The One Thing Princess Diana Would Never Wear

Her wardrobe ebbed and flowed, but her shoe rack stayed the same.

The One Thing Princess Diana Would Never Wear

Her wardrobe ebbed and flowed, but her shoe rack stayed the same.

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Princess Diana was one of the most stylish women in the world and had access the very best that fashion designers around the world had to offer. At 5’10”, she could pull off virtually every look she tried and her long legs were, without question, one of her best features.

While her clothing wardrobe changed over time, her choice of footwear did not. Princess Diana wore pumps, flats, “Wellies” and even Converse sneakers (I have the photographic proof!)—but she never wore sandals or open-toed shoes.

In researching my book, Diana: The Secrets of Her Style, I combed through literally thousands of photographs of her to select the images featured in its pages, and I did not find one photograph of the princess wearing open-toed shoes or sandals. When she became engaged to Prince Charles in 1981, she wore mostly modest two-inch heels so as not to tower over her husband-to-be. Once she became a royal, she wore plenty of low-heeled, brightly colored pumps that coordinated with her “Dynasty Di” look of the period. And when “off duty,” she favored simple flats.

When the couple announced they were separating, there was a noticeable change in her appearance including in her choice of footwear. She wore higher heels and sexier shoes. Virtually all of the styles were from Manolo Blahnik (a favorite of both Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton, and, of course, Carrie Bradshaw) and Jimmy Choo (another frequent footwear option of Meghan’s). None were ever open-toed or sandals.

In an interview for my book, designer Jimmy Choo (who is no longer affiliated with his namesake company) told me he made couture shoes for Diana for seven years and was thrilled to see she’d chosen a pair of his heels for her appearance at the Christie’s auction of her dresses in New York City shortly before she passed in 1997.

“Her favorite style was high-heel strappy shoes,” he told me. “She liked classic styles. She never wore sandals because she did not like them and she knew the Queen didn’t either. The shoes she wore for the auction were four years-old satin pumps and they still looked great.”

Choo would go to Diana’s apartment at Kensington Palace for private appointments. Afterwards, the princess would help him pack up his trunks and carry his cases to his car. “She was never fussy and never complained. She always paid her bill on time and was very easy to deal with.” The designer also remembers his “favorite client” as very enthusiastic. “Whenever I brought shoes to her, she would run to Paul [Burrell, her butler at the time] and say, ‘Look at these beautiful shoes Jimmy has made for me!'”

As a royal, she was keenly aware of Queen Elizabeth’s preferences when it came to what to wear for official engagements: closed-toe shoes and hosiery. “She had beautiful legs,” said Choo. “She sometimes chose not to wear hosiery, but never when she was appearing at an official event with the Queen. She was always very respectful of her.”

Choo was to deliver the last pair of shoes he made for Diana—beige grosgrain ballerina flats—on the day after she was scheduled to return from her fateful trip to Paris. He now considers them a special remembrance of a her. He told me, “She was a naturally beautiful woman inside and out and a lady of great warmth, humility, and compassion. She was a dream.”

And for more on her unforgettable style, Here’s Princess Diana’s Secret Jewelry Trick That Fooled Everyone.

Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.

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