The Art of Revenge Dressing, According to Princess Diana

By Cathleen Freedman

Ah, wedding season. Maybe it’s a college friend’s destination nuptials or a former co-worker’s backyard ceremony. It’s so wonderful to see all of these past acquaintances, sure, but there are a few people you may be a little more hesitant about bumping into. . . You know who we’re talking about. This might be a certain someone you’ve coyly asked the bride or groom ahead of time, “Just out of curiosity, is So-and-So invited?” Trust us, they probably are, and they’ve likely RSVP’d with a plus one in tow.

That’s right, weddings aren’t just about the two saying “I do.” Nobody tells you this, but you will eventually run into an ex at one of these functions. We haven’t conducted a study (yet), but it’s statistically bound to happen at some point. Conscious uncoupling and amicable splits are very mature and all, but we know your ego really wants to remind an old flame what they’re missing. Not even Taylor Swift is above such sartorial warfare, as she sings in “Vigilante Sh-t,” “I don’t dress for women, I don’t dress for men. Lately, I’ve been dressing for revenge.”

Today, we turn to the Queen of People’s Hearts and the Queen of Revenge Dressing herself, Diana.

About The Revenge Dress

But first, a historical overview. If you hope to pull off your revenge dress, you should know how it all began. In 1991, Prince Charles and Princess Diana announced their separation. Three years later, his tell-all documentary dropped on public TV in an attempt to share his side of the story. The goal was that this might help his tanked-approval ratings and put him in a more sympathetic light. The film ultimately confirmed, however, Prince Charles’s infidelity to Diana and his affair with Camilla.

That very same night, as viewers across the globe reeled from this admittance, Princess Diana stepped out in this. Christina Stambolian designed the mini-dress for her three years earlier, but Diana blushed at the thought of wearing something so daring. By 1994, however, she was ready to wear something that would make her “look like a million bucks,” according to her stylist. She even had a different Valentino gown ready for the Vanity Fair event in Kensington Gardens, but she changed her mind at the last minute and asked for this black silk number.

It was an excellent call. She didn’t even have to say or acknowledge the infidelity news because the dress did all the talking for her. Its form-fitting subtext is, “I’m having a fabulous night on the town and looking incredible while doing it. Can you believe he would do that to me?” Genius.

How To Dress for Revenge

Accentuate The Positive

It goes without saying, but choose something flattering. Maybe you want to showcase your cinched waist or killer legs. Whatever your greatest assets are, make sure they’re on full display—without stealing attention from the bride!

Photo Courtesy of Christina Sambolian

A Dramatic Color

While sketching out this dress with designer Christina Stambolian, Diana actually envisioned a cream color and wavered between different shades of pastels. Thankfully, Stambolian insisted on black. “To me, Diana was a black-and-white sort of person,” Stambolian shares. “That was the way she was—there were no grey areas.”

Reveal Some Skin

Strategically show off your decolletage with a graceful off-the-shoulder neckline, just like Diana. Or, find a dress that elegantly exposes your back. Cutout silhouettes are sure to drive any schlub you kicked to the curb wild.

A Little Glitz

Diana’s jewelry further enhanced the rest of her look without distracting from the dress. Her triple-stranded pearl choker was actually once Queen Mary’s brooch, but she converted it into a necklace. Personally, we dream of her post-divorce Asprey aquamarine ring with channel-set carré cut diamond shoulders. (If Meghan Markle ever needs us to rock-sit for her, we’ll gladly make sure this dazzler is in good hands.)

Nailed It

Working princesses are only allowed neutral color manicures. But it’s time to flout royal protocol. You’ve gone rogue. Diana’s red nails are the finishing touch to her revenge look.

While Diana put her Revenge Dress up for auction to benefit cancer and AIDS-related charities decades ago, you can shop her look below on Over The Moon for your next potential run-in.