If Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s “Sussexit” from British Roalty is anything to go by, the House of Windsor is not an easy family to impress. With hundreds of etiquette rules to follow, sometimes just putting on clothes in the morning is a dangerous game. No one knows this better than Meghan Markle herself. Here are her looks the queen wouldn’t approve of, from before she was royal all the way until she left the family.
Meghan Markle Looks
1. Leather Skirt
This hunter green leather skirt is absolutely beautiful, but leather isn’t exactly good branding for the royal family. Also, even in this subdued color with pale beige pumps, leather reads pretty rock and roll for a duchess, and it’s not an outfit we usually see on any of the other royals. But there’s a lot to see in the next Meghan outfit.
2. High Slits
For this summer outing with Prince Harry, a pregnant Meghan chose gladiator sandals and a spaghetti-strap day dress. The spaghetti straps alone are enough to have Queen Elizabeth start fanning herself, but that high slit is really where we get into scandal territory. Meghan should wear what she likes, but that’s a lot of thigh for a royal! This next detail is hard to spot, but once you see it, you know it.
3. Dark Nail Polish
It’s not conventional for royals to wear any nail polish at all, but if they do they generally go for soft neutral tones like pink, lavender, or even a french manicure. In this red carpet look, Meghan went for punk-y dark polish in burgundy or black. Honestly, go get ’em, girl. This choice was on purpose, but the next look had an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction…
4. Sheer Skirt
A word to the wise for all the royals out there: Always photo-test your outfits. If Meghan had done this with her cobalt blue look, she might have realized that her skirt was unfortunately see-through, giving the crowd a full view of her underwear. Super embarrassing, and not something any Duchess wants. We’re zooming way in for the next look…
5. Dramatic Smokey Eye
Just like with Meghan’s see-through skirt, sometimes it’s all in the details. Here, Markle tried out a dark smokey eye, something that would probably be a big no-no at Buckingham Palace. After all, this kind of eyeshadow generally gives the impression of someone sultry in mussed-up makeup. Not quite the neat impression the queen makes.
6. Messy Bun
Meghan Markle usually prefers to have her hair down in sleek locks, or else pinned back in a neat bun or ponytail. Not so with this look, which musses up her hair, making it look like it’s just about to fall out of its bun. This kind of hair-do is perfectly fine for you and me, but Queen Elizabeth likes her locks locked down.
7. All Black
This one might seem puzzling, since black is such a classic combo, but when you think about it, Queen Elizabeth and Kate Middleton both prefer bright colors in their public outfits, with Kate especially leaning toward saturated colors like red. Meghan, however, definitely likes her royal outfits in tone-on-tone neutrals, which tend not to be as eye-catching.
8. Ripped Jeans
Kate Middleton loves herself some skinny jeans, but when Meghan Markle wears her denim, she does it with a bit more flair, rebellion, and a lot more rips. These faded jeans are ripped at the knee, something we very rarely see from the rest of the royal family, even the younger set. Meghan just didn’t want to fit in their mold.
9. No Stockings
When Meghan Markle had her engagement photoshoot with Prince Harry, everyone was overjoyed, but they also noticed one glaring thing: She wasn’t wearing any pantyhose. This is an absolute must for the royal family, and everyone from Queen Elizabeth II to the Duchess of Cambridge makes sure to wear some. Meghan was bare and proud!
10. Bare Shoulder Shirt
As we’ll see even more as this list goes on, Meghan Markle sure does love to show off her shoulders, and has preferred a boat neckline for many of her royal appearance getups. However, this is still a lot of skin in comparison to what the queen, Kate Middleton, and a lot of the royal cousins wear to this day.
11. Pant Suit
Meghan is a thoroughly modern woman, and we’ve seen her in a lot of different pant suits as she performed her royal duties, particularly wide-legged black slacks. Even today, many women in the monarchy are expected to wear dresses or skirts when they go to their official duties, so Meghan’s choice really stands out.
