Chronicling the Duchess of Sussex's love affair with the boat neckline

Danielle Fowler
Freelance Writer
Fashion devotees take note, the Duchess of Sussex may be trying to tell us something… [Photo: Getty]

Since becoming a Duchess, Meghan has switched up her wardrobe fairly dramatically. Gone are the cross-body bags and her trademark messy bun, but her favourite collarbone-baring neckline remains.

Over the past few weeks, she’s worn an array of dresses boasting a boat neckline, causing searches for similar styles to double: According to global fashion search platform, Lyst, searches have boosted by 52%.

For the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s trip to Dublin on 18 January, the former actress hinted at her future relationship with the bateau neckline [Photo: Getty]

Click below for Meghan’s entire style file:

Meanwhile, dresses which boast the collarbone-grazing feature are currently the most sought after style of formal dress on the fashion site.

The history behind the boat neckline

The Duchess of Sussex is not the first film star to don the now-famous neckline, as it can be traced back to fellow actress Audrey Hepburn. Dubbed one of fashion’s most well respected muses, the sixties screen icon popularised the look courtesy of her starring role in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’.

Audrey Hepburn (photographed here alongside her husband Mel Ferrer) helped the boat neckline garner A-list status [Photo: PA]

She later wore a similar dress by Hubert de Givenchy in the 1954 film, ‘Sabrina’, which led the bateau neckline to gain the name, the ‘Sabrina neckline’.

But it was Coco Chanel who can be credited for the rise of the look, as she featured the neckline in one of her nautical-inspired collections back in the 1930s.

The now-famous Givenchy wedding dress

When royal fans from across the globe tuned in to watch the Duchess of Sussex grace the aisle in a Givenchy gown, little did we know that the fashion moment would kick-start her love affair with the boat neckline.

The 36-year-old’s dress reportedly cost over £250,000 and featured an awe-inspiring five-metre train adorned with distinctive flora to symbolise the 53 countries of the commonwealth.

Her gown – designed by Clare Waight Keller – was crafted from double-bonded silk cady and made in a specific white hue chosen by Meghan in order to bring an air of modernity to the traditional ceremony.

The Duchess of Sussex’s wedding gown is estimated to have cost over £250,000

The Carolina Herrera skirt suit

For her debut Buckingham Palace balcony appearance on 10 June, the Duchess of Sussex stole the spotlight in a powder pink Carolina Herrera skirt suit.

Boasting a collarbone-grazing boat neckline, the double-breasted jacket sparked national debate. Had she (all together now: gasp), broken royal protocol?

On 9 June, the Duchess of Sussex made her Buckingham Palace debut in a Carolina Herrera skirt suit [Photo: Getty]

The Prada winner

Reminiscent of her Trooping the Colour aesthetic, Meghan chose a Prada skirt suit for the Queen’s Young Leader’s Awards on 29 June.

Accessorised with Aquazurra heels and duchess-worthy curls, the high-end look stole a top spot in the style stakes. Her Majesty didn’t seem to mind.

On 26 June, the Duchess of Sussex wore a Prada skirt suit reminiscent of her previous Carolina Herrera get-up [Photo: Getty]

The fashion curveball

The 5 July is sure to go down in the sartorial history books, as the Duchess of Sussex finally broke her neutral stint with a punchy number by Brandon Maxwell.

She teamed the £1,300 sleeveless midi dress (which promptly sold out courtesy of the ‘Meghan Effect’) with Manolo Blanhik heels and subtle diamond earrings by Adina Reyter. 

The Duchess of Sussex broke her neutral colour palette with a punchy yellow Brandon Maxwell dress at the Commonwealth Youth Forum [Photo: Getty]

The American tribute

For Prince Louis of Cambridge’s christening on 10 July, the Duchess of Sussex opted for an olive-hued dress by Ralph Lauren and accessorised the get-up with a co-ordinating Stephen Jones hat.

The look paid sartorial tribute to her American heritage and who can blame her stylist’s decision after the Maxwell number was met with thousands of praise hand emojis across the Internet?

For Prince Louis of Cambridge’s christening on 10 July, the Duchess of Sussex opted for an olive-hued number by Ralph Lauren [Photo: Getty]

The Duchess of Sussex’s ‘new look’

On 10 July, the Duchess of Sussex opted for a navy-hued fifties-inspired Dior dress which bore another (seriously chic) bateau neckline.

To finish the Parisian look for the Royal Air Force’s centenary celebrations, the former actress teamed the dress with a co-ordinating hat by Stephen Jones.

For those of you in need of further evidence that the ‘Meghan Effect’ is alive and kicking, Lyst paid witnessed to over 1,000 searches for a ‘black boat neck dress’ in the following 24 hours.

For the Royal Air Force’s centenary celebrations on July 10, the Duchess of Sussex opted for a Dior dress which featured a Fifties fit and flared skirt [Photo: PA]

The return to Roland Mouret

On day two of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s 48-hour trip to Ireland, Meghan stepped out in an earthy-hued dress by Roland Mouret.

Though it’s not the first time she’s worn the label, as Meghan first donned the brand on the eve of her wedding.

The dress proved a sure-fire hit, as she met with Irish President Michael Higgins and his wife, Sabina, at their residence, Áras an Uachtaráin.

On 11 July, the Duchess of Sussex stepped out in Dublin wearing a Roland Mouret dress [Photo: PA]

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Read more from Yahoo Style UK:

Bardot necklines and a neutral colour palette: What all of Meghan’s duchess outfits have in common

From her famous messy bun to the slick ponytail: The Duchess of Sussex’s greatest hair moments to date

Meghan Markle’s style file: Every outfit the Duchess of Sussex has worn in public