One can’t help but think of Katharine Hepburn when looking at this fall’s tailored menswear trend. The trousers, the blazers, the low-heeled shoes – she started it all! Back in the 30s and 40s when women were still expected to wear dresses and heels, Hepburn was forcefully refusing to wear anything but pants. She even famously walked around set once in her underwear when her slacks had been stolen in the crew’s attempt to force her into a dress. There was no making this woman conform to the times.
Many of her male Hollywood bosses weren’t so impressed with her defiance, but women all over America were inspired by Hepburn’s gall and started wearing trousers themselves. Although there is some debate on whether we really can attribute the revolution of women’s dressing to Hepburn’s championing of the style, her influence is undeniable. As a major movie star, her fashion choices were news, but her wonderful acting and colorful personality were also part of what made her style appealing. Her pants came to symbolize independence for women not only because they provided freedom of movement, but Hepburn herself was an inspiration as a talented, successful, outspoken woman known for being able to hold her own with the men of her industry, both executives and actors.
Personally, I’ve always admired Hepburn for her talents and her lifelong commitment to a simple and chic style. My research only led me to feel even more like a kindred spirit as I learned that she was also a fellow tall woman, a women’s college graduate and her family heritage lies in the British Isles. It’s no wonder I always found myself drawn to her style and persona! At five feet and seven inches, she was the tallest leading lady of her time, and her years at Bryn Mawr college were formative in the development of her acting skills and outspoken personality. Hepburn was also known for her athleticism (did her own stunts!), so maybe that’s where our similarities end. Training for road races is in my future, though!
To achieve the status of style icon means you must be more than a pretty face, and Hepburn was clearly so much more. Not only was she strikingly beautiful, she was passionate, trail blazing, intelligent and immensely talented. She remains the only person to have received four Best Actor/Actress Oscars, and she was declared by the American Film Institute to be the greatest female star of American cinema. She left her mark on American style, film and women’s liberation – no small task. So when I choose which pieces to add to my wardrobe this fall, Katharine Hepburn won’t be far from my mind as I pick through high-waisted trousers, button down blouses with the perfect collars for casual popping (as she so effortlessly does below) and kitten heels to give me just a little lift, the whole time striving to look just as classic as the lovely Kate.
Emulate the Great Kate:
Find the perfect button down:
Modcloth: Dapper Ann Blouse, $35
Banana Republic: Monogram silk tuxedo shirt, $60
… and then match it with a fabulous pair of trousers:
Forever21: Business Pant, $23
Victoria’s Secret: Belted Trouser Pant, $40
Victoria’s Secret: High-waist Pant, $78
TopShop: 70s Cord Flare by Boutique, $160
Theory: Alleen Pants, $255