Audrey Hepburn was, without a doubt, one of the most iconic fashionistas of the 20th Century. Even today, nearly 57 years after the premier of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, most of us can place the dress she wore in the movie, even if it’s shown on the back of a rainbow-colored zebra.
Pretty much all of her movies had such iconic styles we know and love today. Think of Roman Holiday, Funny Face, Sabrina, and My Fair Lady. All these movies launched Ms. Hepburn as a fashion constellation in the fashion universe. The designs for most of her movies and much of her personal style were created by Hubert de Givenchy who was, himself, just getting started building his fashionable name at the time. She became for him a muse and he designed whole lines of clothing with her in mind.
Before Hollywood, The War
But Ms. Hepburn’s life was not always so glamorous. Did you know she was a child of war? She was just a girl when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands where she lived at the time. She starved when they took away the nation’s rations. She suffered anemia and respiratory problems as a result of malnutrition. She witnessed family members gunned down in the street. She watched trainloads of children being carted off to extermination camps. And she took the risk of supporting the underground resistance by dancing in performances to raise money for the cause.
We all know the story ended well for Ms. Hepburn. She survived. I shudder to think what we would have lost had she gone the way of so many other children of that era. As if those children who suffered and died were nobodies. They were all somebody to someone. I’m sure there were many “Audreys” we lost over the years because of war, starvation, and poverty.
From Hollywood to Humanity
But you didn’t come here to be sad. I know that. It’s just something I think about when I consider my love of fashion and whether it’s important for me to enter into my third year of blogging here on Petite Over 40. I wonder sometimes if my interest in this subject is really of value. I wonder if my energy is better spent on other things.
Then I see Ms. Hepburn’s life and I think how she rose out of one of the most tragic experiences, having seen horrors she rarely spoke of, and her whole world became–for a time–about fashion and entertainment. It was who she was.
From those terrible experiences, she grew into a powerful woman. She used that power, her wealth, and her gifts to be a great humanitarian. She worked with UNICEF to personally bring aid to the lives of children who suffered as she did. She was a great fashionista and a great humanitarian.
Maybe that’s the lesson she teaches me: Use the gifts you have and they will turn into gifts that help others.
Back to the Beginning
So, here we are. To kickstart 2018, I’m going back to my roots where it all started — iconic fashions from times gone by. Who better to start with than Audrey Hepburn?
As I write this, I am in Arizona visiting family and friends. My wardrobe selection is quite limited and when I left I wasn’t sure whether I would stand before you for another year as a fashion blogger. But I do love it so much. Just, bear with me as I share 2018’s first post of the year–an outfit I scrapped together from the bits I have here with me. My outfit is inspired by this photo of Audrey Hepburn.
The clean, crispness of her shirt is what I connect to here. Many of her iconic outfits involve a crisp, white shirt–and I may feature those another time. This one is looser fitting. It’s billowy because it is oversized–a man’s shirt–but it doesn’t swallow her. Her jewelry is simple–just some silver bracelets and hoop earrings.
My Attempt at Audrey’s Look
Sadly, I don’t have access to a large white shirt. The only shirts like this I have belong to my husband and he doesn’t own one in white. He loves color and I love him for that. So, although I missed the mark on the color, I still wanted to try out how this look feels on my skin, to see if it’s worth investing in my own white shirt down the road.
Here’s another photo of Audrey in her outfit:
Here’s my version, in color this time:
You may have noticed as my husband did that, while Ms. Hepburn’s legs are bare in her photos, I added leggings to my outfit. Simply put, they make me feel more comfortable.
I’m not sure I’d wear this outfit out much. When I’m seated it looks okay, but when I stand the shirt billows out and makes me look pregnant.
So I added a belt.
You may recognize this belt from the wrap skirt I wore in my post about Drizzle & Shine, the eco-boutique in Seattle that I love. The skirt has a detachable belt–it zips on and is reversible. I took it off the skirt and used it as a belt here.
This particular experiment took me from 1950s Audrey Hepburn to the 1980s when oversized shirts were all the rage. Anybody else remember those? I think we even paired them up with leggings, only our leggings had stirrups and/or legwarmers.
Making the World More Equitable
Taking a cue from Audrey Hepburn, I continue to write about my love of fashion while seeking ways ways to make life better for people who do not have access to the food, shelter, and privilege that I do.
The quest to even out the world’s wealth and privilege often seems unattainable. I admit my hope wanes as I watch my own country’s leaders take away services for our senior citizens, the middle class, and poor and give to the wealthiest 1 percent, a group who already have 40 percent of the wealth.
I have come across non-profits who have their boots on the frontlines around the world. They bring food to people who are starving. They provide medicine to people who are sick. They work toward social justice. And they help people without a home build lives for themselves and their families. Here is a list, in case you’re interested.
Click the names of the organizations to visit their website.
If you know of other organizations working to fight this uphill battle with real solutions, please let me know. I’m eager to learn.
A Tribute to You
Thank you, dear readers, for coming with me on this fashion journey. This year I will continue to work on projects that may take me away from this blog from time to time, but I promise to always come back if you do. And I’m constantly learning with hopes of bringing you better photos, more artistic styles, and richer content.
Shirt: Men’s Bugatchi Shaped Fit Check Shirt from Nordstrom
Leggings: Eileen Fisher (old). Similar here.
Shoes: Geox Lamulay Flat (sold out). Similar here.
Belt: From ZAND Amsterdam skirt as seen here.
Watch: FitBit Charge 2.
“Bracelet”: David Yurman Box Chain Necklace from Nordstrom.
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