Fashion

The response to Meghan Markle’s “wardrobe malfunction” is seriously disappointing

Posted by
Kayleigh Dray
Published
The response to Meghan Markle’s “wardrobe malfunction” is seriously disappointing

Dubbing this the Duchess of Sussex’s “most relatable move ever” is a totally transparent way to publish photos of her in her underwear.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s royal tour – which saw them spend 16 days traveling around New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, and the Kingdom of Tonga – is finally over. And it’s proven an inspiring few weeks, with Meghan using the opportunity to fight the good feminist fight and champion women’s suffrage, not to mention speak Māori and reconnect with a young fan whom she helped through a difficult period of ill mental health.

All of that has been forgotten, though, in the wake of her final walkabout in Rotorua, New Zealand, which saw her don a custom Givenchy skirt crafted from a very fine navy fabric. A very fine fabric, that is, which looked ever so slightly see-through in some photos. And I really do mean ever so slightly: if you squint at the designer number, in the right light, you might *gasp* find evidence that Meghan is wearing underwear under her clothes. If you lean even closer, you’ll most likely also note that she has *double gasp* real human legs under there, too.

However, in a world where the former Suits star can’t even sit on a bloody chair without sparking a worldwide scandal, this was more than enough to generate fear among the masses. Because, according to a few zoom-happy journalists, the Duchess of Sussex may as well have been strutting around New Zealand wearing nothing but a sheet of cling film.

“Meghan Markle has SHOCKED royal fans with a see-through dress,” one journalist screamed, presumably after taking a deep sniff of smelling salts to steady their shaking fingers.

“Meghan Markle wore a see-through skirt and nobody noticed,” confided another, making sure to share a photo of said-skirt in a bid to rectify the public’s total lack of awareness.

“Meghan Markle suffers yet another wardrobe malfunction, wears see-through skirt,” wrote another disapprovingly, presumably still dwelling on the fact that Meghan recently forgot to cut the tag off her embroidered red dress from Self-Portrait (a message to this journo: get the f**k over it already). 

“Meghan’s see-through skirt in New Zealand was her true Diana moment,” insisted another, jumping at the chance to once again compare Prince Harry’s new wife to his late mother (and share a long-forgotten photo of Diana’s own ‘wardrobe malfunction’ from the Eighties. How little has changed.).

Then came the basic AF women’s magazines, who began waxing lyrical about how Meghan “accidentally” choosing a “cute, totally see-through skirt” was the most relatable thing to ever happen in the history of the world. Like, ever. And, just to hammer that point home, they made sure to publish several photos of Meghan’s offending skirt at its most see-through (now who’s being transparent, eh?). Because, like, oh my god, pics or it didn’t happen, you know.

I’m just… honestly, I’m just so bored of it all.

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The year is 2018, the so-called year of women. We’ve called time on sexist bulls**t, we are refusing to stay quiet about sexual predators, and we are demanding equal pay (we may not have achieved this just yet, but we’re working on it, goddamn it!).

And yet, despite all of this progress, some publications are still peddling ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ as breaking news stories. They are still using women’s fashion choices as an excuse to shame and belittle them. They still think it’s OK that the paparazzi a) use telescopic lenses to zoom in on and pick out a woman’s faults, and b) sell these photos to the highest bidder. And they are constantly waiting for women in the spotlight to ‘fail’: the way they jump on wardrobe ‘malfunctions’ is such an obvious manifestation of this.

It happened to Janet Jackson, when Justin Timberlake ripped her costume and exposed her nipple during the 2003 Super Bowl (she was later forced to apologise for the cardinal sin of having breasts). It happened to Anne Hathaway, when bloggers found a way to blame her after the paparazzi upskirted her at a Les Miserables premiere in 2012. And it has happened to… well, to pretty much every single woman in the public eye, from Kate Middleton to Chrissy Teigen.

The one unifying factor in all of this? Wardrobe malfunction stories are, as a rule, focused on women. Indeed, in one publication’s round-up of the “most infamous wardrobe malfunctions of all time”, a whopping 28 women’s ensembles were picked apart and crowed over. Only one man – Lenny Kravitz – made the list. 

To quote Cate Blanchett: “No one says to Steve Bannon, ‘you look like a bag of trash. Do you want me to throw you out?’, but the comments that get said about what women wear – I mean…

“I would be totally fine about walking down the red carpet without any make-up if everyone didn’t have their telephoto lenses looking for faults. But the thing is, the red carpet is a gladiatorial sport for women. There was one moment at the Golden Globes when they wanted me to stick my hand into a mani-pedi cam. It’s like, are you f***ing kidding me?! Are you really that micro in your assessment? I’m here because I’m nominated for my work, you know what I mean?

“I’d be totally fine if there was an agreement where you could say, ‘Wow, she looks great with no make-up.’ It’s the scrutiny, women want an armature.”

Well, quite.

While we’ve no doubt that misogynists everywhere would prefer women to don the shapeless, anonymous red robes worn by Elisabeth Moss’ character in The Handmaid’s Tale, we aren’t in Gilead just yet. Indeed, despite what sexist tabloid headlines would have you believe, women in the UK are currently still free to dress up however the bloody hell we damn please (remember the holy triumvirate: our bodies, our clothes, our prerogative).

So, without further ado, here’s a message for anyone and everyone who has a problem with Meghan’s outfit: women wear knickers, and sometimes they’re visible through our skirts. Publishing a photo which draws attention to this moment is a move worthy of any Mean Girls wannabe, whether you’re gushing over it or not (stop trying to make fetch happen, Gretchen Wieners – we know exactly why you’re so obsessed with this particular mishap, no matter how “relatable” you claim to find it). 

To all those who disagree with me? Just remember that, while it might not seem like a big deal to pick apart a woman’s appearance, your words have more power than you realise. Because, just as one small grain of rice can tip the scale, one flyaway comment about a stranger’s outfit can have deeply, deeply troubling repercussions for womankind.

May the Lord not open that can of worms anytime soon.

Image: Getty

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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