Thursday, 12 September 2019

"Not A Handout, A Hand Held": Meghan Champions Women Supporting Each Other for The Smart Set Launch

On the roof garden of John Lewis, the Duchess of Sussex officially launched The Smart Set capsule collection in support of her patronage Smart Works.


We've all been looking forward to the launch, seeing the pieces and hearing from Meghan directly about the process. Ahead of her arrival, the Duchess released the following statement: "Since moving to the UK, it has been deeply important to me to meet with communities and organisations on the ground doing meaningful work, and to try to do whatever I can to help them amplify their impact. It was just last September that we launched the Together cookbook with the women of the Hubb Kitchen in Grenfell. Now, one year later, I am excited to celebrate the launch of another initiative of women supporting women, and communities working together for the greater good. When you buy any item in the Smart Set Capsule Collection for Smart Works, the same item will be given to a Smart Works client, and with it, the confidence and support she needs to enter the workforce and take an important step in building a career. Thank you to the four brands who came together in supporting Smart Works on this special project - placing purpose over profit and community over competition. In convening several companies rather than one, we’ve demonstrated how we can work collectively to empower each other - another layer to this communal success story, that I am so proud to be a part of."


The project, eight months in the making, brought together British retailers John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Jigsaw and Meghan's close friend Misha Nonoo to create wearable, classic and versatile pieces, designed to serve as ideal choices to mix and match to help Smart Works' clients sail through their interviews with confidence.


It's been quite a process and Meghan has been there every step of the way, quite literally. Omid Scobie reports it all began in January when Jo Bennett, head of womenswear at John Lewis, received a call out of the blue from Meghan. A source told Scobie: "She brought it to life immediately. After consulting with Smart Works about their needs, she contacted bosses from each of the brands directly - cold calls!"


The Duchess gave a heartfelt speech about her journey with Smart Works, the choice of brands involved, her views on charity and community, and the importance of women supporting other women. "As women, it is 100 percent our responsibility I think to support and uplift each other; to champion each other as we aim to succeed, to not set each other up for failure but instead to really be there rallying around each other and say, 'I want to help you.'" This portion particularly struck a chord with me as did Meghan's comments about how much it meant to her to launch another project in the UK. For a woman who has been senselessly vilified at every turn since she moved to London, often times by other women, her belief, dedication and commitment to her role is very special to see.


"When I first moved to the UK, it was incredibly important to me personally to be able to connect with people on the ground, doing really important work, and one of the places that I went to very early on was Smart Works." Meghan also spoke about future plans for the Sussex Foundation. "This is the kind of work that I’ve been doing for a really long time, and to be able to do it here in my new home of the UK means quite a bit to me. It’s also the same vein of work that my husband and I will continue doing: really strong, community-based projects. And this is something we’ll be excited to be able to share more about next year when we launch our foundation, Sussex Royal, in 2020."


Meghan's full speech from Elle:

'Hi everyone. Thank you so much for being here today. It’s very exciting, and it looks beautiful, and I’m sorry if you were waiting for a bit in this sunshine though, it’s pretty nice substitute weather. So I thought it would be helpful for you to understand how we ended up here today and why this collection was so important to conceive based on the visits and what I was seeing when I was on site at Smart Works. And let’s maybe go back a little bit…when I first moved to the UK, it was incredibly important to me personally to be able to connect with people on the ground, doing really important work, and one of the places that I went to very early on was Smart Works.
Now, funny enough and purely by coincidence, it was just a year ago at the same time that I was working on a project in Grenfell, because women at a community center called Al-Manaar and that’s when we put together the Together cookbook. So though this is a year later, and obviously this is fashion, not food, at its core, these are very similar projects because they are about women empowering each other, me being able to have that opportunity to meet them, get to know them, learn from them, and then say, what can I do in some small way? How can I try to help amplify this? How can we make this even better, greater, and more impactful for the women you’re trying to help?
So on my visits to Smart Works, one of the times that I went, I realized there was a little bit of a challenge in terms of styling for the women because we have a lot of donations but not necessarily the things that women needed to have. So okay, let’s try to work with what we have and try to make the best of it. And then the next time I went, you’ll remember this, there was a rack of about 40 or 50 lilac colored blazers. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s a great blazer, and I’m sure for someone, it’s exactly what she wants to be wearing. But for most women, when you’re going in there and you want to have a job interview, and you want to feel your very best, and you want to feel confident, you want to be wearing the pieces of clothing that make you feel that way and not the leftovers that didn’t sell from the end of the season. 'And I kept thinking about it as I went home, and it didn’t track for me, and I said, We have to do something to change this."
And a big piece of this is trying to transform the idea of charity to community. And the way that we do that, I think, is people is when we go into our closet as a woman, and you say, "I’m going to make a donation," you don’t go through your closet and just toss in a box whatever you don’t care about anymore. That’s charity, as we know it today. Community is going through your closet and saying, "This is the blazer I wore when I nailed my first job interview and got my dream job. And I don’t need that anymore because I’m where I want to be. But if I’m able to share that blazer and be part of another woman’s success story, then that’s community." And so when I thought about it in that personal space, I said, on a bigger level, what can we do with brands? And what companies would be able to help us convene and come together to really build a collection for the women of Smart Works that could be the pieces that they need to feel confidence going into those rooms?
This is sort of how we thought of the Smart Works capsule collection. The first designer that I thought of immediately was a really good friend of mine, Misha Nonoo, who has spent a lot of time with her brand’s ethos development helping women’s empowerment but also specifically capsule wardrobes. We have key pieces and we can mix and match and really maximize what you have, we all know that, in your closet, right? You have certain pieces that you can take from four items of clothing and suddenly you have 10 outfits. So that was really important.
Separately I thought, if this is going to be classics and essentials, what are traditional and quintessential British brands that I’ve become introduced to once I moved here that for me resonated, and I knew would resonate with a Smart Works customer and that seemed obvious to do M&S and John Lewis, which I’ve worn quite a bit in the past year or two since I’ve been here. And they thankfully said yes as well, as did Misha. And the last company that I wanted to have be a part of this project [was Jigsaw].
So thank you so much for that. As we’ve seen this evolve, I think what’s been really amazing is to know that these women will now be equipped in a project that will just be a couple weeks but will give us enough units to be able to have the women at Smart Works have these key essentials for a year. And that in and of itself, to be able to have one small project that has such big impact is something I’m really connected to.
This is the kind of work that I’ve been doing for a really long time, and to be able to do it here in my new home of the UK means quite a bit to me. It’s also the same vein of work that my husband and I will continue to doing: really strong, community-based projects. And this is something we’ll be excited to be able to share more about next year when we launch our foundation, Sussex Royal, in 2020.
So I think at the end of the day, I just want to thank all of you for being able to be here, be a part of this success story for these women. I think it’s really key in this day and age that we remember that it’s not just about the people that you know that you’re supporting. It’s about the people that you don’t know, that you may never know, you may never meet. As women, it is 100 percent our responsibility I think to support and uplift each other; to champion each other as we aim to succeed, to not set each other up for failure but instead to really be there rallying around each other and say, "I want to help you."
And you may not ever meet that person, but you’ll know when you put on that blazer or that shirt or you carry that tote or you put on those trousers or that dress, that some other woman on the other side of this country is wearing that piece because you made that purchase. And that’s why the one-for-one model, I found, was so incredibly important and that’s why I’m really touched that everyone agreed to do this business model in that way.
One quick thing that I found out as we were in the car on the way over here was that the tote’s already sold out online. [laughs] So that’s great. And my hope is for any of the brands, if you have that level of success you’re seeing really early on, to hopefully amplify what you’ve been able to already be so generous in doing with your contribution and extend it for just a little bit more so that everyone can play a part in this shared success story. So thank you all so much, I really appreciate it.'

