when the unofficial sartorial motto was brighter is better. But these colors in particular immediately brought to mind this iconic photograph of the princess sitting solo on a bench in front of the Taj Mahal.
It was February 1992 and Diana, then 30, was touring India with her husband, Prince Charles. More than a decade earlier, Charles had promised to one day bring his bride to monument, a towering testament to love. And yet, during Charles and Diana’s visit to India, the couple kept conflicting schedules, fueling rumors of marital problems. Diana visited the Taj alone, and this photograph came to foreshadow their impending separation and subsequent divorce. The styles of her ensemble — a boxy jacket, slim skirt, and pumps — reads as sensible, almost business-like. But the color combination, worn just before Valentine’s Day, looked terribly romantic.
Meghan’s coordinating red heels here, much like Diana’s matching purple ones, makes me believe this image has been up on her styling inspo board for quite some time.
Thank you so much, Elizabeth!
P.S. Elizabeth’s first SMT column, and how to dress like a celebrity.
(Photo of Elizabeth from her instagram account. Photo of Queen Elizabeth by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images. Photo of Diana by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images.)