Princess Charlene: A Style Retrospective

Princess Charlene: A Style Retrospective

Today is Princess Charlene of Monaco’s 38th birthday. There isn’t any royal news, and the other articles I’m working on are not finished yet, so let’s take a look back at Charlene’s fashion evolution over the last 10 years.

The early girlfriend years were not so great fashion-wise for Charlene. Kind of boring, kind of plain, a bit tacky. Very mid-2000s.

Charlene made her first official appearance at Prince Albert‘s girlfriend at an Automobile Club party following the F1 Grand Prix in Monaco on May 28, 2006 in a simple black spaghetti strap dress. And then wore this pink one-shoulder number to a gala dinner on May 27, 2007.

The rest of 2007 was hit and miss. Charlene looked okay in a simple white strapless gown on July 28, 2007, but the shiny one worn on October 24, 2007 looks like someone took an old lady’s nightgown and made a dress out of it.

Things looked up for Charlene in 2008. She wore a pretty navy gown to the Rose Ball on March 29, 2008, and I kind of love the panda Isabel Christensen gown she wore to the WWF International Panda Ball on April 5, 2008.

Charlene wore a two-tone gown for the Monaco Red Cross Ball on August 1, 2008; and wore a red one-shoulder gown to the Princess Grace Awards Gala on October 15, 2008.

2009 wasn’t great, what with the giant hair she wore to the Rose Ball on March 28, 2009, and the nightgown she wore to the Princess Grace Awards on October 21, 2009.

2010 was a big year for Charlene. She made her debut on the larger royal stage: looking fantastic attending the pre-wedding dinner and wedding ceremony for Crown Princess Victoria‘s wedding on June 18 and June 19, respectively.

Charlene got to wear some giant, gorgeous earrings, too.

Then she and Albert announced their engagement and she got to attend her very first Monaco National Day celebrations on November 19 – first at the day ceremony, then at the evening gala concert.

An Armani-clad Charlene married Albert on July 2 and got to wear a diamond floral headpiece that once belonged to Albert’s grandmother, Princess Charlotte.

Charlene received a tiara as a wedding gift from Albert: The Ocean Tiara. She wore it as a necklace to the Red Cross Ball on August 5, 2011.

The Ocean Tiara was made by Van Cleef & Arpels specifically for Charlene, with her past as a swimmer in mind. The circular elements are designed to evoke the water with the use of 359 sapphires and more than 850 diamonds. The tiara features more than 1,200 gemstones and more than 70 carats in total. There are also earrings to match (not pictured).

Albert and Charlene hit up the Oscars in 2012, on February 26. And hit up a dinner for Queen Elizabeth‘s Diamond Jubilee on May 18 – hosted by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

Charlene got to wear her Order of Saint-Charles for the first time on November 19, 2012 when she attended the Monaco National Day gala.

Charlene attended Princess Madeleine‘s wedding on June 8, 2013 solo in this brown dress – and no tiara *sad face*. Bonus Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex.

Charlene finished out 2013 strong in the fashion department with two strapless gowns: a beautiful pale pink/nude gown worn to the “Love Ball” in support of the Naked Heart Foundation on July 27, 2013, and a gorgeous purple gown worn to the Ralph Lauren Collection Show and private dinner on October 8, 2013.

2014 may have been one of the most memorable years for Charlene due to the birth of her twins, but it was a bad year for fashion. She wore two ugly navy gowns: one to the Rose Ball on March 29, and the other to the Red Cross Ball on August 1.

2015 was a better year for fashion, though Charlene’s style was still hit and miss. She wore a beautiful white Akris dress and coat to the official presentation of Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella on January 7, and wore a nice red jumpsuit to the Red Cross Ball on July 25.

Charlene looked fantastic at the Princess Grace Awards on September 5, and wore an odd flapper-meets-Star Trek outfit for Monaco National Day on November 19.

Charlene’s style has definitely changed over the years, as has… other things.

Which is your favorite look from Charlene? I kind of love the panda gown, don’t ask me why. Though I think she looked fantastic at Victoria’s wedding, too.

91 thoughts on “Princess Charlene: A Style Retrospective

  1. I think she is getting better, she is prepared to take a few risks which don’t always pay off , but if you look at other royals they also have the odd disaster – even Max! When she gets it right she really gets it right. Her wedding outfit is absolutely stunning.

    1. I think all the royal women’s style is hit and miss. Some just have higher highs and/or lowers lows than others. Charlene has had some fantastic outfits, and some real stinkers.

