I’m probably not supposed to say this, but sometimes the hype around all the recent Meghan Markle news kind of makes me eye roll. Do I click on any story when her name is in the headline? Yes. Have I been inspired to take a deep dive into her royal wardrobe choices? Absolutely. Did I shed a tear during her wedding ceremony to Prince Harry? Did I! It’s nothing personal against her, but I simply chalked it all up to dedication to my job, sheer fascination, and the fact that I cry at everyone’s wedding. Then I walked for a week in her shoes and gained a whole new appreciation.
Royal engagements and chicken dinners with Prince Harry at Nottingham Cottage aside, I stepped into Markle’s shoes in a more literal way. Enter: Sarah Flint.
The New York shoe designer and CFDA member is practically the unofficial shoemaker for the duchess. Markle’s been spotted in the brand’s styles since well before she entered the royal family and continues to support the relatively young brand in her latest appearances. It’s a huge statement and a sign of loyalty as someone who has all the fashion options one could wish for.
With the help of Flint’s PR team, I identified and pulled two pairs of Markle’s favorite styles she’s worn repeatedly—the Emma pumps and the Natalie flats. “To me, the Natalie epitomizes the casual but elevated style of our brand, while the Emma marries improved fit and wearability with surprising design details (like our limited-edition heel designs) for a more current take on classic block-heel pumps,” Flint tells us.
While she doesn’t speak publicly about her brand’s relationship with Markle, Flint says that the goal is “to make women feel empowered and at ease one pair of shoes at a time.” This sentiment seems perfectly aligned with Markle, as a feminist, as well as someone who’s only recently reached a whole new level of celebrity and has been given a platform that few fellow actors will ever have. Sign me up, I figured.
With my Markle shoes ready, I went about my week as a duchess… at least from the ankles down.
On me: Unknown label top I bought in Vietnam; Warp + Weft jeans; Staud Bissett Bag ($375); Sarah Flint Emma ($375)
I already consider myself a heels person, so I assumed this challenge will be easy. However, despite my sporadic attempts at outfit planning, I wake up and in a pre-caffeine stupor panic about what to wear that will complement the leopard pattern of the Emma pumps. What would Meghan do?
My head instantly goes to Markle’s outfit she just wore to Wimbledon in 2018: a striped button-down top with white jeans. I figure I’ll embrace a full Markle look for day one. I pull together the closest version of that and head out.
Truthfully, I don’t think much about my shoes throughout the day. They fit perfectly true to size, and although they’re comfortable to walk in, I spend the majority of my day at my desk. When I catch my reflection in the office restroom, I giggle at how much I’ve committed to the role today, but I am thoroughly enjoying playing the part.
Since I took the challenge quite literally day one, day two I wanted to see how the duchess shoes felt in an outfit that was much more my speed—a slip dress and a tied-up button-down.
While I’ve had this Strathberry bag for years before I knew who Markle was, I toss it on for good measure, as it’s also a favorite brand of hers. I start to think that Markle and I have more in common than I suspected. That is until I’m forced to walk 20 minutes to the office in the sticky heat because a pipe burst in the Flatiron District and the streets have been entirely closed off. I doubt she has to deal with such things.
My feet get a little tired, but the shoes hold up well. I opted not to try Markle’s trick of sizing up to avoid blisters, and I think that was probably a good idea for me. The only caveat I’ll add is that it gets quite hot wearing a calf-hair pump in the middle of July.
Day three is Friday, and I switch things up to try out Markle’s go-to flats. Admittedly, I don’t really consider myself to be a flats person, but I like the way they look on my feet. They also feel a little frillier with a small bow right on top. I decided to really commit and throw on this ruffled Ganni dress too.
This is so not a Markle outfit, but in this look, her shoes feel right at home with me.
On me: Madewell x No. 6 dress; Pippa Holt bag; Sarah Flint Natalie ($345)
It’s the weekend, and on Saturday I head to brunch at my friend’s apartment. Markle doesn’t really do casual style (certainly not recently), so I assume my flats are also intended to be my off-duty gear. I grab a flimsy maxi dress and straw bag, make a bodega run (so royal, I know), and head to a friend’s place.
I get off the train and decide to walk the rest of the way there instead of transferring to a bus. It wasn’t a bad idea per se, but halfway in I’m reminded that my high arches don’t really appreciate a 30-minute walk in flats. I wonder if Markle has flat feet, if she’s a fan of an insole, or if she usually reaches 10,000 steps a day.
On Sunday, I clean my apartment, do laundry, and go to my parents’ for dinner. The duchess shoes don’t make an appearance.
On me: Patagonia top; Rebecca Taylor skirt; Sarah Flint Emma ($375)
I’ve seen photos of Markle in this exact pair of leopard-print shoes, but she usually wears them as an accent piece to a neutral (often navy) outfit. Today, I use leopard in a fashion-editor-favorite way: as a neutral.
Instead of planning my outfit around my shoes, I style myself head-to-toe and slip on the pumps before heading out. I have to say that this might be my favorite look of this past week.
On me: Reformation blouse; Derek Lam jeans; Sarah Flint Emma ($375)
It’s the last day of walking in Meghan Markle’s shoes, and I would love to say that I feel more like a duchess than ever, but that’s not quite the case. What I do feel is comfortable.
There’s something to be said for Markle’s brand loyalty. I’ve been switching off between the two styles—personally, the heels are a better fit for me—and have no blisters or foot pain to show for it. I can’t speak exactly to the duchess’s day-to-day schedule, but I believe she chooses these shoes (as well as other go-to designers, such as Manolo Blahnik and Aquazzura) because they can keep up.
For me, I find it helps to have a smaller, reliable batch of shoe options to choose from each day instead of being overwhelmed with choices. I found getting dressed each morning a bit less time-consuming but still enjoyable. Some days I was a bit more creative, and others I simply relied on the leopard print to add something special to an outfit.
This experiment started as a means to understand Meghan Markle a bit better. And while I can assure you that no one on the subway ever mistook me for a member of any royal family, dressing the part felt like I was one step closer.