Meghan listened to a panel discussion and met Smart Works clients and representatives from the brands involved, as well as those from the British fashion industry.


More from the Mail:

"Smart Works trustee Tiffanie Darke told the audience that Smart Works has now helped 15,000 clients across eight centres staffed by 350 volunteers. Speaking of their 'exceptional' royal visitor who went on to become patron, she said: 'She rolled up her sleeves, she asked questions and she got stuck in. She dressed, she coached, she contributed...and then she really leant in.'

A behind-the-scenes look at the event.


Meghan with her close friend Misha Nonoo today.

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Speaking to the Telegraph about the launch, the designer said: "When I said to her this is what I'm thinking and sent her the outline, she said 'great, love it'. She was very very trusting. She is the consummate professional and it was extraordinarily easy to collaborate on this project."

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The Telegraph reports:

'The Duchess smiled and clapped as she heard how Smart Works had changed the lives of Kate and Zara. After greeting old friends from the charity, the Duchess then took a short tour around three stations set up to demonstrate how it worked. 
At the first, the “wardrobe experience”, she heard how everyone at the launched “loved” the collection. “It’s everyone coming together,” the Duchess replied. “Putting purpose before profit, right? I hope everyone enjoys it. And we’ve got beautiful weather today too.”
At the second, manned by Smart Works interview coaches, she shared her own lifecoaching tips from the private sessions she has undertaken with clients at the charity. “When they get nervous and laugh, you can say ‘yes, be yourself’,” she said. “Reminding them that they are enough exactly the way they are. “That they don’t need to put on a performance, just be themselves. “What’s the phrase? Be yourself: everyone else is taken.”
Asking whether they supported one another, even after getting jobs, 28-year-old paralegal Selam Mengitsu told her they had a shared WhatsApp group and invited her to join them. In a response Selam described as “very diplomatic”, the Duchess told them she had only just joined the messaging service and might “pop in” with a waving hand emoji.'

The collection will be available for two weeks, and the aim is to provide enough staples within that time frame for Smart Works clients for a year.

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For every item bought during the sale of the collection, one will be donated -  allowing customers to help empower and support other women and play a part in their success story.


Created in September 2013, Smart Works exists to help unemployed women regain the confidence they need to succeed at job interviews, return to employment and transform their lives. Half of Smart Works clients are from an ethnic minority, long-term unemployed and have been unsuccessful with a large number of job applications.


Thanks to the charity’s support, 64 per cent go on to get a job following their visit to Smart Works. As well as providing complete outfits of high quality clothes for job interviews, beneficiaries have access to one-to-one interview training and the opportunity to join Smart Works Network, meeting every month to further their professional and personal development.


It was important to Meghan for Smart Works clients to model the collection.


Andrea, Kate and Zara all landed their jobs through the organisation and were on hand to showcase the capsule collection, with photographs taken by Jenny Zarins.


Smart Works shared the stories of three ladies beginning with Andrea. "Andrea was referred to Smart Works ahead of multiple interviews. She had been unemployed for nearly 6 months and had applied to 10 jobs. After her appointment, Andrea said 'for somebody who comes from a care leavers background, you don’t hear people compliment you every day and actually trying to help you. At my Smart Work appointment, I felt like a celebrity.' Andrea was successful at her interview and is working as an Admin Apprentice. She said that 'the best thing about Smart Works is the people. It has given me a lot of confidence and I feel that every time I put on my coat, blazer or shoes on – that is the feeling I carry around with me every time I wear them.' When wearing the collection, Andrea said 'the dress made me feel stylish and professional'. Andrea was successful at her interview and is working as an Admin Apprentice. She said that “the best thing about Smart Works is the people. It’s given me a lot of confidence and I feel that every time I put on my coat, or blazer or shoes on – that’s the feeling I carry around with me every time I wear them.'"


Prior to her appointment at Smart Works, Zara had been out of work for almost a year and had applied to nearly 20 jobs whilst dealing with difficult personal circumstances. Zara was successful at her interview and got the job she currently holds as a Work Coach. Zara is a great ambassador of the Smart Works service when working with her customers at the Job Centre. Zara said that her appointment at Smart Works was a "calm and positive experience".


Kate was referred to Smart Works ahead of her interview for an office manager role. She had been unemployed for almost a year and had applied to over 100 jobs during this time. Before her interview, Kate felt that she had 'lost herself and lacked confidence'. Following her appointment, Kate got the job and is loving her new role. 'Smart Works reminded me of all the great qualities I have and why I am a great candidate” Kate said, and that her appointment 'restored my confidence and reminded me that I can do it. At Smart Works, you’ll experience people who are passionate about helping you not only to look your best, but to be the best you. It is an experience you won’t forget.' Whilst wearing the collection, Kate said 'my outfit made me feel like a boss – powerful and strong. It made me feel amazing and reminded me how far I have come and the future I have in front of me'.


For Meghan, the heart of this project has always been about women supporting other women.


More from Harper's Bazaar:

"Since former Vogue editor Juliet Hughes-Hallett founded the organization six years ago, Smart Works has helped 15,000 women re-enter the workforce. “We have dressed and trained every woman as if she was the only one and made each and every client feel exceptional,” Hughes-Hallett tells BAZAAR.com in a statement. “The Smart Set capsule collection will make a significant difference in our ability to dress our clients in the high-quality clothes and accessories they need, giving them the opportunity to regain their confidence, look fabulous, and get the job.”
It was important for the campaign visual to reflect the diversity of the unemployed women whose lives are transformed by the organization. Just over half of Smart Works’ clients are from an ethnic minority background and have experienced long-term unemployment, even after a large number of job applications."

Take a look at the collection on the rails at Smart Works.


Now, let's take at the collection and where the pieces can be purchased. We'll start with the £19.50 Crepe Shift Dress from Marks & Spencer.


The stylish piece is described: "This versatile, Smart Set Dress will quickly become a staple in your autumn wardrobe – and it's a perfect choice all year round too. Cut from crepe that handily doesn't require ironing, the shift shape flatters your figure with its clean and simple lines. Buy this dress in blue or black and we’ll donate one to Smart Works, a charity that empowers and supports women to build their confidence for job success." It comes in black and rich blue in sizes 6-24 and regular and petite. The dress is $32.50 on the US website.


The $125 Smart Set Shirt by Misha Nonoo is described as "a white collared button-up shirt with a semi-slim fit and Misha Nonoo branded buttons".


