Two Styles Meghan Loves – Wide Legs and Bateau Necklines Galore

Today’s post is by Brooke Nurthen, WMW Contributing Editor.

Today we’re looking at two key styles Meghan has worn time and time again, and which have been subject to much discussion. We’re hoping to provide a little rundown and history of each. Interestingly, both styles are believed to originate from uniforms worn by sailors in the 19th century – both being easy to remove if a sailor goes overboard. Any guesses so far?

The first are the oft-favoured, and often hotly debated, wide-leg trousers.

Meghan donned the style for events during her engagement, wearing a Veronica Beard pair in Edinburgh and a Burberry pair to visit Brixton.

Most recently, the Duchess wore a cream Ralph Lauren pair of the style to the Wimbledon Ladies Final.

I’m an avid reader of the lively WMW comments section, and have noticed a great deal of debate around this style of pants.

What we can say for certain is that the style has long been a popular fashion choice, and continues to trend today. A great Glamour article from 2016 references the style as worn by Lauren Hutton, Katharine Hepburn, Bianca Jagger and, of course, Jackie O.

In a more modern sense, a Vogue article from last year declares ‘Victoria Beckham Makes Super Wide-Leg Pants Look Totally Easy’. And from Vogue UK, ‘How The Street Style Set Wear Wide Leg Trousers’ is a great pictorial essay on the trend. The Guardian ran a pictorial on ‘The History of Flares’ a few years ago (NB, the semantics of flares vs wide legs vs palazzos vs ‘insert synonym here’ seems to be rather fluid).

Victoria Beckham, June 2018 in Paris and at home, via Instagram @victoriabeckham.

Below, Victoria Beckham in May 2017 wearing another wide-leg style.

Victoria Beckham in New York City May 2017

The floor-skimming (or pooling, in some instances) is also a hot topic, and the pragmatics among us (myself included!) worry about damage to the garment – not to mention laundering them. But as we know, Meghan loves and cares about fashion. She is aware of, engages in, and even sets, fashion trends – and this is certainly one.

Below, from Net-a-Porter, look closely at the hemlines for the trend, as seen by designers Meghan has a history with: Roland Mouret’s Burton two-tone wool-crepe wide-leg pants, Victoria Victoria Beckham’s Crepe Wide-Leg Pants, Stella McCartney’s Wool Straight-Leg Pants, Prada’s Ribbed Knit Wide Leg Pants and Theory’s Stretch Crepe Wide Leg Pants.

Roland Mouret’s Burton two-tone wool-crepe wide-leg pants / Victoria Victoria Beckham’s Crepe Wide-Leg Pants / Stella McCartney’s Wool Straight Leg Pants / Prada’s Ribbed Knit Wide Leg Pants / Theory Stretch Crepe Wide Leg Pants

The wide-legged ‘lounge pant’ style originated in the 1920s, taking inspiration from some elements of Asian traditional dress and the general ‘menswear’ trend. There was a huge resurgence in the style in the 1960s and 70s, and it has come to popularity again recently. I’d personally classify a wide-leg pant as a ‘style’ – one that continues to re-emerge and have its day decade after decade. The pooling / dragging / skimming / what have you is a ‘trend’, and something which is likely to fade out of favour before long.

Below, Jessica Mulroney, Meghan’s stylist in wide-leg pant styles as shown on her Instagram account.

The second style is the boatneck, or bateau style neckline. IMHO, Mindy Kaling said it best…

Most famously seen on her wedding day, the Duchess definitely has a strong affinity for the design, having worn it during her engagement and shown her continued love for it after the wedding.

On the wedding day, the Kensington Palace press release detailed that “The focus of the dress is the graphic open bateau neckline that gracefully frames the shoulders and emphasises the slender sculpted waist.”

Pre-wedding, Meghan wore a tartan print Theory jacket whilst on engagements in Wales, and a navy Roland Mouret dress just the day before her nuptials.

In June, Meghan tested out the neckline again with a Prada number at the Queen’s Young Leaders awards.

In July 2018, Meghan went on a bit of a boatneck binge (can I coin that phrase?), wearing the style multiple times in a week – first at Prince Louis’ Christening in olive Ralph Lauren, then at the RAF100 event in (arguably) navy Dior, followed up with meeting the President of Ireland in Dublin in Roland Mouret.

