Meghan Markle's show-stopping style evolution

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It's every little girl's dream to grow up and become a princess, not least for the fabulous ballgowns and events you get to wear them to.

And while Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, may have discovered being royalty isn't all it's cracked up to be, it has definitely influenced her sense of style and access to designer clothes.

When Meghan first started to win traction in Hollywood as an actor and presenter in 2006, she was just 26, a time when we are all trying to work out who we are, and what looks good on us.

However, Meghan always had a sense of style.

dressed in a black puffed mini dress with white bow bodice, Meghan Markle at ABS/Allen Schwartz during Primary Action 2007 Golden Globe Suites - Day 3 at Private Residence in Los Angeles, California, United States.
Meghan Markle was a guest on some shows before starting a regular gig as a "suitcase girl" on Deal or No Deal in 2007. Photo: Getty Images

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Meghan's A-list style

At the 2007 Golden Globe Suites, she stuck to simple black and white, and was better known as a model for the TV show Deal or No Deal than as an actress, despite a number of minor roles in US TV shows.

Meghan dated film and TV producer Trevor Engelson in 2004.

They were married in 2011, before divorcing in 2013, citing irreconcilable differences.

As their relationship developed, so did her fashion style and she started dressing as the A-list actress she wanted to be.

Actress Meghan Markle (R) in a black knee-length dress and her husband Trevor Engelson, in a grey suit, arrive at the Anti-Defamation League Entertainment Industry Awards Dinner at the Beverly Hilton on October 11, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California.
Meghan with her first husband Trevor Engelson in 2011. Photo: Getty Images

In 2011, Meghan joined the cast of Suits in the main role of Rachel Zane.

This saw the start of her coming into her own style.

It was also during her time filming the show that she met fashion stylist Jessica Mulroney, who soon became her close friend.

Actress Meghan Markle in an amber jersey draped gown, with long hair loose, and gold strappy sandals, arrives at GQ Men Of The Year Party at Chateau Marmont on November 13, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.
Meghan had been playing Rachel Zane in Suits for a year when she attended the GQ Men Of The Year Party. Photo: Getty Images

Meghan was not afraid to experiment with fashion styles, while ensuring she didn't wear anything that swamped her petite frame.

Post-divorce from Trevor and now an A-list TV actress, Meghan launched her lifestyle blog, The Tig, in 2014 and it quickly became popular amongst Suits fans.

Meghan Markle in a silver low-cut mini dress and black high heels stands against a green backdrop.
By 2015 Meghan was a divorcee running her own lifestyle blog called The Tig. Photo: Getty Images

Her unique fashion sense was quickly recognised and she was heralded as a "fashion maven".

She even released two fashion lines based on her and her legal secretary character's styles.

Actress Meghan Markle in a burgundy off-the-shoulder mini dress with black neckline in a dining room at the Roland Mouret private dinner at Corkin Gallery on April 28, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.
Meghan at fashion designer Roland Mouret's private dinner in Toronto. Photo: Getty Images

In 2016 she was thrust into the international limelight when it was rumoured she was dating Prince Harry.

It was then she started to land feature interviews about her acting and fashion sense.

Meghan Markle with hands clasped above her shoulder in a black dress smiles at grey-suited Prince Harry at the Closing Ceremony on day 8 of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 at the Air Canada Centre on September 30, 2017 in Toronto, Canada.  The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for the Armed Forces.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are first photographed together at the Closing Ceremony of the Invictus Games in Toronto in 2017. Photo: Getty Images

"My sensibility had always been relaxed California girl style and, on any given day, I was in jeans, cut-offs and flip-flops, but the weather alone in Toronto changes your wardrobe!," she told Glamour Magazine that year.

"The fashion on Suits is gorgeous, so it also became my education of designers and really knowing what fits my body well.

"Now what I'm starting to learn is, even though things look amazing on the hanger, it doesn't mean they're going to look amazing on me."

In the same article, she revealed her style icons were former Vogue Paris editor-in-chief Emmanuelle Alt and the magazine's stylist Geraldine Saglio.

Prince Harry in blue suit and actress Meghan Markle in white coat over green dress during an official photo call to announce their engagement at The Sunken Gardens at Kensington Palace on November 27, 2017 in London, England.  Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been a couple officially since November 2016 and are due to marry in Spring 2018.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announce their engagement at The Sunken Gardens at Kensington Palace. Photo: Getty Images

In November 2017, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their engagement.