    1. Charlene has never worn it to a public engagement, but she did wear it for a cover of Hola magazine. I, personally, don’t think it looks great as a tiara; at least not the way Charlene wore it. The tiara sat too far forward, and she didn’t have the right tiara hair. The tiara sits so oddly on her head that I thought the cover was photoshopped when I first saw it.–z.jpg

      1. Hmm I agree – she either needs to stick with it as a beautiful necklace or get some better hair help/tiara help in getting it placed right on her head. But I love the individual shapes.

  2. I think Charlene looks happier after the birth of the twins. It’s as if her life now has a purpose as she is the royal mother of the heir & not just the princess consort. Before that she just looked like a little lost & forlorn girl next to the glamorous Grimaldi ladies. Hope she finds real happiness…..

  3. I really like the headpiece from her wedding to Albert–I’m not a big jewel person, but I would wear the socks off of that (and the Swedish cameo tiara).

  4. I think Charlene is a risk taker and I love 99% of her choices.
    People often think she looks sad but I think she just feels she is not obligated to always be performing for the cameras. She looks happy ans smiles at appropriate moments. I also love her hair and tiara on the magazine cover!

  5. I love the dark taupe dress she wore to the reception preceding Victoria’s wedding and the navy gown she wore to the Red Cross ball while pregnant with the twins. I’m rather surprised that the lovely grey dress, coat and hat that she wore to W&K’s wedding didn’t make it into this review as it’s one of my all time favorites.

    Just curious, does any one know if she worked at all during the time she was the “girlfriend”?

    All in all I think Charlene’s style has progressed nicely and imo she almost always looks appropriate (except for that odd flapper number, what was she thinking??). She seems to favor very chic styling, sometimes to the point of being too severe, but with her swimmers figure and height she sure can pull it off.

    1. I agree I love the navy Red Cross Ball gown, but I disagree with you and KMR – I love the flapper dress and hat – I would so wear that!

      1. I love the flapper dress, too. I feel like the hat needs a bit more structure for her, though, as it resembles a WW1 helmet (imo). On someone with a different shaped head, it might be dynamite.

    2. At W&K’s wedding, Charlene’s and Leti’s outfits made my eyes popped. I remembered saying wow, Charlene is just one beautiful lady.

      However, the pre wedding dinner dress looks ill-fitted. It’s actually not but somehow the bust cones and all the details below just make the dress look ill-fitting with wrinkles.

      1. Oh the wonders of Google . I totally agree with you Charlene and Leti looked amazing. I watched the wedding all day ( as a Brit) we started the champagne early and watched the tv all day. But I really don’t remember seeing all these amazing royals. The BBC were more interested in the Beckhams etc.

        1. Wow – I followed your lead and googled Victoria and Dan at the wedding. They looked fabulous! Especially Prince Daniel.

          I’m just now noticing that the Brit’s royal wedding seems a lot more casual than the Swedes.

          1. Liz B I know you live in France but don’t know if you are English or American. The royal wedding was a typical British wedding in church in the morning followed by what we call a wedding breakfast . Edward and Sophie broke the trend and had a late afternoon service with long dresses. Men wear morning suits or uniform and all wear medals, so it was formal just day formal not evening formal.

          2. I thought the exact opposite, I felt that W&K’s wedding was so much pomp and circumstance while the Swedish Royal weddings were so much more personal and uptight.

          3. @Lauri from Ca
            I mean informal, as in the dress code. The Swedish weddings, though they are much more intimate and personal, the ladies wore long dresses and such.
            I agree with you that W+K’s wedding was much more pompy and circumstancey 🙂

          4. I agree with Liz, W&K’s wedding dress code was much more informal than the European wedding dress codes which are white tie.

        2. I thought Charlene looked gorgeous at W and K’s wedding I really like her style. So many of the photos listed on this post are gorgeous. She had a few misses, but nothing too terrible.

          I think Charlene has a lovely sense of style. I also think she has come into her own since the birth of the babies. She seems happy and more relaxed.

          Hope she has a Happy Birthday and a year filled with more joyful moments.

    3. There were several outfits that I liked that didn’t make it in. I also wanted to include more “misses”, but the post just got too long to include everything.

  6. These are my favorites:

    Princess Charlene looked stunning in 2010 for C.P. Victoria and Daniel’s wedding. Both gowns looked fantastic. It made me have real hope for her sartorially.

    The diamond floral headpiece she wore for her wedding, combined with her hair and simple veil makes this one of my favorite ‘from the shoulders up’ wedding looks. Surprisingly, my other favorite is Victoria in the Cameo Tiara. I will take one, the other or both.

    Charlene looked like a star in the pale gown she wore for the dinner hosted by Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla.

