When Meghan Markle marries Prince Harry on May 19, she’ll take on more than a royal title — she’ll have to adopt all the royal rules too. Including those pertaining to how she dresses.
WATCH BELOW: Prince Harry & Meghan Markle Announce Engagement
“It’s an interesting time for the royal family because they’re becoming more contemporary as a family and they’re moving forward with where we are in fashion,” says etiquette expert Lisa Orr. “Meghan has her own look and it has become more modest since she got engaged, but it’s not going to be a massive shift for her.”
Regardless, there are some rules she’ll have to follow.
#1 No bright nail polish
There will be no Cardi B-type nail art for Markle after next Saturday, not that she can display on official outings anyway.
“Royals’ nail polish and makeup must always be very neutral, which means no bright nails or bright lipstick,” says Grant Harrold, British etiquette expert and founder of The Royal Butler. “It’s done so as not to attract too much attention.”
In fact, Queen Elizabeth has been wearing the same shade of nail polish since 1989. It’s a sheer pink shade from nail brand Essie, called Ballet Slippers.
#2 No bare legs
Eagle-eyed royal aficionados noted that Markle didn’t wear tights when she and Prince Harry announced their engagement to the world outside Kensington Palace in November. But that look, largely preferred by the fashion set, will come to end after the wedding.
The reason for this is that the Queen believes tights are ladylike and requires all her female family members and guests to wear them to events.
#3 No black outfits
It’s a good thing Markle isn’t a New Yorker because she’d have to overhaul her entire wardrobe owing to the fact that royals very rarely wear black for any occasion other than a funeral or mourning event.
In fact, royals are expected to pack a black outfit every time they travel in the event that they need to return home for a funeral. This was allegedly instituted in 1952 when Queen Elizabeth rushed home from Kenya after her father died. Because she didn’t have a black outfit on hand, she had to wait on the plane for one to be brought to her since it was considered disrespectful for her to deplane wearing any other colour.
Although interestingly, there was a time when white was reserved for these occasions.
“Famously, the Queen Mother wore white when her mother died in 1938 because that was the official royal colour of mourning,” Harrold says. An all-white trousseau was later created for her after the funeral for a state visit to France.
#4 No short hemlines
Although the world is accustomed to seeing Markle’s character on Suits in more provocative outfits, once she’s an official royal, she’ll have to bid farewell to short hemlines and overly body-conscious silhouettes.
“The key is to not wear hemlines and slits that are too revealing,” says Alexandra Messervy, chief executive of The English Manner. “Her dresses and skirts need to be walked in and sat in easily.”
In addition, she needs to avoid potential wardrobe malfunctions due to gusts of wind, so her skirts and dresses will likely have weighted hems, she says.
#5 No cleavage
This probably doesn’t come as a big surprise, but excessive cleavage is frowned upon by the royal family.
Of course, sometimes even with the most strategic neckline some cleavage may be visible when getting out of cars, for example, or bending down to greet someone. For this reason, Princess Diana used to have what were surreptitiously known as her “cleavage bags.”
Handbag designer Anya Hindmarch, who provided a number of clutch bags to the royal over the years, told the Telegraph that it became a bit of an ongoing joke between her staff and the princess.
“We used to laugh when we designed what she called her ‘cleavage bags,’ little satin clutches which she would cover her cleavage with when she stepped out of cars.”
Perhaps we can expect to see an array of chic clutches in the hands of Markle in the years to come.
WATCHING THE ROYAL WEDDING LIVE? Here’s the schedule
On Saturday, May 19 at 4:30 a.m. ET/PT, Global’s coverage kicks into high gear with the special Harry & Meghan: Their Love Story, hosted by Cheryl Hickey and Dawna Friesen. The one-hour show takes a closer look at the couple’s whirlwind romance. From their secret rendezvous in Toronto to Markle taking a leap of faith by hopping the pond, the special features interviews with royal and celebrity insiders Andrew Morton, Katie Nicholl and Shinan Govani.
Global’s wedding day coverage continues live at 5:30 a.m. ET/PT with Harry & Meghan: The Royal Wedding, broadcasting live from Windsor, U.K. with hosts Cheryl Hickey, Sangita Patel and Dawna Friesen, who are joined by special guest Ross Mathews (Celebrity Big Brother). With expert celebrity knowledge, comedic flair and a love of all things pop culture, Mathews is the perfect complement to co-host the five-and-a-half-hour program.
Along with drop-in guests including royal expert and author Phil Dampier and powerhouse celebrity publicist Simon Jones, the broadcast will chronicle all the details of the royal wedding, including the procession to St George’s Chapel and Markle walking down the aisle.
Coverage of the event continues into the evening with the final U.K. edition of Global National recapping the day at 6:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT. Then, the highly anticipated movie Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance airs at 8 p.m. ET/PT on W Network, kicking off the specialty network’s Always & Forever event of four weekends filled with back-to-back wedding-themed movies celebrating the newlyweds.