Duchess Meghan has been working on the SmartWorks collection since January

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, visits Smart Works charity in West London

The Duchess of Sussex did all of the work ahead of time. Just like the Hubb Community Cookbook, Meghan figured out the best way to help her patronage, SmartWorks, she planned how it should work, she spent months organizing it and then she spent a month working with designers, SmartWorks people and retail outlets. She wanted to ensure that the launch of her collection went flawlessly, and that people understood her intention. Magazines like Vanity Fair and Harper’s Bazaar are already publishing their exclusives, and it’s clear that everyone involved was more than happy to be associated with this project:

When John Lewis head of womenswear Jo Bennett received a call from an unknown number one late January afternoon, the last person she expected on the line was the newest member of the royal family. But the Duchess of Sussex was on a mission: To bring together four of Britain’s leading affordable fashion brands to create a capsule collection of workwear, to be sold on a one-for-one basis in the name of Smart Works.

The idea was born just after Meghan became patron of the organization, which empowers disadvantaged women with the right tools and clothes to get back into the work place, at the start of the year. After listening to clients who wanted to feel comfortable and confident, the Duchess realized that while there’s never a shortage of donations (including items from her own wardrobe), Smart Works’ stock didn’t always feature every size, or classic, key staples needed to anchor an outfit. Meghan pitched the idea for a collection to the Smart Works team, including executives Juliet Hughes-Hallett and Kate Stephens, and it was an instant hit. “She wanted the basics of a capsule collection to always be available,” a source tells BAZAAR. “Pieces that were more mix and match-able rather than just one new outfit.

“She brought it to life immediately,” the source adds. “After consulting with Smart Works about their needs, she contacted bosses from each of the brands directly—cold calls!”

Today, Duchess Meghan officially launches the Smart Set, a capsule wardrobe produced in partnership with John Lewis & Partners, Marks & Spencer, Jigsaw, and designer Misha Nonoo. The five-piece collection, to be unveiled today at an in-store event at London’s flagship John Lewis store, brings together workwear essentials, including a versatile M&S crepe dress, flattering for all sizes, at just £19.50, or $24.

[From Harper’s Bazaar]

Omid Scobie at Bazaar seems to have gotten the biggest exclusive, although Katie Nicholl at Vanity Fair also thinks she got an exclusive too. There’s a lot of similar information in all of these articles, so I guess much of it just came from a press release. What else? Meghan’s favorite piece of the collection is the perfect tote bag sold at John Lewis (which is already sold out). It comes in black or tan, and both colors need to be restocked. The tote was a Meg-specific idea too – she apparently saw that there was a gap in SmartWorks’ collection/donations for office bags big enough for a resume. Meghan also released a statement:

“Since moving to the U.K., it has been deeply important to me to meet with communities and organizations 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.”

[From Vanity Fair]

The only thing that bugs me is that the collection is only FIVE pieces. I get that this was always billed as a “capsule collection,” but I really hoped that we would get a good 10-12 pieces, because I feel like that would truly give us “the wardrobe basics.” Trousers, in black, navy and grey. A white button-up blouse. A light, professional sweater in multiple colors. A twinset. A pencil or A-line skirt in multiple colors. One or two tote bags. A blazer. And on and on. Also: the tagline for this project is “Not a handout, a hand, held.”

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red and Backgrid.

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71 Responses to “Duchess Meghan has been working on the SmartWorks collection since January”

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  1. morningjacket says:

    I really admire the hell out of this woman. She’s a straight up badass.

  2. Jessica says:

    Well done once again, Meghan. One thing she doesn’t do is overhype initiatives that never materialize. She just gets on with the work and produces results. I love it.

    • TQ says:

      This! 100% agree. Great job, Meghan!

    • Beach Dreams says:

      Exactly! No boasting or preaching about what’s going to be done without any outline of how it’s going to be done—she simply gets to work and shows us true results.

  3. Toot says:

    Go Meghan! Can’t wait for her next initiative.

  4. Mignionette says:

    This woman’s work ethic is what is rubbing the ‘we don’t work’ Royal’s up the wrong way. LOL

    • Hope says:

      Whatever work is.


    • Betsy says:


      I don’t disagree that there’s racism in the mix for William, but I think his driving issue is that Meghan and Harry keep producing work and getting attention for it. William does not want to work, he just wants to be king, and as future king he thinks he should get all the attention.

      • Millenial says:

        This is exactly it, Betsy. Will thought he could use his status to skate by on hand-shaking events and vague mental health initiatives. Meghan as come on the scene and inspired Harry to do more with their platform and Will realized this makes him and Kate look bad.

