As Rachel Zane on Suits, Meghan Markle is the definition of a #GirlBoss. But off-camera, the star is just as ambitious as her character, a paralegal turned associate and law school student. Between her role as a negotiating pro on the USA drama and running her own lifestyle website, The Tig, Markle has learned a thing or two about taking charge. And so just a few days after learning that Suits (Wednesdays, 9 p.m ET) was renewed for a sixth season, she hopped on the phone with InStyle to share her secrets for becoming a power player, both on the small screen and in real life.
“I think the biggest part of being a girl boss in the office, at home, or anywhere you go is just knowing your value,” Markle says. And, much like the “savvy and driven” female characters on Suits, that means finding the balance between looking and acting the part. “It's important flex your intellectual prowess, even if you're wiggling around in a pencil skirt,” says Markle.
But that very skirt can also be a game-changer—and nobody knows that better than Markle’s character. “People often say dress for the part that you want, not the part that you have, and I can't think of any paralegal that was dressing like Rachel did," she says. "She was dressing for the role and the seriousness that she wanted people to treat her with.” And when she steps into the office, you can tell that she's not messing around. "Rachel’s quintessential power look is a crisp, white button-down with the collar a little popped, sleeves rolled up and a high-waisted pencil skirt,” Markle says. “It’s a look that makes her feel confident and come across like she really means business.” Here, Markle shares her tips for ruling your own world at work.
1. Don't try to do it all.
"As you get older, you become more comfortable in your skin and comfortable in saying 'no' to things. Rachel is an example of that on television, and as The Tig has grown as a brand, I’ve also learned that saying 'no' is just as valuable as saying 'yes.' It’s something that, I think, comes with age and really having a sense of your self-worth. And then you make choices based on that."
2. Keep your support system on deck.
"Be able to delegate, because there are some things that you just can’t do by yourself. I often joke on set that it takes a village to raise an actress. But building a strong team around you and being able to really communicate well with them is part of what’s going to bring you a higher level of success."
3. Leave the drama for happy hour.
"Don’t get involved in the interoffice politics. On Suits it can be cheeky and fun to see Rachel and Donna being gossipy, but people get caught up in that. I think in life and in the office, it’s best to stay out of the drama. You’ll be endlessly happier for it. If you want to do that, save that for drinks after work with your girlfriends."
4. Treat yourself.
"Take things with a grain of salt and find balance within your life. On your lunch break, leave to go and get some fresh air. You don’t need to make your life your job. I have to find that balance for myself, as well. Between The Tig and my time on set or at home, I have to make the time to throw in a yoga class or walk my dogs or literally just turn it all off and meditate for a minute. I think you have to make time for yourself so that work doesn’t become the end-all be-all."
5. When it comes to your wardrobe, it's all about finding the right fit.
"I think one of the key tips for looking polished at the office is tailoring. No matter what you get, if it’s budget or high-end, if you have it tailored for your body you’re going to look 10 times better."
6. But still, stick to what makes you feel best.
"Have a power piece in your wardrobe. If it’s the one dress that makes you feel so badass, or the one crisp button-down—whatever it is so that when you wake up on those days where you’re not really feeling going into work, you put that piece on and it’s almost like your own anthem. It can really shift the energy of your whole day."
7. Invest in the classics.
"Rachel does a lot of mix and matching for the office. You’ll see that I replicate so many of the pieces that I’ve been wearing ever since season one. I’ll wear the same Tom Ford skirt and then pair it with a new Prada blouse or a L'Wren Scott little cashmere sweater. If you invest in something that’s high quality, you’ll have it forever."
8. Strike the right balance between cute and classy.
"It’s the golden rule that when you’re showing décolletage or cleavage, then your skirt needs to be at your knee. If your hemline’s a little higher, put on a fitted turtleneck or have on a higher neckline. If you love your legs, show them off—just keep the top covered up. When sexiness is forced, it never translates in the same way—and I also don’t think you’re taken seriously in the same way."
9. Let your wardrobe do the talking.
"We’ve changed the color scheme of Rachel’s clothes based on her emotional arc on the show. So you’ll notice that in Season 2 when she’s falling in love with Mike, I wear more blush tones. And season one when she’s really all about business, I wear more charcoal grays and blacks—you watch how that ebbs and flows with her. Now, she wears mostly camels and whites and lights. I think our clothes are such a reflection of how we’re feeling."
To see Markle in action, tune in to Suits on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on USA.
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