Meghan Launches ‘Smart Set’ Capsule Collection for Smart Works

The Duchess wore pieces from the ‘Smart Set’ collection for today’s launch of the capsule clothing and accessory line. 

The engagement marks Meghan’s official return from maternity leave.

The Smart Set collection was created to benefit Smart Works, one of Meghan’s patronages. The organization provides coaching, apparel, and styling tips for unemployed women who have upcoming job interviews. Below you see Meghan arriving at the John Lewis Oxford Street store in London where there was a function celebrating the launch. 

More about the origins of the collection via Omid Scobie’s story for Harper’s Bazaar:

The idea was born just after Meghan became patron of the organization, which empowers disadvantaged women with the right tools and clothes to get back into the work place, at the start of the year.

Meghan pitched the idea for a collection to the Smart Works team, including executives Juliet Hughes-Hallett and Kate Stephens, and it was an instant hit. “She wanted the basics of a capsule collection to always be available,” a source tells BAZAAR. “Pieces that were more mix and match-able rather than just one new outfit.

Meghan delivered remarks at today’s event.A video of the Duchess speaking via Chris Ship of ITV.

And from The Telegraph‘s story:

The Duchess’s passion for this charity was evident as she shared personal stories with guests, from how she had dressed clients for a photoshoot to capture the promotional campaign images, to the issues she has observed herself when volunteering at the charity’s London centres.

Below, Meghan and Smart Works CEO Kate Stephens.

The capsule line includes five pieces done in collaboration with JigsawJohn Lewis, Marks and Spencer, and Misha Nonoo, the eponymous brand owned by Meghan’s close friend. The clothing items are offered in sizes 6-24.

Meghan and Misha at today’s launch.
Embed from Getty Images
More from Omid Scobie’s story:

The duchess spent eight months working closely with the charity and brands involved to ensure every aspect of the project is right. Alongside her royal duties and other charitable endeavors, Meghan pored over look books from her home in Windsor to curate and perfect the collection, filled with pieces she would wear herself. (Yes, she has the entire range in her own wardrobe!)

For every piece from the line that is sold, an identical piece will be donated to one of the eight Smart Works locations. Products are accompanied by signage that includes a quote from Meghan: “Not a handout, a hand, held.”

The women modeling the pieces in promotional materials are Smart Works clients. From left to right: Zara, Andrea, and Kate. More about the launch from Vanity Fair:

Meghan remarked that her elegant black tailored trousers by High Street retailer Jigsaw were incredibly comfortable. She is understood to have personally contacted the High Street store to see if they would come on board with the idea of Smart Set after she saw their recent fashion campaign which focused on Britain’s ethnic diversity.

In a release timed to coincide with London Fashion Week, the collection is slated to be available for the next two weeks. Pieces became available on a few sites early this morning and some of the items are already sold out online.

Below, an image from the launch at John Lewis in a photo shared by royal reporter Victoria Murphy.

Different pieces are available at different retailers. Marks and Spencer is offering a Crepe Shift dress in Black or Rich Blue, $32.50. The dress is also available in black in petite sizes ($32.50). (Note: online a red dress is also shown, but it is not part of the Smart Set collection.)

The unlined dress is done in a polyester crepe fabric with three-quarter sleeves and an open vee neck. It is also machine washable. Here is a view of the dress as seen at Marks and Spencer, shared by Patricia Treble, who is in London on a work trip.  She stopped by stores to check out the collection.

John Lewis is offering the Leather Smart Set Tote Bag, £109 ($134), in tan or black. The inclusion of a tote came out of Meghan’s belief there is a need for more office-friendly bags.

The bag is described as a soft leather grain that is “lightweight and versatile.” In a series of tweets about the collection Patricia says it is “a good practical tote in black and rich mid-brown”. Below, another photo via Patrica.

The tote has an open-top design and it is fully lined with multiple interior pockets. It can be carried as a tote or as a cross-body style using the detachable shoulder strap. Unfortunately, the bag is sold out in both colors.

Misha Nonoo’s ‘The Smart Set Shirt,’ $125, is a classic button-up shirt. It is done in a cotton-spandex blend with a semi-slim fit and Misha Nonoo branded buttons.

