In the history of modern fashion, virtually no other woman can claim to have had more impact on fashion trends than Diana, the Princess of Wales. The “People’s Princess” combined equal amounts of charm, physical beauty and designer clothing to create a persona that was photographed and broadcast millions of times the world over. Her massive wardrobe and the elegance with which she wore every piece led her to become a true fashion icon.
Ironically, Diana started her rise to fashion legend with numerous fashion mishaps. One of her first jobs was as a kindergarten teacher, and as a young woman she reflected a similar naïve and unsophisticated attitude toward clothing. She preferred frilly, high-necked blouses, long skirts, flat shoes, simple dresses and unglamorous tweed. Early in her public life, following her marriage to Prince Charles, she was criticized for being too coordinated, such as wearing a red dress, red hat and red tights all at once. Like other royals, she dressed very conservatively and her clothes tended to look too old for her age. This became such a noticeable problem that tutors from British Vogue were called in to teach the princess some “fashion sense.”
Within a short period of time, Diana had begun to experiment with couture from the top British designers of the 1980’s. Her favorite designers were Arabella Pollen, Bruce Oldfield, Amanda Wakeley and Catherine Walker. Her early royal years saw her dressed in pretty fluffy dresses, puffed sleeves and later the boxy shoulder-pad look that was popular in the 1980’s. Red and pink were her favorite color picks.
Princess Diana and Prince Charles endured marital problems throughout the early 1990’s, and the marriage eventually ended in official divorce in 1996. As she became more and more independent, Diana’s fashion became more daring, with shorter hemlines, lower necklines and more experimentation with color. She became a fan of many foreign designers, including Versace, Valentino, John Galliano, Lacroix and Ungaro.
Diana’s ultimate accessories were a sense of self-confidence and a smile that put those around her at ease, things that any woman can possess. And while very few women have a royal budget, there are a few things you can do to emulate Diana’s tremendous sense of style. Here a few tips to keep in mind.
Suits. A stylish suit is a must for any Diana fashion fan. Diana had an arsenal of well-cut suits, which she wore in a business-like manner for her public appearances.
Hats. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, millinery had begun to wane in popularity as fewer women wore hats, even for special occasions. Princess Diana had a passion for hats, and her preference quickly brought the accessory back into vogue.
Glamorous ball gowns. Princess Diana was most photographed in her beautiful evening wear. Early choices were puffy and romantic. In her later years, Diana’s choices became more streamlined, showing off her athletic physique.
A toned figure. Diana became very conscious of physical fitness in her later years, carefully following an exercise regimen. Her toned figure was the foundation of her streamlined fashion styles.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Princess Diana wasn’t afraid to experiment with fashion, sticking with designers she liked and finding the styles that suited her best.