When it comes to fashion, the retro look must have been done to death, but if you've not experimented with the Audrey Hepburn look yet, you haven't really experienced retro. Audrey Hepburn (4 May 1929 – 20 January 1993) was a British actress and humanitarian. Hepburn is a classic fashion icon and even two decades after her death, the fashion industry is still seen borrowing her styling tips. Hepburn adorned Hollywood with her acting skills and captured the fashion industry with her eternal beauty and style. She has been ranked as the third greatest female screen legend in the history of American cinema and been placed in the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame.
The twentieth century Academy Award-winning actress and fashion icon, Audrey Hepburn was born as Audrey Kathleen Hepburn-Ruston on May 4, 1929 to a British father and a Dutch mother in Brussels, Belgium. She spent her childhood in an English boarding school to learn the language. The Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940 when Hepburn was ten years old then. Hepburn lived in Nazi occupation from 1940 to 1945, using the name Edda van Heemstra so as not to sound English. During this period she acquired a training in ballet. In 1944, Hepburn began giving classes, both at the conservatory and at home however, food scarcity made her malnourished and she could not longer teach due to the weakness.
Audrey Hepburn and her family had a tough time going through that phase. She fell ill and almost starved to death due to the food scarcity, but somehow struggled and pulled through with multiple health problems at that time. Her unpleasant war-time experiences inspired her to be a goodwill ambassador for starving children and later in her career she became a part of UNICEF. She started her humanitarian work in Ethiopia in 1988 and traveled to places like Turkey, Venezuela and Ecuador in South America and Honduras, El salvador and Guatemala in Central America. Her association with UNICEF took her to Sudan, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Somalia. Audrey Hepburn succumbed to colon cancer on January 20, 1993, leaving behind her sophisticated style statement for years to follow.
Audrey Hepburn was a trained ballet dancer and she dreamt of being a prima ballerina. She stood five feet seven inches tall and was too tall to be a ballerina. In addition to this, the undernourishment at the time of war had left her too weak to continue dancing. Hepburn was very disappointed but this did not discourage her. Audrey Hepburn acted in a lot of movies during the 50's and 60's.
Her style never seemed to fizzle out. Some of her iconic movies which are best known for the fashion appeal in them are:
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
Roman Holiday (1953)
Funny Face (1957)
How to Steal a Million (1966)
My Fair Lady (1964)
Love in the Afternoon (1957)
Paris When it Sizzles (1964)
Audrey was known for something which has disappeared, and that is elegance, grace and manners."
~Billy Wilder, filmmaker
Audrey Hepburn believed that happiest girls are the prettiest and perhaps this ideology of hers percolated in her charm and overall persona. She was a trained ballet dancer and this graceful form of dance exuded the same amount of elegance in her posture, fashion innovations and mannerism. She was compassionate and empathetic which resonated with her classy style.
If you are a kind and compassionate soul, then more than half your work of mastering Audrey Hepburn's style is done. We also have some practical suggestions to get the look (the more doable ones). If you're on a mission to borrow a style tip or two from her, bear in mind that classiness and confidence is the keyword. You might even end up emulating her style from tip to toe, however your body should exude elegance, etiquette and finesse to perfect the look. A few of these could help to begin with.
- A little black dress (LBD)
- A white shirt
- Ballerina flats
- A pair of kitten heels
- Polos, dark turtlenecks, button down shirts, or solid coloured t-shirts without any logos or print
- A dark skinny fit or a bootcut fit pair of jeans in classic denim, slacks, slim-fit capri pants, or khakis and 50's inspired skirts
- A well-fitted suit
- Dark sunglasses
- A scarf
- Simple jewelry, preferably pearls
- A trench coat
- A hat or similar other headgear
Look #5Audrey focused on a single colour for her outfit, preferably black, white or beige. She also sported pink rarely. Author Pamela Clarke Keogh has tried to capture Audrey Hepburn's style in her biography titled 'Audrey Style'. Other similar books are 'So Audrey: 59 Ways to Put a Little Hepburn in Your Step by Cindy De La Hoz', 'How to be Lovely: The Audrey Hepburn Way of Life by Melissa Hellstern' and 'How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World: The Art of Living with Style, Class, and Grace by Jordan Christy'.