The £199 Paris Seam Detail Jacket is available at Jigsaw.The elegant black blazer is described as: "Tailored for a feminine fit and made in a high-quality Italian stretch gabardine, this piece is complemented with a signature lining, satin details and kissing buttons at the cuff. Includes beautiful seam detailing and vents for comfort and ease." For those outside the UK, John Lewis is carrying the blazer and matching trousers (please note only the black pieces are involved in The Smart Set).


And the matching sleek tapered trousers in a rich wool blend retail for £120 at Jigsaw.


A stylish tote bag is an essential item in any working wardrobe. As someone with an enviable collection, I knew Meghan would want a bag which was both functional and chic. That brief has most definitely been fulfilled with the tan £109 Leather Smart Set Tote Bag. (Note: it's currently sold out, however, more stock is expected soon, so keep an eye out if interested).


The bag is described as: "Made from subtly grained and soft-to-touch leather, this tote bag is a lightweight, versatile and practical, weekday accessory for the modern woman. The generously sized bag has an open-top design with plenty of room to fit whatever you need to get you through the working day. There is a large slip pocket on the exterior of the bag, while inside, the fully lined interior benefits from two phone-sized slip pockets, one card slot and a zipped pocket so that you can keep your valuables organised and to hand. With two shoulder straps as well a detachable and adjustable crossbody strap, the bag is easy to carry in whatever way suits you best." Below, the piece in black.


Before leaving, the Duchess said: "I've got to get back to the baby, it's feed time."


Hello reports:

'A royal source tells HELLO! that aides had offered to prepare notes for her speech, but she didn’t have any to hand when she spoke. At the end of her talk, Meghan admitted she had learned the John Lewis tote bag had already sold out while she was on her way to the launch in the car, urging brands to generously restock “so that everyone can play a part in this shared success story”. Friends of the Duchess told HELLO! that she came across on the podium “exactly how she always is in life - kind, eloquent and compassionate."
Meghan’s close friend and former director of communications for Burberry, Isabel May, and her former assistant private secretary Amy Pickerill were also present. HELLO! revealed in March this year that Amy had handed in her notice because she was planning a move overseas. She helped the Sussexes with the birth of baby Archie and supported the couple as they settled into their new home Frogmore Cottage, in Windsor.'

On Sussex Royal Instagram stories, the song for the day was 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton.



Very fittingly, the Duchess wore the Misha Nonoo shirt and Jigsaw black tapered trousers from the collection. It was revealed today, Meghan has purchased all of the pieces and will wear others during the upcoming South Africa tour. She added her own stamp to the look with tan accessories and statement jewellery.


The Duchess wore a Ralph Lauren tan nappa leather skinny belt.


And Manolo Blahnik pointed toe pumps in cognac.


For jewellery, Meghan wore familiar pieces in the form of Diana's gold bracelet with a blue stone and her jewel encrusted butterfly earrings.


Both pieces were a gift from Harry; Meghan debuted them during the tour last October.


Meghan completed the look with her Pippa Small Oshna bangle, Shaun Leane bracelet and Zofia Day open diamond cuff.


We close with this quote from the Duchess which beautifully sums up another amazing project by the royal.

137 comments:

  1. Loving the bag! Reminds me of the everlane tote she carries but love the strap as well. I’m from the states but honeymooning in Ireland this week - have you heard that the collection might be in M&S in Ireland? Here’s hoping! Thanks for keeping us posted as always! Can’t wait to see more!

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  2. Sillvia From Porftugal12 September 2019 at 10:08

    Dear Charlotte, do you know if we can order to Portugal? I would love to buy some pieces for my self. The collection so far so good, I really like it. Silvia from Portugal

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    1. Hello Silvia,

      Here is a link to the M&S Portugal site. https://www.marksandspencer.com/pt/

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    2. And a link to the dress https://www.marksandspencer.com/pt/crepe-shift-dress/p/P60277644.html

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  3. So for, looks like wearable, long use pieces. Beautifully stylish as well. The buyers come in many shapes and sizes and this collection is smart. Good Job!

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  4. I'm totally getting the bag! I love it.

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  5. How is this possible? The dress is nearly sold out

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  6. I like how they also used real life people vs. professional models to show the clothing

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  7. The dress is a superstar. It could be a staple in everyones closet taking you from work to dinner simply by changing accessories. What can be said of the bag except that everyone is going to want the "perfect" tote. Can't wait to see the rest of the collection. I love that it is being presented during Fashion Week.

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    1. I agree, USA Granny. When I saw Serena's collection this week, a lightbulb went off and I thought how perfectly this was timed.

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    2. USA Granny, I ordered the dress in blue. Wonderfully versatile piece at an inexpensive price point. Total winner!

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    3. Tried to order the dress from US in Blue 12 Short but already sold out :) Will be in Paris and Belfast, N.I. in a few weeks (my daughter's 40th birthday splurge), will try the M & S stores there in the hope that they will be restocked. It is a great style!

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  8. i love all the the looks like a can wear it on the work and on a date night the bag looks fab too charlotte to you know its available on the stores or on mall in us canada and in asia too... im traveling now

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  9. This is delightful! I love the pieces and that Meghan wore them for the debut. Hope I can snag an item:) Very happy to see her back at work again and love this initiative. Great (fast!) post Charlotte! -op

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  10. Yes! Amazing! Meghan wearing the collection head to toe (almost)! I wished for this. The speech sounds terrific as well - Meghan is such a natural when it comes to communucation.
    Ella

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  11. I haven’t watched many videos of Meghan speaking but I watched the clip today, and WOW is she a good speaker. Relaxed, personal, no notes. I am a lawyer and do a lot of public speaking, and it is something I am constantly trying to improve. She has it nailed.

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    1. Lauren, I agree. She speaks so well and effortlessly. It just flows. πŸ‘πŸ»

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    2. Her speech almost had me in tears, it was very moving about enpowering women. The Duchess of Sussex is very pretty and very, very smart. Thanks for a wonderful blog, Charlotte. Parthenia

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  12. Meghan looks great! I love the tote 😍 All the pieces are something I’d wear. I know she did this sort of thing for Reitmans in Canada, so it’s awesome to see her do it again for a charitable cause in the UK. Meghan really is a breath of fresh air & I love her hands-on approach to everything she does.

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  13. Thank you. I had not heard of your sight. I am always looking for positive sights on the Harry and Meghan. Love her work with Smart Works. Love the clothes.

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  14. Meghan looks just terrific in the pants!!! And heels. :) The dress certainly delivers -- it drapes so smoothly and would flatter any figure. The cost is great; and it could be styled endless ways. I hope they are prepared for backorders!!

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  15. I went to the site and there are already reviews! And a pink version!

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  16. Just ordered the crepe dress in blue from the Marks and Spenser US site. FREE shipping for orders over $50 so just needed to add a $20ish item to get the dress and add on item delivered for FREE in 3-4 days! Wow, super excited that I was able to assist Smart Works with this purchase and receive this super smart dress.

    Christina O.
    Orlando, FL

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    1. How does it fit ? Waving up to you fro Palm Beach County ^^^

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  17. Ok for the most part I like the picks. All classic wardrobe staples that can be worn and re-worn for work. However ... am I the only one noticing that the things in the collection are very much things that are in Meghan's particular style? She likes neutral colors, long pleated skirts, somewhat loose fitting dresses, and straight leg trousers and ... that's what's in the collection. I do sort of wish there was more diversity in the styles. I actually wish she had included more of the stuff "Rachel" wore in Suits -- the pencil and A-line skirts, the more colorful blouses, maybe (gasp!) even a print dress here and there?

