Princess Anne was ‘ahead of her time’ with her life-long love for vintage and pre-worn clothing

"Princess Anne has never been afraid to express herself"

Princess Anne
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Princess Anne has been dubbed an 'accidental trendsetter' by a fashion expert thanks to her love for 'vintage and pre-worn clothing'  that champions a 'more sustainable approach to fashion.'

Princess Anne has never been afraid of breaking a few fashion rules here and there - even those put in place by the royals themselves. From her love for wearing red lipstick despite it breaking royal protocol to her crisp striped shirt and upturned collar combo that gave us all a lesson in sartorial elegance, the Princess Royal's fashion sense is one beloved by all royal fans. 

For Princess Anne, her style icon status is nothing new. But the wider public have simply taken a while to catch up to her 'trendsetting' and 'pioneering' looks as focus on Kate Middleton's outfits, such as both her recent pink suit that was the epitome of 'quiet luxury' and the stunning bubble-gum pink shirt dress she wore at the Chelsea Flower Show, overshadowed many of Anne's.

But with her gorgeous embroidered Garden Party coat dress that broke Queen Elizabeth’s ultimate fashion rule, the chic white coat that she paired with an interesting navy clutch and who could forget the impeccable sparkly rainbow top she's reworn on a few occasions, Princess Anne is finally getting the recognition she deserves. 

Princess Anne

(Image credit: Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Fashion expert Miranda Holder told Gloucestershire Live, "The Princess Royal has an unusual relationship to fashion. She certainly has never paid any attention to trends, and in later life has adopted a more frugal approach to her wardrobe than other members of the Royal Family. She often rewears old pieces time and time again, but it’s through this irreverence that she has become an unexpected style icon.

"Princess Anne has never been afraid to express herself. She has always possessed an inner confidence which allowed her to carry off any outfit with aplomb, which has contributed to her accidental trendsetter fashion status over the years.

“There are numerous photographs of her carrying off interesting new looks such as bright colors, polka dots and even turban style hats which instantly became a sartorial hit and were then fully embraced by her adoring public.”

But this 'fashion icon' status isn't a new thing for Princess Anne - she's always been quietly noted for her outfit choices and has been championing sustainable fashion way before it was a mainstream topic. 

Holder explains, "She was even way ahead of her time with her penchant for vintage and pre-worn clothing, now a tactic that the rest of the family employ to remain more in touch with the public and support a more sustainable approach to fashion, but the Princess Royal was a pioneer of this.

“She was spotted at the Lymington Royal Yacht club wearing a very trendy denim blazer which she had probably hung onto since the 80s and now has come back around again, and there are numerous other examples.”

Princess Anne

(Image credit: Peter Cziborra - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

But while Kate Middleton has been taking fashion inspiration from the late Queen, Princess Anne has been following her own path, unbothered by what royals around her are choosing to step out in. 

Holder shares, "I don’t think Princess Anne takes inspiration from any other style icon, but simply makes the rules up as she goes along to suit herself. This kind of self-assurity is magnetic – other women want to feel this inner strength too, which is why they follow her fashion sense.”

An example of this? Anne's sunglasses. “The Princess Royal’s favorite signature sunglasses are a prime example of her tearing up the fashion rule book and setting the standards herself," Holder explains. 

"The sporty style she favors has never really been particularly fashionable, with a more practical rather than stylish feel, but the Princess has definitely made them her own over the years, wearing them with a whole range of outfits from the very formal to the casual and sporty, and they work.

“Fashionistas have long purported that it’s not what you wear but how you wear it, and Princess Anne is living proof that this style tactic absolutely works.”

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse
Freelance news writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is royal news and entertainment writer. She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with Good To, BBC Good Food and The Independent.