Iconic ‘80s British Royal Fashion Statements That Should Make a Comeback

By: Sydney Sampson | Last updated: Feb 06, 2024

Fashion trends come and go, but some styles from the past can inspire us even decades later. While the 1980s may be remembered for its bold and sometimes eccentric fashion choices, there are several looks from that era that deserve a comeback.

The British Royal Family has always been a source of fashion inspiration, and many of their most memorable looks came from the ‘80s. Consider this as our petition to bring these iconic ‘80s royal fashion statements back.

Princess Diana’s Elegant Pearl Choker

Princess Diana’s iconic pearl choker was the predecessor to the grunge and emo chokers of the ‘90s and ‘00s. While this style of necklace has existed in mainstream fashion throughout the decades, this pearl choker was unique. Rather than an alt-fashion statement piece, it gave Lady Diana an elegant sophistication.


Source: https://twitter.com/remIoved/status/1373063307406491654

Princess Diana wore this particular choker at several events throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, most famously for the “revenge dress” outfit. Studded with pearls and a removable sapphire and diamond brooch, it’s remembered as one of Diana’s most iconic pieces of jewelry.

Cozy Oversized Overcoats

Oversized overcoats aren’t just useful to keep warm during long cold British winters, they’re also adorable! They’re a classically ‘80s fashion statement that makes the wearer stand out in a crowd. The bigger, the boxier, and the bolder, the better.


Source: https://twitter.com/vogue______/status/1231215535544766464

No matter the color or style, an overcoat is always a welcome cozy addition to any winter outfit. Overcoats are definitely coming back around in 2023, and this author is 100% supportive of the trend.

Loud & Bold Maximalism

At the heart of all ‘80s fashion trends was maximalism. Pattern mixing. Gigantic hair. Clashing textures. Outrageously bold color schemes. It was loud and it was unique. “Too many sequins” was a concept that didn’t exist.


Source: https://twitter.com/Kind_regards__/status/1139655740015218688

While minimalism and capsule wardrobes certainly have their place, sometimes you just want to make the loudest fashion statement possible. Princess Diana’s two-toned Moschino skirt suit was a perfect example of the ‘80s maximalism that we’ve come to adore.

Dazzling Jewels

Can you really have maximalism without dripping in jewelry? I mean, Taylor Swift said it best. Whether it be sequined hats, glittery gowns, or jeweled accessories, best believe the Royals were going to be bejeweled.



The pearls on this dress were individually hand-sewn onto a gown that was custom-made for Princess Diana. While this exact dress may be outside of my budget, the concept of sparkling is one that I plan to take into my personal wardrobe.

Shoulder Pads

The ’80s were synonymous with shoulder pads, and even the royals embraced this trend. Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, were often seen wearing blouses and dresses with pronounced shoulder pads.

Photo by Provincial Archives of Alberta on Unsplash

Diana looked powerfully regal in this purple padded jacket during an official state visit to Alberta in 1983. Shoulder pads add structure and a sense of power to any ensemble (and they help hide bad posture). More of this in today’s style, please!


Wide-Brimmed Hats

Hats have always been a prominent feature of royal fashion, but the 1980s saw the emergence of some truly iconic headwear. Princess Anne, in particular, was known for her extravagant hats, often featuring oversized brims, feathers, and embellishments.

Source: https://twitter.com/voguemagazine/status/1410699506249785346

These statement hats added a touch of drama to her outfits and could serve as the perfect accessory for today’s fashion-forward world. Not to mention, a wide-brimmed hat can be fantastic protection from sun damage.


Polka Dots

Polka dots are a classic pattern that never goes out of style, and the British Royal Family knew how to wear them. Princess Diana often donned polka-dot dresses that added a playful touch to her elegant wardrobe.

Source: https://twitter.com/Kind_regards__/status/1139899795961765889

While some of the royal fashion statements are difficult to imitate on an average budget, polka dots are an easy, affordable way to tip your hat to these fashion icons. Incorporating polka dots into modern clothing, whether through dresses, blouses, or accessories, can infuse any outfit with a sense of timeless charm.


Pink Checkered Pants

Here at TrendyMatter, we’ve fallen head over heels in love with these pants. They’re fun. They’re unique. They’re exactly what I would’ve worn to the Barbie premiere if I had access to Princess Diana’s wardrobe.

Source: https://twitter.com/dailyc0rrin/status/1377725245474406402

The People’s Princess wore the ensemble in 1986, nailing the casually regal style that Diana was so well known for. Now excuse me while I scour all my local thrift stores for anything that might resemble these pants.


Bold Blazers

The 1980s power-dressing phenomenon was incomplete without the iconic blazers that conveyed confidence and sophistication. Pairing a blazer with a casual top and denim jeans is a way to give a subtle nod to the ‘80s while maintaining a modern edge.