    Don't get me wrong, I think it's great she's launching this budget line of professional clothes, but as someone who likes to wear more colorful clothes I just wish she had picked a few clothes outside her wheelhouse.

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    1. I love prints! But would it be practical to have a print dress that is so well publicized and then hope that 10,000 women might order it? I think this is the chance to get a "Meghan" outfit that can be changed with colorful shoes or scarves or blouses. And maybe the lack of slim skirts is a concession to what women generally wear -- when I go to a clothes store, I don't see anyone who can wear a pencil skirt, including myself. I thought the pink version was interesting. I also would have liked a little variety, like a shirt in a different color or the basic black items in grey or maroon. Maybe if they sell well, a second line will come out next year. Or a "summer" line!

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    2. I think this "capsule" collection is just 5 pieces in total. So just a single dress, shirt, pants (I'm not sure that pleated skirt is actually a collection piece, I think they just styled it with the bag for the shoot). Not much room for variety. Given that, I think it makes sense to go with neutrals that will have a broader appeal and can be easily mixed and matched with other items.

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    3. These pieces really needed to be able to mixed and matched with each other and with other things in the closet. Also needed to be the type of clothing that will work with many body types. This capsule achieves these goals and is perfect in my opinion - colors, elements, everything. Another blog comment board I’ve seen is already talking about Smart Works 2.0 with maybe a sweater twin set and pencil skirt. This project has been flawless.

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    4. If you watch the speech, it sounds like she worked with SmartWorks to determine which pieces are needed the most. They are all timeless. A print might go out of fashion but a good white button-down never will. This collection is super practical and I applaud her for making this happen!

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    5. Hello Taryn - I completely agree AND I am originally from MN but in Baltimore now!

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    6. You do realise this is the first collection and so they are testing the market too. Give Meghan and the Smartworks team a chance Ivy Lin?

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    7. I said it was nice pieces of clothes. I just kind of wish the collection had a little more color that's all.

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    8. High five to a fellow Minnesotan, Anon 2:53!

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  18. She has a great gift! What a practical way to make a huge impact! Just as the cookbook was accessible & appealing to the general population so is this. The clothes are affordable for many & each purchase donates an exact replica. That's ingenious! Many of who like to give to charities dont know the exact amount that actually gets there. This is a big donation per purchase & is inspiring so many will even be willing to pay a little extra to help those in need. She is really going to make a huge impact in her lifetime.

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  19. Ivy Lin12 September 2019 at 16:06....Ivy, people are going into the workforce, so basics and wardrobe staples are a must. Once they have become established, they can add more colorful pieces to their wardrobes.

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  20. Would love to see Kate wear one of these items in support of Meghan. Meghan should be very proud of this initiative!

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    1. Yes that would be really sweet of Kate to do that

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    2. That's a brilliant idea. Gosh I hope Kate picks up on that. I'd vote for those trousers on her with one of her go-to jumpers/sweaters, myself.

      As for the comments looking for more variety in the options offered, I understood that this collection was intended to be a starting point for a business wardrobe which should see the women wearing it past the interview to employment. Once employed, each woman can style and build on this foundation.

      This is such a feel-good story. Once again, Meghan reveals that she is a brilliantly creative woman who gets results in a timely manner. Bravo!

      Though I suppose that those haters who are now casting her as Serena Williams's personal jinx in addition to blaming Meghan for everything that is wrong with the world or the royal family in particular won't let up.

      Thankfully, Meghan simply rises above the noise to do good and empower women. I can't wait to see her on the upcoming Africa tour.

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    3. I was thinking the same thing. That would be great!

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    4. I would love to see Kate in those trousers as well. Won't be surprised when I see it.

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    5. Seeing Kate in one of these pieces would be great especially at squashing the feud rumours. But to be honest none of the pieces fall within Kate’s wheelhouse, the only one I can maybe see her in is the blazer with one of her own shift dresses. Or the white shirt with jeans, but then that would probably be something she would only wear to a private event.

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    6. Caroline in Montana13 September 2019 at 21:08

      I too would looooove to see the DoC in those pants!!

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  21. Highlight for me, eloquently spoken on her part! Well done!

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  22. I think this is a really smart initiative and will give women around the world a chance to 1) dress like Meghan and, 2) donate a high volume of well-made, basic closet staples to Smart Works, thus helping a high volume of women look and feel great. I think the pieces are very essential capsule items and will work great on many shapes sizes. I'd love to see Meghan and the brands expand on this collection in the future, perhaps adding some skirts and sweaters in more colors!

    I'm ordering the dress. I love how inexpensive it is!

    Also, WOW does Meghan look great!! She looks totally healthy and is glowing. Her hair is so lush like this! I think she looks chic in the Smart Works pieces and am all about the little pops of camel color she added with the belt and shoes. Very Meghan, very classy, very appropriate for any woman in a variety of situations!

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    1. Yay Meghan! Keep up the good work!

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  23. I think this is the first time I’ve been really proud of Meghan. I am like Meghan, I’m an American living in the UK with a spouse and a baby along the way. All my friends and family are back in America, and it does get lonely. I feel for Meghan, and I think she has risked a lot by moving and joining the royal family. I’m glad she’s putting her voice out there and truly cares about helping a country where she is not from.

    I hate how rough she has it with the media, knowing she doesn’t have any family or likely, no long term friends here. She sure puts on a brave smile and I’m proud of her for that!

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  24. I think the design of the dress and it’s price is spot on although I do wish it was offered in at least one print fabric. However, I don’t consider a $148 pair of pants or $125 shirt to be “budget” pieces. The pants are the only part of this collection suitable for me to purchase for work, but no matter the quality or the charitable contribution being made, they are simply out of my price range.

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    Replies
    1. Alas, we have become accustomed (dare I say brainwashed by advertising) to constantly purchase cheap clothing designed to be tossed after a season or two. There's false economy in such indulgence and demand for the novelty of something new. Capitalism works that way.

      Worse, low-cost garments are often manufactured under deplorable conditions for the workers and the environment. Most unfortunately, we fail to find value in spending $148 for quality wool slacks and wearing them for 10 years. If we did, that would make the cost less than $15 per year. I dare say that would be affordable for almost anyone.

      In any single year any one of us might drop $148 on 10 bottles of wine or 30 cups of barista-made coffee. I think it comes down to personal choices, preferably thoughtful ones that fully consider the true costs.

      Delete
    2. My parents had clothes and shoes that they wore their entire lifetime! However, I consider the dress to be a great item that most people can afford. The other items are more than I would ever spend, but a lot of that depends on your job. I work at home, with a computer and tons of cats. If I ever wear something nice, I have to leave it at the door! I was a little disappointed that the bag was real leather, but this is probably calculated to get good-quality clothes for the Smart Works ladies, so that they can have something that will last more than a season.

      If she does another round, I bet there will be a bit more variety in colors and prices.

