8 Style Lessons We Learned From Grace Kelly


Like a handful before and after her, Grace Kelly is one of the few legendary fashion icons that embody class and timelessness. She ranks among other style heavyweights, such as Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and Princess Diana. Unlike many others, however, Grace’s signature look seemed to have been cemented since day one, when she first appeared on the big screen for a 30-second clip, already in the fur coat and glove combination that would eventually be affiliated to her. Also making an appearance were a pair of pearl earrings and the ubiquitous strand of pearls that hung around her neck. Though she would remain in the public eye as an actress for only 11 films, she would later bring her American influences to the circles of European nobility as a Monegasque princess.  

1. Accentuate your figure by cinching your waist.

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Kelly was notorious for having a tiny waist, which was usually cinched by a belt, high-waist trousers, or A-line skirts. It might have been something to flaunt, especially for her time, but stylists such as Edith Head have been known to complain about her unbelievably small waist, which Louisa Levene narrows down to 20 inches in a report for the Telegraph.

2. Go big on accessories.


The Princess of Monaco was rarely seen without accompaniment on her neck, head, or wrists, as she was fond of accessorizing. However much she would pile on, each accessory would always be subdued enough to complement her ensemble.  Some of her tried-and-tested add-ons include simple chain bracelets, scarves tied around the neck, a jaw-dropping pair of diamond earrings, and a Birkin. She’s also best known for sporting white or black gloves, which might not be as applicable at this time.

3. When in doubt, opt for pearl, which are an easy way to dress up your look.

When Grace Kelly did pearls, the precious stones never looked like they were her mother’s heirlooms, which is one of the biggest concerns when one thinks of donning pearls. In the wrong hands, they may look old, but pair it with a straightforward neckline, a feminine top or dress, and a red lip and you have something going for you.

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4. Have at least one swan neck collared blouse in your wardrobe.

Grace is known to experiment with her necklines—going from halter to cowl neck to strapless. But one memorable neckline she’s made her own is the swan neck collar, which she wore during two momentous occasions: Once in a scene in 1956’s High Society, and the other during her wedding day to Prince Rainier on the same year. Both dresses were designed by Helen Rose, who was commissioned by MGM Studios.

5. Ditch the feminine aesthetic every once in a while.


On days off, Grace was known to dress down with a classic button-down shirt and a pair of trousers. She would go the extra mile for comfort and sometimes complete her look with a pair of loafers. But despite this more masculine take on dressing, Grace would often apply a couple of her signature styling tricks, such as folding up her sleeves and carrying a printed scarf around with her. Grace was said to be so fond of Hermès scarves that she went crazy during a work trip to Paris for To Catch a Thief and spent thousands of francs hoarding the accessory.

6. Second opinions come from unexpected sources.

Before Prince Rainier, Russian fashion designer Oleg Cassini was the leading man in Grace’s life. The two were at one point engaged to be married and Grace was even quoted saying, “Do you realize if my mother hadn’t been so difficult about Oleg Cassini, I probably would have married him?” Their love story was not meant to be, sadly, but the designer did impart something invaluable to Grace. He was said to have created the “Grace Kelly Look,” according to People magazine. Before him, she was set on her cardigans and plain pieces of clothing until he advised her to “put a little sex in her clothes.” Cassini was also responsible for some of Jackie Kennedy’s looks.


7. Decide on a signature look.

Is one daily look too boring for you? You might want to rethink that concept of a signature outfit. According to Grace Kelly Style author Kristina Haughland, “She determined what suited her and stuck with that style.” It was the icon’s way of setting herself apart from the rest of her peers. To her, a streamlined ensemble with not too many frills was the way to go. We could also imagine that it saved her time in decision-making.

8. Wear your own.


Though Grace was an American living in Europe, she never forgot her roots and took her role as princess as an opportunity to put the spotlight on American fashion houses. “That she wore American designers on an international stage was seen as giving American fashion a boost,” Haugland says.

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