As the world’s most-watched royal, everything Meghan Markle wears causes a sensation. Whether it’s because her look broke royal style rules or because it was so chic that everyone wanted to emulate it, the “Markle effect” is both real and tangible. It wasn’t always the case, though. Prior to dating Prince Harry, she was working her way up through the ranks of Hollywood, first as a suitcase girl on Deal or No Deal and later as a cast member of the hit drama series, Suits.
When she was invited to appear on the red carpet or at a fashion show, Markle favored minidresses that showed off her legs, body-conscious silhouettes, and even the occasional gala-worthy gown. However, almost as soon as she started seeing Prince Harry, her style started to shift towards more sophisticated silhouettes and modest lengths. By the time the two announced their engagement, her look had solidified into royal-worthy codes such as dramatic hats, long pencil skirts, overcoats, and clutches – mostly by British designers.
Sartorial restrictions were even more strident once she married Prince Harry and earned the ‘Duchess of Sussex’ title. While edicts rule that royals are not allowed to show their knees, must always wear tights, cannot wear sleeveless dresses, and must always carry clutches, Markle was able to bend the rules enough to be comfortable in her new role. While her look is radically different from when she first showed her face in Hollywood, it is far more stylish. In honor of the actress-turned-duchess celebrating her 37th birthday this Saturday, we’ve put together a massive style file so that you can witness the evolution of her look right before your eyes.