In keeping with the brand’s sustainability practices, the shirts are made on-demand; each shirt is cut and sewn when the order is placed.

For its part of the collection, Jigsaw offers a two-piece pantsuit from their Paris line. The Paris one-button jacket in black (£199, roughly $245) is crafted in a wool blend with a fitted silhouette, slanted front welt pockets, and an acetate/poly lining. (Please Note: You will see the jacket in navy online, but that color is not part of the Smart Set line.)

The Paris Slim Fit Tapered Trouser in black (£120, about $150 at today’s exchange rates) is done in the same polyester/wool/Elastane fabric used for the jacket and features a front zipper, front and back pockets, belt loops and a full lining. (Again, the navy trouser shown online is not part of the Smart Set collection.)

One FYI: it does not appear the Jigsaw pieces are available for shipping to the US. We’re checking to find out about other countries.

Below, a quick refresher on the pieces in the collection.

And the retailers offering the styles.

  • Marks & Spencer: Dress ($32.50)
  • John Lewis: Tote ($138)
  • Misha Nonoo: Shirt ($125)
  • Jigsaw: Jacket (£199, about $245) and Trousers (£120, roughly $150)

We can look forward to seeing the Duchess in the pieces again; at today’s launch, she said she plans to wear them on the upcoming tour.

It was in January of this year that the Duchess was appointed the royal patron of Smart Works. Shortly after the announcement was made, she made an official visit to the charity.

Meghan had been meeting with the charity and some of its clients privately for several months before the announcement.

In the September 2019 issue of Vogue, which the Duchess guest-edited, the Duchess revealed in an article that she was working on a capsule collection for Smart Works.

In late August the Sussex Royal Instagram account shared behind the scenes footage of the Duchess at the photoshoot for the collection.

This isn’t Meghan’s first fashion collaboration. Previously she teamed up with Canadian retailer Reitmans to create a work-to-weekend-wear line.

Now for our look at what Meghan wore for today’s launch. The Duchess was in the Misha Nonoo shirt ($125) from the Smart Set collection.  

The shirt is 97% cotton with 3% Spandex for stretch and ease of movement.

Meghan also wore the Paris Trouser from Jigsaw (£120, roughly $150 at today’s exchange rates) that is part of the collection. The trousers are done in the same polyester/wool/elastane fabric used for the jacket and feature a front zipper, front and back pockets, belt loops, and a full lining.

A final note on the collection via this Telegraph story: “The Duchess hasn’t just lent her name to the project – you can tell that she’s been involved in every stage of the process. These really are clothes that she would wear herself – and by all accounts, clothes that she will wear herself – and it shows.”

Meghan appears to be wearing a new pair of Manolo Blahnik BB pumps today in the brand’s cognac colorway. The shoe is available at Farfetch, $601

The design is a classic pump with a pointed toe and stiletto heel.

Meghan had on a Polo Ralph Lauren belt.  It looks like the label’s Nappa Leather Skinny Belt (£85, about $105) in the ‘saddle’ color. 

Meghan wore Princess Diana’s butterfly earrings, as well as her cuff bracelet. (Both are shown as worn on a previous occasion.) 

She also wore the Zofia Day Open Diamond Cuff, $1200; Shaun Leane Tusk Bangle in yellow gold vermeil and diamonds,$1,227; the Pippa Small ’Oshna’ bangle, $140.

ITN’s Royal Family Channel has a video running 6+ minutes from today’s launch event.

And here you see the photos posted to the Sussex Royal Instagram page.