      Delete
    3. I can afford the dress, but that design wouldn't suit me!

      Delete
    4. I think "dng MEI" said the prices were not budget in good faith, so please let's not attack :) Let's be realistic, people living on minimum wage cannot put $148 for one pair of pants when there are mouths to feed or a roof to pay for (and it's insulting to suggest that people who cannot afford $148 pants are wasting their money away on wine [who drinks 10 bottles of wine a year???] or shops for daily for overpriced $5[!!!] coffee). Also, not everyone works in offices where a pair of pants can realistically last for 10 years. For service people who may come in contact with things that could stain or ruin pants (or simply being a parent with messy children), it's not realistic to ask them to spend the equivalent of 10% of their income on a pair of pants (if we go with the UK minimum wage). The purpose of this event was for people who CAN afford $148 pants (those who earn twice the minimum wage if we go with financial planners who suggest you should only spend 5% of your income on clothes) to purchase them so a similar pair can be donated to those in need. Also, not pointing fingers but please, Charlotte works very hard to keep it civilized and this is a charity event designed to help women in need find clothes for work. The last thing we should be doing is make assumptions or insult the women Meghan is trying to help.

      Delete
    5. As a single mother who works a minimum of 80 hours a week to keep her household above water, there are no purchases of wine or coffee. My thoughtful personal choices do not include $148 pants and $125 shirts, they include things like groceries and school pictures.

      The type of job I do is a factor, but even if it wasn’t I still wouldn’t pay that amount for these items. I purchase my clothing for its functionality, not to be in style. I wear dress pants to work, but the odds of them being ruined by blood, dirt or god knows what else within 6 months are about 100% because of what I do.

      Delete
    6. Philly, I agree partially but there is more to that than you wrote. Honestly, I consider myself as not able to afford the pieces, I am very sad about it and I am at least finding solace in the fact that more people here say the same thing.

      At first, I was ashamed to share my view on the price because I thought it was affordable for everyone besides me. Turns out it is not the case and so I am coming forward to say why it might not be as affordable as you say. First, our incomes vary. I believe the readers here, we are an inercultural and even international group. Some of us are not having barista coffee or wine and still can't make it. Just because the amount is simply too much considered our payroll - for example just the shirt itself costs as much as 14 days of my rent, so it is just...too much for a shirt. It is nice that it is a durable piece, but honestly, will it fit me in 10 years? Probably not. And I dare to say that even with restricted budget, I have some very quality and durable pieces for a fragment of this price. I would love to have the Jigsaw pieces and the shirt and the tote, but if I look at the price total, I know that the buy could not be rationalised or justified (in my situation) just by durability and quality. Considering my income and my other spendings, it is just too much. I hope in time I would get into a position to buy it and now I am tremendously happy for those who are able to do so.

      I also think that one can think about it like this: you buy your shirt for 62.5$. But you buy two shirts for that price, of which you donate one. That makes your total 125$, but you actually bought two shirts, one for yourself and one for a good thing. I know this is not how the business model works but it makes me a little more "understanding" about the price.
      Sorry for a tad too whiney post, but I felt that I must say it is not always a matter of barista coffee or wine bottles. Life is not that easy (wish it were, lol).
      Ella

      Delete
    7. I own a number of pieces that I have been wearing for more than 10 years and none of them was anywhere near $125. In the same breath I would love to see a white shirt that will still look good in 10 years time. The blazer maybe, but I seriously doubt that either the pants or the shirt will last that long.

      Delete
    8. Thank you for your comment, Ella. I don't think it whiney at all, but insightful. I agree that people whose incomes are stretched to the max cannot afford these clothes. I also like how you have broken the costs down by suggesting that a purchase of an item from the collection actually covers two.

      However, I also believe that Meghan and those working with her to launch this capsule collection were not expecting women who are earning minimum wage, whose rent is equal two of the items on offer or whose work ruins their clothing to purchase capsule items. In fact, they might be expecting some of those women to come to Smart Works to receive the clothing as well as the coaching and support needed to uplevel their employment prospects.

      Their donnor targets are able to afford the clothes and some of the women who might feel they cannot afford the clothes could be forgetting that they are spending equivalent amounts on other sundries they might forget to count. Sometimes--though not always--it's a matter of choices people make.

      And yes, clothes can last and fit for 10 years. Even longer. I have timeless, classic items that are still serving me 15 to 20 years after their purchase. But no, my life has not been easy. Not as hard as a single mother of six on minimum wage, I concede, but not a smooth glide on "flowery beds of ease" as the old hymn puts it.

      Delete
    9. Ella and RachelZA, I think you are in the majority. Even though we love to see and read about Meghan's life, we can't afford any of it! I have bought the cookbook and the Vogue issue, and I would love a nice white shirt like this one, but it's too expensive. If Meghan does a second venture, I bet (hope) she will include more M&S-like suppliers.

      It's curious that there is a pink version of the dress, which is not included inthe charity event.

      Delete
    10. For me it is disappointing to be left out of being able to be a part of this campaign. I didn’t expect the items to be cheap or cheaply made, but I don’t think that hoping for slacks or a practical shirt in the $50-70 range (near what I would normally spend) makes me an invisible entity.

      Delete
    11. dng MEI, I think I’d hit the sales rack if I had to work a minimum of 80 hrs/ week to get by. Plus the risk of getting your clothes dirty from blood or dirt would make these outfits not worth the investment. I think these outfits are more suited for office environment. I used to work as a caregiver and my work outfit was a pair of comfy khaki and an inexpensive polo shirt or a blended looser dress shirt. I looked neat, clean and comfy. Got me through many long shifts.

      If you really want to buy one of these pieces, then the dress looks rather nice and far more affordable and suited for a variety of non work occasions, including a rare night out. As one of the posters said it’d look good loose or with a belt. I think adding a scarf would be a lovely touch as well. The other thing is don’t let clothing defines you. You aren’t invisible because of your clothes. My mother came from Trinidad and was a domestic. She didn’t own much, but she was fierce and worked to get all of us through schools and we are in a better place because of her. Best of luck.

      Delete
    12. Anon 09:04 that is exactly how the business model works!! The vendors use this in their buy one get one free campaigns, or buy two at a reduced price for example. Technically, they adjust the price so they aren't actually 'losing' money, they are covering the cost to make each item,and the consumer feels like they are getting a 'bargain'. This is a common practice at many retail places. It is disappointing that all of the pieces of this capsule collection couldn't have been priced like the dress, even at least for a short period of time in order that more people could be a part of this. After reading many comments about those unable to afford the pieces as they are priced is heart breaking, especially since I feel that most are super Meghan fans and fully support her efforts. The clothing industry is a mega business and the retailers could have stepped up a bit more on reducing their pricing (especially on the cotton shirt) and have had a broader impact and meaning.

      Delete
    13. This is an interesting discussion. Was Smart Works’ goal to design an affordable wardrobe aimed so that anyone can afford to buy? There are stores offering low cost wardrobes already like H&M. (I know it’s not a British brand.) How practical is it for a small charity to go head to head with the big for profit companies after the same consumers? Or was the goal here to help unemployed women with ways to get back into the workforce - by providing more cohesive, business like wardrobe along with mentoring, assisting with job search, interview coaching, etc.?