    • Dali says:

      Absolutely. Royals are not supposed to really work. That’s why they are royals and the rest is not. And this is obviously not welcomed. Pretty sure Meghan gives them headaches with her work ethic.
      Im glad there are not many royal families anymore in Europe.
      If all these royals are this charitable etc. Why dont they sell their castles or at least some of them? They don’t need them. They want to feel superior as it always has been.

      • Mignionette says:

        @Dali – agreed. It is well known in Aristo circles that work is for ‘plebs’. The measure of how high up you used to be was reflected in the size of a trust fund, family estate and how well one married.

        Even Diana who was a part time teaching assistant at the time of marrying Charles had a Coutts Banks account. Her job was effectively a hobby post finishing school and a way to get her married off quickly to the right Aristo. God forbid she slummed it in the typing pool like the middle classes in those days.

      • KatV says:

        Well, the CP Mary of Denmark works… and actually a lot. I love that Meghan is stepping right into this league of cool royal ladies.

      • notasugarhere says:

        Tell it to the 800,000 people who have received job training or started a business because of Charles’s Prince’s Trust. The people receiving job experience from Dumphries House. The bottom line of the Duchy of Cornwall thanks to Charles’s Duchy Originals line. The charities receiving funding because of Camilla’s honey project. The rape victims receiving cleaning kits thanks to Camilla.

        Royals aren’t supposed to work? SMDH

        You don’t even know enough to know the castles don’t belong to the royals.

      • notasugarhere says:

        Mignionette, William appears to have the same false idea about aristocrats as you do. Hunting at friend’s houses for a weekend and thinking that is their life seven days a week.

        Many aristocrats are land rich and money poor. They work careers to earn a living plus try very hard to make their houses break even. Go watch Great Estates Scotland to see what it takes to keep those family piles from crumbling to the ground. The Kincardine episode is particularly eye-opening.

  5. Oh No says:

    Meghan has been about that humanitarian life since day one and it shows.

    I hope she does more in the more urban areas than the others. Someone with her work ethic, someone who doesn’t just talk about all her keenness, could make such an impression!!!

  6. BayTampaBay says:

    Does anyone know where this collection came from? Was it a design joint venture between Meghan and Misha Nonoo?

    Agree with Kaiser, a pencil skirt, white blouse, cardigan and/or twin set is much needed for this capsule collection. If this is successful then maybe Smart Works Collection 2.0 will be delivered.

    ETA: Jigsaw is showing matching trousers for the blazer. The blazer & trousers comes in black & navy

    • LadyMTL says:

      Haha I said the exact same thing in my post below about the needs for a 2.0 collection. The five pieces that are there are probably very useful, but a good 5-6 more wouldn’t hurt.

    • Anon says:

      It seems like each of the individual brands chose an existing garment (or from what we’ve read, new in the case of Misha Nonoo who is selling the white button down shirt) to contribute to this collaboration. They most likely chose, or let Meghan choose from, existing patterns to minimize manufacturing set-up and production costs to allow for adequate margins to donate the second item.

      • Valiantly Varnished says:

        This. The point was to keep production costs down.

      • BayTampaBay says:

        Choosing items already in production makes total sense. I just wanted the real lowdown to be correctly informed when I migrate to the Daily Fail and go after the a-hole haters!

      • kris says:

        you’re right. Misha N. is known for the white shirt (it’s the one Meghan wore to Invictus on her first outing with H pre engagement).

        I got the dress in blue. I’m still debating the Misha shirt, gahh. I love how she’s had two tangible things within a year.

  7. L84Tea says:

    She’s done a great job!

  8. LadyMTL says:

    I agree that 5 pieces really isn’t a lot, especially when we know that they’ll probably fly out the door (the way the tote already has.) Maybe she’ll expand it at some point in the future, since this one will probably do very well? I can definitely see the need for more than just a half-dozen pieces, especially if a woman is starting from scratch and needs to build a comprehensive work wardrobe.

  9. MrsBanjo says:

    The launch event shows Meghan is wearing two of the pieces from the collection. Omid has it up on his Twitter. I love the fact that she was doing the cold calling.

  10. Black shine bright says:

    This the power of black hard work. If blacks takeover the world all problems will be solved in matter of months. That’s why white suppress black with racism. Meghan is a beacon that RF needed. Atta girl.

    • Piptopher says:

      Black girl magic baby!!! Love her, we need what she (and all black women) bring to the table so much these days, if only everyone would recognize their value

    • Yzzah says:

      That’s terribly racist and xenophobic. Blacks aren’t “better” than any other skin colour. In saying that, you insult every other race as “less than”. Sit down.

      • lawyergal says:

        Ugh give me a break. It’s not racist or xenophobic. Only mediocre (or less than) people would read it that way. Signed, a woman who is not black but who is here for black girl magic and whose life is made better by the contributions of these amazing women.

