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Why Meghan Markle loves an off-the-shoulder fashion moment

Throughout her time in the royal spotlight, Meghan Markle has debuted a series of striking off-the-shoulder fashion looks, whether attending royal ceremonies in Britain or philanthropic events in New York. The reason for this goes beyond it simply being a style preference, a celebrity stylist has told Newsweek.

Meghan wore her latest off-the-shoulder look in New York City this month, marking World Mental Health Day at a summit event hosted by the royal’s Archewell Foundation with Prince Harry.

For the event, which discussed mental health and young people in the age of social media, Meghan wore a striking all-white blazer-and-pant look designed by American brand Altuzarra.

The virgin wool blazer featured an oversized rolled neckline exposing the shoulders and overlapping to below the bust with long sleeves. The accompanying pants were cut with wide legs. The duchess styled the ensemble in her usual simple way, with her hair in an updo with trailing fringe strands and gold jewelry with blue and green stones.

Meghan has been lauded for her fashion choices, exposing her shoulders on occasion. Most notably, the duchess caused a stir at her first Trooping the Colour parade in Britain in 2018, for wearing an off-the-shoulder pink look from Carolina Herrera.

The outfit prompted comment from social-media users and commentators since members of the royal family do not typically expose their shoulders for daytime events.

Though undeniably flattering on Meghan, celebrity stylist and royal fashion expert Miranda Holder told Newsweek there was a more substantial reason that Meghan favors an off-the-shoulder or “Bardot-style” outfit that goes beyond simple aesthetics.

“Meghan is a huge fan of the Bardot-style shoulder, and for very good reason,” Holder said. “Not only does it give us all the old-school Hollywood glamour vibes—a look we know the duchess adores with her penchant for classic, chic pieces by the likes of ‘old money’ super brand Dior—but the style is extremely flattering on her figure.

“Not only does the neckline draw attention to Meghan’s face, the ‘clean’ silhouette allowing her natural beauty to take centre stage, but it also elongates her torso, paying attention to something known as ‘vertical scale’ in the business,” Holder added.

This key element of proportion is something Holder said that Meghan has become keenly aware of over the years, sometimes facing criticism for this in the past.

“Vertical scale is the art of balancing your vertical proportions, as well as the better-known horizontal ones; strawberry, apple, pear shape, etc,” Holder said. “It all comes down to how long your torso and legs are in proportion to one another.

“The Princess of Wales has a long torso—and always cleverly accounts for this in her impeccable outfits—whereas Meghan is the reverse and actually has an extremely short torso, to the extent that her figure is sometimes quite tricky to balance, which has in turn garnered some criticism of her looks over the years,” Holder added.

“The off the shoulder neckline visually lengthens Meghan’s chest and neck, which gives the illusion of a longer torso, thus putting her proportions back into balance,” Holder said. “As usual, great styling is all about a bit of clever trickery to give the illusion of perfect shape—which, in reality, hardly anyone has. It’s all about celebrating our best features and using a few styling hacks to look and feel our best.”

James Crawford-Smith is Newsweek‘s royal reporter, based in London. You can find him on X (formerly Twitter) at @jrcrawfordsmith and read his stories on Newsweek‘s The Royals Facebook page.

Do you have a question about King Charles III, William and Kate, Meghan and Harry, or their family that you would like our experienced royal correspondents to answer? Email royals@newsweek.com. We’d love to hear from you.

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