12. Bag vs. Clutch
This one is a small detail that makes all the difference. When we see the Queen and Kate Middleton, most of the time they are carrying dainty little clutches that almost perfectly match their outfits. Meghan put her foot down about this from the start, and instead favored more practical, bigger bags like totes and shoulder bags.
13. Shiny and Tight
Meghan’s chosen outfit for this night would probably raise some royal eyebrows. Not only does she have on shiny patent high pumps, Meghan is also wearing a shiny body-con dress that shows off her curves. Can’t say she doesn’t look good in it though, can you? Yet even Meghan’s more relaxed style is unconventional.
14. Beach Vibes
Queen Elizabeth loves wearing tailored two-pieces, and Meghan’s beachy style here is about as far away as you can get from that. With undone hair, a strapless neckline, and a loose silhouette, Markle looks more ready to hit the waves than she does a royal gala. Not to mention her shiny pink painted toenails! For the next look, though, she got very risque.
15. Going Bra-Less
This is definitely something you don’t want to do in front of the queen. Though Meghan’s outfit here looks conservative at first glance, with white slacks and a button-up shirt, the undone buttons reveal that she’s not wearing any, er, support underneath. It’s a very cool style…it’s just not something the Queen would like. Speaking of…
16. Diva Fur
Today, we know Meghan Markle for her classic, tailored looks in the style of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, who she has already said is one of her style icons. Well…you wouldn’t necessarily know that from this extra look, complete with a fur coat, big white clutch, and a front-row fashion show going on in the background. But just wait for the next one.
17. Bare Midriff
Here, Meghan shows off a scandalous royal accessory: Her bare midriff. This is definitely not Queen Elizabeth-approved, even though the hemline is quite modest. As we’ll see, this isn’t always the case. But when it comes to Meghan Markle’s most scandalous style choices, the most dramatic ones are yet to come…
18. Visible Bra
In this pants and top look, Meghan is wearing a very see-through shirt that doesn’t leave much to the imagination and shows the full outline of her bra. Obviously, this was going to scandalize the more conservative royals, and so maybe that’s why they reportedly treated Meghan coldly when she came into the family. Not that her royal style was obedient…
19. Blood Red Lipstick
Meghan usually prefers a fresh, clean face, so this heavy makeup look, complete with vampira red lipstick, is a little jarring to see on her. Simply put: Queen Elizabeth would never. Combine that with the dark red dress and strappy pumps, and it looks like Meghan is a gothic heroine rather than a fairy-tale princess.
20. Lingerie as Outerwear
This lacy, barely-there dress that Meghan wore is especially risque and even has a visible slip to it. Markle usually keeps it classy with her hemlines when she shows skin in other areas, but somehow we don’t think Queen Elizabeth would feel the same way about it. But hey, this is still a beautiful dress. Can’t say the same for the next outfit.
21. Untucked Shirt
When Queen Elizabeth, Kate Middleton, and the Duchess of Cornwall step out to perform their duties, they are always very neat even when they’re dressed casually. Meghan showed a much more laissez-faire casual style when she got dressed, with this particular untucked shirt number looking very informal on her.
We all know that Kate Middleton loves herself a wedge, but some people say that the Queen dislikes them so much, she even made Kate revise her shoe collection and stop wearing them so much. That’s why this striped summer dress getup might have made QEII get a little huffy: Megs is sporting some sky-high espadrilles.
23. High Hemlines
Meghan Markle has great legs, and she loves to show them off if she can. However, this mod, sequinned little number is beautiful but just a tad short by royal standards. Ok, more than just a tad short, if I’m being honest. In fact, Queen Elizabeth probably finds the length positively gynaecological…but at least those legs look great.
24. Swag Bags
The British Royal Family obviously doesn’t need to rely on gift bags or charity, but in the early days as an actress, you could often find Meghan in the “Swag Bag” rooms at press events. This photo showing her accessorizing with the bags probably seems a little tasteless to the royals. But she’s had some other slip ups…
25. Frayed Edges
Meghan looks oh-so-classy in this blazer, slacks, and strappy cap-toed stilettos, but it’s still probably a bridge too far for Queen Elizabeth. That classic Chanel frayed tweed is iconic, but the Queen doesn’t usually go for “frayed” anything. Like most things royal, this outfit is a home-run in the real world, but not something the monarch would like.
