Today in History: Birthday of Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly is one of the modern world’s most elegant and beloved icons of film and fashion. Find out what made her style work – and how to get the look.

Grace Kelly Engagement RingLegendary Hollywood beauty and real-life princess Grace Kelly was born on November 19, 1929 in Philadelphia. Her parents, both accomplished athletes, supported her early talents but were uneasy about her dream of a performing career. Determined, she left for New York City after finishing school, and entered the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She worked as a model and on the stage to pay for her training, then headed for Hollywood.

Her first minor film role in 1951 didn’t get much attention, but a visitor on the set – Gary Cooper – took notice. The following year, she landed her first big role co-starring with him in High Noon. After signing a contract with MGM, she won acclaim for film classics such as Mogambo, Rear Window, and Dial M for Murder, starring alongside some of Hollywood’s leading actors.

Above: Kelly’s wears a platinum emerald-cut diamond engagement ring, nearly 10 and a half carats (Photo: In Style)

1955 was Grace Kelly’s red-letter year. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress, and in one of movie history’s great ironies, played a princess bride in The Swan. That spring, she had traveled to the Riviera for the Cannes Film Festival, where she met Ranier III, Prince of Monaco. After several months of correspondence (to the surprise and delight of her adoring public) he traveled to America and proposed. They were married in a hugely-publicized fairy-tale wedding in Monaco on April 19, 1956.

Grace Kelly Engagement RingLeft: A closeup of the ring. This was the “official” engagement ring, but not the first. Not to be outdone by Hollywood proposals, Prince Rainier upgraded from the original diamond and ruby eternity band. (Adorn London)

Her new role as Princess marked the end of her 5-year film career, but not the media spotlight. She became a mother of three, a spokesperson for numerous international charities, and an active supporter of local arts programs. Her inimitable poise and elegance made her one of Western culture’s most admired and beloved style icons, long after her tragic death in a car accident in 1981.

The Look

Grace Kelly Pearl Chandelier Earrings
Image: Pearl chandelier earrings worn by Grace in “High Society” (Collectors Weekly)

Kelly’s love of jewelry by designers Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels was famous. Many of her gorgeous designer pieces, like the famous tiara, were indeed fit for a princess. But her personal taste leaned towards simple, elegant statement pieces, fun retro designs, and soft color blends that anyone can imitate.

  • Pearls were all the rage in the 1950s, and today, the vintage look is hotter than ever. The luster of pearls emulated and enhanced Grace’s feminine glow and can add a touch of softness and class to any outfit.

  • Grace Kelly was best known for her clean, sophisticated look. To emulate this timeless “fashion poise,” choose just one or two statement pieces and make them stand out. Less can be more – even among stars and royalty!

    Grace Kelly Coral Brooch
    Image: Diamond and coral brooch (The Jewellery Editor)

  • Know your best jewelry matches. Kelly consistently chose jewelry that worked well for her – not merely what was in vogue. Lighter shades matched her natural coloring. Larger, rounded stud earrings counterbalanced her square jawline. Know thyself – find what jewelry brings out your best features for the same effortless elegance.

See more:

The Jewellery Editor: Grace Kelly’s Jewels – A gallery of her personal collections

Adorn London: Grace Kelly – Style Icon

Today in History: Audrey Hepburn, Fashion Phenom