Whenever the Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, steps out in public, royal style watchers obsess over every single detail she’s wearing, from her gorgeous dresses and bags to her growing collection of oh-so-British fascinators.
But the former Meghan Markle has one style quirk that has only recently come to light: She often wears heels that are too big for her.
The most dramatic example might be the strappy, beige heels she wore in November 2018 during a photoshoot celebrating her engagement to Prince Harry.
And the black pumps she wore during her first official event with the queen definitely looked a little roomy around the heel.
Why does the duchess do this? She probably won’t share her style secrets anytime soon — the royals almost never do, of course — but some experts speculate that she’s going up a size to protect her feet.
With royals often required to stand and stroll around for long periods of time at official events, Meghan might be concerned about swelling or inflammation.
“I’m sure there are certain protocols where you can’t sit no matter what, and (she wants) to avoid not just blisters, but actually skin breakdowns, swelling, bursitis,” Levine said.
Another possibility is that one of Meghan’s feet is slightly larger than the other.
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“She may also have a size discrimination between both feet, that they’re both not the same size, so she’s going up to the larger one,” Levine said.
Levine understands Meghan’s strategy of going up a size to protect her feet, and said it’s certainly better than the alternative of wearing too-small shoes that pinch.
“As a podiatrist, I would agree with her that that would be the way to go, as opposed to wearing shoes that just fit her and maybe feel a little too tight in some areas,” she said.
Still, wearing oversized shoes is not something Levine generally recommends.
“I think this seems a little bit more royal, so to speak,” she told TODAY. “The majority of my patients would probably get shoes that would fit a bit more appropriately.”
Dr. Emily Splichal, a podiatrist and human movement specialist in New York City, agrees. In fact, she says that wearing bigger shoes to prevent blisters may actually cause more damage.
“Blisters happen from friction. So if your shoe is larger than it should be, you’re going to move around in the shoe more, and that creates friction,” she told TODAY Style. “So I would probably argue that you could potentially get more blisters from wearing shoes that are too big.”
As for Meghan’s possible concerns about inflammation? Feet can definitely swell when people stand for long periods of time, but typically not enough to require wearing noticeably bigger shoes, Splichal said.
“When the foot swells from standing, especially really long hours, it’s not going to swell a whole shoe size,” she told TODAY Style.
If you are worried about swelling, she recommends going up half a size, at most.
In general, Splichal says it’s just not practical for ordinary women to wear shoes much larger than their actual size.
“The average woman wears heels walking around, and not as an accessory,” she said. “I just don’t want it misconstrued, and then the public starts making decisions just based off of what celebrities are doing, and it does not actually translate into their reality.”
“It’s definitely not something that an everyday person would do,” she said.
So when it comes to oversized pumps, it may not be wise to follow in Meghan’s footsteps.
Still, Levine thinks we should give the duchess a break.
"(Meghan) doesn’t have the options that you and I have,” she said. “We have an out, don’t we? We can go to the ladies’ room and put on a different pair of shoes. If she does that, the press will be all over her!”
“She may have to stand there for extended periods of time,” Levine added. “She’s not taking any chances.”
This story originally appeared on June 25, 2018.