Meghan Markle’s Best Fashion Moments of 2018

This was truly Meghan Markle‘s year: 47 million people around the globe watch her Royal Wedding; she became a Duchess and began her charity work, writing a community cookbook and delivering moving speeches about women’s empowerment; she’s expecting her first child with Prince Harry. Through it all, she’s worn some unarguably impeccable outfits by designers like Givenchy and Stella McCartney—as well as more accessible labels, like J.Crew and Club Monaco.

Marke has worn her share of stately fascinators and coats, and has singlehandedly brought back the bateau neckline. And many of her looks have had shoppers reaching for their credit cards: According to eBay, sales for trench coats went up by 44 percent month-over month in October, after the Duchess wore two (by Martin Grant and Karen Walker) while on her Royal Tour of Australia; similarly, sales for black boots from J.Crew went up by 70 percent when she wore her own pair on the same trip. The Meghan Markle Effect is very much real.

Whether it’s an off-the-shoulder blazer or a cozy camel coat, Markle has used fashion as a way to build her new brand as a royal. As her first official year as a duchess comes to a close, we’re looking back at some of her very best outfits from 2018, from pre-wedding engagements to proper royal tours.

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How to Give Gifts Like a Beauty Editor

I suck at creating wish lists. Maybe it’s because I genuinely feel bad about asking for gifts or maybe it’s because most of my purchases are impulsive—either because, oh, it’s snowing and I own no boots or it’s 2 A.M. and I’m bored—but most of the time for the holidays I just tell friends to buy me a drink and my parents to send a check. I’m trying to change that this year at the behest of people begging me to give a straight answer.

So for my gift guide, I sifted and culled through all the things I’ve aimlessly added to cart over the past year but haven’t pulled the trigger on. From the luggage I’ve had my eye on to the obscenely large candle I’ve always dreamed of owning, read on for the gifts I’d die to get this season. Hopefully it’ll give you some gift ideas for your own personal list if you always ask for an Amazon gift card too.

The Best Maternity Clothes Under $50

Last week, I received a package I’d ordered from Savannah, Georgia, and inside was a $19 vintage metallic blouse with 1980s padded shoulders and a retro “David Hayes for Saks Fifth Avenue” label inside. The measurements on Etsy said it would fit my current frame, which—thanks to pregnancy—is undergoing some adjustments.

Even though the shirt looked as I’d pictured it in some ways (the round neckline isn’t stretched out like some vintage styles; the puff shoulders—a small styling quirk I tend to think of as my signature—sat perfectly and looked just out-there enough to be cool; and the sleeves hit my true wrist buttoned, but also have a relaxed, loose charm when rolled up.) But the hem was too damn tight, something I’d normally remedy by tucking it into a pair of high-waisted jeans, preferably those with a wide, cropped leg and frayed hem, or maybe my favorite shiny spandex American Apparel pants—also high waisted—for a night out.

But there are not many nights out, and this otherwise perfect top looked ridiculous with the one pair of $29 Zara elastic waist culottes I’ve been wearing almost daily since I realized nothing in my closet that has a zipper, a snap, a hook, or anything that resembles a defined waist fits. Back to my regularly scheduled program of boxy tees and stretchy tops.

I am almost 34 weeks along, which is seven and a half months, and I’m tremendously bored with my own personal style. Picking out my clothes in the morning—and realizing daily that a new favorite no longer fits—is an exercise in patience, often one that ends with my not feeling like myself.

I understand this is a time to focus on dressing comfortably—everyone tells me that—but what happens when you’re most comfortable in fitted vintage tops and stiff jeans? Or things with buttons? Or things that remain the length they’re meant to be without riding up and exposing a sliver of what looks like a slightly pointed basketball, black line included? The truth is, I enjoy clothing, and the act of choosing what I put on has often been a soothing activity for me, like an elaborate skin-care routine is for other women.

As much as I appreciate the fact that I have carte blanche to show up anywhere right now—work included—wearing yoga pants and a loose knit cardigan, bally, stretched-out sweaters that have been stuffed into a forgotten drawer all summer, or anything that resembles a tent, I also know I wouldn’t.

Still, I can’t rely on my own closet so since becoming pregnant, I’ve had to go in search of a few new things because no matter what anyone tells you, shopping is essential. About 75% of my wardrobe was unadaptable, except for some roomy winter sweaters, extra-stretchy leggings, and two or three expandable “bodycon” dresses I’d been too self-conscious to wear over the years yet continued to purchase. However, I’ve taken care to buy things that check two boxes: suit my personal style and fall within an under-$50 price range.