  11. grumpyterrier says:

    That’s really cool. I wonder how the pieces get given out in Smartworks- I guess they fill out a form saying which pieces they would like and then are given them once someone purchases them? Very clever. At least Smartworks will have lots of tote bags to start!

  12. Valiantly Varnished says:

    They keep coming for her and she keeps stuntin’ on them. By being exactly who she is and doing great work. So proud of her!

  13. Becks1 says:

    This is a great project, and I love that Meghan started working on it as soon as she became patron of SmartWorks. It makes me excited to see what she will do next for other patronages and organizations.

    I also would like to see it expanded – a sweater, pencil skirt – but maybe if this collection is a success, they’ll launch another.

  14. Original Jenns says:

    I could see this being repeated if this is a success. As her patronage, I don’t see her performing a one and done with them, but continuing to work on projects like it. Perhaps next time she will add more pieces of color. Or not! I think it’s ok either way. It seems like the aim for her and the clients are staple pieces, and this is a great and easy way to add pieces that are good for ALL skin tones and sizes and interviews. The new awareness may also make those who donate conscious of what they are donating and the need that’s out there. A total win!

  15. Taryn says:

    This all looks really well thought out and the intent behind the collection is awesome. The rooftop launch looks beautiful. I would have loved to see maybe a skirt, a necklace or bracelet, and a pair of simple flats added in, but I think the pieces she choose are a great start for a capsule work wardrobe that works for everyone. I’m hoping that when the collection sells well (which we all know it will) she’ll expand or do another launch with them in the future.

  16. Maria says:

    I love her so much and this is great! I do wish the collection was a bit bigger. But I can understand the concerns.

  17. TeddyPicker says:

    The Vogue guest edit had the same opening gambit, Meg cold calls someone to ask for their participation. I imagine there’s probably been a little fluffing to that narrative. High powered people have most of their calls scheduled through an assistant. Even getting someone’s phone number is a to-do which probably requires multiple points of contact.

    • Becks1 says:

      I don’t think she cold-called for vogue. She had met with the editor and then after their meeting texted him about guest-editing (I think he had asked if she would be on the cover or something.) so that was a little different.

    • Original Jenns says:

      Meh, she’s friends with Misha, so that’s an easy call, and Misha would probably be a great source for the other companies’ contact persons. I don’t doubt she did the leg work, she probably knows her voice would get more people involved.

  18. Bookie says:

    I just bought my Misha Nonoo SmartWorks shirt – and threw in a monogrammed husband shirt for good measure. I’m excited for Meghan! I hope it is a HUGE success.

    • Fluffy Princess says:

      Nice! This is definitely a great purchase not only for you, but for the person who will get a blouse because you were generous enough to buy one! High five!

  19. Abby says:

    I love every bit of this. Just like the cookbook. Well done, Meghan!

  20. Beli says:

    This feels like something that’s very expandable. If it’s a success, which is looking likely, another larger collection could be released in the future.

  21. Valiantly Varnished says:

    Just watched Meghan’s speech on Twitter and it was great! She has such a warmth and genuine kindness to her and I love how she described changing the idea of “charity” to one of COMMUNITY. That really resonated with me. If anyone wants to watch the speech it’s on Omid Scobie’s twitter!

    • Original Jenns says:

      That really made me think! I’ve never heard it described that way before. And if I haven’t, probably this is a first time for others as well, which is always a bonus. It makes me look around my life a little differently, from my next spring cleaning and closet organizing, to how I donate. Great way to describe this action!

    • Mignionette says:

      It’s becoming increasingly clear with each day that Meg did some serious / swotting in the background when she joined the RF. She actually speaks about her charitable endeavors in a way that speaks to a long term commitment.

    • Moose says:

      Its the first time I’ve watched a video of Meghan making a speech and I thought she was great! So relaxed, engaging, interested and enthusiastic about her project… AND NO NOTES!!

  22. TheOriginalMia says:

    I like the dress. I saw it belted as well.

    Just so damn proud of her. She gets an idea. She makes the cold call to get it started. She nurtures her idea until fruition and then presents it, fully functional to the public. Ready to help people. Not in the planning stages, but ready to help from day 1. Bravo, Meghan!

  23. Mtec says:

    I love that when we hear a project from Meghan, it’s not about taking a meeting, or about planning to do something, she works behind the scenes, and we hear about it when she has something tangible to present. No hype, just actual results.

    So happy nothing’s deterred her from continuing with that great work ethic and passion to do good.

