By Abi-Leigh Doss
The fourth season of The Crown has hurled the late Princess Diana into the fashion spotlight once again.
This season of the hit Netflix series focuses on Diana’s role in the royal family. The show’s portrayal of her life also refreshes memory of her iconic fashion legacy.
“Some of Diana’s best looks were the inspiration for The Crown’s season four costumes,” wrote Irina Grechko for the website Refinery29.
More than two decades after her death, fashion experts in Oxford say Diana’s fashion legacy continues to live on because of its simplicity and ease.
“She was so put together, so effortless and refreshed,” says Kate Newman, who has managed Village Tailor boutique on the Square for nine years.
The 1981 marriage of Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles of Wales originally launched her onto the public stage. Diana was hailed for her glamorous style, certifying her as one of the most influential fashion icons of the 20th century.
And she maintained her image through every stage of their relationship and is praised for looks both pre-and post-divorce.
“Princess Diana’s fashion exemplified a fashion that could last through the decades,” says Joe Sherman, who teaches fashion courses at the University of Mississippi and was executive vice president for merchandising at McRae’s department store.
Diana was known for her bold color choices and striking patterns, while simultaneously preserving the elegant style that is prevalent throughout the royal tradition. The driving force behind the late princess’ style was her admirable confidence.
Diana’s style sustained vigor because of its relatability to everyday people. She checked every box of normal life: formal, athletic, innocent country, business and, most important to her, mother. By perfectly illustrating the many roles women play in life, she connected in both persona and style.
“She was so understated, never obnoxious,” says Kristy Wilson, who for 34 years has been a beauty consultant and buyer for Neilson’s Department Store on the Square. “She was the epitome of style without being outlandish.”
Diana’s commitment to classiness and simple silhouettes has proven to stand the test of time. “She made you feel like you could emulate her with her elegant yet attainable style,” says Newman.
Diana was a loving mother and humanitarian and—amid the confines of British royal tradition—she was refreshingly human.
“She was the people’s princess, she was shy and innocent, she pushed the envelope of British boundaries but people loved her,” says Newman.
Adds Sherman, “A lot of Diana’s fashion wasn’t to bring attention to her but to bring attention to the cause she was promoting.”
In Oxford, as elsewhere, Diana’s legacy lives on through simplistic silhouettes and classic wardrobe pieces.
Both Newman and Wilson agreed that a blouse and jeans, no matter the trends of the season, will always be in style and in demand by their customers. It’s effortless but looks put together, even as trends change and alter the classic style in some way.
At Village Taylor, customers always want “a silk top or button-down—something that looks nice and put together,” says Newman.
Diana’s fashion gained status because of its contrast to the traditional royal style but has continued to last because of its relevance and ease.
“Her fashion is continuing to last because it’s so easy,” says Sherman, who lives in Jackson. “She liked a blazer, turtleneck and jeans, and that is never going out of style.”
Her commitment to branch out of traditional royal formalities in spirit and style has fostered her legacy that we know today.
“She didn’t have to be someone who set the trend because she was the trend,” Wilson said.