Source: https://twitter.com/vogue______/status/1231215535544766464

Princess Diana was the epitome of this quintessentially ‘80s trend, often seen in blazers that exuded strength and elegance. She had so many blazers, multiple magazines have published articles ranking her 30 best ones. Now that is a fashion icon.


Pussy Bows

Pussy bows were a favorite among the royal ladies in the ’80s. The name comes from the early 20th century when it was fashionable to tie a bow around a kitten’s neck. While dressing your cat may come with some scratches, they’re an adorable accessory for any human to try.

Source: https://twitter.com/OldSchool80s/status/1364607329119985674

Princess Diana incorporated pussy bows into her outfits throughout the ‘80s, perhaps most famously at her engagement announcement.


Single Colored Outfits

If there is one thing about ‘80s fashion that has my undying respect, it’s the ability to “commit to the bit”. They didn’t do subtlety or muted tones. The royal family was (and still is) known for picking one color and sticking to it.

Source: https://twitter.com/voguemagazine/status/1410699506249785346

Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana exemplified this trend with their monochrome outfits. Whether it be a state dinner, fashion show, or a walk around Buckingham Palace, they dressed from head to toe in a single color and looked fabulous.


Blue Eyeliner

While many of the makeup looks from the royal family at the time were subdued, natural tones, the exception to this rule was Princess Diana’s iconic blue eyeliner.

Source: https://twitter.com/dailyc0rrin/status/1377725245474406402

The ’80s were known for experimenting with bold makeup, and colorful eyeliner adds a unique pop of color – especially if added to an otherwise naturally styled makeup look. Incorporating colored eyeliners into your makeup routine can be an eye-catching way to pay homage to this ’80s beauty trend.


Whimsical Statement Sweaters

One way that 80’s maximalism expressed itself was through whimsical sweaters. Princess Diana was particularly known for her statement sweaters, often sporting sweaters adorned with farm animals, koalas, or catchphrases.

Source: https://twitter.com/Sothebys/status/1673305834560933889

My love for her famous sheep sweater has transcended past a want and has become a need. It features a herd of embroidered sheep, with one lone black sheep. Many have speculated that this was Diana’s way of communicating how she felt like the “odd one out” in the royal family.


Matching Sets

Matching sets, featuring coordinated tops and bottoms, were a staple of ’80s fashion. The royals, including Princess Anne and Sarah Ferguson, embodied this trend with matching hats, shoes, and even umbrellas that had to be coordinated to achieve the uniform look.

Source: https://twitter.com/SuperFZeta/status/1478753882994102275

Matching sets offer an effortless way to look put-together and stylish. A complete outfit already, you never have to worry about how to style this fit, making an easy “grab and go” fashion statement.


Teardrop Earrings

Teardrop earrings were a staple accessory for the royal women in the 1980s, contributing to their timeless elegance. These classic earrings, often adorned with pearls or gemstones, can elevate any outfit from casual to formal.

Souce: https://twitter.com/dailyc0rrin/status/1377725245474406402

Teardrop earrings were so beloved by Princess Diana that she was rarely seen without them. Their versatility makes them a must-have accessory that can add a touch of sophistication to modern fashion.


Color Coordinated Hats

What did I say about committing to the bit? The royal family has an affinity for color-coordinating outfits, and this extends to their hats as well. Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana, and Princess Anne had some of the most dazzling statement hats.

Photo by Provincial Archives of Alberta on Unsplash

Not only were the royals making a fashion statement with bold headgear to match their bold outfits, but they also served a practical purpose. When greeting crowds of thousands, the brightly colored hats made the royals easier to spot.


Regal Ruffles

Ruffles were a hallmark of ’80s fashion, adding a romantic and feminine touch to clothing. Princess Diana frequently incorporated ruffles into her outfits, tying the ruffles into the ‘80s fashion mantra of being bold and taking up space.

Source: https://twitter.com/GlamourMagUK/status/1410529927837986819

Modern fashionistas can experiment with ruffles to achieve a romantic and sophisticated style. By adding a few ruffles to an outfit, one can add an air of royal luxury to their everyday looks.


Powerful Skirt Suits

We all have designer Catherine Walker to thank for creating the royal “power suit” that became one of Princess Diana’s signature looks in the ‘80s. Her skirt suits, often paired with oversized bows and bold colors, exuded confidence and sophistication.

Source: https://twitter.com/princessdibooks/status/1321109417388068864

These elegant yet commanding outfits should make a comeback in modern wardrobes. No matter if you’re headed to meet with an important client or simply grabbing a coffee with friends, they make the wearer feel and look powerful with plenty of important places to be.


Yellow Overalls

Princess Diana was known for pushing fashion boundaries, and her iconic yellow overalls from the 1980s were a prime example of her bold and playful style.

Source: https://twitter.com/AmyEmerick2/status/1447930514648743944

These overalls, paired with a floral top, made an influential fashion statement that’s just as impactful today as it was in the ‘80s. Whether you’re going to a polo match in 1981 or a “hot girl walk” in 2023, this is an outfit that has stood the test of time.


