Grace Kelly: style icon

Those who knew actress Grace Kelly well knew her as a devoted mother and wife with a delightful sense of humor. To the world, Grace Kelly was and still is an immutable style icon.

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Grace Kelly was a debutante from Philadelphia’s Main Line who first conquered Broadway and then Hollywood, and along the way she captured the heart of a prince. Once when Grace was interviewed about her life in Monaco in 1960, she revealed her style secret. “I just buy clothes when they take my eye, and I wear them for years.” Grace went on to say that when she shopped for clothing, she was frugal, yet her husband Prince Rainier always tried to get her to buy more, and she liked that trait in a man. A year after that interview, she was welcomed onto the International Best Dressed List. That same year, she had lunch with another stylish couple, Jackie and John Kennedy, at the White House.

As an actress, Grace was a bit on the tall side in 1950s Hollywood; she stood at 5’ 6 ½” tall, had long legs, and was slightly short-waisted. Grace became a fashion plate by sticking to a few basic fashion rules: turn a disadvantage into an advantage, only wear items that fit you and fit you well, and price isn’t everything.

During the Cannes Film Festival, May 1955.
Grace with her Weimaraner in 1956.
Grace Kelly studying the script for her role of Georgie in ‘The Country Girl’ in 1954.
The Paris dress designed by famous movie costumer Edith Head and worn by the actress in ‘Rear Window’ in 1954.

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Some fashion historians have called her style classically understated or “American Glamour.” During the decade when she became white hot in Hollywood, Grace opted not to follow the crowd. Instead of skin-tight sweaters or dresses, she wore simply styled clothing that looked good on her and made her feel comfortable. Everything in proportion. If she had on a tailored top, the skirt or pant was a full cut, and vice versa.

From the time she was an actress to when she became the Princess of Monaco, her style remained unchanged. She didn’t shy away from colors, prints (including animal and graphic) and was as fond of florals and bold colors as the pastel shades that looked good on her.

Grace and fiancé Prince Ranier of Monaco in April 1956.
Grace at a garden party held by songwriter Jimmy McHugh in Beverly Hills, August 1954.
Grace Kelly reveals her engagement ring in January 1956 at the Philadelphia country club where the Kellys announced the engagement of their daughter and the prince.

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PJ Gach
PJ Gach
PJ Gach started “borrowing” her mother’s WWD when she was 11. A regular at Fashion Week, her style coverage has been featured in BettyConfidential.com, BlogHer, XOJane, the Daily Mail, Spa Week. Her feature articles have appeared in the New York Observer, the New York Post, RollingStone.com.