Welcome to the FIRST post in my Summer Style Icons series, featuring none other than Grace Kelly! I will be posting once a week in this (at least) five-part series offering a glimpse into the summer style of the Old Hollywood stars we love, and how we can achieve that on a budget. Enjoy!
An important aspect of personal style is discovering classic pieces that scream “you,” ones that you can throw on with little thought and still look put together and feel authentic to yourself. I fully believe that if I wear clothing that is uncomfortable or that doesn’t feel “right” to me, it shows. Since we’re already wearing clothing that is uncommon to our current time, why try to fit yourself into a box – even if it’s a vintage one? Take the time to seek out what truly makes you feel like “you” and that effort won’t go unnoticed. In fact, you’ll seem effortless, a mark of knowing yourself and knowing what makes you shine.
Few other Old Hollywood actresses are revered for such effortless grace as that eponymous woman, Grace Kelly. She’s long been a favorite icon of mine, and I grew up watching her in films like Mogambo and How to Catch a Thief. The white dress in the latter movie is absolutely iconic, standing up to the test of time and succeeding spectacularly – how elegant does she look here? It is a rather simple piece, though expertly made and, even when she is accessorized with a sparkling necklace, she still doesn’t look pretentious. That’s the dream, isn’t it?
I’ve unconsciously collected pieces throughout the years that recall the safari wear of the former film, such as a couple classic loose-fitted button-up shirts and a collection of scarves. There’s nothing extravagant about Grace’s look, but it is undeniably chic and timeless. Collared shirts, scarves, a leather belt, neutral separates, and always perfectly waved hair – a look that’s absolutely achievable for the modern, vintage-loving woman.
In her everyday life, Grace, though an actress with plenty of glamorous head shots and promotional photographs, had a simple and chic personal style. Without a doubt, her je ne sais quoi shows through her wardrobe in films. Kristina Haughland, a biographer of Grace Kelly, noted that the actress “was as loyal to [her clothing] as she was her old friends.” This means well-made, timeless pieces that can be worn over and over again without falling apart or losing their elegance – and certainly, quality over quantity!
I am most inspired by pictures of Grace Kelly in her daily life. Grace was incredibly close with photographer Howell Conant since their Photoplay shoot together in 1955, and he later became the unofficial photographer of the royal family following her marriage to Prince Rainier. Conant captured iconic photographs of this beauty, unusual because she was generally fresh-faced and simply attired. As the photographer stated, “You trusted Grace’s beauty…You knew it wasn’t built from clothes and makeup…this was Grace: natural, unpretentious.” Through his shots, fans of this actress-gone-princess can catch a glimpse of who Grace really was outside of the makeup and fancy dresses.
Her personal style is precise yet unfussy. Button-up shirts, fitted pants, loafers or espadrilles, and a well-placed accessory such as her iconic scarves or wayfarer sunglasses. In particular, I have always adored the series of photos showing Grace in what seems a very natural, personal uniform of cropped or rolled trousers, a collared shirt, flat shoes, and little else. She wears no jewelry or accessories, with only a simple leather belt around her waist and a scarf peaking out of her pocket. She is simply Grace, and that is simply beautiful.
This is an outfit that I have been wearing in subtle variations before I realized that it might have been Grace’s “summer uniform” as well as mine. A different colored shirt, untucked at times and tucked the others; a thinner belt; jean crops rather than khaki shorts; a blue scarf instead of salmon and brown – no matter the change, the essence of this outfit remains the same. Like Grace wears jeans rather than trousers in some photos above, or swaps her leather belt for a scarf tied around the waist, the outfit still feels authentically her despite these small shifts.
The best part of this “uniform” – which I’ll likely be wearing around the house, for weekend errands, or while sewing or doing work the entire summer – is that it is so achievable. Modern substitutes can easily evoke this look without breaking the budget on vintage recreation brands. I’m wearing a Forever 21 shirt, thrifted mom pants from Goodwill (later cut into shorts length and rolled up), a vintage leather belt from my mom’s younger days, and an eBay find scarf.
