Style

The Princess Diana Way To Dress For Christmas Day

The royal served up some seriously stylish festive looks over the years.

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By Bustle UK
Updated: 
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While Princess Diana was known for her brilliant humanitarian work and of course, her marriage to Prince Charles, one of her lasting legacies has been her influence on fashion. From her fairytale wedding gown, through royal tour outfits, '80s evening gowns, and '90s off-duty looks, her sense of style has endured and continues to set trends today. In fact, we'd argue that at this time of year, there's no better style inspiration than Princess Diana's festive looks.

Being Princess Diana came with a rule book, and while she always honoured royal protocols, she still injected personality with pops of colour and print. She collaborated with some of fashion's leading names at the time, wearing pieces by designers including Bellville Sassoon, Victor Edelstein, and Catherine Walker, who's now one of the Duchess of Cambridge’s favourites.

After she separated from Prince Charles, Diana's style became even more fun, with looks that are now celebrated by fans on Instagram accounts like @ladydirevengelooks. Think Chanel tailoring, Jimmy Choo heels, and effortless variations on the jeans-sweater-blazer combination.

She served some seriously stylish Christmas looks over the years, too. So, whether you're looking for dressed up inspiration to lift the 2020 mood, or chic-but-comfy festive style this year, you're guaranteed to find it in our edit of Princess Diana’s best Christmas looks.

November 1980

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Lady Diana Spencer, as she was at the time, was pictured leaving her flat in Earl's Court wearing a burgundy cardi complete with cute Christmassy print. Paired with a pinstriped pencil skirt, pie-collar shirt, and a belt and bag to match – even the car in the background wants in on this look.

December, 1981

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Diana arrived at Gloucestershire Cathedral for the Christmas service wearing an all-blue ensemble with a distinctly Russian feel, including the cosiest looking cossak hat and muff we've ever seen. The boots are also going top of our sales shopping wish-list.

December, 1981

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Leaving the Christmas day service at St George's Chapel in Windsor, alongside Prince Edward, Diana's teal wool coat with matching hat is an '80s dream, from the delicately puffed shoulders to the floral appliqué on the pockets. And while a black patent heel and white tights shouldn't really work, of course, Diana pulls it off.

December, 1982

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In a red dress designed by Bellville Sassoon, and a gold and diamond necklace in the shape of the Prince of Wales feathers, Diana's visit to the The Royal Opera House in London was truly sparkling. Almost outshone by her impressive hair styling, with a level volume that defines the era.

December, 1982

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This year's Christmas service at St George's Chapel saw Diana amp up the colour in a pink brocade skirt and jacket, with a delightfully ruffled collar, and boater hat in exactly the same shade. She's a bright beacon of joy next to the Prince of Wales' formal suiting.

December, 1982

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Diana reminds us why she's the queen of ball-gown dressing at the film premiere of ET in London's West End, wearing a dark purple design by Gina Frattini. Accessorised with serious royal bling, and a metallic box bag we'd be happy to have under our arm today.

December, 1983

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A photo-call in the gardens of their home at Kensington Palace saw Diana, Charles, and a young Prince William dressed for an early family Christmas. Proving that cream and tan are a timeless combination, the Princess' roll-neck and pleats bring unrivalled elegance to the frame.

December, 1983

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Chatting to the priest post-Christmas service at St George's Chapel, Diana's tailored white look is a masterclass in skirt suiting. The accents of red, and subtle wavy edge bring that hint of festive spirit, too.

December, 1984

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Attending the royal premiere of Starlight Express at the Apollo Theatre in London, Diana's white sequinned evening gown is definitely one we'd wear for festivities this year. Enough sparkle to feel special, and enough comfort to look equally good shimmying between the kitchen and the sofa.

December, 1984

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At the annual St George's Chapel service, Princess Diana goes fully regal in royal blue. The boxy cut makes for a sharp silhouette that's decidedly more modern, and a touch less festive, than Princess Anne's red velvet and fur collar coat.

December, 1987

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In mum mode, Diana walks hand-in-hand with a school-uniformed Prince William, heading to the St Mary Abbots Church Christmas concert in Kensington. From the oversized cut, to the colour of the coat, and the classic black roll-neck underneath, it's a beautifully timeless look that we'd totally wear today.

December, 1987

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Leaving St George's Chapel with a young Lady Rose Windsor on Christmas Day, Diana continues to serve the perfect winter coat inspiration. This time in pale yellow, with broad check, wide waist belt, and those flat black knee-highs that were a favourite in the Princess's footwear repertoire.

December, 1988

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This year, the family attended the Christmas Day service at St Mary Magdalene Church on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk. And with a feather in her cap, and accent lapels and cuffs, we'd bet Diana's skirt suit was hands down the best look in the congregation.

December, 1989

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Wearing a blue suit by Catherine Walker, and a matching hat by Philip Somerville, Diana is all smiles at St Bride's Church in London for the opening of their new Assembly Rooms. The wide brimmed boater, with a ribbon that matches her jacket lapels, gives this an elevated Mary Poppins feel that we're definitely here for.

December, 1990

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Holding onto her hat, Diana teams this black-and-red herringbone skirt suit with complimentary heels, and a black roll-neck – the jumper that works for every winter look. Prince William takes inspiration from his mother here too, chatting to members of the public who have come to see them at Sandringham.

December, 1990

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The purple one. Maybe her inspiration was the Quality Street, maybe it wasn't, but either way Diana carries this Christmas Day look off with signature elegance and poise.

December, 1991

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Forget Christmas jumpers, black velvet, gold buttons, and red nails are one of our favourite festive fashion trios – and Diana styles it up perfectly here. A classic look for a carol concert at St George's Hanover Square in London.

December, 1991

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Prince Harry walks hand-in-hand with his mum for the Christmas Day church service at Sandringham, saying hi to the crowds as they go. Diana's blue and turquoise suit by royal favourite Catherine Walker lights up the muted landscape once again.

December, 1993

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Following her separation with Prince Charles in 1992, Diana continued to attend royal engagements, making a bold statement in red on the steps of St Mary Magdalene at Sandringham.

November, 1994

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Fully committing to tartan, Princess Diana switches on the Bond Street Christmas lights in an incredible piece designed by one of her favourite London designers, Bellville Sassoon.

December, 1994

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Strolling into Sandringham with Prince William, Diana hits mid-'90s fashion from head to toe with soft fabrics, subtle chocolate tones, and comfort to take her stylishly through the Christmas day service.

With contributions by Orla Pentelow, Sophie McEvoy, Alice Broster, and Farah Shafiq.