My favorite affordable maternity dress, which is now on sale for $51. Thanks ASOS!

I’m aware that, in 2018, there are plenty of modern, elevated labels designed for the chic pregnant woman, and they make some beautiful things, but I personally have a hard time justifying spending upwards of $200 for items that will be retired in a matter of months—especially when sites like H&M and Zara are stocked with pieces I’ve found to be perfectly worthy.

Below, you’ll find some items I’ve purchased—all around $50 or less; all excellent at most stages of pregnancy. Some are specifically cut as maternity wear—ASOS’ section is a godsend—but others aren’t, and are simply made from highly-stretchy material. Some pieces I’ve had to buy in much larger sizes, and others not so much, but all are things I’ve worn consistently.

And while I’m excited to get back into things like the vintage Etsy tops, I’m also glad I have a curated collection of comfortable pieces that feel reflective of my pre-pregnancy style and that didn’t set me back tremendously. I also do not feel these pieces, though bought from fast-fashion retailers, are particularly disposable, as most I’ll continue to wear postpartum.

I’d also like to point out that I’m suggesting products as a petite person—5’2 and generally pretty slim. I have found success purchasing non-maternity clothing in sizes larger than I’d normally wear, but I get this isn’t a feasible strategy for all women, as several inexpensive retailers don’t go beyond a vague size “XL” or 12 to 14. Some have been making strides in that department, and others offer plus collections, but I understand dressing while pregnant isn’t always as simple as sizing up. Which is why I hope more affordable brands create stylish clothing women actually want to wear in expanded sizes.

Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas’ Wedding: Everything We Know So Far

We have another royal wedding upon us, people. OK, so not actual royalty, but they might as well be. I’m talking, of course, about Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas’ upcoming nuptials. After a whirlwind summer relationship, Jonas and Chopra confirmed in August they were engaged. Since then, it’s been a frenzied few months of red-carpet events, wedding planning, and bachelor and bachelorette parties. All the excitement will culminate in a days-long wedding celebration reportedly happening in India next month. We’ll keep you posted on the festivities when they happen, but for now here’s what we know:

The date. Nothing is confirmed at this point, but several outlets report the wedding will happen between November 30 and December 2.

The location. All signs point to Jodhpur, India—specifically at the Umaid Bhawan Palace, which boasts 347 rooms, a full-service hotel, and a museum. So, ya know, just your standard venue.

Umaid Bhawan palace, Jodhpur, Rajastan

PHOTO: Getty Images

The style of the wedding. Jonas and Chopra toasted their engagement with two parties: a traditional Indian Puja celebration, and a less-formal house gathering. Us Weekly reports the wedding will be a similar blending of their cultures. “They really want to blend wedding traditions from both of their cultures that are important to them,” a source told Us Weekly. “Priyanka is having a really good time planning the wedding because it’s a mix of Indian and American styles and customs, which she knows so much about.”

The guests. Cosmopolitan via FilmFare reports Jonas and Chopra’s wedding will have a “limited guest list of 200 people with only their close friends and family in attendance.” Expect Nick’s brothers, Joe and Kevin, there, as well as their partners Sophie Turner and Danielle Jonas. Of course, the parents of both Chopra and Nick will be there, too. The real question, however, is will Chopra’s good pal Meghan Markle show up?

The dress. Chopra confirmed to Entertainment Tonight that she’s found her dress. However, we don’t have any details yet at this point.

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Who Is Idris Elba’s Daughter, Isan Elba, the 2019 Golden Globes Ambassador?

It’s been an exciting month for the Elba family. In early November, actor Idris Elba was finally named People‘s Sexiest Man Alive—now comes news that his 16-year-old daughter, Isan, is the 2019 Golden Globe Ambassador. Yes, sometimes we can have good things.

The Golden Globes ambassador—which is chosen by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association—was previously known as Miss/Mr. Golden Globe, until the title was changed in 2017 to represent a more inclusive role that is gender neutral. What didn’t change, though, was that the role must be filled by the son or daughter of a well-known actor and the recipient be committed to philanthropy.

For the HFPA, Isan Elba fit the bill. As the daughter of Idris and Kim Elba (they married in 1999, but split in 2003), Isan will distribute the trophies during January’s Golden Globe Awards ceremony. She’ll also raise awareness for a cause of her choosing. What else? Here’s five things to know about the rising star.

