Lessons in Self Creation with Frida Kahlo

The second in the new “3 lessons in personal style” series will be Mexican artist and icon Carmen Magdalena Frida Kahlo y Calderón.

Frida Kahlo smoking with pre-Columbian statue
Frida Smoking, Gisèle Freund

Where to begin when discussing Frida Kahlo? Her’s is an image that we know so well. Her trademark dark braided hair decorated with bright flowers, her colourful blouses and long, flowing skirts, indigenous jewellery, her ribbons, her distinctive monobrow are all familiar to us. She herself even feels familiar. And everyone seems to want a piece of her.

She was well-known in life, but became iconic in death. Pop culture’s fixation on Frida commenced not long after she died, with the “second coming of Frida” beginning in 1983 with Hayden Herrera’s biography propelling her into the pop culture limelight. The 20th Century artist’s striking image has cast a long shadow over the fashion industry since then, with designers from Jean Paul Gaultier to Dolce & Gabbana taking inspiration from her, and Givenchy sending Frida-inspired dresses down the runway as late as 2010, 56 years after her death. 

Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo with monkey
Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo, 2002 Photographed by Annie Leibovitz

In 2002 Salma Hayek’s portrayal of Frida brought the artist to the big screen, right on queue. Only 2 years later a Pandora’s box of her personal belongings was opened and put on display at La Casa Azul, her home in Coyoacán. Her popularity may have reached it’s apex last June as some of the most famous and significant pieces of her wardrobe were put on display at the V&A in London, shown outside of Mexico for the first time in the hit exhibition Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up. Meanwhile, Designer Roland Mouret dedicated his Spring 2018 catwalk show to her and in March of the same year Mattel launched a Frida Barbie to mark International Women’s Day. There was even a Frida snapchat filter.

Yes, “Fridamania” is well and truly in the mainstream.

Frida Kahlo posing for full colour Vogue picture
Frida Kahlo on a bench, carbon print, 1938 Photo: © Nickolas Muray / Courtesy of The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of 20th Century Mexican Art / The Verge, Nickolas Muray Photo Archives

But isn’t all this appropriation and commodification, the Frida t-shirts, the Frida fridge magnets, the Frida vinyl bags and the plastic flower crowns, a distasteful encroachment on a woman who stood steadfastly against Capitalism? Is it not an insult to the very core of her identity? Maybe. But perhaps it does not have to be. 

Frida Kahlo holding up her shawl to catch the wind posing with large Mexican plant
Vogue, 1937

Jess Cartner-Morley, in an article for The Guardian, explores this idea. She quotes the curator of the V&A exhibition, Circe Henestrosa: “I’m not at all sure that fashion has glamourised or sanitised [Kahlo], I think she was incredibly glamorous and sophisticated already…Kahlo loved to shop for clothes, revelling in colour and fabric; she was always strikingly made up.” It is even said that she is “so intimately associated with the clothes she wore that staff at the Blue House in Mexico City, where her clothes are now displayed, have come to believe that the brocade skirts and embroidered shawls get heavier after dark, and to infer from this that her spirit comes back to possess them.”

Clothing and self-adornment were actually mediums through which Frida could express herself: her identity, her culture, her politics. She was very much, to quote the V&A, “making her self up.”If we treat her memory and her image with respect and understanding, if we take the time to learn about her life and the philosophy behind her look, if we don’t reduce her to a tacky t-shirt, a barbie doll or socks, then we can really learn a lot from her.

She used her aesthetic to take control of her own identity not just as a women but also as a painter, as a Mexican, as a bi-racial person, as a Marxist and as a person with disabilities. None of it was accidental. Every part of her image had a philosophy behind it. With this in mind, Frida Kahlo becomes all the more inspirational. She was truly original, truly inimitable but we can still learn from her some valuable lessons in self creation.


Here are 3 lessons in personal style from Frida Kahlo


1. Celebrate your roots

Roots painting by Frida Kahlo
Roots, 1943, Frida Kahlo

Frida was nothing if not a proud Mexican. While still at school she engaged deeply with Mexican culture, political activism and issues of social justice. Her school promoted the concept of indigenismo  “a new sense of Mexican identity that took pride in the country’s indigenous heritage and sought to rid itself of the colonial mindset of Europe as superior to Mexico.”

Her love for her country and her connection to its history and culture manifested in her appearance. Interestingly, Frida appeared to have this experimental, introspective approach to her clothing before she was even an artist. Photographs from her youth reveal that she was inventing her iconic self image from as a very young age. For example, in one family portrait of the Kahlo y Calderón family, Frida appears dressed in her father’s three-piece suit. Her defiant disregard for 20th Century gender expectation are not dissimilar those of another Weird Sisters style muse, Colette. But unlike her French novelist counterpart, men’s suits come early in her style evolution, to be replaced by traditional Mexican dress.

black and white family portrait of the Kahlo y Calderon family with Frida Kahlo far left dressed in men's three piece suit
Frida Kahlo (far left) in a family portrait, c. 1924

 By the 1920s Frida’s sisters and most young women in Mexico had their hair in the fashionable bobbed style and wore the contemporary waistless shifts. Meanwhile, Frida ignoring the trends of the time, was busy carving out a unique visual identity for herself with traditional long, centre-parted hair coiled up in ribbons and braids, and clothing inspired by her mother’s indigenous roots. In her early 20s, Frida started to wear a personalised version of traditional Tehuana dress: “full skirts, embroidered blouses and regal coiffure associated with a matriarchal society from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Oaxaca, Mexico”. It was a proud assertion of her ethnic and national identity.

Frida appeared to share her mother’s propensity for “dressing up” to reflect Mexico’s history and culture. Her husband Diego Rivera had been credited with encouraging her to wear traditional Mexican dress. However, images of  Frida’s family dressed in Oaxaca’s regional costume, and of her mother dressed as Adelita, a revolutionary heroine of Mexican lore, indicate that it was woven into her childhood, in her blood even.

Matilde Calderon dressed as Adelita
Frida Kahlo’s mother, Matilde Calderón y González Photographed circa 1897 by husband, Guillermo Kahlo
Frida Kahlo painting My Grandparents, My Parents and Me
Frida Kahlo, My Grandparents, My Parents and Me, 1936

Frida represented the duality of her nature, mixing European and Mexican styles to reflect her own unique heritage. Her father was of German and possibly Jewish-Hungarian descent, while her mother was of  indigenous Mexican and Spanish descent. Her refusal even to remove her striking facial hair, her monobrow and moustache, speak to her commitment to authentically representing her heritage. She appears to have inherited her characteristic monobrow from her paternal grandmother and wore this family trait like a badge of honour. Likewise, she wore vintage clothing before vintage was concept, borrowing from her mother and grandmother. She used her own image to demonstrate her allegiance to her roots and particularly to her home, Mexico.

Frida’s devotion to her homeland is particularly evident in her jewellery. She liked to wear pieces from Pre-Columbian Mexico, historic pieces handcrafted by native Central Americans. For her, it was about more than simple aesthetics, it was representative of centuries of cultural tradition. It was a political statement. To be sure, it was not in keeping with the fashions of the time, in fact Frida was often said to be the butt of jokes when she went out in public boldly wearing her traditional Mexican dresses and her flamboyant jewellery. But her image, complete with an extravagant traditional Mexican hairstyle, was not intended to fall in line with the fashionistas. It was a message, a black-lash against cultural whitewashing and the intrusion of Capitalistic fashions from Gringolandia.

Frida Kahlo self portrait along the boarder line between
Self Portrait Along the Boarder Line Between Mexico and the United States, 1932 by Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo self portrait with necklace
Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait with a necklace, 1933

The necklace Frida wears here is speculated to have been made from jade beads, excavated from a Mayan archaeological site in the late 1920s. It seems that she acquired these beads and made them into a necklace for herself. She literally wore her country’s history around her neck.

This notion is so poignant. Even if you are not of Mexican descent, you can still take  inspiration from this idea. If you can acquire something that has meaning to you, something that represents your history and culture, it could be a historical coin, some beads, a religious figurine, an antique trinket, semi-precious stones native to your country, even a piece of carved wood. Have it made into a necklace or, better yet, make it into a necklace yourself. Coin necklaces in particular are very popular currently, a way of inconspicuously wearing your country’s history proudly around your own neck. Frida teaches us to look back on our history whether it be Mexican, Nigerian, Korean, Scottish, Sri Lankan or any combination and celebrate it in our image.

Frida Kahlo seated in photograph with pink flowers in her hair and a bright pink shawl
Frida Kahlo, c.1940, by Nickolas Muray


2. Wear what you believe in

Frida had been an avowed Marxist since her schooldays. She had even formed a group that put on plays, debated philosophy and discussed the Russian classics known as the Cachuchas (“the titled caps”), many of whom would go on to be some of the leading figures of the Mexican intellectual elite. Her ideology was woven into the very fibre of her being. She even claimed that the year she was born was the first year of the Mexican Revolution, 1910 (rather than 1907), so that she could claim to be a “daughter of the Revolution”. She joined the Mexican Communist Party in 1927 and was introduced to a circle of political activists and artists, including the exiled Cuban communist Julio Antonio Mella and the Italian proto-feminist photographer Tina Modotti. Her political ideologies were encouraged and reinforced by this group of intelligentsia and by her passionate relationship with Diego Rivera – a Communist to his core – whom she was introduced to at one of Tina Modotti’s parties 1928. She even hosted, and had a brief affair with, Leon Trotsky when he was seeking asylum in Mexico.

Mexican Nationalism and Socialism shaped Frida’s thinking. It was a hugely influential part of her life, which, as with every part of her identity, was revealed in her self image.

Frida Kahlo self portrait with red cap
Self portrait with Red Cap by Frida Kahlo (From the collection of Museo Dolores Olmedo), c.1925 by Frida Kahlo

Side note: Acknowledging’s Frida’s Communism makes the commercialisation of her image all the more bizarre. Last year Theresa May strangely thought it appropriate to wear a – pretty tasteless – plastic chunky bracelet that featured Frida’s face on all sides. Ironic given that, to quote Ayoola Solarin in her article for Dazed, ” austerity has led to a worse standard of living for disabled people, ethnic minorities, and women in the UK, so how the Conservative PM could think that her fashion moment was a good move is indicative of how far Kahlo’s appropriation has gone.”

All the more reason to wear what is symbolic of your actual beliefs, as Frida did. Her left-wing ideologies are observable not just in the traditional anti-colonialist Mexican dresses, but also in the Cachuchas’ red berets and her more modern and more masculine outfits.

black and white photograph of Frida Kahlo wearing a sombrero with Diego Rivera
Frida wearing a sombrero (Unknown photographer)
the Zapatistas with Emiliano Zapata at the Library of Congress Washington DC
Emiliano Zapata (seated, centre) with staff, c. 1912. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Frida’s uncharacteristically plain and masculine outfit, complete with sombrero, is reminiscent of those worn by the Zapatistas, headed by Emiliano Zapata, one of the leading figures of the Mexican Revolution and now considered a national hero. Her commitment to socialism was also displayed in her adoption of non-Mexican articles of clothing such as the Russian headscarf

Frida Kahlo at Communist protest with fist raised
Frida Kahlo protesting whilst wearing a Russian-esque headscarf (Unknown photographer)
20th century Russian communist poster
20th Century Russian poster (unknown artist)

Nevertheless, as Historian Alejandro Rosas asserts, “Mexicanness, socialism, and even certain touches of the Mexican Revolution were not Frida’s greatest source of inspiration. The origins of her creativity can be traced back to 1925, when the bus she was traveling home on one day was hit by a streetcar. Her fractured body filled her life with pain until the end of her days.”

black and white photo of Frida Kahlo painting the two Fridas
Frida painting The Two Fridas, 1939, by Nickolas Muary


3. Become your own art

Frida was often the subject of her own art, about a third of her paintings are self portraits in part due to the vast amounts of time she was forced to spend in solitude recovering. She famously said:

“I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.”


