Dress Like An Icon: Grace Kelly

10 of the actress' chic ensembles from the 1950s

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“I think it is important to see the person first and the clothes afterwards.”
—Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly lived a fairytale life. The blue-eyed beauty was a model, Academy Award-winning actress, Princess of Monaco, wife, mother and fashion icon. Throughout her 52 years (1929-1982), she wowed the public with her elegant sense of style that defined the glamorous 1950s.

Yet Grace’s style was All-American and attainable. She mastered the art of looking chic in just a simple twinset, Capri pants and a string of pearls. Her attention to detail in her immaculate hair, makeup and styling, as well as her poised dancer’s posture, solidified her style icon status. Grace’s minimal, yet elegant style allowed her beauty and impeccable taste to shine through.

Want to dress like Grace Kelly in the 1950s? Get inspired by some of the princess’ signature mid-century ensembles that you can emulate with current or vintage garments.

The Circle Skirt

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In the 1950s, Grace often wore dresses that featured a fitted bodice, a nipped-in waist and a full skirt, a silhouette known as the “New Look” made famous by Christian Dior, one of Grace’s favorite designers. The actress wore this grass green dress (designer unknown) on St. Patrick’s Day in 1954 while reading a copy of MGM’s Studio News.

Simple Separates

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The “Rear Window” actress looks cool and casual as she sits on a makeup counter wearing a sleeveless black mock turtleneck and plain beige pants in 1954. The black top pops against Grace’s porcelain skin and light features.

Minimal Accessories

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When Grace Kelly won the Academy Award for Best Actress for “The Country Girl” in 1954, she turned heads in a gorgeous seafoam gown designed by famed Hollywood costume designer Edith Head. The simple, almost pedestrian, 1950s bag and minimal jewelry ground the ensemble.

Demure Lingerie

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Even though Grace allegedly had several rendezvous as a young woman with older (sometimes married) men, she still maintained modesty, like in this white negligee circa 1950.

Solid-Colored Dress

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Grace often wore solid colors, specifically blue, pink, white and her favorite color yellow, like this Asian-inspired dress she wore to the Golden Globe Awards in 1956 where she won the award for World Film Favorite (Female). When shopping for a gown, select a solid color that complements your skin.

Simple White Shirt

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Even in this casual white shirt and red-and-blue silk scarf, the “High Noon” actress looks stunning and All-American in this outfit circa 1955. One of Grace’s best accessories: red lipstick.

Tailored Pants

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Just a few days before she left Hollywood to marry Prince Rainier III in Monaco in 1956, Grace wore this collared shirt with belted tailored pants that accentuated her tiny waist. With a printed scarf in her pocket and simple flats, the “High Society” actress looks effortless and fuss-free.

The Kelly Bag

Courtesy of Museum at FIT

Originally named “sac à dépêches” when it was first produced in 1935, this Hermès bag was renamed the Kelly bag in 1956 after Grace Kelly carried it in front of her to hide her pregnant belly. The Hermès Kelly bag is still one of the most coveted bags today. Can’t afford a Kelly bag? Opt for a structured vintage 1950s handbag with a top handle.

Black and White

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As Grace Kelly casually reads magazines with her friend in 1954, she wears a simple sleeveless white shirt, black pants, black socks and black shoes. Although it’s a minimal outfit, Grace easily steals the spotlight from her friend.

Starlet Sunglasses

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On the set of “Mogambo” circa 1953, the ingénue exudes Hollywood glamour in her dark sunglasses, pants and simple strapless top.

“Vintage Fashion and Couture: From Poiret to McQueen,” by Kerry Taylor. Firefly Books, 2013.