View this post on Instagram

 

Last month, The Duchess of Sussex surprised Smart Works clients during the capsule collection shoot in west London…Today, The Duchess, alongside @SmartWorksCharity – in partnership with @InsideJigsaw, @JohnLewisandPartners, @MarksandSpencer and @MishaNonoo – are incredibly proud to reveal to everyone, #TheSmartSet – a five piece capsule collection that will equip the Smart Works clients with the classic wardrobe pieces to help them feel confident as they mobilise back into the work space. • “Since moving to the UK, it has been deeply important to me to meet with communities and organisations on the ground doing meaningful work and to try to do whatever I can to help them amplify their impact. It was just last September that we launched the ‘Together’ cookbook with the women of the Hubb Kitchen in Grenfell. Today, a year later, I am excited to celebrate the launch of another initiative of women supporting women, and communities working together for the greater good. Thank you to the four brands who came together in supporting Smart Works on this special project – placing purpose over profit and community over competition. In convening several companies rather than one, we’ve demonstrated how we can work collectively to empower each other – another layer to this communal success story, that I am so proud to be a part of” – The Duchess of Sussex The collection – which features a shirt, trousers, blazer, dress and tote bag – will be on sale for two weeks starting today, with the objective of selling enough units to give Smart Works the essentials they need to help dress clients for the coming year! For every item bought during the sale of the collection, one will be donated to Smart Works, this 1:1 model allows customers to directly support the Smart Works women by playing a part in their success story – how they look and more importantly, how they feel. Photo © @JennyZarins

A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on

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Also today, a quick reminder: The TARGET 20 Years of Design for All collection goes on sale this Saturday, 14 September! 

Target is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Design for All by bringing back some of their most-loved products from 20 of their iconic design partnersJason Wu, Altuzzara, Anna Sui, Zac Posen, Proenza Schouler, 3.1 Phillip Lim and Hunter to name a few.

Grab some #MatchMeg styles during this special event from some of Meghan’s favorite designers past and present!*****

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Finally, earlier this week Ellen DeGeneres kicked off the Fall Season of her talk show, The Ellen Show, and shared this video clip on Twitter revealing an exciting upcoming collaboration!

Ellen and wife, Portia de Rossi in Rwanda with a gorilla

In the clip, Ellen mentions how she and wife, Portia de Rossi, talked with the Royal couple about their love for the work they do in Botswana with the elephants. In return, Harry and Meghan also like what Ellen is doing with the Gorillas in Rwanda. Ellen then revealed that she and Portia are planning to join forces with Harry and Meghan on an upcoming conservation project!

We think we’ll hear some sort of an announcement on that soon.

LINKAGE:

34 Comments

  1. BethR September 13, 2019 at 8:20 am

    Classic look. Total win!

  2. Maria September 13, 2019 at 2:05 am

    Great idea! Am I the only one seeing that the pants do not really fit well and give her body a nice shape? Low waisted pants do not go with most female body shapes.

    1. Bonnie September 13, 2019 at 8:47 am

      I agree, Maria with your point about low waisted pants not working well for many women. But maybe, as you say, these pants would look this way for many others. Pity if that is the case, because this Smart Set collection is supposed to be for ALL shapes and sizes.

      Note: admin edit

    2. Caroline A. September 13, 2019 at 6:18 pm

      I agree with you, Maria. I applaud the concept of the Smart Set, and think The Duchess is doing a great job to lend practical support to women who need it, but I think that it would have served women better if the pieces had been made to fit different body types. For example, an option for pants that had a wider leg and a higher rise, a jacket that was more boxy/roomy and different lengths for the pants and jackets as well. I see that the dress is available in two lengths, but I don’t know if the pants or the jacket are. The shirt seems a bit slim for some body types. It would have been helpful to have a roomier option for those who need it, perhaps minus the Spandex. Another colour option might be helpful too as white doesn’t suit everyone, and isn’t very practical in some work environments. For example, I work in a library and I remember wearing a white and navy pinstriped shirt on my first day. I quickly realised that white was not a great colour for library work as the cuffs became grubby within a couple of hours. I wasn’t doing much shelving either on my first day. It was just the cuffs rubbing on desks that did it. Perhaps a soft blue and/or a dusky pink option would be useful to add to the collection, and possibly even a three quarter sleeve option would be great, especially for summer and to avoid the grubby cuff situation as well. When The Duchess stated that they are pieces that she herself would wear, she might have reflected on the fact that not everyone has a petite, slim figure, and asked the partners in the scheme to also design versions of the various pieces that would suit those who are taller, and also those who have a fuller figure. Having said all that, I still think that it’s a great concept and I applaud The Duchess’s efforts. It just needs some work in order to make the pieces more suitable for different body types. I know that it would have added to the cost of the scheme, but I think that it would have provided more women with the confidence they need, and probably also increased sales of the pieces and consequently added to the availability of pieces for those in need. It doesn’t make one feel confident if clothes do not fit correctly, especially at a job interview.