The Golden Globes won’t be Isan’s first major red carpet moment.

At five years old, Isan attended her first premiere; it was for Daddy’s Little Girls, a romantic dramedy from Tyler Perry starring her dad and Gabrielle Union. Four years later, Isan went to her first major awards show—the Emmys—where I first met her while interviewing her father. “Was I wearing that teal dress?” she asked me during our phone interview. “I remember that! I thought I looked so good! We’ll have to get another photo and re-create it!”

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PHOTO: Barb Radloff

As for the Golden Globes, this will be her first time attending. Her plus one? Her father, of course. “I’ve always been my dad’s plus one, and this year I’m the big guy now! Usually he says, ‘Issie, do you want to come? But this year I’ll be like, ‘No, Dad, do you want to come with me?'” And even though she’s had plenty of carpet experience, Isan says, “I’ll have all the feels, but hopefully you won’t even notice I’m nervous.”

She had no idea she was even being considered for the a Golden Globes ambassadorship.

“I didn’t even know there was a submission process,” she says. “But I’m really glad [my parents] did it, because I feel like this way I’m jumping right into it and just being me. If I had known, I would have looked it up a lot more and it wouldn’t have been as authentic.”

Isan is in good company. Previous honorees from the past few years include Dwayne Johnson’s daughter, Simone Garcia; Sylvester Stallone’s daughters, Sophia, Sistine and Scarlet; Jamie Foxx’s daughter, Corinne; and Kelsey Grammer’s daughter Greer. As for any rules she’s giving her father as he escorts her down the red carpet, Isan says she loves seeing celebs just like anyone else, so Dad needs to play it cool. “I’ll probably say, ‘Don’t say any dad jokes, and don’t get all mushy gushy everywhere.”

She wants to use her platform to focus on mental health.

Inspired by the launch of Taraji P. Henson’s Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation—a nonprofit organization focused on mental health issues in the African-American community—Isan wants to follow in the Empire star’s footsteps. “I love what she’s doing for the African-American community,” she says. “I hope that I can bring some light [to these issues].”

Going to high school and balancing a stressful workload can take its toll, as Isan knows all too well. “Telling someone that you’re feeling down is really hard, and [although] schools are doing their part, it’s important to do more.” For instance, Isan says her school has what’s called an M3 week—which stands for My Mind Matters—but “it shouldn’t just be a week; it should be a whole term where you [know you] have a safe space and someone to talk to.”

After graduation, she wants to follow in her father’s footsteps.

Initially, Isan says she was set on becoming an actress—”That’s what I’ve always trained to be”—but her father’s recent directorial debut with the film Yardie has given her a new perspective. “I really got to see all of the behind-the-scenes, like what the sound department does, the lighting department, the best boy, etc. I didn’t even know what a best boy was before. And then getting to hang out with the producers…that was really cool. So I’m definitely thinking about being a filmmaker.” Regardless, Isan says she’s excited that she’s not limited to just one aspect of the business. “My dad is an actor, a DJ, a director all of it. So I’ll probably be all over the place, too.” And don’t forget mental health advocate. “Yes, I love that title,” she says.

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PHOTO: HFPA PHOTOGRAPHER

The Golden Globes will be her ultimate birthday party celebration.

The high school junior will turn 17 on January 4, which is two days before the Globes. “I’ll be telling everyone it’s my birthday,” she jokes. And since Isan doesn’t live in Los Angeles (she resides in Atlanta, GA), it’ll be an especially meaningful celebration. “I’m pretty far from all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, so [getting to experience this] will be pretty cool.” And while Isan has attended her fair share of premieres and award shows, she says it hasn’t gotten to her head. “It’s sort of like a dream. You dream this stuff, but sometimes you’re not in that dream all the time. I’m sort of like that. I live a pretty normal teenager life.”

The 2019 Golden Globe nominations will be announced December 6. The Golden Globes will air live on NBC on Sunday, January 6 at 8 P.M. ET.

The Big Bang Theory Season 12, Episode 9 Recap: Amy and Sheldon’s Project Falls Apart

Ever since The Big Bang Theory introduced the concept of Super-Asymmetry at Sheldon and Amy’s wedding last May, I’ve been reluctant to embrace their enthusiasm. It had nothing to do with Sheldon and Amy working together as a team, but everything to do with feeling like I was back in high school chemistry struggling to understand the basics. It just wasn’t exciting.