      The apparel industry has been in turmoil for awhile now. You see it happening with even venerable high street veterans like Marks & Spencer. H&M also has its share of turbulence and has been clawing back market share. Apparel companies are not having an easy time of it as they face some serious headwinds battling declining profits, higher manufacturing & transportation costs, tariff threats, shifting taste, and on-line competitors.

      I suspect any type of charity venture has to make sense for all those involved in underwriting it so that the returns go to benefit the intended target first. I think it’s one reason you go to people who you know will say ‘yes’ first and start small to keep it manageable for a better chance of success.

      Ultimately, Smart Works’ goal is to empower unemployed women to get back on their feet, find work and some measure of independence and economic security again.

      I think if people like some of the pieces here and want to buy, terrific. If it’s beyond their means, then be smart and stay on budget. There are so many other opportunities, other charities, other small ways, people can help. Everyday affords a new opportunity for (random) act of kindness. I find that kindness can be as simple and as magnificent as a smile. And yes, that makes me smile!

      -Martine

      Delete
  25. Meghan's remarks were flawless. The most interesting to me was that she presented her philosophy of philanthropy, pointing out the importance of community in "charity." I've inferred her ethos from following her work, but it's lovely to have her explain what kind of work she and Harry do and what kind of foundation they are establishing. I can also see why the Cambridges and Sussexes should each have their own foundations so that each couple can proceed to work according to their chosen philosophies and focus.

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  26. I drank the Meghan Kool Aid pretty early on. I bought the cookbook. I will buy the clothes. While her actual fashion sometimes leaves me feeling uninspired, I love her hands on approach to her work. She is sincere, focused, and impactful. And I think this Capsule Collection Idea is stellar!!

    You go girl!!!

    Somebody else had mentioned it would be nice to see Kate wearing a Capsule Collection piece and I agree 100%!! It would be nice to see outward public displays of support for one another....

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    Replies
    1. I am very much the same, Rita. I got the cookbook for Christmas last year, I twisted my mum's arm to get me the dress in blue for my birthday (which is in two weeks) and I will get the Vogue magazine when it is finally released in my local area next week!

      What I love about Meghan's work is that it is so tangible and I love the sense that I am contributing in some way [or making my family do so :)]. These projects are great - I was surprised to hear that the pieces sold in two weeks would supply Smart Works for a year!

      P.S. For those in Australia interested in the dress, it is available in petite and regular (long is currently sold out). You can head to the Australian Marks & Spencer site. It retails for $40 with free shipping. I was sold pretty much straight away and it didn't take my mum long to agree either. Happy to support a great cause!

      Delete
    2. Rita & Sydney Gal - great comments! I feel the same way, also. It’s great to be apart of something & help in a small way by buying these items.
      I’ve also got the cookbook & am about to get the M&S dress - when it becomes available in the long version 🀞🏻. And am waiting to get the Vogue issue :)

      Delete
  27. I want & Need that bag!! I've got film industry trips/meetings/premieres/aquisition marketplaces etc straight through the next 3 months between LA, London, NYC & on & on.... I literally have been ordering & sending back countless bags in search of exactly the right one & This Is It!! Wow! I hope I can get one when they eventually come back in stock! Bravo!! :)

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    1. Becca - agreed. You've shared your travels with us. I travel for work as well and would love that bag. I just think that saddle color is so pretty. If I can't get this one, I will have to get the Everlane tote. Been looking but haven't found anything.

      Delete
    2. Check out the J Crew tote also--it has a little more detail than the Everlane. And you get 30 off right now!

      Delete
    3. Oooh all these tote options sounds fab!

      Delete
    4. I have the Everlane tote in black and love it for travel, it's not too deep to lose things in the bottom, especially if you organize right.

      Delete
  28. I continue to be impressed with her speaking abilities. She was made for this role. Love this initiative and everything it stands for. That's amazing the tote bag had already sold out! Very well done to all involved!!!

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  29. This is a great initiative. I missed the post that described the five (?) pieces of the core collection, and I can count only the shirt, trousers, dress, and bag. What am I missing?

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    1. Royal πŸ‘‘ Watcher13 September 2019 at 02:33

      Blazer :-)

      Delete
    2. Royal πŸ‘‘ Watcher13 September 2019 at 02:43

      Blazer :-)

      Delete
    3. Thank you for the info! I might have known Charlotte would go on to expand this post with a description of each piece. What a great charity to support--if you can. I know many whose paychecks are simply not enough. When I was first working my wardrobe came from thrift shops.

      Delete
  30. This is my favourite venture by Meghan to date. I live the concept of Smartworks and I think this is a great initiative to support the charity on the long run.
    As to the clothes, they are very much what I expected for a capsule collection.
    But I am the only one who is surprised at the prize tags? A basic white button down shirt for $125? A leather tote bag?
    If I lived in somewhere where the collection was available I would love to support this initiative but I am afraid I would only we able to afford the shift dress.
    It is a pity since this project have the potential to get a broad base of women involved but not at those prices.

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    Replies
    1. I was only able to purchase the dress and am happy that there was a great piece that fit my budget. I’m also happy for those who can do more.

      Delete
  31. I think this is a WONDERFUL idea but with the exception of the dress, have found the items to be expensive. 300 plus pounds for pants and a blazer from Jigsaw? I know the items will sell out, no matter the price point, but by lowering the prices on the items I feel it would have been a lot more inclusive of all types of people. Most people want to dress like Meghan and support a great cause but not as many people can afford these prices.

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    1. I agree with prices being too high for many to afford, except the dress. Maybe they will add another outfit at a more affordable, total price :)

      Delete
    2. Well said, Ashley.

      Delete
    3. Agree Ashley, the price point should make it more accessible to a larger group. It's not just about selling OUT the product, but selling TO all women. Not everybody can spend this on clothes and the real success of this initiative will be how many women it reaches. Everybody deserves to look professional and feel good about their work image.

      Delete
  32. Thank you Charlotte. I really loved the roll out and it was a success. Congratulations to Meghan and smartworks. The duchess looked fabulous today and i have thoroughly enjoyed everyone race to get items from the collection -'being part of another woman’s success story'. I love the items in the collection and the fact that British high street brands were involved and the different price point so that women from a wide background and income bracket can contribute to the success of this project. truly a wonderful day all round

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  33. I just want to say, Welcome Back Duchess! I love this initiative! Putting women who've been unemployed for an extended period of time is very important. Also, I love how hands on Meghan is with her projects. No matter what is happening around her, she remains focus on her work and causes. She is truly taking her role all in her stride! Go Meghan!

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  34. this is such a beautiful project. Meghan looks lovely. thank you charlotte for another wonderful post

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  35. BBC America World News did a quick video clip of Meghan speaking at the event. She’s such a professional and there’s so much energy and beauty there. I want that blue dress! Very happy there will be a donation for purchase and sorry this is such a brief availability- two weeks only ?! I hope they do this again soon. Great foundation pieces for a business wardrobe.

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  36. Confused as to the role of John Lewis: though the event was hosted there. They didn't provide a design?

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    Replies
    1. They’re selling the tote bag that’s currently sold out.