      1. WhatMeghanWore September 14, 2019 at 12:55 am

        I think that if this collection is successful, they will do another one in a few months. Initially, they were trying to add some pieces based on what they felt were missing at Smart Works in offerings to their clients. I too was expecting to maybe see a wide-leg trouser as well as the narrow leg. Also a black skirt. Then again, perhaps these options are plentiful at Smart Works, who knows. Another thought, I’m wondering if many clients were coming in and requesting these types of pieces. The M&S dress is based off a dress that the store currently sells – if you look, you will see that they offer it in various prints and colors within their collection. Jigsaw did the same for the jacket and trousers – it is a part of their Paris collection and they chose that to offer as a part of this collection. If you look at the Paris collection on the Jigsaw site, you will see that there is a skirt and dress that is also a part of that collection and I believe another jacket and another style pant. Nothing was “designed” for this per-say. Other than maybe the John Lewis tote and Misha’s shirt – those two I believe were specifically designed for this capsule collection.
        This may lead to a full collection specifically designed though. We will have to wait and see. That I would love to see because then they could offer more with something like that – other versions of the white shirt, a blue shirt, grey or stripe, skirts, the wide-leg trouser and one or two versions of the tapered leg trouser (a slim an curvy cut might be good – and in a mid-waist/high waist). The idea though was to stick to classic, basic black and white – which makes sense. Navy or grey would’ve been good to incorporate though – that is also a good corporate/business look. – Susan C

    3. rachel September 13, 2019 at 9:36 pm

      agree. my eyes went right to the waist on the pants. I am not sure what’s going on here. the shirt is a classic however. the shoes are waaaay too high for my taste.

      Note: admin edit

  3. Betty September 12, 2019 at 11:48 pm

    I always feel that Meghan speaks so well and her passion for the project is very much evident.

  4. Bonnie September 12, 2019 at 10:25 pm

    The world has to agree, that Meghan is an excellent public speaker. I’ve given training workshops on Public Speaking and the thing I emphasize most is that you speak, you don’t read. Meghan excels at this.

    Regarding her outfit today, I tend to think she is often too casual in her royal role, but she does look nice. The colour matching of the belt and shoes pulls it all together.

    The concept of Smart Set is a good one. The Marks and Spencer’s dress at $32 seems too good to be true…especially since it provides for a donation of another dress. The other items in the collection will be too expensive for many people.

  5. Nisha September 12, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    A wonderful idea from the Duchess., she definitely has a talent for coming up with creative charitable ventures. Im sure this will be just as successful as her cookbook. It is unfortunate that she receives so much negative press despite her hard work. I see that some of the pieces are available in other colors but are not included in the Smart Set. I do wish that the retailers had been a bit more charitable and included more color options.

  6. Natalie E September 12, 2019 at 6:58 pm

    I love all of this—the collection, the DoS look, the work of the charity. I also appreciate that they are helping women with style tips because it can be intimidating when you’re not quite sure what to wear in a professional setting or job interview. So many unspoken rules; when I worked for an employment agency we offered advice and it was so obvious the relief some women felt for kind suggestions. These pieces look smart and allow an applicant’s competence and demeanor to be the showcase.

  7. ElizaMo September 12, 2019 at 5:37 pm

    Meghan looked absolutely terrific today. The capsule collection is a knock-out, on-trend, accessible, and eminently wearable. I love the extra touches Meghan added to her own ensemble, the Diana butterfly earrings and blue stone bangle, plus her matching belt and pumps. Though of course brand-new Blahnik pumps might seem at odds with the theme of helping unemployed women.

    Thanks for the extra detail on the Misha Nonoo shirt in particular. I was almost tempted until I saw the logo on the back of the neck and I’m a dyed-in-the-wool no-logo freak. I saw there was elastane involved and your description of a narrow fit plus a stretch fabric take it out of the kind of shirt I favour, which is generally pure cotton through-and-through. The tote interested me too, but is clearly for a different generation that requires to carry gym kit plus laptop when out and about. I myself go for smaller scale accessories partly because being of petite stature I could look overwhelmed by such a deep bag.

