By Alexandra Whittaker
Updated Dec 21, 2018 @ 2:00 pm
Meghan Best Dresses
Credit: Photo Illustration. Photo: Getty Images

Whether you clung to every single royal family update in 2018 (there were many), or you only surfaced with interest for the royal wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, one thing is clear: everyone's obsessed with talking about what Meghan wears. As she's transitioned from actress to duchess, fans have intently followed her fashion, looking to her for inspiration, tips, and even deeper meaning behind the royally coded optics of it all.

I, for one, am no exception. After writing my way through Markle's whirlwind year, the contents of her closet have become as familiar to me as my own. But even with so many outfits in rotation (she sometimes wore multiple in a single day), there's one that comes to mind as a standout favorite — and no, as showstopping as it was, it's not her Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy wedding gown.

The Favorite: Meghan's Stella McCartney Reception Dress

Of all the looks Meghan has worn this year, her halter neck Stella McCartney stands out among the crowd, managing to hit the balance between both elegance and freshness that she's brought to her looks.

The design itself is quite simple, but it's also (by royal standards) daring, with it's halter cut — a marriage between tradition and trend, and really, Meghan and Harry.

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What the classically styled dress lacks in overt drama, it makes up for through subtle styling details. Part of what elevated this outfit to "favorite" level was the way Markle accessorized it.

An accessory can truly make or break a look, with the potential to turn even the most buttoned-up outfits into fussy overdone messes, so how Markle approached this is worth noting. She kept it simple and let her late mother-in-law Princess Diana's aquamarine cocktail ring be the star of the show.

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It felt particularly appropriate, a way to celebrate Di in her outfit joyously through a "something blue" without trying too hard or being disingenuous about it.

VIDEO: Why Meghan Markle Won’t Wear Victoria Beckham Dresses

Runner-Up: Meghan's Bateau Dior Dress

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Though Markle's reception dress holds real estate in my fashion-loving heart, that doesn't meant choosing a favorite of the year was easy. She also wore a notable timeless black Dior dress to a Westminster Abbey service in celebration of the centenary of the Royal Air Force, and she again knocked it out of the park.

The bateau cut flattered her neck, much like her wedding dress. It also paired nicely with her fascinator, which was the perfect size to stand out, but not overwhelm the whole look (as fascinators can do). It fit her beautifully, and it was perfectly appropriate for the event. What's not to love?

Second Runner-Up: Meghan's Brandon Maxwell Yellow Dress

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Credit: YUI MOK/Getty Images

Markle has favored neutral tones this year in her wardrobe, so to see her step out in such a powerful pop of color was a shock (in a good way). The Duchess of Sussex brought the sunshine to a "Your Commonwealth" Youth Challenge Reception over the summer, pulling off a dress length that, when it comes to proportion, can be difficult.

The bold departure paid off — and matched with her slicked back hair, she really epitomized the phrase "Markle sparkle."