      Delete
  37. I wonder if many of us may have jumped to the conclusion that since this capsule collection would assist a charity, that the price points would be low. I think the cost of the dress is amazing. I imagine that the jacket, trouser, and shirt are all of good quality and should be able to give one many years of wear as staples in a wardrobe. All the pieces without question are staples for the workplace. I imagine Smart Works would be able to help their clients with accessories, colorful blouses to work with the jacket and trousers, great belts and jewellery to work with the dress-I'd love to be a volunteer myself at Smart Works. I think every single client would be able to individualize their outfit. I hope we'll be able to hear from people on this blog about purchases they were able to make to enjoy and contribute to the charity.

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  38. Meghan speaks so well, no notes no auto cue?? Speaking from the heart on a cause she has become invested in and supports wholeheartedly.

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  39. Ladies the dress is pretty much identical to an existing marks and spencer product that I bought last season in a couple of patterns. Going by the pictures there isn’t much in it. The dresses I bought were only £19.50 to and really good quality. I’ll post links here for you to see. I know they aren’t donating to smart works but I read through the comments and A lot of you expressed interest in print. I hope it’s ok I post this if not please delete :)

    https://www.marksandspencer.com/polka-dot-3-4-sleeve-shift-dress/p/p60277596

    https://www.marksandspencer.com/ditsy-print-3-4-sleeve-shift-dress/p/p60265975

    https://www.marksandspencer.com/crepe-paisley-print-shift-dress/p/p60265974

    X





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    1. Caroline in Montana13 September 2019 at 21:19

      Catherine, I agree with you. those are basically the same dresses. I was also thinking yesterday that the price points, except the dress, were way to much. that is crazy for a white blouse!!

      Delete
    2. Someone mentioned in another comment about the price points for the brands involved. Jigsaw and Misha Nonoo would never have £20 blazer or pants. The target demographics were fairly represented imo.

      Lynne

      Delete
  40. Good job Meghan! She did amazing with this capsule collection, can't wait to see what she has in store for the rest of the year. I saw some comments on how there is a possibility to expand on this collection further by adding more pieces like a tailored skirt and some accessories. That would be amazing to see! It's also admirable that she's able to keep going despite all the negativity thrown at her at each step. She's really amazing

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  41. I like the collection. My daughter’s first interview suit at university was a pant suit that looked very similar to the one profiled. She paid for it herself on a student budget so it was a low cost brand and synthetic. She has replaced it with better fitting and more comfortable suits- some she found at second hand shops.

    I think SmartWorks is pretty spot on in terms of what to focus on. I suspect many people who work in an office setting own similar pieces. Can you buy similar clothing cheaper? Of course. But it’s nice to have a few classic, reliable, well made pieces so you don’t have to think too hard about what to wear, but focus on the task at hand - be it a job interview, an important meeting or an event.

    When I look at my parents’ old photos, I’m always astonished how neat and generally well dressed they looked. Then I consider my parents’ very modest house with its tiny closets and realize they had far fewer clothes and stuff back then. Kind of shocking really as I assess the overstuffed state of my much larger closet and gad, the children’s and see that we look far more unkempt and casual than their generation. It’s time to declutter and downsize for this reader.

    - Martine

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  42. Royal πŸ‘‘ Watcher13 September 2019 at 02:29

    This initiative blows me away completely. It is the epitome of young royals hard at work, and goes hand in hand with the other initiatives that we have seen: Harry’s Invictus Games Kate’s Back to Nature and William’s Mental Health. I also love that Meghan mentioned ‘feeding the baby’. I did wonder if she would say something, and it was done in a subtle but loving way. I have never heard a royal talk about it, so another small step forward in breaking down motherhood taboos. Thank you.

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  43. Brilliant speech, lovely collection and overall fantastic idea. All pieces I would wear in my office. I love that the dress is designed to allow for a belt for those who prefer or those who like a loose fit.
    I agree with others...I would love to see Kate in one of the items. So much good the DOS will do if her first 2 projects are any benchmark. Erininnyc.

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  44. Helping women to succeed, not to fail. I’m all in support for helping people do good. Not a handout but a hand held. Well said, Meghan Duchess of Sussex. Thank you, Charlotte for an excellent, well-organized informative post. Super fantastic work, Charlotte.

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  45. Hey Charlotte, Scobie said #TheSmartSet collection may be extended for 4 weeks but depends on stock. It would be great if they extended it a bit longer. Duchess Meghan suggested to the designers "if they have already sold out of items, think about making more and continue to sell items so everyone gets a chance to purchase" (paraphrasing, may not be exact wording)
    I'm so proud of Duchess Meghan and how she's helping others. Wish the haters would stay off SussexRoyal and anything else dealing with the Sussexes. Now ready for the Africa Tour, and Sussex Royal Foundation initiatives. Oh, I also cannot wait to see what Duchess Meghan has in store for her other patronages and possible new patronages next year.

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  46. Charlotte, thank you for posting the link so quickly so I could purchase the dress! I love Meghan’s reframing from charity to community. Her ease and authenticity in communicating makes the message all the more heartfelt. Hooray!

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  47. It's wonderful to see Meghan again! Thank you, Charlotte, for your beautiful coverage of this great event. Meghan is so impressive in so many ways. I love her distinction between charity and community. Harry certainly knew how to pick a winner the first time he met her.
    R

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  48. Daily Mail states Meghan wore also this bangle: https://www.monicavinader.com/signature--bangle/gold-vermeil-signature-bangle?search=gold+bangle&utm_source=LS&utm_medium=affil&utm_campaign=8%2Fbtisdd0hQ&ranMID=38267&ranEAID=8%2Fbtisdd0hQ&ranSiteID=8_btisdd0hQ-kAqJYB..548pwi9bNMmnfg&siteID=8_btisdd0hQ-kAqJYB..548pwi9bNMmnfg

    I really love this idea and collection, an absolutely wonderful idea, and wearable pieces! Actually, I wanted to buy the tote for my mum, but she said I wouldn't, she finds the bag "too high" for her shorter arms. :)

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  49. I love all the pieces but the dress and hope that many will purchase an item and therefore support the charity. Maybe I tryptophan get my hand on the bag.
    C.

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  50. I'm so proud of her ! I love her outfit from a to z, the jewelry of her mother-in-law. I listened several times her speech it was really inspiring .Now I can't wait for my little black dress :-)

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  51. Great post Charlotte. I think people are missing the point the DOS was making. What stood out for me was purpose over profit and community over competition. Each brand is selling at there price point. M&S would not market $200 trousers, nor would Jigsaw market a $20 dress. She got each company to contribute without loosing their brand. To get this buy in from major corporations is amazing. I contacted Smart Works to get an address to have items shipped directly to them in larger sizes. (I live in the US). The point is each individual do what you can do without loosing sight of who you are and what you can afford.
    The DOS is so creative and thinks outside the box like Prince Charles. Remember there will be lots of women who need larger sizes so I’m not buying for me, I’m buying in for them.

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    Replies
    1. Andrea W, thanks for the idea of contacting Smart Works to have items shipped to them directly. If I purchase an item from the capsule collection for Smart Works directly, instead of for myself, they'll get two items according to how the plan works. This helps us who do not live in UK to contribute.

