Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco would have celebrated her 90th birthday this past November 12th. Princess Grace’s successive titles read like an American fairy tale: fashion model, Academy Award-winning actress, Monegasque monarch. She is a timeless example of ladylike style that we all ought to emulate in our day-to-day lives.
We might not have the legendary costume designers Edith Head and Helen Rose in our back pockets, but that is not necessary to channel Princess Grace’s serenity. Let this checklist serve as a 1-2-3 in princess style and history lessons.
Start with the basics: health is wealth
Grace famously had an envious figure, no doubt a mixture of her Olympian family upbringing and her strict lifestyle choices. She clearly loved acting, but ballet is mainly to thank for her perfect posture and elegant carriage. Interestingly enough, the Princess also regularly practiced yoga and hiking decades before online influencers ever made it popular fare. She rigorously followed her dietary plan, which consisted of starting early every morning with a hearty bowl of oatmeal. Her snacks included fruits and vegetables, and the only sugar in her diet consisted of the honey in her green tea as dessert. Princess Grace also refused to smoke in an era where smoking was everywhere and enjoyed plenty of water for her complexion.
We may not have fathers who are former National Physical Fitness Directors, but we should take care of ourselves just the same. Integrate healthy food choices and snacks like celery or carrot sticks (Grace brought these to set) into your diet. Also consider an exercise regimen that suits your lifestyle and ability. The Princess often took brisk walks when her royal schedule allowed for fresh air. Finally, it is so important to stay hydrated. In fact, I do so with this 30oz tumbler from our store.
“No-Makeup Makeup” and the art of tasteful grooming
In all of the glamour shots and close-ups of Grace in her heartily photographed life, it is unlikely to see heavy bronzer or overfilled brows on her famous face. Princess Grace certainly wore a fair amount of makeup on-set and to royal events. In fact, she kept both face powder and a hairbrush in her handbag, but she never looked overdone.
Mimic this look by leaving that social media selfie contour and highlight behind for an even matte base and peachy-rose blusher generously applied to the cheekbones. Adjust blush shades to best suit your unique skin tone. If you are a blonde, stick to brown eyeliner and mascara. If you are a brunette or a redhead, black eyeliner and mascara are best. Grace famously avoided eye shadow and heavy eyeliner during her day-to-day life, favoring only one or two coats of mascara with a lightly faded brown liner. Lip color is more important for livening up the face in the Princess Grace fashion. Try a soft rose shade that does not differ too much from your natural color. Reds can be reserved for the silver screen, formal evening events, or photo shoots.
Princess Grace is also known for her perfect softly arched brows. As a blonde, this was most likely done with the help of a light brow powder and brush. To get her look, put down the tweezers and pick up some castor oil to put on the brows at night. Your pocketbook may thank you for ending those brow waxing appointments, too.
Hands demand attention, particularly as a monarch meeting new people every day. Grace religiously applied hand cream and wore gloves for sun protection and style points. The Princess firmly believed that one could see a lady’s age first on the surface of her hands. Leave behind the nail art trends for something more fresh and feminine. Keep the nails well-groomed with a sheer pink polish like the one she wore in To Catch a Thief—you can see her polish when she gives Cary Grant the goodnight kiss to end all goodnight kisses. This shade just happens to share a name with her. If this does not suit your taste, keep in mind that clean nails are significantly better than chipped nail polish.
Finally, a girl needs a signature fragrance to truly become a lady. Prince Rainier III commissioned the luxury parfumier Creed to make a bespoke perfume for his bride-to-be in 1956 called “Fleurissimo.” If you do not yet have a royal fiancé to foot this bill, browsing the fragrance section works just as well. Finding what suits you specifically is a marathon, not a sprint. Fragrances sit on the skin and react to our unique makeups differently, so do this in-person and get a third party opinion if possible. Contrary to the majority of modern shopping, this purchase should not happen online.
Pearls go with everything
“I favor pearls on screen and in my private life.”
Truly believing the old adage that pearls are the queen of gems and the gem of queens, Princess Grace consistently styled her wardrobe with them. It also helps that genuine pearls will fade in their color and luminosity if not worn every so often, if not regularly. Pearl studs and necklaces were a favorite with the Princess. They make the perfect companions for almost every occasion. She also was given a gorgeous pearl set by her new husband Prince Rainier III that has inspired many affordable replicas online. Ideally, find a set of genuine pearls, if affordable. At a minimum, seek out some pearl stud earrings since they have crossover ability for occasions varying from the grocery store to royal engagements.
Have a signature handbag
Princess Grace was seen carrying a simple structured pigskin Hermès bag so often in the mid-1950s that it was ultimately christened “the Kelly.” To this day, it is seen as the epitome of class and ladylike style. However, the Kelly bag now requires a referral system since the love for this iconic handbag has reached such a fever pitch. As most of us are not royals, it is a far better use of time and money to seek a signature handbag elsewhere.
Grace’s style was famously conservative, tasteful, and fresh. Seek a bag that has timeless structure and is made from genuine materials. Ideally find a bag that can fit comfortably on the forearm and is not too heavy. Slinging a large tote bag over one’s shoulder, for example, negatively affects posture and gait. This particular handbag is definitely an investment, but has a similar air of quiet sophistication like its older Hermès cousin. Kate Spade also has an excellent sense of the structured ladylike handbag.
A big pair of sunglasses work in a pinch
The timeless appeal of a glamorous pair of tortoise sunglasses was not lost on Princess Grace. Coincidentally enough, as a lifelong sufferer of nearsightedness, Grace detested wearing her prescribed vision-assisting glasses yet adored her sunglasses. When hounded by paparazzi or accidentally running into someone from grade school, sunglasses work in a pinch. Other than saving the day, they serve more practical purposes as well. Sunglasses with adequate UV coating protect our eyesight and prevent premature aging. What’s more, they are the cherry on top of ladylike daytime dressing.
Ensure that your pair(s) of sunglasses are the right size and shape for your face. Tortoise is almost universally flattering, black can often be too harsh. Find a frame style that suit your face shape. Try to focus on timeless models, if possible. For example, aviators aren’t as ladylike as a more classic slightly oversized style. Most importantly, as previously mentioned, always protect your eyes with UV-resistant lenses. Style needn’t be at the expense of one’s health.
Dress for your figure
“Your dress should be tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to show you’re a lady…”
These famous words by Edith Head ring true in all her stylings of Princess Grace on-screen, but were carried on into her royal life. Whilst believing her waist was “too thin” and her figure was “too leggy,” her wardrobe definitely didn’t show it. This is thanks in part to dressing for her figure—a shorter torso and longer leg. The Dior “new look” of the 1950s suits this body type well, which features a nipped in waist with a full tea-length circle skirt. She famously wears this look in many of her films, most notoriously in Rear Window.
Finding your own unique body type and shape is the first step in having a flattering array of clothes from which you can choose. A good tailor can do wonders for your figure. The higher the quality, the better its longevity. A French-styled wardrobe includes fewer items than ours do, they focus on clothes which are high quality and well-tailored. When in doubt, go a size up. A lady doesn’t give the public any idea what her undergarments are like, a problem more likely to occur with too-tight clothing. It is much easier for a tailor to take something in than to let something out. Finally, learning your color season is imperative to looking your very best. For example. Princess Grace is a summer type.
Tea length circle skirts flatter almost everyone and maintain a ladylike air of modesty as well. If you have a similar shape to Grace’s, I’d recommend a classic fit-and-flare silhouette like ones by the Pretty Dress Company.
Giving back never goes out of style