26. Booty Shorts
That’s right, Meghan Markle dipped into the short-shorts for one of her appearances, an item of clothing that would be virtually unknown to someone like Kate Middleton, at least in her current life. Of course, Meghan has the gams for the getup. But that doesn’t mean the royal family is just going to up and accept it.
27. Snakeskin Shoes
Meghan’s rust-colored dress is super modern for royal wear, but it’s her printed shoes that really speak volumes. These snakeskin numbers are totally covetable, but when was the last time you saw a royal in any animal print, let alone a boa constrictor pattern? The peep-toes complete the bare-all look. Turns out, Meghan can be even more of a bad girl when she wants to…
28. Rock Star Studs
Meghan got extra rock and roll for this look, which combines her love of leather with gold studs. The black leather moto jacket looks like it belongs on the back of band mate rather than a Duchess, and she’s also pattern mixing with more snakeskin shoes. It’s all very glam, and the royal family prefers it toned down.
29. Bondage Shoes
Meghan came at us with another scroll-down surprise for this look, which features bondage-inspired shoes that look like they take forever to get in and out of. The impression, especially with the body-con dress, comes across pretty dominatrix for the Duchess, and the glittery gold clutch completes the declarative look.
30. Mixed Prints
This is a kind of outfit that we don’t see much from Meghan: Very busy and full of lots of different details. In particular, the pattern mixing is something we almost never see from royals, and Queen Elizabeth herself prefers matching sets of clothes. When it comes to the royal family, the matchier, the classier.
31. Denim Dress
The height of American casual wear is denim, so it makes sense that Meghan Markle would love wearing an all-denim look. And, of course, she completed the outfit with an enormous bag and some dangling sunglasses. It’s definitely a case of British taste over North American styles, as very few royals leave their homes looking this comfy-casual.
32. Statement Jewelry
This outfit combines some of Meghan Markle’s biggest loves, as well as the biggest royal no-nos: Shiny fabrics and an off-the-shoulder silhouette. However, it also adds a new element in the form of some statement bracelets. Royals like Kate Middleton don’t often go for this bold and brassy choice, instead choosing to wear more “dainty” accessories.
33. Just out of Bed Hair
We know Meghan Markle loves to try out a messy bun, but her hair here shows another side to her style. That is, the “just out of bed look.” This is obviously a little risque, since it brings to mind romps in the hay, if you know what I mean. It’s no surprise then that Markle prefers sleeker styles while on royal duty, but she does look good a little mussed up!
34. Glamour Cape
Some time during her royal duties, Meghan moved away from the all blacks and neutrals she seemed to favor, and just said “screw it” to the royal process. This happened just as her job with the British Royal family came to an end. In this period, you really saw Meghan’s style become more declarative and flamboyant, as with this glam cape number.
35. Short and Sleeveless Dress
Very few royals show skin everywhere, and Meghan usually follows this rule, making sure her hem lengths are long if she shows more skin up top, and vice versa. But this white sleeveless tuxedo dress showcases both Markle’s arms and her legs, something even Kate Middleton doesn’t usually do. When the results are this good, though, how do you argue?
36. Hiked up Skirt
We’ve seen Meghan Markle in lingerie-inspired wear, as well as in some high slits, but this little black dress combines the two somewhat, with a hemline that makes it look like her dress might just slip open and reveal all. Not something you want to wear to a royal gala, but it does look just right on the red carpet.
37. Sheer Shoulder Dress
When Meghan first became a Duchess, we saw her in a lot of shoulder-bearing clothing, including her wedding dress (more on that later). She got a lot of flak for this in the media, who saw her fashion choices as disrespectful. This beige outfit with sheer shoulder netting seemed to cheekily nod at these criticisms. And then Meghan took it up a notch…
38. Covered up Dress
On Meghan’s solo day with Queen Elizabeth II, she opted for another winking statement to all the tabloids when she wore a white sheath dress that totally covered up her shoulders. It seemed like a direct hit to the press. But even though she was over-the-top demure, the neutral color contrasts with the queen’s bright lime green coat.
