See Princess Diana’s Fashion Evolution in 40 Pictures

1 minute read

Princess Diana’s status as a style icon has become just as much a part of her legacy as the “People’s Princess” as her humanitarian work and her love for children. However, the princess’ celebrated sense of style holds up as more than just a fashion statement — it’s a visible testament to her evolution as a person. While Diana’s taste in fashion was always elegant, her selections as newly-wed 20-year-old differed drastically from the glamorous ensembles she would later sport after she had grown in both years, confidence, and wisdom.

From the demure deep blue suit she wore for her official engagement photos to the gorgeous black velvet gown and tiara she wore to dance with John Travolta at the White House, here’s a look back at Diana’s fashion evolution.

Charles Diana Engagement
Diana selected a deep blue skirt suit and white pussy bow blouse for her official engagement photos in 1981; the suit's color complemented the sapphire engagement ring she received from Prince Charles.Tim Graham—Tim Graham/Getty Images
Charles Diana Balmoral
Ahead of her wedding, Diana went casual with a cozy sweater and a pair of classic Wellie boots while at the British royal family's holiday home, Balmoral Castle, in Scotland.Tim Graham—Tim Graham/Getty Images
Here Comes The Bride
Diana's maximalist wedding gown for her July 29, 1981 wedding to Prince Charles was a joint collaboration between the princess and husband and wife design duo David and Elizabeth Emanuel. The dress had a 25 foot train and was made in just 3 months.Hulton Archive—Getty Images
Prince Charles and Princess Diana at Balmoral Castle
The princess wore a casual but chic Bill Pashley suit at Balmoral during her honeymoon.Bettmann—Bettmann Archive
Princess Diana Retrospective
For the Braemar Games in September 1981, Diana sported a tartan outfit by Caroline Charles.Anwar Hussein—WireImage
Diana Bellville Sassoon Dress
At an exhibit opening at the Victoria And Albert Museum, Diana wore a Bellville Sassoon gown; she famously fell asleep while sitting up at this event, adding to public speculation that the princess was expecting. It was later revealed that she was pregnant with Prince William at the time.Tim Graham—Tim Graham/Getty Images
(FILE) 50 Years Since Birth Of Diana, Princess Of Wales On July 1
After giving birth to Prince William on June 22, 1982, Diana exited the hospital wearing a playful polka dotted shift dress.Anwar Hussein—Getty Images
Diana At The Guildhall
Diana's bright blue, drop-waist Bruce Oldfield dress worn to a fashion show in November 1982 caused plenty of buzz because it showed off how slender the princess had become, less than a year after giving birth to Prince William. She later revealed that she had suffered from eating disorders during the early days of her marriage to Prince Charles.Princess Diana Archive—Getty Images
Diana, Princess of Wales in Edmonton during an official visi
Call it sartorial diplomacy, but Diana usually sported red and white ensembles during royal trips to Canada; here, she wore a coordinating hat and red and white polka dot suit in June 1983.Tim Graham—Tim Graham/Getty Images
Diana In Florence
Princess Di had a menswear moment during a trip to Italy in April 1985.Georges De Keerle—Getty Images
Anwar Hussein Collection
To visit the Pope at the Vatican, Diana modestly covered her head with a veil.Anwar Hussein—Getty Images
Diana In Venice
As Diana became more comfortable with her role as the princess, she took more style risks, like this angular, shoulder pad-adorned blue Bruce Oldfield dress with a nipped-in waist that she wore in Venice in May 1985. Tim Graham—Tim Graham/Getty Images
Diana Charles In Australia
Princess Di's sleek red Bruce Oldfield gown that she donned for a trip to Australia was a far cry from the floral and frilly dresses she had worn in her early days as a princess.Tim Graham—Tim Graham/Getty Images
Anwar Hussein Collection
Princess Diana didn't shy away from bold fashion choices, often selecting dresses in vibrant colors. Here, her teal gown was nicely complemented by her repurposing a choker from the royal family as a tiara of sorts.Anwar Hussein—Getty Images
Diana Premiere Australia
Diana's backless and metallic Bruce Oldfield dress in November 1985 earned her the nickname "Dynasty Di" because of the parallels between the look and the flashy TV show.Tim Graham—Tim Graham/Getty Images
Diana And Charles In Germany
This black velvet, off-the-shoulder Victor Edelstein dress that Diana first sported at the White House in 1985 became known as the "John Travolta" dress because Diana shared a dance with him in it.Tim Graham—Tim Graham/Getty Images
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales
For the wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, Princess Di wore a turquoise polka dotted suit and matching hat.Tim Graham—Tim Graham/Getty Images
Princess Diana the Princess of Wales visits Saudi Arabia
