Princess-to-Be Sarah Ferguson Is Well-Suited in Di's Old Duds

updated 05/26/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/26/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

From the moment Sarah Ferguson started dating Britain's Prince Andrew, the cheeky London tabloids began advising her on her "frumpy" wardrobe. But when she's short on cash, what's an incipient princess to do? The startling answer appeared on the front page of London's Sunday Mirror. Pictured were side-by-side photos of Fergie and Princess Diana wearing the same black-and-white check coat. The 5'10" Di had been photographed in it in September; 5'8" Fergie borrowed it last February. The newspaper also produced a shot of Fergie at stylish Ascot races in another of her friend's hand-me-downs, a floral outfit Di had worn five years ago at the Trooping of the Color before her marriage to Prince Charles.

Melanie Cornish, a 15-year-old Devon schoolgirl, made the discovery while flipping through scrapbooks she keeps on the royals and she tipped off Fleet Street. It probably required a dressmaker's expert alterations to make Di's size 8 clothes fit Fergie's rounded size 12 frame.

Wearing Di's discards, observers note, was an indiscretion that Fergie committed before her engagement, and it is not likely to happen again. Still, those incidents point up Fergie's continuing clothes woes. As one fashion maven puts it generously, "Fergie has still got to learn." After the 26-year-old Fergie stepped outside Buckingham Palace wearing an unflattering suit for the Queen's 60th-birthday bash last month, the Daily Mirror suggested that the palace "insist in future that Miss Sarah Ferguson learn a royal walk; manage her hair; and, given the shape of her not inconsiderable backside, never again choose a suit which has a socking great bow drawing attention to it." Fergie no doubt doesn't intend to rival Di's style, but if ever she wants to copy it, a Daily Mirror writer suggested, "It won't be achieved by borrowing her castoffs; only, I'm afraid, by asking for the loan of her diet sheet."

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