Meghan Markle returns from maternity leave to launch her new clothing line

Francesca Specter
Yahoo Style UK deputy editor

Meghan Markle has resumed her official royal duties, following her maternity leave.

On Thursday the 38-year-old duchess carried out her first engagement since son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was born on May 6: the launch of her Smart Works clothing line at the John Lewis department store in London.

The duchess spoke about her capsule collection, created in collaboration with the Smart Works charity in partnership with leading British fashion labels Jigsaw, John Lewis & Partners and Marks & Spencer. Fashion designer Misha Nonoo is also a key collaborator on the line, which aims to provide low-cost wardrobe staples to help women entering the workforce.

The just-launched line includes a dress under £20 (about $25 U.S.).

For the event, she wore two pieces from her own collection: the Misha Nonoo shirt and the Jigsaw trousers, paired with a belt by Ralph Lauren.

She told crowds that she was looking to “transform the idea of charity to community” and to help lift up other women.

The duchess's capsule line aims to provide budget-friendly wardrobe options for women heading to job interviews and new jobs. (Photo: Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)

“The way that we do that as a woman is we go into our closet and say, ‘I’m going to make a donation,’” she explained. “You don’t just go into your closet and toss into a box what you don’t care about anymore.”

She added: “It’s going into your closet and saying, ‘This is the blazer that I wore when I nailed my first job interview and got my first job and I don’t need that anymore because I’m where I want to be.’

“If you can share that blazer and be part of another woman’s success story, that’s community.”

On Thursday, the duchess shared behind-the-scenes photographs of her dropping in on her Smart Works clients during a photo shoot for the capsule collection.

While this is her first official engagement since Archie’s birth, she has made a number of public appearances since introducing her baby to the world on May 8.

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