The bateau neckline is a flattering style for Meghan, creating a lovely frame for the shoulders, collarbone and neck. It’s classic and demure, but still fashion forward. The style can vary from almost dropping off the shoulders (see: Meghan’s wedding dress), or higher up covering the collarbones.

Coco Chanel is believed to have introduced the style to the fashion world, modeling a neckline from sailors outfits. Like wide leg trousers, it originated in the first half of the 20th century, with Chanel showing it on the runway in the 1930s. The look received further acclaim when Audrey Hepburn wore a Givenchy (of course!) design in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Audrey is the first person that comes to mind when I think of bateaus, and remains a style icon for many, I’d wager that includes our new Duchess. It remains a popular style for bridal wear, but it’s catching on for a wider audience too. Neiman Marcus has a whole category page for bateau neckline dresses, and Who What Wear recently ran an interesting, if not insanely-titled, “We Asked a Psychologist Why Meghan Markle Can’t Quit This Trend”. And according to a recent Glamour article:

In keeping with the so-called Meghan Effect, Markle’s emerging affinity for the boatneck is already spiking shoppers’ interest online. According to Pinterest, saves for bateau necklines are on the rise on the platform, increasing by 104 percent since 2017. On eBay, sales for boatneck tops and dresses jumped 830 percent from November 2017 (when Markle and Prince Harry announced they were engaged) to June 2018.”

Here are some affordable boatneck and wide-leg styles for the Fall 2018 Season: a Zara boat neck blazer, $99.90 and a Halogen convertible bateau neck sweater, $59.00.

Below, the TopShop wide-leg pant available in 3 colors

Other options include: J Crew ‘Peyton’ cropped pant / J Crew Denim wide leg trouser jean / Everlane The Wide Leg Crop Pant.

And from Banana Republic: Ruffle-Cuff Button-Back dress / Flutter-Sleeve Cropped Jumpsuit / Poet-Sleeve Print dress

We will see you later today for coverage of Meghan and Harry at the Hamilton Gala!


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  1. Love the article. I love boat necks and wide legs. To date I have three floor skimming wide leg trousers and loved Meghan’s look at Wembledon. I believe every woman can pull off a boat neck, and it’s very elegant. I thought it was interesting that people would say they are tired of seeing The Duchess in boat necks,but I never hear anyone say another vee neck? Another crew neck top? One thing The Duchess has re-introduced me to is the clutch. Seeing her with so many different clutches has inspired me and now I am adding them to my repertoire and loving it. Thanks Meghan!

  2. Using Victoria Beckham as a style source is laughable. Many of us cannot wear wide-legged pants like Meghan can but more power to her.
    NOTE: Admin edit

  3. Everything old is new again. I am showing my age but I too wore wide legged pants and loved them in the late 60s and early 70s and would do so again except my now figure will not permit. You do need to be very slim to carry this style off successfully. I was then and am not now. I love the DofS styling and hope she continues to use the services/advice of Jessica Malroney of Toronto, Canada.

  4. Boatnecks are one of the very few necklines that look good on me. I have wide shoulders and boobs a mile apart so showing skin up there just makes me look masculine! The boatneck provides a nice feminine touch without revealing too much. I’m so glad Meghan is a fan of that style so I can so often draw inspiration from her looks!

    As for wide-legged pants, it’s a look I’d like to embrace but the style just emphasizes all the wrong parts on me, while hiding the good ones – I feel two sizes bigger when wearing the trousers I bought for business school. But on someone slim like Meghan or Victoria Beckham, they really make for an interesting shape! I just cannot get on board with the pooling though. That’s what people in my junior high and high school did with their wide cut jeans ten years ago, until the seams were destroyed. It didn’t look cool then and it still doesn’t now.

    Thanks for the interesting post!

  5. Curious to know what does she or one wear underneath the boat neck tops? Strapless bra? Or some kind of bandeau top? I have a couple of boatneck blouses and find that the bra straps always peek out which I don’t like for work purposes.

  6. Great article! I especially appreciated the discussion of “style” v. “trend.” Meghan loves fashion, and I appreciate her pushing the envelope a bit.

  7. I love the wide leg trouser look – I cant quite pull it off (I tend to feel like trends wear me, I don’t wear them) but I think Meghan can surprisingly make it work (I say surprisingly because she is so tiny – petite and thin – but I don’t think they swamp her.) I think she does a good job of balancing it out. I loved her Wimbledon outfit. And the wide legs are both classic as you point out but also very on trend right now.

