Meghan is bringing an '80s dress trend back
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Meghan is bringing an '80s dress trend back

Since officially joining the Royal family just over 100 days ago, the Duchess of Sussex has experimented with jaunty fascinators, pastel-coloured sheath dresses and even sheer tights. So far, so safe, so very traditional Duchess.

However, just as we thought we were beginning to work out Meghan's new style formulae (below-the-knee hemlines, oversized clutch bags and bateau necklines) to match her equally new way of life, her 20th public appearance as a royal on last week threw a massive sartorial spanner in the works.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, in a tuxedo dress.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, in a tuxedo dress.

Photo: AP

Joining Prince Harry for a charity performance of the Broadway hit Hamilton, Meghan chose to wear a black tuxedo mini dress. In doing so, she surprised style critics, certainly, but she also confirmed that the '80s party-dress trend we've seen trickling down a myriad of runways and red carpets is now officially set to go mainstream.

For those who lived through the decade, news that the blazer dress is back may be greeted with a slight sense of horror. However, as Meghan's Judith & Charles version proved, the 2018 take is much more demure than the drama we came to expect from those in-your-face Dynasty days. But just because this modern version doesn't come with padded shoulders, doesn't mean it's in anyway less powerful.

In a post #MeToo world, where women are finally being valued for what they have to say rather than just for what they look (or don't look) like, red carpet dressing has never fallen under so much scrutiny. So no wonder, in this new mood of politicised fashion, we're witnessing a revival of the tuxedo dress, with designers choosing to focus on tailoring for autumn/winter 2018.

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At Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton has played around with the traditional blazer, splicing it with silks and duchesse satin. Australian designer Dion Lee has adopted utilitarian details seen in military uniforms and fused neat jackets with harnesses. Meanwhile, Alexander Wang has taken the idea of a souped-up, sexy female executive to the extreme with CEO and platinum-card motifs. Elsewhere, Eckhaus Latta has shown a double-breasted cream blazer dress, while a pink lamé version by AREA proves that tailoring can be gentle and still make an impact. Celebrities seem to be just as keen on interpreting this tux luxe trend in a multitude of ways. High-hemlines paired with even higher heels, as seen on Rihanna and the Hadid sisters, will appeal to millennials who post inspirational quotes on social media with the hashtag #GirlBoss.

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Those after a more grown-up take should look to Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington, Gwyneth Paltrow and Victoria Beckham. With the arrival of tux luxe, the "Markle effect" is in full flow. Lyst, the fashion search engine, reported that 24 hours after the Duchess's Hamilton appearance, there was an 800 per cent rise in searches for tuxedo dresses.

Bestsellers on the luxury website Net-a-Porter include a crepe version with a flattering nipped-in-waist from Alexander McQueen, plus a wool mini dress with a curved line of embossed gold buttons from Balmain.

While we wait for the high street to churn out its copies of tux luxe, Karen Millen already has a range of polished-looking options.

If you like the idea of a luxe tux but can't envision tackling the office party in one, then opt for a trouser tux. Loved by everyone from Marlene Dietrich to Diana, Princess of Wales, the look has never felt so relevant. You could go for a classic "Le Smoking" from Saint Laurent, but you can also play around with fabrics and hues. Velvet and satins will take you well into the canapé season. For something less Working Girl, team your tux with a silk T-shirt, rather than high-buttoned shirt. Teased hair optional, of course.

The Telegraph, London