The results on the show have been mixed as well; sometimes Super-Asymmetry has paved the way for important discussions; other times I’ve tuned out completely. But in tonight’s episode—titled “The Citation Negation”—I felt truly invested for the first time.

The episode opens with Sheldon and Amy recruiting Leonard to help them track down hundreds of citations before they publish their paper on SA. In an effort to keep their project secret, they ask Leonard to spend hours in a dark library doing the legwork. I’m not sure what Leonard gets out of this, but he already has Penny, so what more does the guy need in life?

Meanwhile, my favorite character, Anu, sadly isn’t in this episode, so the writers pair Raj with Leonard in the dungeon dimly-lit library. It’s as boring as that aforementioned chemistry class until Leonard and Raj discover something that doesn’t look quite right; apparently Sheldon and Amy may not have been the first to discover Super-Asymmetry.

Leonard and Raj bring their findings to Howard, who confirms that in 1978 a Russian scientist already disproved SA. As the findings read, “Super-Asymmetry is inherently flawed and does not bear the weight of further examination.” Yikes.

Leonard breaks the news to Sheldon and Amy, who are in complete and utter disbelief. Sheldon somehow manages to thank Leonard for relaying the news knowing that couldn’t have been easy for him. His maturity then turns to a childlike response as he destroys one of the boards on an easel. I can’t remember the last time I witnessed such profound anger from Sheldon. The moment aims to inject a bit of humor to the scene, but it’s too late; there’s nothing funny about it. Sheldon and Amy are devastated, and they have every right to be.

Sheldon retreats to the other room, rummaging through papers hoping to find something—anything—that could give insight into what just happened. Amy is equally depressed but wants to do what she can to help her husband. She even offers to sing him “Soft Kitty”—if that’s not love, I don’t know what is. Sheldon doesn’t understand how Amy can be so calm in the midst of professional turmoil, but she tells him she’s just trying to hold it together for his sake.

Sheldon tells Amy that her pretending to be OK actually makes him feel worse, which provides the opening Amy needs to come to terms with their disappointing reality. “Fine! I’m not OK!” she says, her voice quivering. “We came up with this idea at our wedding. We poured months of our lives into it. I thought we were changing the course of science, and now it’s all gone!”

Wow. Big Bang doesn’t usually go there, but that scene was nothing less than beautiful and heartbreaking at once.

The next day, a despondent-looking Sheldon and Amy don’t even go to work (who can blame them?). In fact, they don’t even know what day it is.

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PHOTO: Sonja Flemming/CBS

“You had a setback,” Penny says before launching into the most ill-timed pep-talk. “This is the time you gotta dig in and try harder! It’s like halftime, and you’re down by 7!” Leonard tries to quell the mood with his own inspiring speech (“Individually you’re the smartest people I know! Together you can do anything!”), but it’s not well-received. “I appreciate what you’re trying to do,” Sheldon says, “but please stop. You can’t make this better.” Adds Amy, “I’m with Sheldon. We worked our butts off on this paper, and it was all for nothing. If you think some pep talk can help us, then you don’t understand.”

She’s right. Shamy needs time to grieve. This has been their baby for the better part of a year. Of course they’ll find their footing again, but they have to process their disappointment first. And no offense to Super-Asymmetry, but that’s the storyline I want to watch.

Michelle Obama Wore Her Natural Curls on the Cover of *Essence*

You could argue that Michelle Obama has been on a roll her whole life, but this past year has been an especially exceptional one for her. After eight years of holding up to the constant pressure of the White House, we’ve seen the former First Lady finally be able to let down her hair—so to speak.

She danced with Tina Knowles at Jay and Bey’s OTRII concert in Paris, celebrated 26 years of marriage with America’s Coolest Dad, and now she’s on a massive press tour to celebrate her highly-anticipated memoir Becoming. Along with her 12-city book tour (in which she’s selling out arenas and casually getting interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, MObama also took the time to shoot a few magazine covers. Her latest? A stunning shot on the cover of Essence that celebrated her natural curls in their glory.

Although Mrs. Obama has graced the covers of magazines a countless number of times (including Glamour), this is the first time she’s worn something other than her signature waves—and I’m here for every moment of it.

During her time in the White House, the former FLOTUS didn’t discuss her hair all too much, but she didn’t have to. Black women got it. It’s something every professional women of color has faced—just, you know, not on such a national scale. Since her departure, though, she’s slowly been opening up about the experience and how she had to develop “a hair strategy” during her time in the spotlight.