      Delete
    2. Andrea, your comment was spot on! Different price points for different income brackets. Each brand did what it does best.
      Lesley in Dallas

      Delete
  52. I have to say, I really like this blog. It is such a nice, friendly place and Charlotte is doing a wonderful job as always. Among all the hatred and bashing of Meghan in the media this is always such a lovely space and I like to think that she reads here as well. I know I would if I were her. :)

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  53. The blue dress is back in stock this morning. I got one! Still waiting for the bag.

    The items have colors that are NOT part of the Smart Set. If you want to make sure your purchase counts toward the one/one campaign, don't buy a color that is not part of the Smart Set. So if it isn't black, tan or blue, it's not part of it!

    Thank you for coming to my BLU Talk.

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    1. Thanks for that reminder, bluhare. I might’ve purchased the M&S dress in pink by mistake!

      Delete
  54. I think the reason for these mid-priced items could be that empowerment (in this setting) means wearing something that avoids feelings of self awareness and discomfort. If you've been out of the saddle for a time, for whatever reason, it can be difficult to get back on the horse. Wearing quality items could make these women feel stronger!

    A very sympathetic cause - and a good sign that some items are out of stock :-)

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  55. Loving everything about this charity, want every single item of clothing in my closet.

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  56. I just cannot understand why some people or the media tear her down so much. She seems genuine and hard working. She is growing and glowing in her role. I seriously think people must just be jealous. Wonderful initiative, wonderful work by the Duchess and team and she looks lovely, fresh and professional today.

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  57. Tammy from California13 September 2019 at 22:36

    Pretty darn cool, she herself has purchased the pieces and will be wearing them on her tour. THAT is walking your talk and she just did a lot for my opinion on her. I’m not her biggest fan and more work like this will change that. This certainly has!

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    Replies
    1. I agree with you Tammy. Not her biggest fan either, but my opinion just went up as well. Great initiative and a nice step back into work from maternity leave. Well done.

      Delete
  58. I remember reading a quote on The TIG that that said something to the effect that this is not a zero sum game. We don't have to win at someone else's expense. I want us all to win. I think this is her ethos, and this is why I will always cheer for her. She is not perfect, but this was how she thought and operated long before Harry. And this is what she has focused her energies on since she has acquired this platform. I want her to win. I want to win, too. All of us can win without stepping on each other to do it.

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    Replies
    1. This is so nicely said. Thank you for that. I feel exactly the same. I wish Meghan the best with her efforts to create good things and the same I wish for all of you and for myself.
      I love this withe shirt. Misha Nono is the Queen of simple shirts!

      Kristina from Germany

      Delete
  59. This is such a wonderful venture and love that "hand held" sentiment. I purchased two black dresses (one for me and one for my teen daughter). So pleased that we are both helping other women as a rising tide lifts all boats. Also pleased with the quick shipping from M&S as the dresses are due to arrive on Monday.

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  60. Martine
    Agree wholeheartedly especially on your point about how our parents managed better with less. I’ve been trying to do the same - it makes sense not just morally, ecologically but helps create better outfits. One trick I’m trying is to compile a book of photos of every item of clothing I own - this with the aim of helping me combine items more creatively and know when I’m in danger of purchasing a duplicate.

    I think this is an excellent initiative by the Duchess who clearly thinks long and hard about her work and duty. On the back of her comments on charity versus community I am thinking about how I can improve the items I donate, ie not just giving the ‘lilac blazer’ in my wardrobe.

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  61. What a great idea. Well done, Duchess. May I ask: Am I the only one seeing that these pants don't fit well and do not give a good body shape - both only due to bad tayloring?
    Besides that I hope all pieces sell out in a blink of an eye.

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    1. I think Meghan looks great in the black trousers and they fit her well; in fact very like a regular person and not model thin. The impression is style and confidence. I think the slim cut trouser was a good choice. It seems to have a mid-rise which may not work with absolutely everyone, but the tailored silhouette of the trousers makes them basic and classic. As someone else has written, they can be paired with the lilac jacket. My understanding is that the capsule pieces are basic so that they can work with pretty well anything amongst the donated stock and therefore will allow them to make better use of all the donations.

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    2. Hello Anon 11:35, I agree with you about the pants. Love the idea of them, but the crotch of the pants is too low and doesn't appear to fit well, the pattern needs to be slightly modified. It's not a style of pant/trouser that fits all body types. However, love how Meghan styled it with the belt and shoes.

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  62. I guess these very basic items will help the rest of the donated items. For example, now the lilac blazer can be used with a white shirt and black pants or the black dress. :)

    I hope we get an idea of how well these are selling at some point. I'm looking forward to her ideas to help her animal patronage.

    On another note, I think there was a commenter from Nova Scotia a few events ago who was preparing for Hurricane Dorian. I hope she is doing OK.

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    1. Allison, you are so very thoughtful to think of the Nova Scotian. I hope this person is doing well too.

      The Canadian Maritime took a beating. My brother-in-law lives in New Brunswick (and didn’t even get the full brunt) reported power outage and many down trees (he lost a few of his sugar maple trees). His little boat sustained minor damages, but some of his fishing pals had their boats tossed onto the dock. These people are resilient and long timers will tell you other hair raising storms they lived through. My BIL, being a farmer with a keen eye for the weather, said locals are taking notice at how climate change has affected their local weather pattern.
      - Martine

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  63. Thank you Charlotte for a lovely, comprehensive article. Congratulations to Duchess Meghan on another impactful & successful project! Just a year ago, we had the lovely Together Cookbook that continues to help people in need & now a dynamic project helping more people. Like purchasing the cookbook, I’m happy & fortunate to purchase the items in this capsule collection too. I like all of the pieces as they are similar to the staples in my wardrobe.

    I think the price ranges, low to high, of the items are good. I’ve certainly spent more money on 1 dress than the 2 dresses I’ve now purchased from the capsule. I’m looking forward to when John Lewis has the totes back in stock, hopefully signing up for the email alert will help.

    Smart Works is fortunate to have Meghan as their patron. I really like that they used women that have benefited from the programme to model the clothes. They did a lovely job. It was nice listening to some of the women & their interactions with Meghan, that she spent so much time with them, helping to coach & style them. All these visits were never listed in the Royal Family CC, unfortunate that meaningful work, helping the public, is ignored. I admire Meghan a lot. She has worked quietly & continuously to help others. She received so much abuse from various media during her pregnancy & sadly still continues after. I wish Meghan & those that she helps much success.

    Dena

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  64. Thank you Charlotte for including the lovely set of black and white pictures from "behind the scene." They gave such a vibe of joy of working together and the fun everyone seemed to have at the photo shoot. I really enjoyed the pics.

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  65. I just ordered the dress in blue . Thank you Charlotte for the links , the whole story and the entire coverage of her speech.

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  66. I got the blue dress in four days ! The fabric looks like a nice upscale crepe. It fits me well. I got it in Regular so the length touches just below my knee, where I like my dresses to fall. If you are in the US, follow the size guide , be honest, and don’t be insulted if your M&S size is larger number, it’s the fit that counts. A very simple shift that you could dress up or down. And you can machine wash it on gentle!

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