A closer look into Princess Diana’s notable defiance to royal fashion


Reader's Digest

This is the famous “Revenge Dress” That Princess Diana wore to the Serpentine Gallery dinner in 1994.

Recently, along with the disheartening news following H.M. Queen Elizabeth’s death, articles and posts popped up on my social media remembering the impact of Princess Diana of Wales on the world. Her kindness and beauty were treasured by all, along with her keen sense of style. 

Typically, royalty fashion is tightly tied to elegant and modest dresses with dainty colors and jewelry. Princess Diana, however, broke the barrier and made iconic statements, from streetwear to ballgowns, that will always be remembered.

It only seems appropriate to begin with one of her most famous outfits. What is now known as the “Revenge Dress,” the princess wore to the Serpentine Gallery dinner in Kensington Gardens in 1994. She sported a short, skin-tight, black dress that was low-cut and had off-the-shoulder sleeves, designed by Christina Stambolian. She paired the dress with black tights and black heels, along with lavish pearl jewelry.

The lilac gown that Princess Diana wore in 1981. (Insider)

While wearing this dress, she received plenty of backlash regarding the fact that the outfit—though as gorgeous as it is—was not princess-like. The thought of a possible scandal did not stop the princess, because the message that she was sending through the dress was more important.

Not long before the dinner, her ex-husband, King Charles III, publicly admitted on television to committing adultery with his now wife, Camilla, Queen Consort of the U.K. Princess Diana showed King Charles that she is a new, happy, independent woman, now that they are separated. Since then, many celebrities have worn their own renditions of the “Revenge Dress,” one that helped shape the new royalty look.

Princess Diana did not dress for the public eye. She dressed for herself, and that is why she is looked up to by so many.”

Princess Diana in her crewneck and biker shorts outfit. (hashtaglegend.com)

Along with her beautiful statement at the Serpentine Gallery dinner, Princess Diana was always adorned in the most beautiful gowns for every event. The princess would exert her elegance which allowed for it to radiate the room. She would choose bright colors and patterns that never failed her. My personal favorite gown of hers is one she wore in 1981, not long after marrying King Charles and being crowned princess. The gown was covered in hues of lilac and dusty rose, creating patterns of leafy vines with gems along the lines. The top had poofy, off-the-shoulder sleeves with satin ribbon around her waist and on the top hem of the gown. Her sumptuous gown was light and airy, fitting her aura immaculately.

Not every moment of Princess Diana’s life was circled around luxurious dinners and galas. More often than not, she was simply out in common streetwear: another area in the fashion industry where she thrived. A look that she wore quite often was a crewneck sweatshirt, colorful biker shorts, and white tennis shoes with crew socks. This is a popular outfit of hers that has recently resurfaced and is trending once again, and I am nowhere near surprised. The look is the perfect mix of put-together and casual, completely defying the royalty norm in a subtle yet grandiose fashion.

Princess Diana with her sleek streetwear. (Pinterest)

Aside from the crewneck-biker short outfits, Princess Diana also wore some more formal outfits when out on the streets. One example of this is when she would wear trousers or jeans with a shirt tucked into the bottoms, a thick belt, and a simple blazer. There was never much to these outfits, but that is what makes them so memorable. Not every notable outfit has to be some elaborate concoction. These outfits worn by Princess Diana were both simple, but beautiful. They portrayed royalty in a way that shows independence and self-expression, instead of the stereotypical gowns and tiaras. 

Princess Diana did not dress for the public eye. She dressed for herself, and that is why she is looked up to by so many. She spread the message of expressing individuality and withstanding conformity through fashion. Though it has been 25 years since her passing, her elegance and defiance of royal fashion will never be forgotten, but rather taught to future generations.