Q&A: How to Be a Modern Day Style Icon

July 1st, 2008

Q: I love retro style like Audrey Hepburn, Katharine Hepburn, Grace Kelly.  How can I modernize these styles into today’s fashion?

Style Icons: Katharine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly

by Colleen Geary, fashion stylist and image consultant

A: Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Katharine Hepburn all embody timeless American style.  Audrey is famous for her elegant black sheath dress, capri pants, ballet flats, and large dark sunglasses. Her style is perfectly suited to her body type and personality - thin, graceful and gamine.  (She was also fortunate to have Hubert Givenchy to dress her.) Grace Kelly is famous for her cinched waists, full skirts, fitted tops, pearls, and her classic Kelly bag.  And Katharine Hepburn, exuding professional style, made menswear her signature look. 

What do Audrey, Grace, and Katharine have in common?  Each was an icon of their own personal style.  So to modernize this looks, do as these style icons did:

Wear clothing that suits your figure.  Not your style icon’s figure, not your best friend’s figure–your figure.  Be honest with yourself about what works and what doesn’t–and choose your silhouettes accordingly.

Create, don’t Copy. Instead of copying Audrey, Katharine, or Grace’s style directly, create your own signature style.  Sure, it can be based on that of your style icon, but make it your own.  Katharine Hepburn made trousers her signature piece.  What will your signature piece be?

Create your signature style around classic, clean lines. 
Your clothes won’t overwhelm you, and maintaining a clean silhouette allows you to play with accessories, hairstyles, and makeup. 

Pictured: Katharine Hepburn (courtesy of Fashion Me Fabulous), Audrey Hepburn (courtesy of AudreyHepburn.com), and Grace Kelly (courtesy of GraceKellyOnline).

Have a great tip about how to be a modern day style icon? Share it with us in the comments!

Entry Filed under: How To, Q&A, Women, Women's, Women's

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Donna  |  July 1st, 2008 at 5:13 am

    I’ve read numerous articles and fashion books on this topic and all have similar advice on dressing in what suits your body and editing everything out that doesn’t. Unfortunately, I don’t think the average person has much of a clue of what looks good on them! If they did, TV shows like “What Not to Wear” and the other makeover shows would not be necessary! If you look at large crowds of people in this country, you’ll see the most appalling styles, colors and fit of clothing imaginable. Either people are totally in the dark about style or they really don’t care!

  • 2. M  |  July 1st, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Of course, Audrey Hepburn was half English and half Dutch and born in Belgium. And, as you point out, she was often dressed by Hubert de Givenchy, a French designer. As such, is her style really American? If enough Americans embrace and co-opt/commodify a style, does it become American, regardless of its true origin? I would argue to the contrary. Audrey Hepburn’s style was uniquely her own and defies classification within the context of national boundaries.

  • 3. Trisha  |  July 1st, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    Donna - great point. To that end, we’re doing articles about what works for you for specific body types. Here’s the first one in what will be a series:

    Figure Flattery Guide: What to Wear to Flatter Your Tummy
    http://www.omiru.com/index.php/2008/06/27/figure-flattery-guide-what-to-wear-to-flatter-your-tummy/

  • 4. Alyssa  |  July 2nd, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    Great article! It’s difficult to copy styles people like while at the same time remembering their body types. As Donna said, many women are unsure of their body types and therefore have a hard time figuring out what looks good on them–I’m sure this blog could help them very much!

    For me, I have always admired Audrey Hepburn’s style, but since I do not have a similar body type I incorporate details that remind me of her into my wardrobe. I tend to stick to silhouettes that look best on me (I am curvy with a small waist, so I wear a lot of pieces that fit tight at the waist) but still find ways to incorporate styles I admire into my wardrobe.
    An Audrey-inspired outfit: http://flickr.com/photos/alyssakai/2613409278/in/set-72157602682444696/

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