    I think the dress is inspired. I’ve seen it dismissed as unfashionable but I take issue with that. There’s plenty of extra-loose outsize shifts about at the moment and this trades on that look without drowning the wearer. Also, fashion is catered for in careful choice of detail in the sleeve cuffs and collarless neckline with clever gathering at the shoulders. It’s so versatile, I’m struck at how good it looks with a belt for those who wish, while the rest of us can comfortably hide away in those generous folds. It’s just perfect for interview.

    All the different combinations of outfits from the capsule are beautifully modelled and I’m just delighted to see the Duchess launch yet another successful project. She’s setting her own stamp on the royal role and it’s none the worse for that.

    1. Bonnie September 13, 2019 at 10:32 am

      ElizaMo, You and I are often kindred spirits. I agree with your take on the blouse. Like you, I don’t wear logos, not wanting my body to be a walking advertisement for any designer or manufacturer. For me logos are not a status symbol. Also, I don’t buy clothes with elastane or Spandex involved. Although some feel it gives a better fit, for me it clings in all the wrong places. This collection is supposed to suit all shapes and sizes, but full busted women, will likely not appreciate the Spandex.

      1. WhatMeghanWore September 13, 2019 at 3:39 pm

        Hi Ladies – the logo or monogram rather on the shirt, is small at the neck. I’m not sure if this is something new or just to show another placement for a monogram. I own the Husband shirt and it does not have the “MN” on it. I did purchase it about two years ago though. It might be something to inquire about if you are really interested in the shirt. The company is fantastic to deal with. The Husband shirt is extremely nice and I’ve worn it a number of times. – Susan C.

  8. Dawn C September 12, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    As someone who needed something similar to this many years ago, I LOVE it! What I love the most is the women who are in the program get not just clothing that is appropriate but NEW clothing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with secondhand clothing when you choose to buy/wear it, but when you’re forced to by circumstance, and especially for job interviews and such, it’s not exactly a morale booster. I don’t know if there is anything even remotely like this here in the States and if not, there should be. I personally wouldn’t wear any of these pieces, and most likely none would fit (I have to always shop in the ‘tall’ or ‘long length” section for everything), because I have no need for them, but I do love the initiative.

    1. Teresa September 12, 2019 at 8:27 pm

      Random side bar. There is a program similar in the states its called dress for success.

    2. Caroline A. September 13, 2019 at 10:45 pm

      Hi, Dawn. I am 5’8″ tall, which I wouldn’t say is especially tall, but I find that most tops, trousers, and jackets are too short for me. I think I must have long arms and long legs, and a long torso. I always have to take the hems down on trousers and even then they are never quite long enough, especially when I wear shoes with even a moderately high heel. Here in New Zealand we don’t seem to have shops that stock items in various lengths so I am constantly disappointed when I try things on. I would love to know which shops you buy from that stock longer lengths if you would care to enlighten me, please. (I know about Long Tall Sally already).

      1. WhatMeghanWore September 14, 2019 at 12:35 am

        Hi Caroline,
        What about stores such as J. Crew and Banana Republic – do you have those by you? I have the exact opposite issue. I’m 5’2″ – petite an run into the issue of jeans/pants being too long if they don’t come in petite sizes or crop can sometimes hit at my ankles or heels. Very frustrating sometimes and I find myself hemming a lot. With tops, it’s that the sleeves are too long and so forth. I hope you have more luck and can find some shops or online stores that stock the right lengths for you! – Susan C.

  9. Marilyn September 12, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    I 100% love this project. And these are clothes that I have in my closet right now as I tend to wear classic pieces that don’t go out of style. I bought the dress in black for myself and just like the DoS said, when I wear my dress, I’ll be happy in knowing that someone, somewhere in the UK will be wearing the same dress.

