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November 18, 2022

Catie Summers

What do a Chanel suit and Princess Diana have in common? They never go out of style. Gen Z’s obsession with 80s and 90s fashion and iconography is headlined by the resurgence of Princess Diana and her infamously timeless, expressive wardrobe. The enduring vogue of Diana’s style is due to her use of elevated basics, her instrumentation of fashion as a form of expression, and a certain je ne sais quoi.

Disregarding style for a brief moment, Princess Diana is currently the most topical she has been since the 90s due to the rise of media attention on the royal family. The British media’s treatment of Megan Markle has brought around the discussion of the relationship between the Crown and Diana, the once most photographed person in the world. The content of the show The Crown and Kirsten Stewart’s poignant, oscar-nominated performance in Spencer has sparked a new interest in the Royal Family’s dubious, malicious treatment of Lady Di. While her private life may have been fraught with double dealings and sordid affairs, her wardrobe remains one of the most recognizable in modern history.

While Diana wore some of the most illustrious and expensive designer gowns and suits while attending to her royal duties, the elements of her style that have persisted have been her casual yet elegant pieces. She was a champion of high-low dressing, more commonly known as elevating basics– a trend that has resurged in recent months. Many college students are sporting the relaxed jeans and oversized graphic sweatshirt ensemble (InStyle). Diana’s elevation of this typical outfit, however, included pairing a tailored blazer and knee-high leather boots. Blazers and boots, which have also come back into everyday wear, can distinguish an off-duty princess from college-chic. The Princess of Wales also debuted the now idolized gym-Instagram style of biker shorts, graphic sweatshirts, and chunky sneakers. Even as a royal, Diana’s outfits were relatable and cemented the popularity of the outfit roughly thirty years ago. Credit may be partially due, however, to supermodel Hailey Beiber, who, on the twenty-second anniversary of Diana's death in 2019, was photographed in Vogue Paris recreating the late princess’ gym chic.

Another classic Diana staple includes patterned sweaters. Perhaps her most well known is that of Rowing Blazers’ 1981 Warm and Wonderful “Black Sheep” sweater (InStyle). This sweater allowed Lady Di to recognize and draw attention to her deteriorating position within the royal family, solidifying public’s opinion. It is impossible to see this pattern and not think of the late Princess. Indeed, Rowing Blazers, vis-à-vis the spike in media surrounding the royal family, has recently brought the exact sweater back in 2022 (InStyle). With this particular yet simple piece, the fashion maven used her clothing choices to say what her royal status forbade her from revealing.



Yet, one cannot write about Princess Diana’s ability to send a message and command the attention of the world with her fashion choices without discussing the legendary “revenge dress” designed by Christina Stambolian (InStyle). There are very few pieces that have earned their own title and are recognizable without mention of the designer, the wearer, or the context. Princess Diana herself needed no distinguished introduction or identifiable context, so why should her most iconic look? Lady Di weaponized the iconic little black dress (LBD) to show the world that she was superior to Charles, Camila, and their devious, longtime affair while exhibiting grace, beauty, and goodness. Diana certified the LBD as a fashion staple. Like the princess herself, the LBD never goes out of style, and it can always be dressed up or down with the right accessories;it is relatable and accessible. Indeed, almost four decades later, this Halloween, many have paid homage to Diana’s “revenge dress” moment by wearing their own LBD for the occasion.



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