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In the past year, Meghan Markle has emerged as a global fashion icon as she established her style as the Duchess of Sussex. And that’s entirely to Meghan’s own credit. Meghan’s friends recently revealed to ELLE.com that Meghan has been styling herself and is responsible for her own meteoric rise as a fashion influencer.

Meghan’s friends previously told People that Meghan is “self-service.” One pointed out that Meghan takes care of her beauty, too. “I was with her last month, and she was going on a public engagement. Harry and I were sitting with the dogs, and we were all chatty, and she’s painting her nails,” the friend told People. “Except for her wedding, she does all her own makeup. Dresses herself, styles herself.”

But Meghan has gotten some help from others along the way, including advice from her sister-in-law Kate Middleton. “Meghan has certainly turned to Kate for guidance and inspiration,” a source familiar with Meghan’s fashion process told Elle.com.

Kate and Meghan of course have different go-to designers for their two distinct looks, but both women share special relationships with their wedding dress designers.

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Meghan in Givenchy on her wedding day.

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Kate has leaned on her wedding dress designer Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen and formed a close working arrangement with her for some of her most important engagements. Meghan has followed similarly with Clare Waight Keller at Givenchy.

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Meghan in Givenchy at her first-ever solo event in September.

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Meghan has been mindful of royal tradition when choosing what she wears to events. She and Kate often wear longer hemlines during more formal, traditional engagements—something very much in deference to the Queen.

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Meghan Markle in Givenchy with the Queen during her first engagement with Elizabeth in June.

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But also significantly, Meghan has been “groundbreaking, incorporating ethical fashion lines into her wardrobe to highlight important social issues and humanitarian passion projects,” a source told ELLE.com. This move has really distinguished Meghan and is an example of Meghan using her soft power in fashion—raising awareness to those brands, causing a “Meghan Markle effect” and boosting their sales—to do global good. She’s done it with pieces as varied as her jeans (wearing Outland Denim in Sydney for example, which offers ethical employment and training to women rescued from human trafficking and exploitation in Cambodia) to jewelry (wearing ethically-sourced pieces from Pippa Small at the British Fashion Awards, for instance).

And while Meghan and Kate have taken fashion cues from each other from time to time, their styles are wholly different. Meghan deliberately avoided dressing like Kate when she first started her engagements as duchess. Now, Meghan has created her own signature look—although she’s kept one objective the same with how she dresses. Her goal is always to let her work speak louder than the clothes.

As a royal insider explained to ELLE.com in January, “Meghan is conscious of making her work wardrobe become too trend-conscious. Meghan is still new to this and aware everyone still watching her and wants to be respectful and doesn’t want her style to take away from the very important work she’s doing.”

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