Saturday, 29 September 2012

Style icon: Katherine Hepburn

Katherine Hepburn

Recently a good friend of mine, mother of three young 'uns, asked me to style her. Needless to say I jumped at the chance of a "project", especially one that involves shopping and fashion! I'm trawling magazines, cutting out pictures for a few mood boards for her: day, evening, shoes, bags, hair etc. She's got a great eye, and knows what colours suit her, and what shapes work for her, and she's inspired my style in the past too, so I'm not really sure how much she needs my advice, but I'll give it a go anyway. 
She is a willowy redhead in her early 40s, with a great figure and bone structure to die for. She would give Katherine Hepburn a run for her money any day, so I've used The Hep as a starting point for a style inspiration. Let's call my friend Steph.
Steph already has a few classics in her wardrobe, a fab navy pea coat, some good jeans, nice knitwear, Converse to name but a few. She is quite artistic, and shows her creativity in her great choice of colours, and likes prints too. She already wears colours that suit her, shying away from greys / taupes and muddy colours in favour of clear bright greens, blues and reds. She loves to layer and has a gorgeous collection of winter woolies, scarves, hats, which all add a cute and quirky note to her outfits. 
With three youngsters keeping her busy, and a school run each day, she needs clothes that will take her through the day, looking and feeling smart and comfortable (this sounds like a 1950s magazine article!)

Steph has a great slim figure, and has no areas of her body she is self-conscious of, i.e. not looking to disguise a tummy or large bust (lucky her! It's all the breastfeeding and a super-healthy diet!)
Let's look at Katherine Hepburn for a second: 

Hepburn went down in fashion history for pioneering the wearing of trousers, and especially suits, with flat shoes. She was the first androgynous style icon, and way ahead of her time. There are still few celebrities who can rock this look, Diane Keaton and Tilda Swinton spring to mind, and make the rest of Hollywood's "dolly birds" in their wiggle dresses and heels look so affected in comparison. This is a great look for anyone with a boyish figure, it depends on the clothes hanging in elegant drapes off the body, not hugging curves. The silhouette is baggy, with a tailored look, high-waisted trousers with a wide leg, a shirt or blouse and a jacket with brogues. 

Fortunately brogues are "in" this season, so you'll find them in most shoe shops, I'd start with Office or Schuh for any fashion shoe in a good quality. You'll wear these forever, so they are an investment, and I'd only buy leather (not PVC) in a tan or black / black patent. Leave the neons to the teens! These are also great with opaque tights and a skirt in autumn, or knitted tights in winter. If you hate brogues, or think you'll never get a chance to do up the laces with a baby hanging off of you, try loafers instead.

Here's a more modern, wearable take on the high-waisted trousers. A statement belt and a fine knit tucked in. Cosy, but not bulky. Fedora optional.

For lazy days around the house and out and about, there are some great loose-fitting printed trousers in shops now, see these below from Warehouse:

These would be super-comfy, and look great with a plain jersey t-shirt tucked in with converse or the brogues above, a poloneck or fine-knit jumper, or dressed up with a white shirt and heels. A blazer on top, in black or navy would dress them up even more. They are so versatile, I'd even put tights under them in winter and wear them all year round. The loose-cut top gives comfort and a casual look, while the tapered leg still shows your figure and dresses them up a little. I think I've convinced myself, must go and check them out!

Now, every stylish mama needs a statement bag: 
I just got this little beauty in Clarks the other day, red leather, beautiful quality, and a fraction the price of a designer one, with all the style details. It has gold hardware, a shoulder strap as well as top handles (yes, I know you can see all this!) and many interior design details that are just brilliant. I've designated one large compartment for "boys stuff" - nappies, wipes, band aids (eh, that's all), and that zips away out of sight, so all the rest is for ME! I'm no longer rooting through nappies to find my wallet, it's all organised for once. The middle zipped compartment is now my make-up bag, so I have everything on hand, from Batiste to cuticle oil. Actually I should do a "what's in my bag" post. I truly believe that the shoes and bag maketh the mama, and you need to find ones you fall in love with, and are truly excited about owning and wearing. I love the red bag because my "nicer" clothes tend to be black or blue, and it gives a great pop of colour to any outfit. It works year-round, whereas a black bag won't look great in summer, and this quality leather will improve with age, as Steph said when she saw it, it's an "heirloom bag", and that sums it up perfectly. (By the way, Clarks have not sponsored this post! But if they'd like to I'm all ears...)

I justified the purchase of yet another bag with the following:
I'm only buying quality items from now on, ones I'll use forever.
A few fecky items from cheaper shops would add to this, so I'll forgo them, and get this instead.
I'm also doing a huge clearout of my wardrobe, and going to sell on many bags I no longer use, so they will cover the cost of this.
This retails at 100 euros, and it was 80 euros on the day, there was a 20% promotion on. It's not that much compared to some bags, but still a splurge for me.
Lastly, I just love it. I've almost named it, but I stopped short. But I do hug and stroke it. Is that ok?

So, to summarise for any of you ladies who may be leggy and red-haired like my friend Steph:
Make the most of your assets, wear all the drapery and loose-fitting clothes that make the rest of us look sloppy, but that make you look understated and elegant.
Invest, or plan to invest in some classic accessories, ones that you LOVE. If you're only feeling so-so about something, leave it, and shop around.
Shop online, or at least browse online. There's a great website called which lets you search for, say, "red leather satchel bag" and it comes up with all the high street shops which stock them, saving you traipsing around in the rain.
That's enough,
If you've a style tip you think I've missed please leave it below!
Nee x

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