Carola Long: 'If she was a young actress today, Grace Kelly wouldn’t dress as conservatively as she did in the Fifties'

With the V&A's exhibition Grace Kelly: Style Icon imminent, the Independent fashion desk has inevitably been inundated with "Get the Look" e-mails from brands suggesting how to recreate her wardrobe. Hardly surprising, as the actress-turned-princess hailed for her "conspicuous good taste" by the Dallas Morning News in 1955 has long been up there with Audrey Hepburn as an Enduring Style Icon.

What's more unexpected, however, is how literal the suggestions are. Pink shell tops, flowery prom skirts, boxy handbags... all at once. Does anyone really want to dress like they've just stepped out of a vintage McCall's pattern book?

More advisable than attempting a Grace Kelly/Mad Men/Fifties-retro mash-up is channelling Kelly's spirit, or selected details of her aesthetic. After all, if she was a young actress today, I'd like to think she wouldn't dress as conservatively as she did in the Fifties; that way lies the Kate Middleton young fogey look.

Just six months or so ago, with fashion still in the grip of "Balmainia" and the fierce, skinny silhouette, the Grace Kelly look might have seemed quite irrelevant. Now, however, elements of her wardrobe are back on the agenda – with a twist. Marc Jacobs' overtly feminine circle skirts and tailored jackets with defined waists recalled the suits Kelly wore for her engagement and honeymoon, only with a lot more cleavage and surprising proportions. At Prada, too, the demure silhouette of princess coats and full-skirted dresses suggested Kelly's restrained womanliness, although she would never have chosen such jolie laide fabrics or frilled knee socks.

The essence of Grace Kelly's look was "stylish simplicity" – which is exactly the way many labels are going. Pared down, wearable clothes that reflect an observation the dress designer (and Kelly's one-time romantic interest) Oleg Cassini made about her. "By wearing clothes that don't get too much notice, she gets noticed more herself." Forget boxy bags and white gloves, that's the real essence of Grace Kelly style.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Key stage 1 and 2 teachers required for the Vale of Glamorgan

    £90 - £110 per day + Travel Scheme & Free Training: Randstad Education Cardiff...

    Foundation Phase Teacher required

    £90 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Exciting opputunities availabl...

    Learning Support Assistant

    £65 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Due to the continual growth and...

    Learning Support Assistant - Newport

    £65 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Due to the continual growth and...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
    Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
    Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

    Feather dust-up

    A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
    5 best waterproof cameras

    Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

    Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
    Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

    Louis van Gaal interview

    Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
    Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

    Will Gore: Outside Edge

    The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz