Style icons: Katharine Hepburn

A few months ago, when I was researching 1920’s style in preparation for the Murder on the Puffing Billy Express party, I stumbled upon some pictures of Katharine Hepburn.  I became totally fascinated with her personal style.  I’ve only seen one movie with her in it, and that was Little Women.  I was so smitten with her portrayal of Jo March because she seemed to completely become the character.  It was the most accurate depiction of the character that I’ve ever seen in film.  After doing some research about Katharine Hepburn, it made me wonder if the reason she made such an excellent Jo March is because she was actually remarkably similar to the character.

Like Jo March, Katharine Hepburn seemed to be remarkably clever and extremely tomboyish.  She was athletic and even enjoyed skateboarding.  Her tomboy tendencies were apparent even in her dress.  She utterly perfected the androgyne look, and was well-known for wearing trousers well before it became fashionable for women to do so.

Although she generally dressed in man-style clothes, her outfits always had a decidedly feminine edge.  Her trousers were usually wide-legged and tapered at the waist, to highlight her slender figure.  Her blouses were never slouchy or sloppy, but perfectly tailored.  Many pictures show her fresh-faced, but when she did wear makeup, it beautifully highlighted her strong features.  She seems to have preferred to keep her skin uncovered, and her brows and lips defined.  Red lipstick was a common accompaniment to her outfits.  Her hair was worn long and beautifully styled in tumbling curls or towering up-dos.  Brogues, blazers and berets were a regular part of her look.  She didn’t wear much jewellery at all, preferring to remain unadorned.

Me in a Hepburn-inspired outfit.

Her look is relatively easy to emulate.  It’s perfect for women who want to wear vintage styles, but don’t like wearing skirts, dresses or anything too frou-frou.  Katharine Hepburn’s look is also an ideal match for women who would like to work vintage styles into their professional wardrobe, because it’s so tailored and polished.  The types of items she wore are readily available, so you won’t necessarily have to scour vintage stores to find appropriate garments.


To get the look, start with a pair of tailored trousers.  Choose a gorgeous blouse with a high neckline and tuck it into your trousers.  To avoid looking like you’ve borrowed your brother’s clothes, make sure that your garments are fitted, to show off your feminine curves.  Flat shoes are a must with this look, so choose brogues, oxfords or loafers.  Keep your colour palette fairly neutral.  Browns, blacks, creams and greys are ideal.  A pop of berry colour or jewel tones works well with this look.  Make sure that your hair is perfectly styled and your brows and lips are defined and filled in.  If it’s cold, slip a vest or blazer over the top of your outfit to finish off the look.

I just adore Katharine’s androgynous style.  She’s the perfect example of how a woman can wear man-style clothing and still look like a woman.


Is Katharine one of your style icons?  Have you dabbled with the androgynous look?



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