Oxford's oldest student newspaper

Independent since 1920

The Black Sheep: On Princess Diana’s statement sweaters

Iustina Roman discusses the People’s Princess’ best sweaters, because Ar Di would have loved Cherwell!

With the release of Larraín’s biopic Spencer at the end of last year, and season 4 of the Netflix-produced drama series The Crown in 2020, the life of Princess Diana has once again come under the spotlight. Known not just for a remarkable rise to fame and tragic death, Princess Diana is also well remembered for her iconic fashion sense which is appreciated even to this day.

Though she is often remembered for her most daring and glamorous looks, especially the infamous Revenge Dress, I find the Princess of Wales’ casual looks featuring statement sweaters even more iconic. Some have described them as ‘grandma sweaters’ or ‘campy’, but it is clear that they remain influential and appreciated in fashion.

Several influencers and models have come out with outfits that are very reminiscent of the athleisure wear Diana used to be spotted in while running errands off-duty. Her combinations of cool sweaters and luxury handbags with a pair of cycling shorts and sporty trainers are perfectly fitting for us nowadays, as we have become accustomed to combining looking good with feeling even better as a direct result of staying home during the worst of the pandemic.

Moreover, it has been observed that Princess Di may have used her garments to convey certain messages. For example, one of her most famous pieces is a red jumper by the ‘70s knitwear brand Warm & Wonderful which she first wore in 1981, and many more times after that. The top features a pattern of sheep which are all white — except for one. This black sheep could be a metaphor for the princess herself, since she was seen as an outside member of the royal family. Since then, the brand Rowing Blazers has brought back this design with the help of its original creators, so now you too can emulate Princess Diana’s iconic look—if you have £280 to spare, that is.

Another piece I am particularly fond of is a graphic sweater which was also recently reproduced by Rowing Blazers. This time, the message on the salmon-pink sweater she was pictured in while spending time with her sons is much more in-your-face. On the front, it reads “I’m a luxury…” and on the back, “few can afford”. The tongue-in-cheek design showcases the Princess of Wales’ sense of humour which she managed to express through fashion.

It is perhaps for these reasons that her statement sweaters have made a comeback, gaining huge popularity among a generation born after her death. As more people seek to find new ways of expressing themselves, who better to look up to than the queen (or princess, rather) of making a statement through clothing herself? Without saying a word, Diana gained the sympathy and admiration of many around the globe. Though some of this popularity may be exaggerated — blame your middle-aged mum for continuing to idolise her 25 years on — it is undeniable that her style has had a long-lasting impact. 

Fast fashion and high-end brands alike are now flocking to produce a plethora of cool sweater designs which Diana herself would have probably been proud of. Nowadays, you probably won’t have to search long for a statement knit featuring bright colours and cool images. Harry Styles himself was pictured in a sweater vest featuring Lanvin’s sheep design similar to, but maybe not as powerful as, the Warm & Wonderful one (since the sweater vest does not include a black sheep standing out). 

However, you don’t have to splurge out or consume fast fashion to find an iconic sweater of your own. Popping into a charity shop or even rummaging through your dad’s wardrobe will probably provide you with the perfect ‘ugly sweater’ to channel your inner Di. It’s no wonder that entire generations have fallen in love with her classic, timeless style in a world of trends which come and go before you’ve even had time to form an opinion on them.

Image Credits: Paisley Scotland/CC BY 2.0 on Flickr

Support student journalism

Student journalism does not come cheap. Now, more than ever, we need your support.

Check out our other content

Most Popular Articles