Meghan Markle's White Cutout Halter Dress Is a Sign of Her New Style Era

The Duchess of Sussex's look for the Sentebale charity polo match stands out in her polished style file.

Meghan Markle wearing a white dress at a charity event
(Image credit: Getty Images)

This March, Meghan Markle hired stylist Jamie Mizrahi for a reported "Hollywood relaunch"—ostensibly tied to major career moves like the launch of her lifestyle brand, American Riviera Orchard, and her forthcoming Netflix projects. Less than a month later, the Duchess of Sussex is ready to reveal her new outlook on personal style. Spoiler: It's a more daring approach to the polished neutrals and streamlined dresses she's worn in the past.

On Friday, April 12, Meghan Markle dressed in an ivory Heidi Merrick dress to cheer on Prince Harry at the Royal Salute Polo Challenge to benefit Sentebale. (The former royal founded the charity, which supports children in Africa affected by inequality, poverty, and HIV/AIDS, with Lesotho's Prince Seeiso in 2006.) Markle's high neckline and clean palette reflected past outfits for public engagements—with the exception of a large triangular cutout at the base of the bodice.

Meghan Markle attends the Sentebale charity polo match with Prince Harry while wearing a white cutout halter dress and nude pumps

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry posed with friends Nacho Figueras and Delfina Blaquier at the Sentebale Royal Salute Polo Challenge.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Markle's dress also had a banded, structured waistband that flowed into a mid-length skirt. She coordinated the piece with oversize square black sunglasses—a second item from the "California lifestyle brand" Heidi Merrick.

Meghan Markle poses with polo players on the Royal Salute step and repeat

Markle posed with players after the match.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

While the flash of skin was a style-180 for Markle's modest-yet-sleek wardrobe, her mix of accessories stayed true to past looks. She combined old staples (like a white Valentino bag and nude Aquazzura pumps) with vintage pieces (a pair of archival Chanel earrings).

Meghan Markle wears a white suit and carries a Valentino bag

Meghan Markle previously carried her white, quilted Valentino bag to the 2022 Invictus Games in the Netherlands.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Over the years, Meghan Markle has supported Prince Harry's polo matches in a range of spring-ready sundresses and suiting by luxury and contemporary brands—but never in the form of a cutout dress. In 2018, she attended the same Sentebale benefit match in a denim dress by one of her favorite designers, Carolina Herrera. She also stepped into Aquazzura pumps for the occasion.

Meghan Markle attends the Sentebale Charity Polo match wearing a low cut dress and tall heels while walking next to Prince Harry

Meghan Markle's outfit for the 2018 match was much more conservative, featuring a belted denim dress by Carolina Herrera, a rattan J.Crew clutch, and Aquazzura pumps.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Between the March news that Markle is exploring her style horizons and Friday's Polo Cup appearance, the entrepreneur has made a handful of surprise appearances. Those looks shared the same reserved, polished approach she took to dressing for life as a working royal—and for her return to the United States—with a stable of designers her followers will recognize. For a March visit to Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Markle re-wore an Oscar de la Renta shirt dress with semi-sheer floral detailing. Speaking at the Kinsey Collection a few weeks before, she draped a floral cape by Carolina Herrera over her shoulders. (Very pretty, but not yet envelope-pushing.)

Markle has worn plenty of ivory before, but her more daring silhouette could be the start of something new with Mizrahi. The fashion expert is known for creating distinct-yet-aspirational style identities for her clients, from quiet luxury with The Row and Dior for Jennifer Lawrence to high glamour in Givenchy and Schiaparelli for Adele.

At the very least, the Duchess's look has a subtle tie to one of her upcoming projects. Heidi Merrick is a Los Angeles-based designer channeling an upscale-yet-relaxed lifestyle reflective of her Santa Barbara, California, upbringing into clothing. The vibe isn't too far off from Markle's Montecito-based American Riviera Orchard (based on the limited sneak-peek).

It'll take more public appearances for Markle and Mizrahi's vision to fully take form. So far, the results are delightfully unexpected. Shop little white dresses inspired by Meghan Markle's cutout halter moment below.

Shop White Dresses Inspired by Meghan Markle

Halie LeSavage
Senior News Editor (Fashion & Beauty)

Halie LeSavage is the senior fashion and beauty news editor at Marie Claire, where she assigns, edits, and writes stories for both sections. Halie is an expert on runway trends, celebrity style, emerging fashion and beauty brands, and shopping (naturally). In over seven years as a professional journalist, Halie’s reporting has ranged from fashion week coverage spanning the Copenhagen, New York, Milan, and Paris markets, to profiles on industry insiders including stylist Alison Bornstein and J.Crew womenswear creative director Olympia Gayot, to breaking news stories on noteworthy brand collaborations and beauty launches. (She can personally confirm that Bella Hadid’s Ôrebella perfume is worth the hype.) She has also written dozens of research-backed shopping guides to finding the best tote bags, ballet flats, and more. Most of all, Halie loves to explore what trends—like the rise of doll-like Mary Janes or TikTok’s 75 Hard Style Challenge—can say about culture writ large. (She justifies almost any purchase by saying it’s “for work.”) Halie has previously held writer and editor roles at Glamour, Morning Brew, and Harper’s Bazaar. Halie has been cited as a fashion and beauty expert in The Cut, CNN Underscored, and Reuters, among other outlets, and appears in newsletters like Selleb and Self-Checkout to provide shopping recommendations. In 2022, she was awarded the Hearst Spotlight Award for excellence and innovation in fashion journalism. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Harvard College. Outside of work, Halie is passionate about books, baking, and her miniature Bernedoodle, Dolly. For a behind-the-scenes look at her reporting, you can follow Halie on Instagram and TikTok.