Grace Kelly — Thrifty Style Icon?

Grace Kelly — Thrifty Style Icon?

3 minute read

When one thinks about Grace Kelly's style, thrift isn't the first thing that comes to mind. Even as Princess of Monaco, she was fond of her old clothing, loyal to it the way she was loyal to old friends she once said.

There's a certain amount of confidence required to simply ignore any and all trends and simply wear what pleases you. To ignore any and outside influences.

"I just buy clothes that take my eye and wear them for years." — Grace Kelly

As Princess of Monaco, she was encouraged to give away her clothing more frequently, but she resisted preferring to get more use out of each garment. The book Grace Kelly Style notes how she became sentimentally attached to certain items even as Princess of Monaco.

An exhibition curated by the V&A in 2010 displayed her eponymous Hermès Kelly bag with significant wear and tear. During her time in Hollywood, she wore the same Edith Head satin gown on three occasions: to a movie premiere, to receive her Oscar for Country Girl, and on the cover of Life magazine. All of this is practically unheard of today. Today, celebrities and the magazines that feature them brag about their million-dollar collections of Birkin bags and closets the size of New York City apartments.

Call it thrift. Call it sustainable fashion. Grace Kelly called it common sense. But it's an authentic approach to fashion. It's that authenticity that resonates with us today. Her values shaped her style and her style was her own.

She picked clothing suited her personal style, not what was necessarily fashionable as the Edith Head satin dress reveals. This style of dress was out of step with what other stars were wearing to that year's Oscar ceremony and it was the second time she wore the dress for a high-profile occasion. Social media didn't exist in Grace Kelly's era, but those events would have been heavily photographed. The final time she publicly wore the dress was on the cover of Life magazine. I can't think of a single celebrity re-wearing a garment on the cover of a magazine today.

Even at the time when re-wearing a dress was common, her choice was seen as reflecting her 'different' nature as it was uncommon to do so for so many high-profile events. But Grace did what she wanted always wore what worked for her. She shopped in line with how she was raised as a girl growing up on the Main Line in Philadelphia. She stayed true to her tastes before she was a star and continued as the Princess of Monaco.

When we think of Grace Kelly's style we tend to think of timeless elegance. We don't necessarily think about the independent spirit that drove that style, which was often out of step with her time.

Notes: The book Grace Kelly Style from the 2010 V&A exhibition by H. Kristina Haugland goes into much more history and detail about Grace Kelly's personal life, career, and style.

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