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
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
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

    Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

    £90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

    £100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

    Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee