April 29, 2017, by Leigh Rudd
“Elegance is the only beauty that never fades.”
Almost a quarter century after her death, we are still in awe of Audrey Hepburn. We turn to her for eloquently optimistic quotes about life and love, we admire her philanthropic achievements, and, most of all, we see her as a (perhaps the) beauty icon.
These words of Hubert de Givenchy ring as true today as they did when first spoken: “There is not a woman alive who does not dream of looking like Audrey Hepburn.” The thing is, she never thought of herself as beautiful. She used what she had and carried herself with poise, class, and confidence. And with that, she became timeless, immortal.
Audrey Hepburn chose clothes that reflected her personality, that let her shine: classic, elegant, simply beautiful. Of course, she wore the best designers and the most luxurious gowns and jewels, but we don’t remember her for that. She developed a signature “look” with staples that we all have: the LBD, pearls, ankle-length slacks and white button-downs, big sunglasses, boat neck tees, and ballet flats. Her clothes never overpowered her; instead, they accentuated her beauty and her vivacious personality. Her fashion choices communicated her classy confidence to the world.
When asked her beauty secret, Audrey replied, “I just do my own thing.” Rather than trying to change herself with makeup, gym memberships, and surgery, she emphasized her unique assets. Instead of lamenting that she lacked Marilyn Monroe’s curves, she dressed to accentuate her long legs. Instead of complaining about her wide-set eyes, she made sure that they were always beautifully made up. Instead of padding her bras, she emphasized her elegant neck. Audrey Hepburn was unapologetically herself, and that’s the key to her beauty.
With her smiling brown eyes and softly upswept hair, Audrey’s style is classy, yet playful and flirtatious. Today, in the age of cut-outs and crop tops, when sex appeal seems synonymous with shredded-looking skin-tight outfits, it’s hard to imagine Audrey’s look as sexy. But she undeniably was, as generations of men would eagerly testify. How? In her words, “Sex appeal is something that you feel deep down inside. It’s suggested rather than shown…I don’t need a bedroom to prove my womanliness. I can convey just as much sex appeal picking apples off a tree or standing in the rain.” Audrey proves that suggestive is sexy, that sometimes, there’s more appeal in the subtle hint of what’s underneath, paired with nothing but confidence and some pearls, than in our most body-baring get-ups. That doesn’t mean that we should ditch the crop tops, just that tasteful doesn’t equal puritanical and that classy can be sexy and fun.
This is not to say that we immediately go out and build an Audrey-inspired wardrobe; her style doesn’t work for everybody. Rather, hers is a lesson of using simple fashion to express individuality.
In her words, “Why change? Everyone has his own style. When you have found it, you should stick to it.”