The third trimester. A time for hibernating and preparing for the impending arrival of a teeny person who will turn your world upside down — or, in the case of the Duchess of Sussex, a time to master the art of maternity dressing.
Simple maths puts Meghan in roughly the seventh month of pregnancy, and last week alone the Duchess notched up five public appearances. Hot on the heels of the Sussexes’ Moroccan tour, Meghan swung straight back into action, donning a gold brocade dress for a reception hosted by the Queen to mark the 50th anniversary of the Prince of Wales’s investiture.
At a stage in pregnancy when approximately 90 per cent of one’s wardrobe has to be filed under “no chance of getting into that”, Meghan added her Amanda Wakeley Crombie coat — a style which has been in her arsenal since well before her bump. Unbuttoned and collar flicked, the reappearance of the coat illustrates that, with a little imagination, Meghan is adapting her wardrobe to suit her current form — and adopting the Duchess of Cambridge’s thrifty wardrobe rotation policy.
The following day, she delighted fans with a surprise appearance alongside her husband, Prince Harry, onstage at the SSE Arena for a charity event. In a streamlined Ralph Lauren blazer, Rag & Bone jeans, a black stretchy top and her Manolo Blahnik heeled black suede pumps, she looked every inch the effortless pregnancy poster girl. Then, after being appointed vice-president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, she joined a panel of female leaders and activists at King’s College in a monochrome printed dress by Reiss (non-maternity), her crisply tailored McQueen black blazer with a Stella McCartney clutch and her favourite heeled pumps.
This is not to say she doesn’t embrace her current physique — she is barely snapped without a protective hand cradling her bump, and most recent looks have been accessorised with her new “mummy” necklace — the Jennifer Meyer design spells out the word in 18-carat gold and is thought to have been a baby shower gift.
Late pregnancy dressing is no mean feat — a navigation through swollen ankles and swollen, well, everything else, not to mention a “bump” that grows from squash-sized to watermelon-sized in the space of a few short weeks.
Of course there are people who make the whole thing look entirely effortless — I watched in wonder (and envy) as my boss at Matches Fashion seemingly breezed through fashion month in a flurry of silky Chloe blouses, distressed jeans and heels; the general vibe among fashion insiders being that pregnancy dressing is not the time to abandon one’s carefully honed style identity.
Meghan seems to endorse this philosophy. Far from a vigorous overhaul of her wardrobe, she has incorporated the same labels as before pregnancy, continuing to rely on the likes of Givenchy, Prada, Stella McCartney and Oscar de la Renta for high-octane glamour. So far she has mainly steered clear of maternity labels, or anything that looks overtly like maternity wear. Her only concessions have been an H&M Mama sweater dress and a black shift by Hatch — the US-based brand designs pieces that are intended to “look good and feel good before, during and after pregnancy”, cleverly avoiding the trap of maternity wear being confined to the attic as soon as the baby is born.
Unsurprisingly, Meghan’s approach differs from her sister-in-law — in the latter stages of pregnancy, the Duchess of Cambridge mainly parked McQueen, Erdem et al in favour of a tried-and-tested capsule wardrobe of bump-skimming gently A-line coats, and empire silhouettes.
Superhuman Duchess marches on... in four-inch stilettos — but is it wise?
Despite the imminent arrival of the new seventh in line to the throne, the Duchess of Sussex shows no signs of taking her foot off the gas and easing into maternity leave. She has attended an impressive five public functions in the last week and, while most eyes remain trained on Meghan’s growing bump, I can’t help but look elsewhere — at her feet. Time and again, her elegant calves taper to slim feet (no sign of pesky swollen ankles here) shod in heels.
Meghan’s schedule demands a certain dress code and it’s not surprising that as a royal, she doesn’t feel she can switch to flats for the foreseeable future, in spite of her pregnancy. After all, the Duchess of Cambridge has always been an avid maternity heel wearer. But the Duchess of Sussex’s footwear style of choice, pre-pregnancy, was a stiletto — as she approached the third trimester I expected at least a waning in her commitment to heels.
Rather than following her sister-in-law’s lead and opting for a neat kitten, sturdy wedge or practical block in concession to her altering silhouette, Meghan’s trusty four-inch Manolo Blahnik BB stiletto pumps remained as ubiquitous as they were pre-pregnancy. Doctors don’t seem to specifically say it is dangerous — something Meghan appears to have taken to heart.
The regularity with which Meghan is slipping into towering styles is enough to make even the most diehard shoe lover’s arches ache. It isn’t, perhaps, surprising that she isn’t willing to compromise on style — far from winding down her wardrobe, she seems to be upping the ante during pregnancy.
As someone who happily switched to flats after my 20-week scan (I still don’t feel brave enough to return to proper heels, nine months post-partum), I can’t help but admire her commitment. In the third trimester, each week brings a rounder bump, wobblier balance and a stiffer pelvis, and yet Meghan and her four-inch stilettos march on, delivering impeccable, superhuman pregnancy style. I applaud her.