    She looked fantastic in the pale pink/nude gown for the Love Ball and the striking purple gown for the Ralph Lauren Collection show.

    Charlene looked so pretty for the presentation of the babies in her white Akris coat. I think she wore gloves and the suede boots she had added to the look. We often mention Kate needs to learn to accessorize, so why doesn’t she watch how Charlene puts the whole HTT look together.

    Charlene in the red jumpsuit was an unexpected choice. I wonder what people whispered about when she walked in the room, but I think she looked cute.

    Princess Charlene can be more daring with her choices. I wish Kate would follow her lead with accessories and become a little more daring. Charlene usually has careful tailoring done with her clothing and it shows.

    I love seeing the new photos each year with C.P. Mary and her husband in all the bells and whistles. Some royal families may not have ever had this tradition or they stopped doing it as some point, but it takes away from MY fun. It is only a few hours…can’t you do it for ME? It appears Charlene isn’t interested/comfortable wearing the expensive jewelry her husband has given her (except earrings), but the money has already been spent. It makes me wonder if it hurts her husbands feelings.

    If I was in charge, I would make all the royal families have formal portraits taken each year, the way some of the royal houses continue to do them to this day.

    1. I wonder why we haven’t seen a official photo of the DoC yet? As I recall there were many of Diana but sadly that trend seems to have fallen by the wayside for the BRF.

    2. I didn’t have room to show everything, but Charlene has worn pants/jumpsuits before to formal gatherings. So it’s actually no that uncommon for her.

      Re hurting the husband’s feelings: I always wonder that when I read about The Queen Mother turning wedding gifts from George VI into different pieces without ever wearing them in the original form.

  7. What a fun post KMR – thank you!

    So fascinating to see her style progression and evolution from okay to uber-sophisticate. She can daringly pull off a red and fuschia gown which I find stunning. Then switch to an ethereal look at Crown Princess Victoria‘s wedding. Love the breezy Akris ensemble with the beige suede boots. That’s what makes her style exciting! She keeps us guessing – which Charlene will show up? The siren or fairy or cosmopolitan?

    One other thing I noticed about Charlene – No crotch clutching!

  8. Favourites: 2-toned, pink/nude to Love Ball and the one worn to QE’s Diamond Jubilee dinner.

    The wedding dress, with such regrets that I say, it’s poorly fitted with wrinkles all over the front bodice. I can’t believe that’s Armani. Those wrinkles make me cringe.

    I think Charlene should not wear strapless, spaghetti straps. She can do these with a sheer shawl to cover up her extremely broad shoulders. She just looks so unbalanced with a small head, big broad shoulders and an elongated frame.

  9. KMR and everyone-What happened to Seth? Haven’t seen him for a while. Was he shown the door?

    A long time ago, I remember him saying he’s mildly autistic so perhaps the communications skills can be a bit off. I always remember this when I read his comments.

    1. Seth had said at one point that he was thinking he should take a step back from the blog for a time–maybe this is the time he chose.

    2. I think he made one comment that seemed totally out of left field. I was surprised by it and found it distasteful. I hope he did not mean it that way. Also hope his family is doing well and a downturn in someone’s health is not the reason why he is absent.

    3. Thanks Beatrice. I’ve been wondering about Seth too and hoping he is ok.
      I know he said he had that wedding to attend so I’m hoping that is the reason he’s not been commenting.
      If you are reading this Seth, hope you and your family are all good and that you haven’t been affected by last weekend’s storms.

  10. Charlene has enviable classic bone structure in her face, and no matter what she wears (mostly not so great) or how old she gets, she will always have that. I would say it’s her best accessory. She will be a beautiful older woman, when all the flash in the pan prettiness of her royal peers fade out.

      1. There have been rumors of rhinoplasty and breast augmentation, including gum/teeth restoration. Nothing gross or stark in my view, but subtle changes to enhance or improve her looks. As long as she stays away from a Botox frozen face, chipmunk cheeks from too much fillers, and hyaluronic injections for bee-stinged lips—she should be ok.

        1. Lol, I was waiting for someone to bring up the plastic surgery. After looking at old photos of Charlene, it’s pretty obvious to me that she had some work done.

          Do you know when it was rumored Charlene got her breasts done? Because if I had to guess by looking at the photos, I would say summer 2007.

  11. Oh and I love the panda gown – I assume the panda comes off so she can wear it again, but it is such a positive statement and FUN!!! Just fun sometimes is quite enough for me.