The most expensive item on me is either my Minnetonka leather moccasins or the Derek Lam wayfarers, two absolute staples that were well worth the investment as I have worn them for years on end. Consider splurging on quality pieces when you’ll be wearing them daily, as you’ll save money in the end by not having to replace them constantly when they wear down. When shopping at budget stores, seek out quality embellishments, such as the pearlized abalone-esque buttons on my F21 blouse. These special details can be found, and they make all the difference in your overall appearance!
Check out the budget pieces below if you want to try out this look for yourself!
Cotton Gingham Button-Up (on sale for $15) and Linen-Blend BF Shirt (on sale for $18) from Old Navy
I LOVE Old Navy for quality basics like these awesome button-ups. The solid one comes in a handful of other colors as well, like a deep salmon and a minty green, as well as basic white! And that linen-blend fabric would probably feel so dreamy. Shirts like these can also be tied up around the waist for yet another look.
High-Waisted Denim Shorts ($15.90) and Classic Mom Jeans ($27.90) from Forever 21
We’re fortunate that high-waisted is now a “trend,” meaning we can find it at popular, low-cost shops like Forever 21. Careful on the fit and length, however, as I’m not always happy with how “modern” pieces from here can look. They’re not always made for anyone with a figure, either, so make sure that you try before you buy! That being said, those “mom jeans” are so on-point (but I’m not sure the rise is high enough). Don’t rule out thrift stores, as I picked a hideous pair of “mom pants” at Goodwill for a few bucks and converted them to shorts; if they fit well in the waist, hips, and butt, then it’s SO easy to cut them off to a nice, custom length short.
Embroidered Espadrilles ($17.90) from Forever 21 | Penny Loafers ($27.99) from Target | Textured-Canvas Espadrilles ($22.94) from Old Navy | Huarache Flats ($24.90) from Forever 21
There are SO many awesome, affordable shoe options here. Look around at your local stores if you’d prefer another shop besides F21, Old Navy, or Target. Target also has their own espadrilles (around $20), though I prefer these ones from F21, as well as several other attractive penny loafers at higher price points. Forever 21 has many other loafers and espadrilles, including a lace-up ankle style of the latter that I love (keep the fabric pattern simple, however). And check out those “Huarache Flats” – they’re a very vintage style, and fit perfectly alongside this silhouette and look!
Faux-Leather Belt (on sale for $9.97) from Old Navy | Faux Leather Cutout Belt ($6.90) from Forever 21
Harvard Yard Sunglasses ($16.99) from Target | Classic Round Sunglasses ($5.90) from Forever 21
Those F21 sunnies below are marketed for “21 Men,” but they’re so classic that they’re truly androgynous. LOVE it! I would still, however, encourage y’all to splurge on a high-quality pair of sunglasses if you can, as this is a daily-wear piece (at least for me, I can’t LIVE without my sunglasses) and should protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.
Matte Lipstick ($3.90) from Forever 21 | NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream ($5.99) from Target
That Nyx product is my absolute favorite, and I’m obsessed with it on a cult-like level. Seriously. It comes in a much wider range of colors than the website shows – try Target in person, Ulta, or Nyx’s website if you’re looking for a different shade!
I’ve included all ready-to-wear pieces here, but I encourage y’all to go out to your local secondhand and thrift shops as well as vintage stores for your pieces! You can easily find leather belts at Goodwill, for example, and vintage scarves tend to be around the $5 point at vintage haunts around me. I wanted to include easily accessible pieces from big, recognizable stores such as Target to show that this style is so achievable, but these are by no means the only (OR cheapest) options for this casual Grace Kelly look!
That’s it for now, lovelies! Will you be implementing any of Grace’s casual chic outfits into your life this summer? What is your personal “summer uniform”? I hope you’ve enjoyed this little glimpse into capturing a bit of Grace Kelly’s style for yourself. After all, she said it best:
Which classic celebrity’s style would you most like to see in the series next?