Buttoned Up and Inspired by Audrey Hepburn

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 movieeven if it’s shown on the back of a rainbow-colored zebra.

audrey hepburn, breakfast at tiffany's, art, etsy
Artwork by Coco de Paris of Cocktail Zoo on Etsy.

Pretty much all of her movies had such iconic styles we know and love today. Think of Roman HolidayFunny 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.

Audrey Hepburn Funny Face movie poster

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.

luggage auschwitz poland concentration camp
A pile of luggage taken from Jews after they arrived in the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland during the Holocaust. Ms. Hepburn witnessed the beginning of this journey for many. Photo by me.

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.

auschwitz poland children
Some of the children who lost their lives in Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. Photo by me.

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.

Audrey Hepburn white button-down shirt. Classic look.

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.

Tribute to Audrey Hepburn
No tribute to Audrey Hepburn is complete without a black and white photo–even if my shirt is dark.

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.

1980s bright fashion from Esprit.

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.

Outfit Notes:

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.

Affiliate link disclaimer: Please note, some of the items linked may be affiliated with companies I am associated with. By clicking the affiliated links and purchasing from those stores, I might receive a small commission. By purchasing from these stores, you support the work I do here and I greatly appreciate your support!

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  • I’m glad you are not giving up on your blogging, Sherry. I often have similar thoughts in relation to style/blogging and its place in the convoluted scheme of things. What keeps me going is that I regard my styling as a form of self care and community care. If I can deliver a sense of calm/happiness through my style, it will ricochet in positive ways beyond me. It’s small, but many smalls together add up, as you say.

    I love your take on Ms. Hepburn, and these photos certainly do your comparison justice! I like the shirt unbelted too, but the big belt is fantastic. I’m glad you’re in Arizona now, where it’s warm. And how cool that your husband doesn’t have any white shirts!!

    Great new-year-kickoff post that makes me think.

    • Thank you, Mel! I know you wrestle with the same questions. You are part of the reason why I decided to keep going. Your blog, your art, encourages and inspires me. Your work breathes life into my own creativity. So–you’re right. These things we do, they might seem frivolous or shallow to us at the time but they do mean something. They have value. I need to remember that.

      Hugs and Happy New Year!
      – Sherry

  • Hello Sherry🙋🏻
    Happy New Year!
    I think that you look very pretty no matter what your wearing… your eyes and smile makes you shine!


  • Life is quite the conundrum at times….what is our place and do we add value? But I think if only for the fact of meeting women like you, it’s been such a blessing to me! (mushy, but true)
    As for the shirt—I love it belted. And I will say that although Audrey is quite an amazing woman, to me she’s such a minimalist. I love that about her, but it’s definitely not my personality!!

    • I totally agree, Jodie! Without these blogs, I would never have met you and I would be poorer for it. What a blessing you and your whole family have been in my life.

      As for you and Audrey’s style–yes, they are different from one another! But both are perfectly expressive of two beautiful women. ❤️

      Hugs and Hellos to you, Rob, Charlotte, and Nancy! Miss you all!

      – Sherry

  • Thanks Sherry for your insight into Audrey’s life. I never knew that about her. The thing with Audrey and that white shirt is that, it is a photo shoot. They are beautiful photos but the style is completely unrealistic for the everyday woman. I like how you have taken the elements from it and made it your own. What I think you can take out of it is, you really suit the blue in your husband’s shirt – it makes your eyes pop and you look a million dollars. The shirt size does nothing for you – but a shirt dress or tunic in that colour would be amazing on you. Please don’t stop blogging, there are not many over 40 woman bloggers. You have something to add to the world and if you can use your fame as a blogger to share what is important to you, don’t be shy – share. You already have a platform, do what Audrey did and use it wisely.

    • Thank you, Claire, for your kind and thoughtful words. I will carry them with me into this blogging year. They will be fuel and encouragement to my work here.

      Warmly and With Gratitude,

  • I feel your frustration with blogging. It takes loads of time and energy and often we can’t figure out why we do it.

    I’m delighted to see you have decided to stick with it a bit longer. You would be dearly missed!

    Your historical references are a new spin on fashion that keeps your blog fresh and interesting.

    I always learn something.

    This was a fun post and your outfit turned out very cute.


    • I know you get my struggle about blogging. It can be a see-saw of possibility and disappointment. At the very least, blogging has introduced me to women like you–women who are friends and sources of inspiration.

      You, in particular, have provided so many ideas, from the clothes I’ve purchased and received from you to the fabulous outfits I see on your blog to the times we’ve shared in person together that leave me diving into projects I would never have thought of before. I would miss that camaraderie if I got out of it altogether.

      Thank you for your continued encouragement and support! I hope to do our creative partnership justice this year, even if it takes me longer to do it right.


  • This is a really special post Sherry. Even though you may have primary billing as a “fashion blogger” you continue changing, evolving , and living in your own skin just like the rest of us. The fact that you love fashion and are socially conscientious can potentialy put you in an awkwardly conflicting position. Choosing to share that journey with your readers is just one of the ways your blog is unique. It’s worth waiting for your posts because your content is unpredictable but always heartfelt, unique, timely and beautifully written. Your fashion themes are grounded in history but you connect them seamlessly with current style as well as social and political trends. You remind us of our responsibility to each other in a context we didn’t predict. Your humanity and writing talent blend to give us perspective and motivation.
    I love you in black and white but so glad you included those beautiful, blue eyes enhanced by that blue checkered shirt. Audrey would be delighted, flattered and proud to be your muse.

    • Thank you for everything, Jude. You are always there cheering me on and I am so grateful for that. Your words here touched my heart deeply and motivate me to keep going. I appreciate you hearing my struggles and pointing out the path in front of me so beautifully. You really see and understand.

      Missing You Mucho! I hope you’re having a good week!