  10. Lee September 12, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    Wow! What a great initiative this is!
    I love the idea that these clothes will be donated to SmartWorks on a one-for-one basis; it’s a great way to draw attention to the cause and to also make physical impact on the charity’s work. I’ve said this before, but I will repeat it again: Meghan’s patronages are lucky to have her as their patron because her ideas are creative, and she doesn’t stop at much to achieve them!
    I probably wouldn’t wear any of the items in the collection, but I do love that tote bag! Too bad I have a bunch like that already — doesn’t justify another purchase….
    Susan, thank you for this fabulous and timely post! One note: I think you meant to say conservation, not conversation, in the sentence about the Sussexes’ upcoming collaboration with Ellen.

    1. WhatMeghanWore September 12, 2019 at 3:08 pm

      Goodness, yes, that is what we meant! You are wonderful to let us know, Lee, thank you. 🙂

  11. Clare September 12, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    Do we know where her belt is from? Love the color.

    1. WhatMeghanWore September 12, 2019 at 2:49 pm

      Hello, Clare. It is a Polo Ralph Lauren piece. We managed to get the post updated just a bit ago and now there is a product photo. 🙂

      1. Clare September 12, 2019 at 4:54 pm

        Thank you!!!

  12. Ava Pittman September 12, 2019 at 2:25 pm

    This is a wonderful initiative. The Duchess looks great. I would never have put brown and black together but it looks terrific. I like a crisp white shirt. She looks lovely.

  13. MaryKate September 12, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    Lovely post! Thank you for the coverage. I am probably missing it, but I’m curious, did Meghan design the clothes? Or are these items that were already in stores, Meghan then selected them, and the retailers are now participating in the program? Thank you!

  14. Linda September 12, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    This is a very professional looking outfit and appropriate for a job interview. If only she would cuff her sleeves properly! Perhaps she is going for the messy look, but the models in the photos look so much more put together with the nicely cuffed sleeves. Obviously this is a pet peeve of mine!

    1. Bonnie September 12, 2019 at 10:34 pm

      Linda, I agree with you about the rolled up sleeves on the blouse. I mentioned it in my comments regarding the blue blouse, that Meghan wore at the recent photo shoot. It is a pet peeve of mine also. It only takes a few minutes to fold the sleeves properly. But Meghan seems to like a casual/messy look

  15. Laurie September 12, 2019 at 11:32 am

    I love the mixing of brown and black. It’s a great everyday workwear look, which I’m sure is what the duchess was trying to demonstrate. It’s not an ensemble that will go down in the history books, but that’s not really the point. I like that she stacked her bracelets, instead of sticking to her usual tiny almost invisible jewelry. This outfit needed that extra sparkle to boost the look. Those shoes are divine.

  16. SG-Chi September 12, 2019 at 11:23 am

    Bought the white button-up. I’ve been thinking of refreshing this wardrobe classic, and this one is perfect on multiple levels.

  17. Kay Khyabani September 12, 2019 at 11:00 am

    What a wonderful and collaborative idea! The Duchess look is glowing and looks just lovely. I would have never thought to put together a brown belt and brown shoes with black and white like that. I’m loving today’s look.

  18. Sophie Holmes September 12, 2019 at 10:39 am

    No ID on the rest of the outfit? I’d love to know where her bangles are from.

    1. WhatMeghanWore September 12, 2019 at 11:10 am

      Hi, Sophie! The post is updated now, apologies for the missing info. We had a technical hiccup this morning. 🙂

  19. Laura September 12, 2019 at 10:31 am

    How cute is Meghan! She looks adorable, confident and very professional! I’m always a fan of affordable over couture, so I like that she’s modeling her own collection- and looking fabulous. Love the belt matched to the shoes, and the crisp blouse and pants. I just wish she put her hair back, because like the Duchess of Cambridge, it seems to be blowing all over- must be distracting. However, she looks just great, in my opinion!

  20. Ellen September 12, 2019 at 9:46 am

    I think it was a creative idea for getting basic pieces into the hands of women who can use them as they enter the workforce. Raises awareness of the charity/ focuses on the gaps in clothing available for SmartWorks to supply to the women. I would wear any of the pieces & especially coveted the sold-out leather tote. Meghan looks good. Glad to see her back to work.

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