Puffy Sleeves

Puffy sleeves were a hallmark of the ‘80s, adding structure and a dramatic flair to outfits. Perhaps the best use of puffy sleeves was Princess Diana’s stunning wedding dress that was so emblematic of the ‘80s trends.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

While we might not all be attending royal weddings, we can all add a bit of royal elegance to our 2023 outfits. Princess Diana’s puffy-sleeved dresses were a special moment in fashion history, and this trend can be embraced today to achieve a bold vintage look.


Plaid Dresses

Plaid patterns made a big comeback in the 1980s, and the British royals were not shy about incorporating these designs into their outfits. Princess Diana in particular had a special love for plaid and tartan outfits.


Today, a plaid dress can add a touch of classic elegance to any wardrobe, achieving a cozy autumn look perfect for picking apples while sipping a pumpkin spice latte.


Pilgrim Collars

The Pilgrim collar, a style reminiscent of early American settlers, made a stylish appearance in ’80s fashion. Princess Diana and Princess Anne occasionally wore dresses with this distinctive collar, adding a vintage and chic flair to their outfits.

Source: https://twitter.com/deb_stratas/status/1600857654322241546

Incorporating the Pilgrim collar into modern clothing can create a unique and eye-catching look that pays homage to this classic style. As the weather starts to get colder, our outfits can signify the changing season with this autumn fashion statement.


Color Coordinated Umbrellas

One of Queen Elizabeth II’s signature style moves was matching her umbrella to her outfit. This meticulous coordination showcased her attention to detail and added a luxurious touch to her ensembles.

Source: https://twitter.com/InStyle/status/1004101618688720896

The Queen remained a fashion trailblazer for all 70 years of her reign, often coordinating her dress, overcoat, hat, and umbrella matching in regal uniformity. Today, taking a cue from Her Majesty’s book by coordinating accessories like umbrellas with your outfit can elevate your overall look and exude a sense of royal elegance.


Little Black Dress

Technically this was the 90s, but what do you want me to do? Write about royal fashion and not mention the revenge dress? Absolutely not.

Source: https://twitter.com/remIoved/status/1373063307406491654

Princess Diana’s little black dress coined the “revenge dress,” earned its name when Princess Diana wore the ensemble the same day that Prince Charles’s documentary aired, revealing that he had been unfaithful to Diana. Her outfit said that she was unbothered and not wasting a single tear over Charles. We salute you, revenge dress.


Straight-Leg Jeans

Straight-leg jeans are a versatile wardrobe staple – and are the obvious answer to the skinny jeans vs. wide-leg jeans online debate.

Source: https://twitter.com/philippabarr_/status/1247121641382895616

Princess Diana and the Duchess of York often sported straight-leg jeans, effortlessly combining comfort and style. Perfect for looking casually stunning, these jeans offer a flattering and classic look that can be easily integrated into modern wardrobes.


Matching your Lipstick Color to your Mood

According to Mary Greenwell, Princess Diana’s former makeup artist, Diana would often coordinate her lipstick color to her mood. She usually opted for neutral shades of beige and brown, but sometimes chose a bolder pink for fancier occasions.

Source: https://twitter.com/boymolish/status/1649168936036958211

P.S. – if you want to copy her exact look, she often used MAC’s Subculture Lip Pencil and Max Factor’s pink lipsticks.


A Classic Pearl Necklace

A pearl necklace is a timeless accessory that never goes out of style. It was especially popular with the British Royal Family in the ‘80s: for nearly every public appearance, Queen Elizabeth II wore a three-strand pearl necklace. It’s a simple accessory that can elevate any outfit from casual to regal in less than 10 seconds.

Source: https://twitter.com/remIoved/status/1373063307406491654

A classic pearl necklace has become nearly synonymous with royalty, and it’s a style that should be more popular in this era. They’re an easy way to upgrade any outfit with a certain royal luxury.


Linen Menswear

While men’s fashion typically isn’t as discussed as women’s, this outfit Prince Charles wore in the late ‘80s needs to be talked about. This is a versatile outfit that will be equally stylish on Oxford Street or at an estate dinner. The linen pants especially are the perfect intersection between casual and formalwear. Prince Charles often wore similar ‘vacation wear’ at informal public events in the 1980s, and he looked comfortable and put-together each time.


Plus, this outfit is a welcome change from the simple black suit and tie that tends to dominate men’s fashion.


Bold and Beautiful

The 1980s were a decade of bold fashion choices, and the British Royal Family was not immune to the era’s trends. By drawing inspiration from these royal fashion moments, we can pay tribute to a stylish era while adding a touch of regal elegance to our own wardrobes. So, why not consider bringing a little bit of British Royal Family fashion from the 1980s back into your style rotation? 

Princess Di and Prince Charles in carriage on wedding day

Source: Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

Let’s all dig through our closets for some blue eyeliner, silly sweaters, and linen pants! After all, some of these trends are simply too good to stay in the past.