I remember sitting enthralled in front of the television in July of 1981. My twins were three months old and, as I cared for them at home, I watched the royal wedding over and over. July 29, 1981, was the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, a wedding that was a truly global affair. I was just one of the 750 million people that watched worldwide, and the wedding began my fascination with Princess Diana.
Diana was just 20 years old when she married 32 year-old Charles in Saint Paul’s Cathedral. She was young when she was thrust into the international spotlight, but she handled her newfound fame with incredible poise. There are many ways in which she made an impact in England and worldwide, but for women across the globe, her most visible impact was in the world of fashion.
I own every book written about her fashion, and I believe that Diana led the return of truly feminine dressing. Her style was accessible to the average woman because she wore many off-the-rack dresses rather than having clothes made specifically for her. The gorgeous blue suit that she wore when she got engaged sold out instantly in department stores. She earned the nickname “The Sloan Ranger” because she shopped on England’s Sloan Street. As time passed and her roles changed she called upon designers in England to make her dressy clothes and hats. She single handedly pioneered the white stockings with dresses. And who can forget her iconic and feminine hairstyle? She was stylish and sophisticated, setting trends for women worldwide. She was the most photographed woman in the world and with good reason.
Diana not only dressed flawlessly, but pulled her outfits together with an incredible selection of heels, hats, and handbags. She wore her family’s pearls, inspiring many women to dust off their pearl necklaces and earrings. Her engagement ring was a sapphire surrounded by diamonds. When she debuted the stunning ring, women around the world began to wear engagement rings with colored gems, a trend that continues to this day.
Although Diana died tragically in 1997, her legacy still lives on today. I especially see glimpses of her in Kate, the wife of her son William. Few royalty in recent years have achieved the status of global fashion icon the way that Diana did. Her trademark style and class continue to inspire many women, myself included, to this day.
Did you watch the Royal Wedding?