How Princess Diana Started a Fitness Chique Revolution in the Streets

April 7, 2022

Everything you need to know about the Princess of Wales and that iconic Virgin Atlantic sweatshirt.

Princess Diana was not only a member of the royal family, but she was also heavily involved in the world of fashion. In particular, she had a big influence on British designers.

Even to this day, conversations are struck about Princess Diana’s style. In fact, more recently, one of her go-to street style looks has been labeled “the lockdown look.” 

Diana was a fashion icon who broke all of the rules, was unapologetically making statements, and unlike fashion influencers today, not afraid to be seen wearing the same outfit not just once, but multiple times a week.

So, where did it all begin?

First, let’s backtrack to 1991 - Diana hired a personal trainer and started working on her fitness. The princess ended up working with popular celebrity trainer, Jenni Rivett, for many years.

During this time, Diana battled with bulimia, a serious eating disorder. It is thought that Diana worked with her trainer in an attempt to overcome her struggles.

Just like any other ordinary person, she faced many of her own battles, mentally and physically. But for Diana, exercise was her coping mechanism.

Less attention on clothes and more focus on real-world issues

You’d often see Diana out and about (usually going to or leaving the gym) in the now famous Virgin Atlantic sweatshirt, a pair of bicycle shorts, and a bamboo tote bag.

It’s thought that she wore the same outfit, now deemed “athleisure” to reduce exposure from the paparazzi. You’re not going to take a second look at someone who’s not wearing that iconic revenge dress, let alone someone wearing the same outfit multiple times.

With less attention on her outfits, she believed this would bring more attention to real-world issues, things that mattered, as opposed to her outfit of the day for hitting the gym. Which ironically, is now iconic itself.

She wanted the press to focus on issues that mattered, not on her. And her street-wear look was an attempt at deferring the focus.

Did you know that in 2021, Gucci brought back the Princess of Wales’ bamboo handled tote bag that she carried back in 1996?

Diana started a revolution - sparked a change, was not afraid of breaking the rules, and stood for what she believed in. 

The ultimate lockdown look

Recently, more people have adopted what’s now referred to as “the lockdown look.” 

Also known as athleisure - a sweatshirt and shorts. 

This style of fashion was popular before, and once again, it’s a hit. Who would have known that an outfit that was worn to generate less attention would spark an entirely new “look?” 

According to Jack Carlson, founder and creative director of Rowing Blazers, when speaking about Diana, he said: “She perfected the art of mixing of high and low, and blurred the lines between menswear and womenswear. It seems to me she thought about semiotics as well as the aesthetics. In a weird way, she was doing streetwear before streetwear was a thing — but at the same time she was the archetype of the Sloane Ranger. She was all of these contradictions, and that’s what made her so iconic - and what makes her so relevant to what’s happening in fashion now.” 

Key takeaways

Princess Diana was victim to the paparazzi from an early age. However, in an attempt to rebel and start a revolution, she dressed the “athleisure look” - it’s where the famous Virgin Atlantic sweatshirt came from. 

She wanted less attention on her, and more attention on real-world issues. Taking a stand for what matters, and now, many people have adopted that look. Whether it’s due to lockdown, another attempt at a revolution, or a mix of both, it’s a look that’s not going away anytime soon, that’s for sure.