From that moment, Meghan was looked upon as a fashion icon, with her personal fashion choices resulting in a huge upswing in sales for the labels and brands she chose.

 Meghan Marklein white pin-striped dress with black blazer over her shoulders and a black and white handbag, attends a reception with delegates from the Commonwealth Youth Forum during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre on April 18, 2018 in London, England.
Meghan looked confident as she attended a reception with delegates from the Commonwealth Youth Forum during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2018. Photo: Getty Images

After their wedding, Meghan adopted a more demure look, as suited a senior royal, but she also had access to any designer she wanted.

It was in 2018 that designer online retailer Net-a-Porter named Meghan as one of the best-dressed women of 2018.

A pregnant Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, wears a floral close-fitting dress, with her hair tied up, as she unveils a plaque to commemorate her visit to the Royal Variety Charity's residential nursing and care home, Brinsworth House in Twickenham, south west London on December 18, 2018.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, touches her bump in a figure-hugging dress as she unveils a plaque to commemorate her visit to a Royal Variety Charity's residential nursing and care home in December 2018. Photo: Getty Images

By the end of the year, Meghan was pregnant with her first child and was also chosen as one of the 25 most influential women in the United Kingdom by British Vogue, an accolade they gave to her again in 2019.

As a new mum and seemingly embracing her role in the Royal Family as Harry's wife, Meghan's pick of clothing saw record sales and many copycats of her outfits.

Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex arrives smiling in a double-breasted shirt-waister brown dress at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, on October 01, 2019. - Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, is meeting academics and students to discuss the challenges faced by young women in accessing higher education.
The Duchess of Sussex seems confident as a new mum and wife to Harry as they embark on a tour of Southern Africa in 2019. Photo: Getty Images

October 2019 saw their first official royal tour as a family, as Meghan and Harry took baby Archie with them to Southern Africa.

However, not long after, the couple decided they no longer wanted to be a part of the Royal Family and, in January, 2020, their departure was announced.

Meghan Markle in simple white shirt sits on a TV set.
Meghan Markle appeared on Good Morning America in 2020 after she and Harry moved to California. Photo: Getty Images

Meghan's return firstly to Canada and then California, to be close to her mother, saw her re-adopt her laid-back casual style of simple white shirts, paired with jeans.

But no one foresaw the pandemic and, as with most people, aside from the couple's planned TV interviews with Good Morning America and Oprah, there weren't many opportunities to see the Duchess's changing style.

Meghan Markle wore navy Giorgio Armani coat, turtleneck and trousers with navy suede heels from Aquazzura as she waves over her shoulder, with Prince Harry smiling beside her as they visit the One World Observatory as NY Governor Hochul and NYC Mayor Blasio along with them in New York City, United States on September 23, 2021.
Meghan Markle wore navy Giorgio Armani coat, turtleneck and trousers with navy suede heels from Aquazzura for her visit the One World Observatory in September 2021. Photo: Getty Images
Prince Harry in black suit, white shirt, but no tie, and Meghan Markle in white mini dress speak on stage at Global Citizen Live: New York on September 25, 2021 in New York City.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, in an embellished Valentino shift dress, at Global Citizen Live: New York in September 2021. Photo: Getty Images

Restrictions eased slightly in 2021, allowing a few opportunities for celebs to attend events, but when Meghan finally was spotted at the Global Citizen Live event in 2021, the now mum of two, having given birth to Lilibet in June, was wearing couture designers such as Georgio Armani and Valentino.

While she may have formally departed the royal family, Meghan's relationship with the world's top designers was still strong.

Prince Harry in a blue suit and his wife, Meghan Markle, in a white suit, pictured with others ahead of the Invictus Games. The Invictus Games will take place from 16 to 22 April 2022 at the Zuiderpark and are intended for military personnel and veterans who have been psychologically or physically injured while on duty.
The Duchess of Sussex wore a white Valentino suit on the Yellow Carpet ahead of the Invictus Games earlier this week. Photo: Getty Images

And just this week Prince Harry and Megan have been at the Invictus Games in The Hague, Netherlands.

Her outfits have already created column inches of coverage, with Marie Claire stating her style is: "Famous for merging the cool, casual Californian aesthetic with regal silhouettes."

It was estimated that she wore $69,000 worth of clothes and jewellery, with one outfit alone said to cost an estimated $19,035, not including any of her jewellery.

It seems Meghan may still be oscillating between California casual and formal couture, but one thing is for sure, the fashion world will be waiting to see what she chooses next!

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