The Grace Kelly story has it all: Hollywood career, royalty, a namesake handbag and a perfectly cool shade of icy blonde. But before she became Princess of Monaco, Grace starred in 11 films (three of those with master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock) that made her into the style icon she is today. Thanks to costume designers Helen Rose, Edward Carrere, and Edith Head, Kelly's on-screen looks are a study in mid-century glamour.
In most of her films, Grace played the role of a "rich girl" with over-the-top swimwear (like, for swimming), fabulous jewelry, gorgeous evening gowns and perfectly-tailored suits. When she does go for a casual look—aka pants—her separates are so well paired it never looks lazy or sloppy.
In an effort to capture the movie magic it took talented costume designers and plenty of assistants to create, I combed through four of Grace Kelly's most popular films to figure out how to best capture her famous on-screen style. I can't drop 5K on an Edith-inspired gown, but I can break down what specific silhouettes and pieces shaped her now-iconic style.
The "WOW" Gown
If you want to pull a “Grace Kelly,” you’re gonna need a gown that makes everyone go “WOW” when you enter the room. This could be because of the color (like the shocking ice blue above), shape, or how the fabric moves—extra points if you take all three of those into consideration!!!
Costume designer Edith Head particularly favored Grecian-inspired styles with barely-there straps or no straps at all for Grace, with minimal jewelry unless it was there to make a statement.
A Perfectly Polished Suit
A monochromatic suit isn’t hard to find these days, but as most styles are so rooted in the ‘70s this season it might be a challenge to find a waist-centric style that perfectly mimics Grace.
Go for mid-length pencil skirts, matching belts, and get out of your black-navy-or-grey suit comfort zone and opt for a color that’s fun, but still considered a neutral (like the celadon green pictured above, muted mustard, or an aubergine).
An Oh-So-Fancy Nightgown
It’s tough to find an awesome nightgown that meets the Grace Kelly requirements for a realistic price, mostly because flowy, fairytale-inspired nightgowns are no longer a must-have for most (sad face).
The perfect nightgown drags to your ankles in a decadent silk or lace with a super feminine neckline. To find a style similar to this today, you will probably have to go vintage, which means sacrificing a slice of oomph for synthetic material, since silk and fine lace don’t last long without proper care.
The Floral Flock
Let’s just get this out of your way: you need a floral day dress.
It’s really the only thing to wear when attending social events, cocktail hours or for casual weekend meandering around the estate. It can be whatever fabric or silhouette flatters you most, as long as it moves with the grace of Fred Astaire (or Maddie Ziegler, choose your lane) with every step.
In High Society, we meet Grace’s character in a beige silk button-up tucked into matching pants, nicely divided by a dark brown belt with minimal gold accents. It looks like she’s wearing the 1956 version of Tom’s on her feet, but most impressive is the fact that she carries a red bandana through four or more scenes of the movie just to pull together the ensemble.
The bandana goes in and out of her pocket, so you have to appreciate the level of dedication that went into incorporating this “pop of color.” She similarly wears a navy scarf in a sailing scene later in the film, perfectly tucked into her jean pocket.
High Society serves up the most stylized pool scene of all time, with Kelly in an almost Princess Leia-type cover-up that quickly converts into an adorable halter swimsuit. But this isn’t the only time we see Kelly in swimwear with amazing “extras.” In the opening scene of To Catch A Thief, we meet her character in a silk scarf skirt, matching yellow sun cap, cat-eyed sunnies, with a wicker hat and purse to set off her one-piece halter suit.
Later in the movie, Kelly pulls out the most complicated (and gorgeous) beach look of all time with a black high-neck, low-back suit, black capris, white linen overskirt, black swim cap, white hat and coat, and a bag and wedges. It sounds frivolous, but the final look is amazing. How to shop it: opt for a halter style that shows off the shoulders and don’t be shy to go HAM on the accessories. The more poolside layers, the more Edith Head would approve.