independent– There is no denying that Meghan Markle has become a style icon. Her clothing choices were scrutinised long before she became the Duchess of Sussex and continue to cause a stir even now – even with Zoom ensuring we can only see her top half.
Markle has consistently demonstrated her sartorial flair. When first becoming a royal, she stuck to formal, tonal dressing, from top-to-toe Victoria Beckham for Christmas celebrations at Sandringham, to her final appearance as a royal in an Emilia Wickstead bespoke emerald green ensemble.
Since the Sussexes stepped back from their royal duties, she’s opted for a pared-back uniform, donning sustainable brands and more laidback attire.
But it’s the Duchess’s most recent public appearance that has caused a stir, proving once again that the hardest working item in a woman’s wardrobe is a boyfriend-fit shirt. She’s put a strong case forward for not needing to be dressed in designer finery to look polished and put together.
When Harry and Meghan surprised Get Lit, a youth poetry organisation, this week, she wore what we think is a shirt from British brand With Nothing Underneath (WNU).
While the outfit sparked the internet to suggest she was channelling her Suits character, Markle’s love for the humble shirt is nothing new. In fact, it’s been a linchpin of her wardrobe ever since her first appearance as Prince Harry’s girlfriend in 2017 at the Invictus Games, when she donned a classic white poplin number from designer Misha Nonoo.
Fast forward four years and its clearly still a styling trick she’s comfortable with. Plus, this is not the first time she’s been seen WNU’s sky blue and white striped linen shirt. The conscious dresser wore it during a photoshoot for the charity Smart Works, which she is a patron of, in 2019.
Having discovered the brand while pregnant with her son Archie, Markle handwrote the brand a letter to say how much she liked its ethos.
“The sales were unsurprisingly huge,” said Pip Durrell, the brand’s founder, adding that the global awareness it created was a gamechanger.
Founded on Durrell’s desire to create a “piece that really could be for everyone”, she describes her collection of shirts as “cool, elegant, ethical and affordable”, as well as a great uniform for when you need to look “polished and put together”.
Being a true fan of the brand, Meghan proceeded to buy a collection of the signature shirts in a range of fabrics and colours. But is the £95 style that Markle recently wore really as good as it looks? We got our hands on the very one she’s been spotted in to find out.
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First things first, it’s worth noting the brand’s sustainable ethos – all of WNU’s shirts are made from 100 per cent organic materials, which are sourced and woven to order in Portugal. As for the packaging, the outer box is cardboard, which is recyclable, while the shirt itself comes in its own 100 per cent cotton envelope, meaning there’s no plastic. Not only is it a more green-minded approach, we think it’s a lovely touch as it’s a bag you can reuse time and again.
On first impressions we found the shirt to be made from a slightly more crisp and stiff fabric than other linen shirts we’ve tried in the past, which gives it a more structured feel. As for the fit, it’s been designed with a boyfriend style in mind and has a generous and oversized cut that drapes well; particularly important when it comes to shirt-wearing.
Owing to its versatility, it can be styled in all manner of ways. “Funnily enough I wear mine how Meghan wore hers to the Smart Works photoshoot – with a French tuck into jeans with some Stan smith trainers – so easy,” says Durrell.
But she also suggests styling it unbuttoned over a plain white T-shirt (£6, Asos.com), or, for when you need something a little more formal, it works well tucked into high-waisted smart trousers and worn with boots.
Having trialled all three ways to wear it, we preferred loosely tucking it into our favourite pair of straight leg jeans, owing to the length. But in summer we’ll be wearing it open over a T-shirt and denim skirt. With countless styling options, we can see why the Duchess of Sussex has re-worn hers time and again. We can confirm that it is a piece that you can rely on, transforming any outfit into a pulled-together look in seconds.
While of course, at £95, it is an investment purchase, it will last a lifetime as long as it’s well looked after by machine washing on a cold, gentle cycle. Plus, when compared to linen shirts on the high street, which retail anywhere between £60 and £90, this price is more than justified given the quality of the fabric, its flattering cut and strong eco-credentials.
If blue isn’t your colour, the design also comes in grapefruit pink, yellow, white and dark blue (£95, Withnothingunderneath.com), all of which look similarly as easy to wear.
A hardworking piece on both off-duty days as well as more formal occasions, this is a wardrobe staple that we will reach for time and again. It really is no surprise that the Duchess of Sussex loves this British brand. We certainly do too.
Searching for more sustainable womenswear? Our guide to the best ethical brands is a great starting point
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