Princess Diana's power suit—the story behind the photo

Like many of her outfits, Princess Diana's power suits made history and made the royal, a fashion icon

Princess Diana's power suit
(Image credit: Princess Diana Archive / Stringer / Getty Images)

The late Princess Diana was known for her bold fashion choices, with each item in her extensive wardrobe reflecting her desire to forge her own unique vision of what it means to be a royal.

From casual daywear to the most opulent of evening gowns, the 'The People’s Princess' turned heads with her effortless elegance and ease with her own personal style. Princess Diana famously said that she doesn’t “go by the rule book.” She created a wardrobe that at times broke the royal mould, speaking volumes about her strength of character and desire to be seen as an individual.

Simra Khan-Jackson, Founder of Khan Jackson and Owner of Vulture London revealed to Woman & Home that Diana's power suits were reflective of the late royal's personality. "Diana’s power-suits mirrored her bold, unique, and influential personality. They not only looked ultra-stylish but were also practical, allowing her to carry out her duties as a Princess, which were not always glamorous," she said.

The fashion expert continued, "Diana had a daring sense of fashion, reflecting her nonconformist attitude to the world. She wasn’t afraid of being different or the ever-increasing media controversies. She claimed ownership of her life and wasn’t shy from speaking up about her struggles. Her power-suits were designed to fit her unapologetic and confident personality.” 

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Opening up about the royal's wardrove, Eleri Lynn – curator of the Diana: Her Fashion Story exhibition – says, “She was very aware of the language of clothes and, that she was expressing something that through the way she dressed.”

One choice that marked the mother-of-two out as a leader, rather than follower, of fashion was the striking navy, double-breasted power suit she wore to a concert in aid of the Prince’s Trust on April, 29, 1990.

The outfit made history as the first time a female royal had worn trousers to an evening function. With its silk lapel detailing, square metallic buttons and tapered legs, it was masculine tailoring at its best as the late royal shocked fans as she stepped out in the suit.

Princess Diana

(Image credit: Getty)

Naturally, Diana put her own feminine twist on the ensemble adding a matching blue clutch with subtle gem detailing and a pair of blue velvet court shoes.

While on a visit to Canada with then-husband Prince Charles in May 1986, Diana wore a black wool evening suit with a short single-breasted jacket and jodhpurs. Paired with a ruffled white blouse, the Jasper Conran two-piece was certainly a head-turner.

The Princess of Wales completed her bold look with a diamanté appliqué on her jacket lapel which appeared to be in the shape of a snake! Again adding a feminine twist to a masculine style suit.

In 1988, when the Princess attended a charity greyhound racing event at Wembley Stadium, she stepped out in an eye-catching ensemble that made sure to turn heads.

Donning a Catherine Walker suit, Princess Diana paired it with an unconventional green Hackett waistcoat and surprisingly finished off her look with a bow tie.

And then there's the Princess's lace and satin number that was truly elegant but with a hint of cheeky playfulness.

Bozena Jankowska, Founder and Director at Bozena Jankowska spoke to Woman & Home about the Princess's choice to wear androgynous looks with a feminine twist. The expert claimed that the late Princess used fashion as a tool to communicate her role in the royal family.  

“Her choice of tailoring or power suits further reinforced her message that she had a role to play, she was serious about it and that you could still be feminine whilst being assertive and confident," she said.

Princess Diana

(Image credit: Getty)

Fashion expert, Bozena Jankowska stated, “Princess Diana had an uncanny ability to communicate with her clothes and she knew what clothes would enhance her physical presence to get the messages she wanted to get across especially since we rarely heard her speak publicly.  The fact that she had an eye for choosing clothing that suited her rather than be 'of the moment fashionable' is what made her a fashion icon – she had fun with fashion, and was willing to take risks but she always owned her own style rather than the other way round. "

Back in 1990, Princess Diana turned up to Sadlers Wells Theatre In London, wearing a tight cream lace and satin evening suit. This look featured a skirt and although veered away from her trouser-suit classic style, was still considered a daring look at the time.

The striking suit, which was by fashion designer Bruce Oldfield, was made up of a strapless cream lace bodycon dress with a scallop edge trim and a figure-hugging button-up cream satin blazer.

Princess Diana paired the outfit with a pair of slightly-heeled cream pumps and a silk clutch purse, as well as a pearl necklace and big pearl studs.

Princess Diana

(Image credit: Getty)

Fashion expert Bozena Jankowska states, "She inspired many women to choose the power suit as their way to communicate with the world and it has become the staple of many women’s wardrobes. COVID may have made us reassess our wardrobes, but I believe that the timeless, well-made, good-fitting power suit will always have a place in any woman’s wardrobe.”

Despite her passing, Princess Diana's fashion choices still continue to influence the world as the Princess showed that no matter the style, fashion can be a tool for expression for anyone.

Miriam worked for woman&home for over five years and previously worked on the women's lifestyle magazines Woman and Woman's Own.