- Karwai Tang/Getty Images
- Meghan Markle has just announced plans to release her own clothing line.
- The line, which is is to focus on women’s workwear, won’t appear in stores until later this year.
- In the meantime, fans can take a free, five-week online course, “A History of Royal Fashion” which will teach you how to channel your inner Meghan Markle, Kate Middleton, or Princess Diana.
- INSIDER spoke to lecturer Sally Tuckett, who broke down what you can expect from the course, which is available on website FutureLearn.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
The ladies of the royal family have been using their clothes “to control, to entertain, and to impress” for as long as anyone can remember, according to Sally Tuckett, Dress and Textiles Histories lecturer at the University of Glasgow.
After the Duchess of Sussex joined the family in 2018, almost everything she was photographed wearing started selling out within minutes, leading the press to name the phenomenon “The Meghan Markle effect.”
Now, Markle has taken another impressive leap into the world of royal fashion, as the duchess recently announced plans to launch her own charity clothing line later this year.
The public’s fascination with royal fashion goes back centuries. From Queen Victoria’s ever-changing wardrobe, to Queen Elizabeth II’s classic color-block suits, every royal figure has a trademark that makes them unique.
- History of Royal Palaces Collection.
Learning to dress like a princess or a queen doesn’t come easy, which is why Tuckett helped develop a royal fashion course – so that mere muggles like us can learn the tricks of the trade.
Tuckett spoke to INSIDER about the free online course, “A History of Royal Fashion,” which has been developed by Historic Royal Palaces in partnership with the University of Glasgow.
The five-week course, which is available on the website FutureLearn, “can be accessed by anyone with the internet” according to Tuckett.
With four hours worth of content each week, Tuckett will guide you through the fashion of the Tudors, the Stuarts, and the Victorian era, right through to the Windsors, where you’ll get insight on the glamorous dresses worn by Princess Diana and our current monarch.
“The course gives a small insight into each royal family through history,” Tuckett explained
“For instance, Henry VIIII’s wife, Catherine of Aragon, made his shirts even when Anne Boleyn was on the scene. It shows how politics weighed heavily on fashion, and how it was part of the rivalry.
“It shows how there’s so much more to fashion than clothing.”
Tuckett and the other lecturers on the course will teach through a range of mediums, including videos, articles, and images from the Historic Royal Palaces collection.
The photos used will be taken from royal engagements and state visits past and present. For instance, this evening gown was worn by Princess Diana during a state visit to Brazil in 1991.
- Tim Graham Photo Library.
The ivory silk dress was designed by Catherine Walker, a favourite amongst the younger generation of royals.
- Historic Royal Palaces.
Catherine Walker is a go-to for Kate Middleton, who was most recently spotted wearing one of her designs during her first-ever solo engagement with the Queen.
- Marth Cuthbert/ via UK Press/ Getty Images
You can even take a bash at designing your own royal costumes, with access to past sketches from royal fashion designers as your inspiration. For instance, David Sassoon sketched this red evening gown for Princess Diana in 1982.
The princess showed her approval by scribbling “Yes please!” on the page.
- Historic Royal Palaces.
While Tuckett believes the course predominantly appeals to those “who want to learn how to make the clothes accurately,” she said looking to the past can actually teach us a thing or two about the new generation of royal women, including Middleton and Markle.
“During Queen Victoria’s reign, she was big on British products to show her support got British manufacturers,” she said. “You can see that with the modern royals. They often choose designers close to their hearts.”
Markle has been known to honour designers from the countries she visits on royal tours. During her tour to Australia and New Zealand in 2018, she paid tribute to both countries by wearing unknown designers from the areas she visited.
She wore these jeans by Outland Denim during an outing in Australia with Prince Harry.
- Chris Jackson/Getty Images
“Ceremonial dress is something that has survived for hundreds of years,” Tuckett added. “For example, coronation skirts. The Windsor uniform still gets worn, and that was started in the 18th century!”
While royal style has certainly changed over the years, the greatest difference to the past is how much access the public now has to their fashion choices, according to Tuckett.
“When Henry VIII was king, he had only a small circle who knew what he was doing. Now, however, when the royals step outside for an engagement, within thirty seconds a photo of them, what they’re wearing, and where you can get the outfit from is online.”
But with Tuckett’s insights, you could become a step above the rest when it comes to nailing their trademark looks. Visit FutureLearn for more information.