39. Bold Pattern
As we saw above, Queen Elizabeth II definitely isn’t afraid of putting some florals in her wardrobe, but this busy red print that Meghan wore while she was pregnant might have been too much for the Queen of England. With the ruffles, the pom poms, and the color, it’s a lot to take in, even though Meghan is pulling it off beautifully.
40. Ankle Strap Heels
Kate Middleton often prefers sensible work-a-day heels, and the Queen herself likes a stocky loafer when she goes out to meet the British public. Meanwhile, Meghan Markle has never been against putting a little glam in her life. These thick ankle strap stilettos are very va-va-voom…and very un-royal, even though they’re in a neutral color.
41. Graphic Dress
Florals and light prints are OK in the British Royal family, but they usually prefer bright solids. Which is why Meghan Markle’s pouf of an evening dress, complete with a graphic black print, was so shocking and so stunning when she wore it after her announcement that she’d be stepping away from the family. This is a look that very much says “I don’t play by your rules.”
42. Casual Clothes
Meghan has always been very casual on some of her more relaxed days, and these roomy jeans and loafers are just about as unguarded as we’ll see any royal get. Her jacket is also rolled up in an informal way, with purposely uneven cuff lengths. Not a look we’re likely to see on Queen Elizabeth or Kate Middleton any time soon!
43. Pop of Color
The Royal Family loves to match. Solid, matching colors make for a kind of steady uniform for the rulers of the nation, and they go back to them as often as possible. This is why Meghan’s beautifully color co-ordinated outfit is also so not royal. That pop of texture and color in her velvet shoes isn’t something the royal family often displays.
44. Red Hollywood Dress
This was the look where Meghan really told everyone “I’m done playing your games.” Yes, she’s in one solid color like the Queen and Kate Middleton prefer, but she’s doing it her way. With huge statement earrings, a half cape, and ultra-glam makeup, she looks every bit the Hollywood star here and not the Duchess of Sussex.
45. Naked Shoes
Meghan Markle’s pregnancy style was admirable throughout all her trimesters, and this sequinned dress is a stunner. Her shoes, though, are something not even Sarah Ferguson usually wears. The “naked”style isn’t very stately—and it can’t have been comfortable for her poor pregnant feet!—but she sure looks good.
46. Halter Neck Dress
When people saw the dress Meghan Markle chose for her reception after her wedding, it caused a collective gasp. But in some corners, this might have been for all the wrong reasons. Her sleek white number was also a halter neck, and showed off her bare shoulders, just how Meghan likes. Great for her, but scandalizing for the old guard of royals!
47. Yellow Dress
At this point, Queen Elizabeth has worn every color under the sun to her many public engagements, but the truth is she doesn’t seem to prefer yellow. Instead, she opts for a lot of blues and greens, which makes Meghan’s choice of this sunny shift dress particularly unusual. In it, she comes across ultra-modern.
48. Beachy Waves
We often see Meghan Markle with her hair pulled back, and if it’s down it’s usually in big curls just like Kate Middleton often wears her hair. But sometimes she opts for beachy waves, which give her that California look she used to be known for. It’s a more undone style for a woman who never quite got accepted into royal life.
49. White Wedding Dress
One of the biggest disapprovals from Queen Elizabeth about Meghan Markle’s clothing came on one of the most important days of her life: Her own wedding. Reportedly, the Queen of England was surprised that Markle went for a white wedding dress, since she’s a divorcee. According to the monarch, a different color or even an off-white would have been more appropriate.
50. Low-Cut Dress
This outfit is a key example of what Meghan had to give up when she tried to fit into the royal family. While this makes a great red carpet look, the shiny, tight number with a swooping neckline simply isn’t done in royal circles, and Meghan had to learn to dress for that more conservative crowd. Even then, as we saw, dressing “royal” had its own issues.