“I am my own muse, I am the subject I know best. The subject I want to know better.”


Themes of pain, of being injured, fractured, mutilated are often present in her work. She had suffered from Polio as a child, which had made her right leg shorter and thinner than the left. Then, at the age of 18, she was involved in a violent bus accident that killed several people. Frida’s own injuries were near fatal, her ribs were fractured, both her legs and her collarbone broken and she was impailed through the pelvis with a handrail. The accident destroyed her dream of becoming a doctor, her ability to have children and left her with lifelong pain and immobility.

Frida Kahlo the broken column painting
The Broken Column, 1944 by Frida Kahlo

Despite all this pain, her clothing, her art and her appearance served as creative mediums through which she could express the pain and overcome the challenges of living with disabilities. The traditional blouses she wore, the loose skirts and the elaborate hairstyles served to demonstrate her dedication to indigenismo, but also to cover what lay beneath. In an article for the New York Times, Hettie Judah discusses the dual purpose of Frida’s wardrobe with curator at the V&A Claire Wilcox: “The last thing you’d be thinking of when you saw her were her disabilities. The flamboyance was distracting.” The boxy shape of her traditional huipil blouses could drop loosely over a back brace or plaster cast, while her long flouncy skirts could disguise her wasted leg and their motion helped to hide her limp. Frida used her clothing and her self image to conquer her disabilities and physical imperfections; “she masters them, she supersedes them, she transcends them.” She even used a cast, something so uncomfortable and so restrictive, something that made it difficult to breathe, as a vehicle for self expression. She literally wore her political allegiances, the Communist hammer and sickle, on her heart.

Frida Kahlo wearing a corset hand painted decorated with communist hammer and sickle
Frida Kahlo wearing a cast decorated with a hammer and sickle, c.1941 by Florence Arquin


Ultimately, the greatest lesson we can take from Frida Kahlo’s iconic image is how transformative the power of self creation truly is. We can learn from Frida to not let allow ourselves to be defined by or dictated to by anyone but ourselves. Instead we must ask: How do I want the world to see me? What story do I want to tell?


Frida Kahlo inspired fashion for the 21st century


Embroidered Blouses

embroidered Mexican blouse from Puebla state V


Frida Kahlo self portrait
Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait, 1929


The Mexican colonial style blouse (blusa or camisa in Spanish), inspired by the European chemise, is a staple of Frida’s wardrobe and perhaps the easiest way of paying homage to her through fashion. Beautiful, comfortable and very easy to wear in 2019. Due to their history, embroidered blouses are quite culturally ambiguous so you won’t look necessarily like you’re trying to wear a costume or imitate a certain culture.

white peasant blouse

M&Co., Petite Floral Embroidered Peasant Top, £13


Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 19.46.08

Shein, Floral Embroidered Blouse, £17.99


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M&Co., Floral Embroidered Peasant Blouse, £19.60
white embroidered peasant blouse

Shein, Flounce Sleeve Drawstring Knot Embroidered Blouse, £10.99


white cap sleeve

Shein, Frilled Neckline Puff Sleeve Fitted Top, £14.99


If you would like an authentic huipil blouse, you can find them online here. The blouses are ethically made, come in a range of colours and are hand embroidered in small villages throughout Central and Southern Mexico.

Alternatively, if you would like something totally unique, you can learn how to make your own; the V&A have published an article that explains how here. Having your own one-of-a-kind homemade blouse is very Frida.


The Velvet Dress

Frida Kahlo self portrait with velvet dress
Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress, 1926, Frida Kahlo

This wine coloured velvet dress is quite a rare look on Frida but it does showcase the diversity of her taste and the ways she liked to recreate and invent her own self image. The deep sensual red and provocative wrap style makes the dress as alluring now as it was in 1926.

dark red velvet maxi dress

Shein, High Split Velvet Wrap Dress, £22.99

If you’re looking for a more subtle nod to the dress in the painting, there is a similar dress available in black velvet at &Other Stories and a wine-red wrap mini dress available at ASOS.

black velvet maxi dress

&Other Stories, Velvet Midi Wrap Dress, £89

wine red mini wrap dress

ASOS, Wrap front tie waist dress, £11


Floor-length Skirts

Maxi skirts, another Frida staple, are also ubiquitous to most cultures and therefore easily adoptable to almost anyone for a comfortable and relaxed look.

Frida Kahlo painting Frida and Diego Rivera
Frida and Diego Rivera, 1931 by Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo with cigarette and white dress 1929, Photographed by Guillermo Davila
Frida Kahlo with cigarette and white dress 1929, Photographed by Guillermo Davila
white tiered maxi skirt
Roman, White Tiered Maxi Skirt, £25
purple lace maxi skirt
Doorway to Fashion, Cotton & Lace Maxi Skirt, from £13

(available in over 10 colours)

OCHENTA, Bohemian Maxi Skirt, from £16

(available in over 15 colours)


Marxist Headware

If you’re inclined towards the Left…

bright red wool beret

&Other Stories, Wool Beret, £23

(Available in the classic Communist colour of choice: red. But also in mustard yellow, powder blue, cream and black)

&Other Stories, Lightweight Scarves, from £35

In case you are wondering, yes I am aware of the irony of using Capitalist means to recommend Communist-inspired clothing. There’s no excuse I suppose, but most of us have got to buy our clothes somewhere.


The Rebozo

Frida Kahlo folding her arms gently
Frida Kahlo, 1939, Photographed by Nickolas Murray

The Rebozo (or shawl) was often worn by Frida. Shawls such as these, again, are common across the world from India to Ireland. But, as explained by the V&A, they hold particular significance in Mexico, having “evolved during the colonial period to become a symbol of womanhood and — after Independence — nationhood. Nineteenth-century paintings and lithographs show Mexican women of all social classes wearing rebozos.”

Pashminas and other tasseled scarves look very similar but are perhaps a more culturally sensitive option that still references Mexico’s heritage and to Frida Kahlo with respect.

Amazon, Soft Pashmina, £9.99


The 3 lessons in personal style Frida Kahlo teaches us:


1. Celebrate your roots

2. Wear what you believe in

3. Become your own art


“I am nothing but a “small damned” part of a revolutionary movement. Always revolutionary, never dead, never useless”

– from The Diary of Frida Kahlo


She was certainly right about that. Frida Kahlo’s legacy, her very own revolutionary movement, may never die. Until it does, Viva la Revolución.



*Images are not my own. No copyright infringement intended

Colette, the Original French It-Girl

First in the new “3 lessons in personal style” series, we’ll be taking a look at Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (better known simply as ‘Colette’).

Colette dressed as Cleopatra in Dream of Egypt

Keira Knightley’s dazzling performance as the proto-feminist fin-de-siècle author and performer Colette may spell a revived interest in her legendary personal style.

In Colette, we see the author’s novels, and particularly the mesmerising character of Claudine, take Paris by storm. Colette’s own life experiences did much to inspire her writing, so too, her formidable fashion sense influenced and inspired the women who read her novels. In the film there are mini Claudines seen dotted about Paris, all sporting a pseudo-demure school girl black dress with a white collar. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see a few Claudines roaming the streets of Paris, London or New York today. A more likely source of inspiration, though, may be the dreamy country girl dresses of Colette’s youth, or the chic ensembles and masculine suits she favours in her Paris years.

Costume designer Andrea Flesch’s incredible attention to detail and commitment to period authenticity lends an air of grace to the production. Flesch points out that Colette’s style choices mirror her own personal evolution, but equally importantly, the shifting fashions and public thought in society at the turn of the century. “This period changed quite often; the shapes changed every two or three years…It was a very interesting time in fashion, the 1890s-1910s.” Colette, however, had her own style. “She was as free [with clothes] as she was in everything.”

Colette’s legacy still looms large over Hollywood and fashion houses today. The legendary Paris boutique Colette (which closed only in 2017), of course, was named for her. Colette can even be credited with discovering Givenchy star and eventual fellow fashion icon Audrey Hepburn, having cast the virtually unknown actress in a theatre adaptation of her novel Gigi in 1951. Colette, and Wash Westmoreland’s cinematic representation of her, can still offer some valuable lessons to us in the 21st Century in terms of using fashion as a vehicle for our own self expression and self realisation. As Lauren Cochrane points out in her article for The Guardian, “Style isn’t a footnote of Colette’s legacy, it’s a central part of it. Sixty-five years after her death, her influence extends beyond your bookshelf, Instagram captions and cinema: Colette’s free spirit is inspiring our wardrobes, too.”


Here are 3 lessons in personal style from Colette to live by


1. Priortise comfort and personal style over trends

Colette wears what makes her feel comfortable. She dislikes the garish red dress that Willy bought her and is uncomfortable in a corset. So she doesn’t wear it. The decision to not wear a corset is actually ideologically significant. The corset in 18th and 19th century Europe was not simply something to wear to make the waist look smaller and the breasts look bigger, but a complicated and often contradictory symbol of culture and society. It was representative of both the sexuality and sensuality of the female form but also of virginal obedience and patriarchal control of women’s bodies. Society closely associated a tightly-laced waist with a tightly controlled mind. Usually women and pubescent girls were simply not allowed to opt out of wearing the corset. Colette’s rejection of the corset therefore is not just a mere fashion choice, its a rebellion against society itself and its expectations of her as a woman. 

Clothing should be about enjoyment and expression of personal style. It should be about you, what you like, what you think and what represents who you are. If other people don’t like it – and Parisian high society certainly didn’t – who cares? The people who have confidence in their own style and what they like to wear don’t follow the trends, they set them.



2. Don’t be afraid to experiment 

Sticking to clothes or a look that make you feel like you, shouldn’t mean a wardrobe and style that never changes. Your personal style should evolve with you, it should represent who you are at that point in time, even on that day. We see Colette evolve in the film from a self-proclaimed country girl hailing from rural Burgundy, to elegant Parisienne de la mode. Her style reflects that personal transformation. Things you cling to as a personal signature don’t actually have to be permanent. At the beginning of the film, Colette has extraordinarily long hair, which she claims she would “never” cut. But when she does, she inadvertently creates a look that becomes iconic and flies in the face of traditional expectations of femininity.

Screen Shot 2019-02-04 at 15.45.44.png

3. Fearlessly be yourself

Fashion and style should be an outward expression of who you are on the inside. The most immediately apparent manifestation of this for Colette is in her mixing of masculine and feminine. Her clothes come to represent her sexual identity. Colette could probably be identified as bisexual or pansexual in today’s terms. In the film we see three overlapping romantic and sexual relationships, with Willy, then Belle and finally with Missy. At first her style is quite traditionally feminine with soft light colours, flowing fabrics and frills aplenty. Later, as she starts to explore her attraction to women and engages in an affair with Belle, her clothing starts to reflect a more nuanced version of herself that encompasses both masculine and feminine traits. 

