I’ve given some examples of contemporary women who I think get the casual look so right, but I now want to look at some icons of the past. In many cases you can see their style echo through those in the present.
Looking at icons of the past, particularly for casual style, is quite different to looking to contemporary women. We have a lot more access to what people are wearing in their everyday lives now than was the case in the 50s, 60s and 70s. There are numerous paparazzi shots of Michelle Williams or Natalie Portman off duty, as it were, which was not often the case in the past, so rather than always finding pictures of whole outfits I covet, with these women, it’s often about building a sense of their personal style from a number of different pictures.
With icons of the past, it’s not so much about recreating an entire look, but using timeless elements of that look to build upon. It can look too costumey and twee to dress completely in vintage style, so it may be that you pick and choose various aspects you like. One of the advantages of using vintage style for inspiration is that I think it remains just that – inspiration – rather than simply copying someone’s style.
Of course, when it comes to casual elegance, I have to mention Audrey Hepburn. From the intellectua beatnik stylings of her black capri-length trousers and turtle necks, to the more feminine looks she rocks in Roman Holiday, she looks both timeless and trendy.
The phrase to describe Jean Seberg that always comes to mind for me is heartbreakingly beautiful. I think that’s probably because of her incredibly tragic life story, which even involves surviving the Karenina-like move of throwing herself under a train in Paris.
Yet despite the pain in her short life, her presence is instead one of innocence and lightness, almost as if in complete contrast or rebellion to her inner turmoil.
Grace Kelly epitomised elegance. These pictures make me want to holiday on the French Riviera.
Francoise Hardy possesses that typical French style that is both impeccable and yet laid-back, and I love that so much of it looks so contemporary. Alexa Chung’s youthful tomboy style reminds me a lot of Hardy.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ style was unmistakable, and she stayed truly fashionable throughout her life. Her look was one of simplicity and didn’t mess around with it. She truly had a signature style, so much so that it’s hard to tell exactly how old she is in many photos.