For a state dinner in Saudi Arabia in 1986, Diana wore a dramatic gown designed by the duo behind her famous wedding dress, the Emanuels.Anwar Hussein—Getty Images
Princess Diana Jeans Cowboy Boots
While at the Guards Polo Club in 1988, the princess proved that she could do off-duty style as well as formal wear when she paired jeans and a sweatshirt with an oversized blazer. A baseball cap was the perfect insouciant accessory.Tim Graham—Tim Graham/Getty Images
Princess Diana In Dubai
While in Dubai in 1989, Diana wore a Catherine Walker suit and matching Philip Somerville turban hat; the hat was as stylish as it was modest, showing her respect for the customs of the land.Georges De Keerle—Getty Images
Princess Diana In Kuwait
Diana's Catherine Walker suit and matching Philip Somerville hat took color blocking to the next level during a visit to Kuwait.Georges De Keerle—Getty Images
Diana At The Coliseum
Di's chose a sleek silhouette with this two-toned gown while attending the ballet in 1989.Tim Graham—Tim Graham/Getty Images
Princess Diana In Hong Kong
This embellished white gown that Diana wore in Hong Kong in 1989 was dubbed the "Elvis dress" by the press. The princess paired the Catherine Walker look with her favorite Cambridge lover's knot tiara.Georges De Keerle—Getty Images
Princess Diana In Hungary
All eyes were on Diana when she showed up to a state dinner in Budapest in 1990 wearing a stunning and slim white column dress by Catherine Walker with a pearl choker. Georges De Keerle—Getty Images
Anwar Hussein Collection
The princess put on the glitz when she sported a blue glitter Catherine Walker dress to attend the Diamond Ball in 1990.Anwar Hussein—Getty Images
Princess Diana Visits Badshai Mosque
Diana modestly covered her head during a visit to the Badshahi Mosque in Pakistan in 1991.Anwar Hussein—WireImage
The Princess wore colorful suit separates for a highly-photographed 1992 trip to the Taj Mahal that many point to as the height of the tension in her marriage to Prince Charles.Princess Diana Archive—Getty Images
Anwar Hussein Archive Collection
For the wedding of Lady Helen Windsor to Tim Taylor in 1992, Diana wore a bright green suit and a matching hat.Anwar Hussein—Getty Images
Diana At Serpentine
Call it the dress seen 'round the world — amid reports of Prince Charles' infidelity in June 1994, Diana sported a body-conscious little black dress by Christina Stambolian.Princess Diana Archive—Getty Images
In memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, who was killed in an automobile accident in Paris, France on August 31, 1997.
To honor her favorite designer Catherine Walker at a fashion awards ceremony in NYC, Diana wore a sleek navy gown of Walker's design.Anwar Hussein—WireImage
Princess And Troops
Diana channeled Jackie O in 1995 with a pink Versace suit and matching Philip Somerville hat.Princess Diana Archive—Getty Images
Diana At Serpentine
Following her separation from Prince Charles in 1992, Diana's wardrobe appeared to experience its own kind of freedom — here at a Vanity Fair party in 1995, the princess sports a short, glittery halter dress.Tim Graham—Tim Graham/Getty Images
Diana Italy Versace Dress
While the princess was a strong supporter of British fashion, she also loved glamorous international design houses; here, at a 1995 concert in Italy, she wears a white dress from Versace.Tim Graham—Tim Graham/Getty Images
Anwar Hussein Collection
For a dinner in her honor in 1995 in Paris, Diana selected a dress by Christian Lacroix.Anwar Hussein—Getty Images
In memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, who was killed in an automobile accident in Paris, France on August 31, 1997.
Even though Diana was mostly spotted in glamorous get-ups, she could rock casual looks too — here, in November of 1995, a month before her official divorce from Prince Charles, she wears a sporty pair of shorts and a Virgin Atlantic sweatshirt.Anwar Hussein—WireImage
The Princess Of Wales Visits Chicago
The princess paired a purple gown by Versace with a matching Jimmy Choo bag for an event in 1996.Julian Parker—UK Press via Getty Images
Diana Dorchester
Diana wore a shalwar kameez, a gift from friend Jemima Khan, to a 1996 benefit given by Khan's husband, cricketer Imran.Tim Graham—Tim Graham/Getty Images
Diana In Angola
For a trip to Angola doing aid work in 1997, Diana dressed practically in a sleeveless chambray button-down and a pair of khaki pants.Tim Graham—Tim Graham/Getty Images
In memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, who was killed in an automobile accident in Paris, France on August 31, 1997.
The princess wore a simple white suit and low heels to meet with Mother Teresa during a trip to New York in 1997.Anwar Hussein—WireImage
In memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, who was killed in an automobile accident in Paris, France on August 31, 1997.
While vacationing in the South of France in 1997, Princess Diana sported a floral bikini; she later died in a car crash on that same trip.Anwar Hussein—WireImage

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