It’s impossible to ignore Diana, Princess of Wales’s ongoing impact on the world of fashion. The royal, who would have turned 60 today, remains an inspiration to millions for her philanthropic work and distinctive personal style. Diana’s looks are so famous they come with special names and stories of their own. In fact, they’re some of the most talked-about outfits of all time. The revenge dress, the Travolta dress, that fairytale, David- and Elizabeth Emanuel-designed wedding dress, each stands out as a distinct pop culture moment. 

 Diana’s rise to prominence during the 1980s meant embracing some of the decade’s key trends. The era of big shoulder pads and shapeless suits was a fashion challenge for all who lived through it, but for royals, it was especially tough. Modern princesses can dress in runway fare from McQueen and Givenchy and—occasionally—test out daring styles. Protocols against short skirts, bare legs, and cleavage are still intact, but their enforcement was stricter in Diana’s day. Still, she was able to cultivate a look that felt unique to her. Pre-fame, she stuck to “Sloane Ranger” staples like preppy sweater vests, printed midi-dresses, and equestrian boots. Once she became a princess, Diana switched gears and began to rely on trusted designers like Catherine Walker, Anya Hindmarch, and Murray Arbeid to create exquisite custom pieces. 

Statement-making gowns were Diana’s calling card. Whether she was taking in a performance of The Phantom of the Opera in a strapless navy ball gown by Arbeid covered in silver stars, or wearing a Catherine Walker taffeta number with a gathered skirt at a society gala in Melbourne during the Australian tour she and Charles undertook in 1988, Diana embodied the ideal of the princess, even when her life was far from that fantasy. 

 It’s telling that Diana’s style truly bloomed once she was freed from royal restrictions. After her separation from Prince Charles in 1992, she found herself with a wealth of new options and plenty of designers eager to dress her. The woman who dared to wear a Dior slip dress to the Met Gala in 1996 or body-con turquoise Versace at the Heart Foundation Ball that same year wasn’t the same Shy Di who hid behind baggy sweaters. Confident and entirely in control of her destiny, this era was her best. 

No one knows what the princess could have contributed to the world if her life hadn’t been cut short, but her legacy still resonates. Current royals like Kate Middleton regularly reference her fashions and habit of rewearing favorite pieces multiple times. Millions who remember her fondly have also incorporated lessons from her wardrobe into their daily lives, and it’s through these homages and tributes that Diana’s fashion influence lives on.