The Bahraini royal entrepreneur behind The Overdressed blog opens up about scoring rare vintage gowns and layering luxurious jewels.
For Sheikha Dana Al Khalifa, fashion is a means to channel her femininity. “I don’t care much for trends,” she says. “I like forever pieces that are not constricting or fussy.” The blogger has a sweet spot for classic silhouettes, solid separates, and timeless motifs. “I like retro prints,” she continues. “I do polka dots. I have a black and white Dolce & Gabbana dress that I love. I’m a fan of prints. My favorite pieces are a floral Emilia Wickstead wrap skirt and a striped Jacquemus off-the-shoulder shirt.”
Originally printed in the September 2018 issue of Vogue Arabia
When it comes to color, her prismatic wardrobe ranges from a bright yellow Marni dress and an embellished pink shift by Saudi brand Nomad, to a cream, tea-length frock. “I know it’s not an exciting color, but it’s a perfect shade of wheat that complements my complexion,” she says with a bright smile. “It’s also ideal for those in-between occasions when you’re not sure about going casual or dressy.” For a formal affair, she’ll add a fur stole, snakeskin Azzedine Alaïa sandals, and a signature Nathalie Trad clutch.
Piece by Piece
To add sparkle to her day-to-day look, Sheikha Al Khalifa stacks Suzanne Kalan’s baguette bracelets and Charmaleena star bangles on her arms. “They are beautiful layering pieces,” she says, extending her limbs for effect. “Very sparkly and luxurious, but at the same time, not in your face. I feel comfortable wearing them while I travel as they don’t draw too much attention.” Her Tasali ring from Nuun Jewels with its rows of pavé diamonds is a favorite for everyday wear. She adds a sentimental touch with designs from Carolina Bucci, with a bespoke piece made from old charms. A gold signet ring inscribed with the letter D from the Italian fine jewelry brand is an especially personal piece. “My sisters got this for me as a push present after delivering my son,” shares the mother of two.
Style Without Borders
“My location doesn’t dictate what I wear,” she states. “What I wear on vacation, I can wear anywhere.” Saudi Arabia is the exception to her rule: “I live in Al Aziziyah in Eastern Province and abayas play a major part of my daily wear.” Steering clear from embellished and overly decorated designs, she has a sharp eye for sourcing clean-cut silhouettes featuring a beautiful drape. “I look for really good materials, and the right fit is important. I prefer something that’s not baggy and won’t be a burden when worn.” Her go-to pieces are by Nouf Alsudairi. “Her abayas are incredible,” the sheikha shares. “She does them in washed silk and linen. They are so easy to move in and the colors are just beautiful. I have a light blue one and I’ve recently ordered a piece in black so I have something subdued.” Underneath her overlay, she’ll don her signature look: cropped black pants, a roomy white shirt from A.W.A.K.E., and a pair of pointy Paul Andrew flats.
Sheikha Al Khalifa sources vintage designer pieces from Shrimpton Couture. If she’s looking for a special, one-of-a-kind piece, she’ll reach out to her friend and founder of the online boutique, Cherie Federau, whose selection of vintage threads “never disappoints.” A vivid metallic green, strapless, knife-pleated 1980s Emanuel Ungaro gown recently caught her eye. “For months, I would go on Cherie’s website just to make sure it was still there,” she remembers. “Finally, I decided to buy it and give it my own spin. In person, it’s a dream. The fabric is beautiful and the way it’s cut to fall on the body is amazing.” She updated the dress by removing the flower accents and altering the bodice to contour her shape, giving it a modern reinvention.
One of her most treasured pieces is a precious oversized tulle shawl featuring hammered silver, passed down by her grandmother. It’s known as an Al Naqba, which is typically used for folkloric Samri dances at important events. It’s one of her most treasured pieces. “I’m the one who likes the shiny stuff,” she laughs. “The shawl became mine because my aunts, sisters, and cousins wouldn’t use it nearly as much as my grandmother knew I would.” She likes to layer the heavily embellished scarf with a classic T-shirt, frayed blue jeans from Mother Denim, and milky-white Christian Louboutin shoes. The result is a discerning fusion of her culture and taste.
Photography: Djinane AlSuwayeh