What Meghan Markles Messy Bun Means


Meghan Markle’s messy bun is practically a celebrity in its own right. The relaxed hairstyle has made nonstop headlines ever since early January, when Markle wore one at her first public appearance of 2018 with fiancé Prince Harry. Deemed “groundbreaking” and “relatable AF” (but also “sloppy” and an affront to royal protocol), the updo clearly inspired a lot of feelings from the public. Even as it’s now become a signature look for Markle, every time the messy bun makes an appearance, it makes news.

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Is Markle trying to send a message with her no-fuss hairstyle?

Considering she wore a sheer dress for her official portraits and didn’t wear nylons during her engagement announcement, is the messy bun just one more way she’s ushering modernity into a family anchored in tradition?

All signs point to yes, according to sociologist, image consultant, and personal style guru Dr. Anna Akbari, whom we spoke to for more insight on this very important royal hair phenomenon.

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The messy bun is intentional.

“I would say it’s no different than distressed or ripped jeans where there’s a sort of strategic messing-up that might make it look old or look cool—it’s in the same vein,” Akbari said of the loose hairstyle. “There’s a sort of knowingness that you have to have as an audience member to appreciate that.”

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While the hairstyle, complete with loose tendrils, looks like Markle could’ve done it herself, Akbari thinks the look is intentional. “My guess is it took more than it does when you put your hair in a messy bun to go to a workout class,” Akbari said, “It is not a half-ass messy bun.”

The messy bun is a power move.

Akbari also compared wearing a messy bun to going to an interview for a job in a nice t-shirt and jeans versus wearing a suit. “There are certain contexts in which strategically dressing down demonstrates a ‘hipness.’ It’s a different type of power dynamic than it would be if you were to wear a suit,” she said. For instance, if someone were interviewing in the tech space and walking into the office with a suit on, it’d make you think oh, they just don’t get it.

In the same way, Markle is likely walking into this traditional family fully understanding their expectations, then knowingly flipping them. Akbari elaborated, “The way we communicate is a full-spectrum, multi-sensory communication. Bottom line—[Markle is] aware she’s sending signals. I don’t think anything that she’s doing is haphazard.”

How Kate Middleton wears a low bun.

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The messy bun signals that she’s crafting her own identity in the royal sphere.

Part of the attention Markle’s messy bun is getting for being “refreshing” is always in comparison to Kate Middleton’s famous blowouts and carefully coiled half up-dos secured with hairnets. “There’s a tight conservatism she projects,” Akbari said of Prince William’s wife. “I would believe that this may be Markle’s way of saying, ‘If I’m not going to beat her at her own game, I might as well win in my own.'” Markle is seemingly creating her own rules, perhaps to avoid constant comparisons, but more so to lay claim to a look all her own.

That being said, Akbari noted that Markle’s signature look is at the nape of her neck versus on top of her head. “A lot of messy buns are on top of your head and that’s more ‘I’m going to workout’—this is almost like a wedding day [look], only slight distressed,” she explained. “It’s different than having something sloppy on the top of your head.”

She further noted that the bun’s positioning is “inherently more conservative—it’s a sort of nod to tradition and then a slight subversion of it.”

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