Why it Works: Audrey Hepburn’s Style, Four Decades Later

Your Life in Pink

February 16, 2018

When you think of iconic style, what comes to mind? Particular outfits like the plunging green dress Jennifer Lopez made famous or Lady Gaga’s notorious meat outfit? What about a specific era, such as bosom-celebrating baroque or the vampy 1920s? And more importantly, who comes to mind? Jean Harlow, Gwen Stefani, Princess Diana?

More than any other, Audrey Hepburn’s style has lived on, her elegance celebrated and sophistication emulated. Her appeal is obvious, with worldwide recognition and copycats popping up with each new fashion generation and at every costume party.

But why, of all the style icons we’ve known and loved, has Audrey Hepburn’s aesthetic lived on?

We boiled it down to three major principles that just keep working no matter how much time passes or what new trends show up.

Pants and Flats

In an era celebrated for its glamour and sophistication, Audrey Hepburn often opted for a slim-fit trouser and flat shoe over the tightly fitted bodices and high heels of the time. Her approach to everyday clothing put comfort and function at the forefront but never sacrificed interest or style, all during a time when women were expected to wear panty hose and dresses.

Her chic beatnik streetwear was a modern style that became a classic must-have – showing women that they didn’t have to be gussied up to be feminine, sexy and powerful.

“When she first rose to stardom in Roman Holiday, she was seen as an alternative feminine ideal that appealed more to women than to men, in comparison to the curvy and more sexual Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor.”

Minimalism and Monochrome

Black. White. Blush. Flats. Pants. Plaid. Audrey Hepburn had a knack for taking basic colors, prints and silhouettes and making them unique and interesting. Whether she wore collared shirts and high-waisted shorts with slight wedge heels, or trench coats and head scarves with a-line skirts, her use of shape and color (or lack thereof) lives on today for its simplicity, even though it was anything but. She made fashion approachable and comfortable and connected to the real woman rather than the movie star.

“With her short hair style, thick eyebrows, slim body … she presented a look which young women found easier to emulate than those of more sexual film stars.”

Simple Silhouettes & Statement Accessories

Audrey Hepburn took cocktail attire to an iconic level when Holly Golightly stepped out in one simple thing: the little black dress. Breakfast at Tiffany’s made the LBD a wardrobe staple for every woman in modern history, and has since challenged every designer to reimagine it in fresh and interesting ways. Sure, Coco Chanel may have done it first, but few moments in fashion have come close to the effect that Hepburn’s had on modern culture.

The opportunities for presentation and interpretation of the LBD are endless. Would Holly’s look have been so influential without her luxurious pearl necklace and tiara? Perhaps not, but just in case, she added full-length gloves and oversized sunglasses to push it to to icon status.

And that’s the crux of this famous fashion moment – women realized how glamorous and sexy they could be in something that’s so functional and customizable. Few garments can make such a claim. And that’s why we’re still endlessly searching for the perfect little black dress.

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Come see us at La Vie en Rose – we can’t make you look like Audrey Hepburn, but we’ll try our best to make you feel like her.

Love and flowers,
La Vie en Rose


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