This was Flesch’s vision for Colette. As she tells Vogue; rather than adhering to the binding, rigid fashion of  her peers, Colette creates her own signature style made up of  simple blouses, cravats, cropped jackets. “I made my costumes simple and chic, but a little tomboyish…This balance of masculine and feminine was exactly my aim with the costumes.” Colette gets even more radical later in the film, flouting gender norms with Missy as a gender-defying influence and source of inspiration, she gets even more daring with her fashion choices and wears a man’s three-piece suit. Like Missy, she wanted to break the rules, she wanted to shock. Despite this, Colette remains steadfastly her own person.




 Colette-inspired fashion for the 21st Century


The Country Girl


Keira Knightley as Colette writing at desk

Keira Knightley as Colette and Dominic West as Willy walk in the woods together in Colette


woman lounging on red velvet sofa wearing a frilly white blouse

Sézane, Jules Blouse, (€105)

Almost identical to the lacy high-neck blouses Colette has, but still chic and wearable.

The Claudine Dress

Keira Knightley as Colette in mirror wearing Claudine dress

navy bodycon dress with white collar and cuffs
Boohoo, Contrast Collar and Cuff Dress, (£12)
black a-line dress with contrasting white collar and cuffs
Amazon Fashion, FuturaLondon Women’s Skater Dress, (£14.99)
This dress, thankfully, no longer is associated with a school uniform. It’s probably a bit more ‘Wednesday Adams’ than ‘Catholic school girl’ but the sleek style and monochrome palate hasn’t lost its appeal.

The Boater Hat

Keira Knightley as Colette standing in park looking into the camera wearing straw boater hat
model smiling at camera wearing straw boater hat

ASOS, natural straw easy boater, (£12)

forever 21 straw boater hat with black band

Forever 21, Contrast-Trim Straw Boater Hat, (£12)

A straw boater has a sense of timeless sophistication that a baseball cap just can’t give you.

The Sailor Dress

Audrey Hepburn as Gigi

navy sailor nautical dress
Yes Style, Short-sleeved Sailor Dress, (£13.61)
The nautical dress was made iconic by Audrey Hepburn’s Gigi. It’s almost too cute. Almost. If you want to make a more subtle reference to the sailor look, blouses like these could provide a nod to the nautical theme, tucked into jeans or a mini skirt.



Yes Style, Sailor Elbow-Sleeve Top, (£15.88)


White Shirts and Blouses (worn with a dark cravat)


Screen Shot 2019-02-04 at 15.54.49


Yes style tie neck pleated blouse

Yes Style, Tie-Neck Pleated Blouse, (£14.37)
Sezane lady chiffon
Sézane, Lady shirt, (£90)



Shirt: Sézane, Pierre shirt (£80)

Black Necktie: Yes Style, Plain Ribbon Bow Tie (£4.72)

Blue Necktie: Yes Style, Ribbon Bow Tie (£5.25)

The contrasting monochrome colours are both simple and classic, feminine and masculine.



The Suit

Keira Knightley as Colette wearing men's three piece suit



Left, ASOS, Tailored Mix & Match Suit in Black, (from £45)

Right, Debenhams, The Collection – Grey pinstripe suit jacket (£24.50)

Wearing a suit in 2019 doesn’t have quite the same shock factor as it did in 1909 but it can still give you a sexy masculine edge.

grey herringbone blazer from &Other Stories


&Other Stories, Hourglass Herringbone Blazer, (£80)


Black women's suit trousers fro UNIQLO

UNIQLO, Women Satin Smart Ankle Length Trousers, (£24.90)

Incorporating individual tailored pieces such as a sharp blazer with jeans, or suit trousers with a casual T-shirt is an understated way of elevating an outfit.


Colette sitting on a chair in man's three piece suit smoking a cigarette

 Lessons in personal style we can learn from Colette


1. Prioritise comfort and personal style over trends

2. Don’t be afraid to experiment

3. Fearlessly be yourself

And a bonus: 4. “Don’t ever wear artistic jewelry; it wrecks a woman’s reputation.”


Even rule-breakers have rules.




*Images are not my own. All images were sourced from the websites mentioned or stills from Colette,  Lionsgate, 2018. No copyright infringement intended.

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