Dressing for Success in New York, Diana Cuts the Frills and Froufrou

updated 02/20/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/20/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

Ask about her tour of a homeless shelter. Inquire politely whether Her Royal Highness enjoyed the opera. But please don't ask what Princess Diana was wearing on her first trip to New York. She's tired of being seen as a clothes-horse, and besides, this was a business trip—44 hours of boosting British industry, publicizing worthy causes and patronizing the arts.

Still, a princess has to make a good impression, and it doesn't hurt to have a lady-in-waiting, a personal maid and a reported eight trunks full of clothes on hand. Only four outfits ever left the closet, but the fashion statement was clear. Gone were the flamboyant touches she affected as a neophyte figurehead—Diana has become a thoroughly professional princess. Her hemlines, at mid-knee, revealed none of the royal attributes, even when she stooped to tie a homeless boy's shoe. "Such styles could be worn by a successful businesswoman without raising eyebrows anywhere in the world," proclaimed the New York Times. Just the kind of praise a working princess likes to hear.

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