What’s Going On In Your Wardrobe

Over the past ten years, I have been a thousand and one different people; I’ve tried my hand at all the obvious style genres, experimented with every look in the book. When I was thirteen, I would only wear clothes from “Pineapple”; when I was fourteen, I started listening to angst-ridden rock music and refused to don anything which wasn’t covered in black and white stripes. By the time I was halfway through my teenage years, I had developed a chronic obsession with the 1950s, which was fed by the gradual discovery of vintage clothing markets and shops around London. This is an obsession which has never quite gone away; over the years, I have stopped trying to directly imitate other people’s style, or the style of a particular era, and instead now take individual elements that I like and throw them all together in a collage of eras and styles, often depending on my mood; I was never very good at picking one personality and sticking with it.

Saying that, one particular style icon has followed me throughout my teenage years, haunting me in the form of flicked eyeliner, strings of pearls and little black dresses. It is, of course, Audrey Hepburn.

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It seems almost cliché to cite Hepburn as a personal style icon, as so many style savvy girls look to her for inspiration. However, there is always a reason that these things become a cliché; almost everyone has seen one or other of Audrey’s movies; classics such as “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, “Roman Holiday” and “Charade” have all woven themselves into popular culture, insuring her lasting fame and unshakable status as THE style icon.

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This is partly due to the fact that Ms Hepburn’s sophisticated style can be easily edited and borrowed from, transforming it into something that it timeless, eternally contemporary and forever nostalgic. Audrey tended to wear neutral colours, such as beige and black, and her style was classic, characterised by a well-tailored simplicity and a sense of elegant refinement. Hepburn and Givenchy go hand in hand, of course; the dress she wore in that famous opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s was a Givenchy masterpiece, as were so many of her outfits, both on screen and off. She popularised the wardrobe staple, the little black dress, as well as other such elegant pieces, including Capri pants, plain ballet flats, the turtleneck jumper, and of course, pearls, which are one of my favourite things to wear.

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Her influence is not hard to see, both on the catwalk and on the high street; as New York Fashion Week draws to a close, and London takes up the mantel, its hard to ignore the way in which the simple, classic pieces favoured by Hepburn have been given a make-over. In New York, model Karlie Kloss paired her classic LBD with a pair of cream coloured converse, giving the look a more casual, playful feel.

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Meanwhile, on the catwalk, Ralph Lauren added a pop of bright colour to Audrey’s neutral pieces, giving them a hint of 1960s swing; the LBD becomes white, patterned and a pastel green, paired with the big sunglasses and delicate shoes that Audrey often donned.

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As usual, its been raining in London this weekend, which meant trench coats galore; model Jessica Hart (below left) looked particularly Audreyish, pulling her hair back in an updo reminiscent of one of the actresses most famous hairstyles. On the London catwalk, Daks’ stylish collection channels the neutral colours and simple combinations favoured by Hepburn; below, a sleek white turtle-neck jumper (an Audrey favourite) is paired with a classic pair of cropped trousers for an easy, sophisticated ensemble (below centre). Meanwhile, the classic trench coat (below right), as worn by the actress in that famous last scene from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, is transformed with the shorter, patterned sleeves, which really adds an unusual, contemporary feel; my love for this coat knows no bounds, I think its the perfect cure for a rainy London autumn.

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Audrey Hepburn on the set of "Sabrina"  1954 © 2000 Mark Shaw

Personally, however, it is more in Audrey’s beauty regime that I find daily inspiration. Her make-up was equally as natural and elegant as her wardrobe choices and, like her outfits, has become synonymous with Hollywood glamour and class. To capture the Audrey face, use a very lightweight foundation or tinted moisturiser as a base coat for the rest of your make up, and then dust a light layer of powder over the top; this will fix your make up in place. To get the famous Audrey eyes, line your top lid with a brown or black liquid eyeliner, widening the eye towards the outer lid and flicking it up at the corner. Smudge a dark grey or brown kohl pencil just underneath the lower lid, and line the inside of the lid in white pencil; this will really make the eyes pop, and adding a dot of white in the inner of outer corner of the eye will make them look even bigger. Finally, apply mascara to both the top and bottom lashes; moving the wand in a zig-zag motion will separate and lengthen your eyelashes, and open up your eyes. Finish the look with a pale pink or peach lipstick, and a very subtle layer of lipgloss. Audrey always favoured the natural look, so you don’t have to spend big, or take hours painting your face; I am by no means at my most artistic (or my most cheerful) when I wake up in the mornings, but this particular look is one I can just about manage, and has become my daily staple

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As many have noted over the years, the loveliest thing about Audrey Hepburn as a style icon lies, not so much in the clothes she wore (although, obviously its hard not to become an icon if Givenchy is providing your entire wardrobe), but in the attitude with which she wore them. With her tall, slim figure and distinctive facial features, it might be easy to be jealous of Audrey, or to fall into the trap of thinking, its all very well to put on a dress and pin up my hair, but I’ll never be as beautiful as Audrey, or have her twenty-two inch waist and long legs.

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However, this in many ways is the point. Audrey always wore outfits which cinched in her waist to emphasise this asset, but she actually hated her height; it had prevented her from fulfilling her dream to become a dancer. As a result, she always wore flats, or very small kitten heels. This, I think, is the most important lesson to take from Audrey; we all like some parts of ourselves more than others, so why not draw attention to those aspects? If you have long legs, don a pair of Capri pants or cigarette leg trousers; if you like your arms, show them off with some delicate bracelets and pretty tops.

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If you make the most of yourself, you will feel at your best; however tight you are for time or cash, there are thousands of little ways to pamper and make yourself feel better (although, if you do have the money for a luxury day spa, you might want to skip this bit). Look after your skin; moisturise every day, clean off your make up every night, and exfoliate and deep cleanse once or twice a week. Keep your nails clean and manicured, and take care of your hair; deep conditioners are good for restoring damaged hair, and massaging argon oil into your scalp and through the ends of your hair can work wonders, and can be very relaxing. Never feel guilty for taking some time for yourself; vanity is the supreme therapy, and, as Audrey herself said, “happy girls are the prettiest girls.”

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