  12. The pink nude gown for the Love Ball and the purple gown pictures next to it, were stunning. I loved her bridal look, too. I was surprised the Albert-Chalene nuptials did not get the coverage that William and Kate’s marriage did, or even half as much. Charlene looked amazingly beautiful and her gown had rings around Kate’s boring number. I guess all the flak she received from the press concerning rumors that she tried to flee Monaco prior to the wedding and the fact that she appeared so serious on her wedding day (even shed tears) made people believe she was unhappy. While Kate and Will’s wedding was sold to everyone as a fairy tale one.

    Charlene looks lovely in white, but she is also stunning in colors. She takes chances and for the most part, I think she pulls things off in a powerful way. I also think that she has come into her own since the birth of the twins. Motherhood really suits her and she seems to enjoy the babies. Albert does, too.

    The panda gown, was fun! And, the dress in the photo next to it was lovely, too. Oh, and she rocked that flapper outfit. Amazing!

    As for the two “ugly” navy gowns. I did not like the one in the photo on the left, but the one on the right was very simple, but smart,imo.

    Wishing her continued health and happiness. She is someone worth watching.

    1. The one on the right was *very* ill fitting. That photo I chose didn’t show it, but it was very ill fitting.

  13. I agree Charlene’s style is evolving nicely and she seems to have more of a European sophistication to her looks that someone lacks….I think you all know who I am alluding to. Charlene is elegant and poised. Also she rarely repeats outfits, which like bad posture for some, is my pet peeve with DoC, who repeats outfits too closely together. I know there are many other royals who do repeats, but usually they change it up a bit with different accessories, unlike one who does not. I would like to see Charlene with hair that is a bit longer and less severe.

    1. One thing I forgot to mention-love the fact that Charlene’s gowns show a bit of skin in a totally respectable way; off the shoulder looks, spaghetti straps, strapless etc….Unlike you know who, who always seems to be buttoned up to her nostrils.

    2. Out of all the photos of Charlene I saw, I don’t think she repeated an outfit once. I was actually thinking the opposite of you in comparing Char to Kate, because I was thinking that people get in a tizzy about the amount of money Kate spends on her clothes but Charlene’s wardrobe must cost even more since she wears more expensive designers and doesn’t repeat anything.

      1. Her clothes cost a pretty penny. I dont want to think of the cost. Lagerfeld used to dress Caroline exclusively. Not sure if Char works with a house like that.

        1. I’m fairly certain Charlene has worn Chanel. I know Lagerfeld has photographed her at least once.

  14. Great job KMR! My favorite picture is the one where Charlene has the royal order sash!( I think that is what it is called, correct me if I am wrong!) I am hoping Adam sees this post? It is not just the fashion choices. It’s also working with charities, important causes representing Monaco on an international level. I wonder where CrazyAMC is? I hope she alright & comes back! LJA you are so hilarious” Who always seems to be buttoned up to her nostrils.”

    1. when i look at the above pics, isnt charlene smiling, even before she had her babies??? her fashion sense is 99% fabulous, I think with Albert past, people never thought this marriage will last this long, well well, amazing, things are going from strength to strength, her wedding was amazing, i keep watching that video over and over and cant get enough, but sadly I cant watch KW, its looks too staged, underwhelming, for a future heir, all in all, charlene is just doing well in the fashion department and in her personal life, wish her the best!!!

  15. She is a classic example of what styling, fit, confidence, and couture. That black dress with the spaghetti straps? Yikes! The Monaco Red Cross gown in 2008? Perfection. I want to have it. I am not a fan of ombre, but this was wonderful. I think that clean lines work for her. Also, she seems to be a minimalist, especially with her jewels. For example, her engagement ring. It is huge and pear-shaped. She doesn’t wear it often.

    I love her and her style. She seems more in tune with herself and her husband over the years.

    Great retrospective, KMR. Would you mind doing something like this for some of the other royal women on their birthdays?

    1. I was going to say the same thing about her minimalist style too. She carefully chooses one statement jewelry to complete a look without the bling overpowering or distracting her style. Or how about the simple pearl earring with the cream Akris dress—then packing a wallop with those boots for a winning outfit. I would love to know who her stylist is!

    2. I know this was not on the list of suggested monthly feature ideas but I kind of thought this “style retrospective” would make a good monthly feature to replace the “hot guy” one. What do you think?

      1. +1 as well.
        I am not fond of the “hot guy” posts (but I am old and celebrating my 31st anniversary next week so take that with a grain of salt!) My honey is my only hot guy. But the clothes – oh, how I love the clothes! I am a total Charlene fan – she wears her clothes well, they don’t wear her!

