From ‘Shy Di’ to royal fashion icon – A look at Princess Diana’s iconic style

William and Harry with winners of award honouring Diana

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Lady Diana Spencer first faced the glare of the royal spotlight in the 1980s, and she was dubbed ‘Shy Di’ for her famously bashful demeanour. But in the years to follow, Princess Diana would only grow in confidence, using her platform to promote causes close to her heart. And as Diana grew emboldened, her wardrobe noticeably became more striking and fashionable too.

Princess Diana’s first foray into royal fashion was marked with her engagement interview in 1981, where the shy Princess-to-be wore a smart blue ensemble.

But Diana would later evolve into a major style icon, with many of her outfits still considered iconic almost 25 years after her death.

Rich Simmons, Style Ambassador for Stitch Fix UK, told “Princess Diana entered the spotlight as a style icon.

“Whether she was sporting lemon-coloured dungarees on the polo field or on the steps of St Paul’s in her Emanuels wedding dress, her outfits were always something to admire.

“Though she admitted in her 20s that she only owned ‘one long dress, one silk shirt, one smart pair of shoes, and that was it’, and that she dashed out to buy ‘six of everything’ in the run-up to the royal wedding, she went on to rule the art of royal dressing.”

Diana wowed the world in a spectacular ivory silk taffeta wedding gown in 1981, designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel.

The dress was kept a secret until the big day, and the dress certainly did not disappoint with a 25-foot train and puffed skirt and sleeves.

But after the wedding, Diana would keep her style relatively “safe” during the early 1980s.

Mr Simmons added: “In the early 80s, Diana’s looks were safe as she took on her new role of attending royal engagements.

“She was often seen in a Belville Sassoon coat and John Boyd hat combo, such as on the day she announced she was expecting her first child.

“Sassoon made many appearances in her wardrobe, allowing Diana to honour protocol, but also brighten the room with a pop of colour.”

As Diana became more confident in her royal role, her wardrobe became bolder.

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Mr Simmons explained: “Colourful coats then became dresses and tailored suits, as she grew in confidence and took ownership of how she represented herself.

“Catherine Walker (of whom the Duchess of Cambridge is also a fan) dressed her for most occasions, from banquets to royal tours.

“Her bold choices and her departure from her usual ‘safe’ style was marked when she danced with John Travolta in a blue Edelstein dress.”

Diana had her own unique style when it came to both casual outfits and dressier ensembles.

And some of her later show-stopping outfits, such as the famous ‘revenge dress’, have gone down in royal fashion history.

Mr Simmons added: “Her casual looks of the 80s were of equal charm – be it her memorable ‘black sheep sweater’, her all-blue ski suits, or her jumpers draped over a crisp white shirt.

“These casual looks defined her true style, and when the world saw her split from Prince Charles, Diana made her own fashion rulebook, communicating her true self to the world.

“Her choice of a black mini dress by Christina Stambolian, which coincided with the airing of a documentary in which Charles admitted to being unfaithful, became an infamous ensemble.”

Following her divorce from Prince Charles, Diana firmly solidified her status as a style icon.

Away from the confines of royal fashion rules, Diana wore daring mini dresses and show-stopping gowns.

And the Princess often accompanied her outfits with eye-catching jewellery with staggering price tags, with pieces ranging from pearls to emeralds and diamonds.

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