Fashion: Miss Hepburn would approve
Thursday 09 June 1994
What to wear if you like to look elegant but not overstated (or over-priced)? Or if you need to rush about, but don't feel like doing so in a stretchy dress with Adidas racer stripes and a pair of trainers?
The answer lies with that most relaxed and confident of screen queens, Katharine Hepburn. When Kate's Hollywood career began in 1932 she was 23 and already a stage veteran. Back then it was said that if you put her in a room and allowed her any pose, you could still hang your hat on her. For hers was (and even though she is now 86, it still is) an angular beauty.
But the face was teamed with a body that needed to move and clothes that moved with it. Not for Hepburn the confines of a Chanel suit, which she complained had tight armholes that were too tiny for any woman with muscles that come from actually doing things. In fact, she did play Coco Chanel in a Broadway show. But off-stage and in most of her movies, her style was far less uptight.
Of course, Katharine Hepburn's style has been revived countless times. Donna Karan's done it, Ralph Lauren's done it, Calvin Klein's done it. But the ease, the freedom of movement, the comfort inherent in the blouse and slacks combos she popularised make it worth another rerun. And the best news is this is a workable style that you don't have to shell out designer prices on.
Take a halter neck in jaunty stripes for pounds 30 and team it with a pair of fresh white sailor trousers for pounds 99 (you can get them for less). Or take a floppy shirt (French Connection's version, at pounds 40, is available nationwide), fluid viscose wide-leg trousers and that Hepburn favourite, a pair of sandals. She liked her sandals on cork platform soles, strapped across the bridge of the foot and worn with bobby socks.
To do a Hepburn look, just remember anything goes as long as it's pants. Lauren Bacall, another great dame who has always looked great in slacks, would stand by that, too. Trousers, simple shirts, plimsolls, loafers or strappy sandals. The only thing these Hollywood greats could add that you cannot is Humphrey Bogart.
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