When one thinks about Grace Kelly style, thrift isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, but she was fond of her old clothing. Loyal to it the way she was loyal to old friends she once said.
An exhibition curated by the V&A in 2010 displayed her eponymous Hermès Kelly bag with significant wear and tear. She wore the same Edith Head satin gown to a movie premier, to receive her Oscar for Country Girl and on the cover of Life magazine.
All of this is practically unheard of today where magazines and celebrities' brag about million dollar collections of Birkin bags and closets the size of some New York City apartments.
Call it thrift. Call it sustainable fashion. Grace Kelly called it common sense. But it’s simply an authentic approach to fashion. It’s likely that authenticity — her style, her values that drove what she chose to wear that still resonates with us today.
“I just buy clothes that take my eye and wear them for years,” she said.
She was known for choosing clothing that suited her personal style, not what was necessarily fashionable as the Edith Head satin dress reveals. The style was out of step with what other stars were wearing to that year’s Oscar ceremony. Though there wasn’t social media, the events where she wore the dress were very high profile (i.e., heavily photographed). The final being the cover of Life magazine.
Even during an era when re-wearing a dress was common, it still was seen as reflecting her ‘different’ nature. Grace did what she wanted and always wore what worked for her, not what was deemed in style. She shopped in accordance with her own upbringing and tastes before she was a star and continued to do so as the Princess of Monaco.
In the book Grace Kelly Style, the author notes that as princess she was encouraged to give away her clothing more frequently, but she resisted preferring to get more use out of each garment. It was noted on more than one occasion how she became sentimentally attached to certain items.
When we think of Grace Kelly's style most think of timeless elegance and beautiful simplicity. Not necessarily about the independent spirit that drove her style. There’s a certain amount of confidence required to simply ignore any and all trends and simply wear what pleases you. A lesson for us all?
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.