    Now the boatnecks- those I love, and I don’t care if she wears them in every appearance, haha. I love a nice boatneck top. I really like my collarbone and shoulders for some odd reason, so I like wearing something that emphasizes that.

    Fun post!

  8. Personally I love both styles. As a pear shape, wider bottom pants (generally bootcut, but also wide leg) can balance out my wide hips, the bateau or boat neckline does the same thing, it is a nifty visual trick. Meghan seems to be more of an athletic, straight up and down figure, but the same tricks can work in a different way – she uses these tools and then belts in at the waist, giving the appearance of more curve than she has. We see the belt technique with her wide leg trousers in Brixton, and then with the boat necks at the Queens Young Leaders pink Prada, and the olive Ralph Lauren at the christening. And then the pre-wedding Roland Mouret has a tailored, nipped in waist, and especially that stunning Dior at the RAF service, where the New Look skirt works in a similar way to wide leg trousers – and creates what is one of my fave looks ever from her.

    We all try to work with what we have, and it is these differences that makes the human race so beautiful.

    • I so agree Lindsey, I find that the wide leg pants help balance out my menopause midsection 🙂 and god they’re so much more comfortable than skinny jeans. The bateau neckline is so sexy, just flashing that hint of skin and collarbone without screaming I’m sexy! I for one would be super happy if Meghan decides that wide leg pants and bateau necklines are her signature look.

      • I’m so pleased I wasn’t drinking something while reading your comment Lauri, else my keyboard would have had a shower. “Menopause midsection”! Totally hear ya! My daughter is 5 1/2 so not sure I can blame pregnancy anymore, just the fake hormones (IVF treatment) that messed up my metabolism.
        And I agree that a hint of something is much more sexy, and still sophisticated, than showing all the goods. I’d love for wide legs and bateau necklines to be signature too.

  9. What a fun and enlightening post from Contributing Editor, Brooke Nurthen! Lots of fantastic research done on her part. The supportive photos give insight into Meghan’s design choices and dispel rumors of bad tailoring. Thank you.

    Interesting to learn the impetus for wide leg trousers originated from naval uniforms! Back in the late ’60s and early ’70s my sister and I would shop at an Army – Navy Supply store outside of Los Angeles. Bell-bottoms and pea coats were the rage and this store supplied them. The denim bell-bottoms pooled and the pea coats were masculine but we loved the look.

    Meghan’s pairing of a structured bateau neckline with her messy bun works and the best example of this play was seen on her wedding day. The diagonal-like neckline combined with her relaxed hairstyle comes across to me as easy, not overdone or overworked.

    I applaud Meghan’s fashion choices and appreciate that, alongside the other Royals, she’s in a lane all by herself.

  10. I don’t mind a wider pant leg, but the ones Meghan wore to Wimbledon and the ones that Victoria Beckham wore in 2017, are far too exaggerated for my taste. Surely the length could be taken up a notch. Dragging the material along the ground is a quick way to fray the bottoms and my practical nature would not be happy doing that. The boat neckline is lovely on Meghan and frames her face beautifully. She did, however, tend to overuse it. No doubt there will be many new outfits on their tour to Australia and I look forward to seeing a variety of fashions.

  11. what a wonderful post! thank you, contributing author!
    this will sound like i’m making it up, but i looked and looked (4 major stores, a sample store, and a resale shop) for a bateau or boat-neckline for my wedding dress in 2007 and couldn’t find one. the salesladies looked at me like i had three heads. granted i had a much lower budget than Meghan, but i bet they’re going to be everywhere now 🙂

    • I agree, that we will now see more boat or bateau necklines, as Meghan’s preferences are setting trends. For anyone who sews, this neckline is very easy to do. Also, it often gives enough space to pull a top over your head, thus eliminating the need for a zipper or closure at the back.

  12. The wide legged trousers look more like a dress than tight pants do, so I think they manage to give an edge of formality while also making her distinctive from the DoC. And most of us look our best in just a few necklines, so good for her for finding what suits her! Plus, this one is demure yet a little skin-showing, keeping her from the frump territory that can arise so easily.

  13. I’ll be glad when the wide leg, puddling trend ends, but perhaps she’ll embrace them as much as Kate has her skinny jeans. To each their own, I guess.


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