“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”Audrey Hepburn is a perfect example of 'Beauty is more than skin deep'. While many might argue that Audrey Hepburn's beauty stemmed from her European genes and early-life affluent family background, it cannot be denied that she knew well how to carry herself. Her confidence and elegance reflect in her style. She gave a lot of importance to good grooming (regular haircuts, neat and clean nails, healthy skin, inner happiness). Hepburn advocated the importance of exploring your body type and zeroing in on a style that accentuates your best feature, it could be anything as long as you feel proud flaunting it. Audrey Hepburn had a petite frame and the unpleasant war experience of undernourishment had left her with a 22 inch waist. She was however proud of this and would never shy away from flaunting it.
~ Audrey Hepburn
She always eats the same breakfast: two boiled eggs, one piece of seven-grain whole-wheat toast from a health-food store, and three or four cups of coffee laced with hot milk. Her lunch consists of cottage cheese and fruit salad or of yoghurt with raw vegetables. For dinner, she has meat and several cooked vegetables."
~ Good Housekeeping Magazine in 1959 on Audrey's diet regime
Audrey Hepburn was effortlessly demure and stylish with her quintessential beauty tricks. Her mere presence could fill a room with glamour.
Eyes - The classic Audrey Hepburn style makes use of dark well-defined red lips and dark eyes on flawless skin. Attention is brought to the eyes with the use of thick black winged eyeliner on the upper eyelids. Beige eye shadow is used on the upper eyelids that creates an illusion of wide almond-shaped eyes. Use a mascara that offers volume and extensive curling to the eyelashes. If you're not naturally blessed with thick eyelashes, you can opt for fake eyelashes.
Eyebrows - The thick and broad square-shaped eyebrows constitute an important element of her style in that era. This can be achieved with the help of brow stencils to get the perfect symmetry. Fill the stencil with your eyebrow pencil in light strokes and you're good to go. (Do not blindly follow this style tip as this may not suit everyone. Eyebrows should be shaped depending on your face shape, structure and the facial features. Your eyebrow shape should accentuate your look)
Skin - Blush (cream or gel) should be applied directly to the apples of the cheeks to create a flawless, youthful appearance. If you choose to use a powder-based blush, apply with the softest strokes with the help of a blush brush.
Lips - Lips should be coloured in a matte lipstick rather than gloss. Highlight your cupid's bow while defining your lips. Her dark red lips added to the beauty on her face.
Hair - Audrey Hepburn sported a look with big waves that fall over your shoulder where the hair is tousled to create soft curls and lots of volume. She made use of hair clips and tons of hairspray to hold her gorgeous locks in place. She had a mid-forehead fringe, usually slightly side-swept. At times, she would also tie her hair in a neat bun that added an extra element of oomph to her ensemble.
Audrey's favorite designers were Givenchy and Ralph Lauren for clothing and Ferragamo for shoes. She also liked Louis Vuitton bags.
A very important and major component of her style can be attributed to Hubert de Givenchy. Givenchy started designing her dresses since the film Sabrina (1954). This collaboration converted into a lifelong friendship and partnership. Audrey was often a muse for many of his designs and her style became renowned internationally.
Givenchy gave me a look, a kind, a silhouette. He has always been the best and he stayed the best. Because he kept the spare style that I love. What is more beautiful than a simple sheath made an extraordinary way in a special fabric, and just two earrings?"Givenchy created her outfits for many other films, including Funny Face, Love in the Afternoon,Breakfast at Tiffany's, Paris When It Sizzles, Charade and How to Steal a Million. Givenchy subsequently created a perfume for her titled L'Interdit ( 'Forbidden' in French).
~ Audrey Hepburn
Italian shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo created a shoe for her and made her an ambassador of his fashion house while honouring her in an exhibition in 1999 dedicated to the actress titled 'Audrey Hepburn, a woman, the style'.
During her later years in life, Ralph Lauren's Polo shirts and khaki pants with Keds flats were her best friends for her Gardens of the World Series and numerous UNICEF trips. Audrey Hepburn opted to sport a more casual look and favoured Lauren's creation. Hepburn presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award (through the Council for American Fashion Designers, left) in 1992. Ralph Lauren released a coffee table book with Audrey's speech on Ralph's work as the foreword.
In 1965 Audrey Hepburn requested Louis Vuitton to create a smaller version of the Speedy for her to use as a day to day bag. The Louis Vuitton Speedy was originally designed as a smaller version of an on-the-go luggage bag and thus was born the Speedy 25, the smallest of 4 sizes of the purse, though the original Speedy 30 is still the most popular size.