“Well, you know, the first thing you’ve gotta worry about is how to keep it healthy,” she shared during an interview on the 2 Dope Queens podcast. “My whole goal was I want to end this with hair on my head. And so now you’ve got to think about how do you do that, you know? What are you doing? And are you swimming? Are you working out? But this wasn’t just a first lady journey. This is a black professional women’s journey.”

She also said the strategy was so involved, that she’s “sure a lot of white women are sitting over there going, ‘Man, I didn’t know all that was going on.'”

It’s refreshing to see her curls looking so hydrated, full of life, and the most important of all: naturally textured. She’s worn it natural before, which was also met with much fan fare. And her hairstylist Johnny Wright actually revealed back in 2015 that she’s been completely natural for years now—meaning there were no chemicals like relaxers or texturizers used to straighten her hair.

But as a fellow black girl from the South Side of Chicago, every sighting of her curls gives me hope. It’s still difficult for black women to wear our hair the way it grows naturally from our scalp—Mrs. Obama is proof of that. Each time a powerful black woman pushes back, though, stereotypes or media criticism be damned, it tells the rest of us that our hair is magical. And that it can be “professional.”

Sure, the natural hair movement has been around for awhile and some might consider it taboo (or policing) to keep bringing attention to these instances. I hope that soon we won’t have to celebrate a moment when a prominent black women wears her hair in it’s natural state. But until then, I’mma be here to point it out and cheer it on every chance that I get. And if these tweets are any indication, I’m surely not alone.

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Ariana Grande Has Way Shorter Hair Now, and It’s Gorgeous

In a beauty landscape where trends change as quickly as you can refresh your Instagram feed, we’ve come to rely on a few celebrity staples: winged eyeliner from Taylor Swift, nude lips on Meghan Markle, and until today…Ariana Grande‘s long, high ponytail.

Honestly is there a famous hairstyle more connected to a person than Grande and her pony right now? Of course, we’ve seen her wear her long hair down and in a top knot, but the singer’s latest Instagram post showed off a new look that we were not expecting. Is that a lob we see, AG?

Grande posted to Instagram and Twitter showing off a decidedly shorter cut with the caption, “this filter took my eyebrows away but i promise they’re there,” so she’s obviously got beauty on her mind. But brows are not the hair we currently want to discuss.

Did she simply take out her extensions to give her own hair a breather? Is this a post-Pete breakup chop? Will she keep it this way or is the ponytail coming back or is she saying ‘thank u, next’ to her signature style? There are so many questions. Given how social media savvy Grande is, she had to know that she was starting a serious conversation.

Fans obviously reacted strongly. “Keep this hair girl omfg you look so good,” one tweeted. While another had to do a double take, “WAIT OMG I JUST REALISED THAT YOU CUT YOUR HAIR.” Another took it next level writing, “Listen. @ArianaGrande chopped her hair off. This is not just a new chapter in her life but in all of our lives.”

Whatever is going on, it looks fantastic and we want to see shots from 100 more angles. Please.

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28 Ridiculously Fun Handbags, All $50 or Less

Don’t underestimate the transformative power a fun party bag can have on an outfit: It can make that one LBD you’ve worn to four, maybe five holiday get-togethers feel brand-new every time; or make your jeans look very sophisticated (maybe with a footwear assist.) As we gear up for the countless gift exchanges potlucks and end-of-year fêtes, brands are ramping up their accessory assortments—and there are so many good handbags that are easy on the wallet but big on the statement. From comically tiny crossbodies to more sensible backpacks, shop some of the best party-ready bags on the market right now for $50 or less.

We bring you the trends. You make them your own. Sign up for our daily newsletter to find the best fashion for YOU.

28 Fun Handbags, All $50 or Less

Don’t underestimate the transformative power a fun party bag can have on an outfit: It can make that one LBD you’ve worn to four, maybe five, holiday get-togethers feel brand-new every time; or make your jeans look very sophisticated (maybe with a footwear assist.) As we gear up for the countless gift exchanges, potlucks and end-of-year fêtes, brands are ramping up their accessory assortments—and there are so many good handbags that are easy on the wallet but big on the statement. From comically tiny crossbodies to more sensible backpacks, shop some of the best party-ready bags on the market right now for $50 or less.

We bring you the trends. You make them your own. Sign up for our daily newsletter to find the best fashion for YOU.