  24. duchess of hazard says:

    I do like the name of the collection ‘the Smart Set’ and I don’t mind that it’s a starter collection with five pieces with an eye to expand if it’s successful. I do like the tote bag, I really do. I’m too much of a mucky pup to wear a white shirt, although I like the Nonoo shirt.

  25. MeghanNotMarkle says:

    It’s a small collection but the pieces are great. I see this being expanded if the initial launch is a success (which it’s looking to be). People can hate on this all they want and scoff at this being “work” by a royal, but at least Meghan talks and then walks. She’s not constantly punking us with initiatives that never seem to materialize. She makes it happen and I’m proud of her.

  26. Kittylouise says:

    She’s such an impressive woman. I really admire this and the cookbook she did last year. And how fresh and happy she looks.

    It does make me think though, I really hope she’s happy. All this shit she’s having thrown at her constantly. And the sneering nastiness from within the royal family too (and no support there seemingly – what would it have taken for someone to take a stand in public against the blatantly racist reporting around her). I don’t know how on Earth she deals with it.

    I hope Harry is worth it, as nice as he seems I think he’s as much of a spoilt brat as the rest of the royals. I hope he’s giving her all the support she needs and hasn’t got the petulant Windsor streak like all the rest.

    • Becks1 says:

      I saw videos on twitter of the crowds waiting for her when she arrived at the launch – considering the location was embargoed, it was an impressive turnout. Everyone seemed really excited. I hope that kind of thing helps her to realize that people do love her and are excited about her projects. And she seemed so excited to announce that the tote bag was sold out.

  27. Mo says:

    Yes! Didn’t notice if they had inclusive sizing, but one of my most frustrating experiences was going to the mall and not being able to find ANYTHING for a job interview. The standalone fashion stores all had hot date looks or athleisure and the department store’s plus size was all retired grandma. I get that people don’t buy many interview clothes, but they are necessary.

    Stores wanting to present a “cohesive” look can mean that they are missing things that women need to be able to buy. Good on Meghan.

  28. Lisa says:

    Great job by Meghan. I hope that it is such a success that they expand the collection.

  29. kerwood says:

    Well, it’s not a butt-log….however I think she did quite well.

    Yes, more pieces would have been nice but they had to see how this capsule collection would work first. I’m sure more pieces will be added.

    I love that it’s clear that the Duchess of Sussex was working through her pregnancy. That shows dedication. She was also fortunate that she stayed healthy during her pregnancy.

    Congratulations to all those lucky ducks who managed to get and item or two.

  30. Grant says:

    She is so amazing and inspirational. Love her to bits. Go Meghan!

  31. KEEKS says:

    Let’s build a foundation for women. Pulling back the curtains of misogyny, and empowering each other to be better and do better. No matter the skin colour, our compassion and the want and the need to support each other. The change is happening, and we all can feel it. Well done, Meghan. I am inspired.

  32. Loretta says:

    She’s doing a great job. Bravo Meghan!

  33. Fluffy Princess says:

    Meghan keeps showing up and showing results. Eventually, all this BS will fall away, because once they see it won’t deter her…then their petty sniping will mean less and less. . .

  34. Pineapple says:

    Does anyone else feel like they want Meghan Markle to adopt them? XO Um …. like, I need life lessons at her feet. Such a great job, again.

  35. MangoAngelesque says:

    I can’t tell if that tagline is super-gentle and compassionate, or super-cringe.

    “Not a handout, a hand, held.”

  36. Susan says:

    For five pieces, which others have pointed out on the other thread were not designed by her but picked out of a catalogue?

    • MsIam says:

      It’s five pieces to start. Plus it’s work wear, not a whole fashion line. She did not announce she is opening a fashion house. Just a small collection that will benefit a women’s charity.

    • 2cents says:

      The pieces look great on the models! Another brilliant, uplifting project by Duchess Meghan! Well executed! She goes from strength to strength!👏👏👏

    • Olenna says:

      Yes, five (5) pieces and she killed it with this initiative. Hope the collection (and charity’s reach) continues to grow and benefit more women in need. [Job well done, Duchess. Job well done!]
      Now, @Susan, if there’s anything else you need know about the pieces and the DoS’ efforts, there have been several articles, if you care to read, that explain them in more detail. I’ll put the CB link above here for your convenience:

  37. JV says:

    As a larger woman, I find it very difficult to find professional clothing. This collection does include some extended sizing, but not large enough for me, unfortunately. Additionally, I can tell you that those pieces, while advertized as flattering for larger figures… are not. I would think that SmartWorks clients include women my size, and I hope that there are options for them that don’t look like they came straight out of the 80s.

    I still think this is an awesome idea, I just wish there were a few more tweaks to make it truly inclusive. Kudos to Meghan for actually doing the work, rather than vague reporting about “meetings.” Love her!