      2. I love this Style Retrospective!!! But I love the “Hot Guy” articles too! If I had to pick one or the other I guess it would be style but I’d sure love to see a “hot guy” now and then 🙂

  16. Happy birthday Charlene! Thank you KMR for an entertaining revue of princess Charlene fashion in past 10 years and also for evoking my curiosity in present day royalty. I will strive to acquire more knowledge about them because so far none of them earned my respect. Regarding the fashion of PC my favorite gown on her is the dress with panda. It took me by surprise to see it on her. Love it! I also like her in the longer hair cut which she is sporting in pink dress. Personally I like navy color and her one arm dress for a Red Cross ball was my favorite.

  17. Happy Birthday Charlene!
    A nice selection of gowns KMR and a great way to celebrate Charlene’s birthday by having this look back.
    I do like the simple clean lines of the clothes that Charlene wears. Some misses but mostly I think they are hits.
    I do think that panda dress was a great way to get people to remember that the ball was for WWF and not just another party, very subtle!

    1. I’m so glad other people like the panda gown. I thought people would think it looked ridiculous but I love it. Without the panda it would have been just a boring white gown but the panda added such whimsy.

  18. Happy birthday, Charlene – I think she will get even better, and more elegant with age! I feel for her in regards to her hair – it’s just like mine – blonde, fine and thin. I can understand why she had it chopped short – hair such as hers (and mine) just cannot handle a lot of styling – it sucks the life out of it. Personally, I think this will be her biggest ‘style’ issue as she matures. Fortunately she is tall, statuesque and striking and can get away with a simple do, but sometimes we need the softness that only a full thick head of hair can bring!

    1. I have fine, blonde hair as well and it just won’t take a style. I’ll curl it and the curls will fall in an hour. I still have it long, though, because I prefer it long.

      1. Hi KMR, I am relatively new to this site but love i! And the funny thing is (for whatever reason), I assumed you were a brunette… I totally agree with keeping hair such as ours long – it really is so much easier to handle! Keep up the excellent work!

          1. PS yes these style round ups are so much fun for me too, since I never followed any other European royals before I found this blog and now I’m playing catch up. Way more fun than “hot” guys.

        1. I would guess it has something to do with the photo of Kate as my photo? I always think it’s funny when I see someone’s profile photo and get used to that and think of that photo when I think of that person, but then I see an actual photo of the person and go “You look totally different than I imagined you”. It has happened to me many times on Facebook, even with family members.

      2. The photo is so tiny that I initially thought it was you, too, KMR. Then, one day I was perusing the internet and saw a huge this same huge picture of Kate and I thought, oh, no! I wondered why you chose it, but I can certainly respectd your need for privacy. Still, a blonde? I don’t believe it! Only because for so long, I thought the brunette in the picture was you!

        We have come to know each other fairly well on this blog, it would be interesting to find out what others think regular commenters look like.

        1. I know. I have images of all of you in my head and it would be so weird to see what you guys actually look like. Re the picture of Kate as my profile photo: I wanted a nice logo like some of the other Kate websites have, but when I went to create one it just looked bad so I went with this photo of Kate (because I actually really like the hat she wore in it) and the site name over the top.

          1. I always liked the photo, too. And, thought to myself, “OH, KMR, is so cute!” I know the real you tops Kate. That is for sure!

            I think it would be fun to let people guess what regular commenters look like. Sometimes, you can get a good feel for what people “may” look like, but sometimes, you can be sooo wrong!

  19. well happy birthday charlene, and cant wait to see more of those georgeous twins, cant get enough of them, Albert definitely chose his partner well!!!

  20. Whilst trying to find photos of some of the outfits referred to in comments I discovered
    Seems to be mainly about Charlene , but the thing that interested me was that a bit of digging (my boss is away and my lunch half hour extended just a little) showed that Charlene does repeat quite a lot, plus a bit of redesigning. So for her brothers wedding she had a long gown cut down to a knee length.
    Given the comments that she doesn’t recycle just thought people might be interested.
    It also highlights the cost of some of her amazing jewels, although suggests that some might be on loan?
    Have found a few interesting blogs etc since my Christmas illness, but none have KMR’s following where we share personal triumphs and disasters, recipe tips, health advice etc.
    You’ve got something special going on here KMR I hope you realise how much pleasure you bring to the people who come here- we all come for Kate and stay for the other royals and camaraderie and support.

    1. All I can judge on is what I saw, and from what I saw on Getty it didn’t look like Charlene repeated outfits at all. But that site may have more photos than Getty (I’m sure they do).

      1. I couldn’t quite work out the site it concentrated on Charlene and had loads of photos, and the the Egyptian ex Royal family. Didn’t quite see the link!

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