This is an exclusive extract from Rescu Me: The makeover guide for a life more fabulous by Bahar Etminan.
Long before the reign of the supermodel or celebrity, it was the movie star who set trends, forming public opinions of style and shaping what to wear. The core styles from the stars of this era — Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Grace Kelly and Brigitte Bardot — still reverberate through our wardrobes with what we now consider the essential capsule kit of classics —each defined by their own unique personalities and tastes.
Which brings us to the fun part: who’s your style icon? Whether you’re the ultimate femme woman or a cheeky tomboy, I’ve made the fantasy reality to bring a little cinematic charm into your outfits 24/7. Dive into one persona or multiple – whomever you feel most at home with on that day.
Completely ahead of the curve, she was the textbook, original tomboy — nobody has really rivalled the way she balanced masculine and feminine all in the one take.
- Bateau (or Boat neck) necklines – Perfect for creating curves on a lithe frame in cocktail dresses and separates.
- Midi skirts -Think Roman Holiday — playful and femme in subtle pleats and a high waist. A long line elongates a small frame.
- Turtlenecks– Nothing highlights the graceful lines of a long neck better.
- Ballet flats– A simple black ballet flat, worn with everything from a trouser suit to a cocktail dress, became Audrey’s signature.
- Trench coat– Never one to overdress, the trench put Audrey’s boyish spin on that infamous black cocktail dress inBreakfast At Tiffany’s and on classic tailoring. The ultimate 24/7 piece.
- Capri pants -Audrey made neat, slightly cropped trousers a statement. They always work in a slightly sporty way with fitted knits and a slick ponytail.
- Oversized white button-down shirt– You might think a man-shirt would swamp a petite figure, but with super slim pants, or worn with a bare leg as a dress the effect was exactly the opposite.
- Loafers– why wear a heel when you can dance in loafers and pants à la Funny Face? They’re charming with a tunic dress, too.
- An LBD-Possibly the most recognised little black dress in history, and it’s still a fact: yes, every woman should own one.
- Oversized round black sunglasses -Hepburn relied on accessories to bring the glamour, a larger-than-life pair of black sunglasses works every time.
- Headscarves and hats-silk headscarves for off-duty or dramatic wide-brims for on-duty are still so relevant.
- Chain strap tote– Iconic Audrey zipped up in one bag – this is ladylike made tough with a masculine chain. The perfect offset for anything too sweet or pretty.
If there were a poster girl for Old Hollywood, Grace Kelly would easily nab that billboard. Renowned for her simplicity and classic, elegant approach to dressing, her love of crisp cotton shirting, dresses with nipped-in waists, pastel princess-line coats and the ever-present pearls formed the basis for a wardrobe that was always neat as a pin, long before her entry into royalty.
- Full skirts -A quick, no-fuss way to add shape to her narrow frame, this style took her from casual to glamour in a flash.
- Shirt Dresses– A selection in cottons and silks make day-to-night dressing a breeze (particularly with a Hermes bag on your arm).
- Swing coats– Perfect for travelling to add glamour over casual attire, or works just as well equally over a cocktail dress.
- Cropped sweaters -Worn over her favourite crisp short-sleeved blouses and tied neatly across her décolletage, this was one true American preppy tendency that stuck with her until the end.
- High-waisted bikinis-Grace was partial to a high-waisted bikini bottom, showing only a strip of skin across the waist to add shape to her frame.
- Pencil skirts -Nipped in at the waist and tailored close to the body to allude to soft curves across her silhouette. Prints, neutrals, you name it — Grace balanced it all with her go-to white shirting.
- Strapless cocktail dresses in silks or taffeta -The textbook cocktail dress silhouette for her frame, Grace often elegantly bared her shoulders after dark.
- Crisp button-down shirts -The equivalent of a white t-shirt for Grace, she paired sharply tailored shirting — both short and long-sleeved — with everything.
- High-waisted Capri pants– A fan of anything high-waisted to create shape in her frame, Grace loved a narrow trouser belted at the waist with her signature shirting.
- Pearls -No jewel exudes the timeless elegance of the pearl, which perfectly sum up Grace’s attitude to style: quality and simplicity.
- Tortoiseshell sunglasses-Think a subtle round frame in a tortoiseshell finish for a day on the harbour.
- Hermes Kelly bag– It is her namesake, after all. Hermes officially named the bag after Grace in 1977 and rightly so, as it had been some years since she popularised the style. Any look can be elevated with a quality leather handbag.
- Midi pumps/sandals– Smart, practical and stylish — these tick all of Grace’s boxes. A pointy or almond-toe midi pump or open-toe sandal allows all the refinement of a heel with the added bonus of actually being able to move around in comfort.
First spotted on the beach in Cannes at the tender age of 18, Brigitte’s sexpot image came from those shots of her playfully gallivanting on the beach in a bikini with hair undone and bare feet. It wasn’t long before she reinvented the idea of the ‘starlet’ as liberated and natural with her now eponymous ‘Bardot’ neckline and that cat-eye.
- Pussy-bow blouses – The perfect split personality piece — tame it for work, or vamp it up for night.
- Breton stripes -What French girl wardrobe would be complete without a striped top? From casual denim to A-line skirts, this is the bread and butter of casuals across the board.
- Tailored shorts-If you’re more comfortable in something a little more demure, look for slouchy styles in denims, linens and cottons for an easy, multi-tasking alternative.
- Mini skirts– What they lack in length, Brigitte made up for in width — opting for cropped A-line and pleated styles.
- Off the shoulder dresses-It is her signature neckline, after all – and très seductive.
- Floral spaghetti-strap sundresses– On her off-duty moments, Brigitte would kit herself out in an array of cotton floral numbers, often tiered to play up her tiny waist.
- Gingham -Brigitte was the poster girl for this print – such a fan, in fact, she got married in red and white gingham.
- Cropped jeans– Brigitte often dressed jeans up in crisp white shirting and swathes of gold jewellery, and making them more casual with knits and stripes.
- Bikini– Her figure-flattering trick was all in the briefs, either cut higher in a slight v-shape to run up and over her hips, or below the hipbone — never directly across, so as not to cut off her torso.
- Wide-brimmed floppy hats in felt or straw– A Riviera jaunt isn’t complete without a wide-brimmed hat — preferably in a natural woven material like straw of raffia.
- Knee-high boots-Brigitte was a big believer in boots made for walking, no wonder they still reign today as a key footwear multi-tasker.
- Tan strappy sandals– All the better for running around a cobbled street in — this was her holiday footwear uniform. A summer staple in any wardrobe.
If it truly was spaghetti that created her physique, as Sophia has famously mentioned, well — hand us the pasta. Her definitive hourglass figure was always flaunted, revealing her curves in silhouettes that showed off her famous décolletage (rightly so). As alluring in a prim sundress as she was in boudoir-ready lace.
- Fit and flare dresses -This silhouette on a curvy body is a match made in heaven.
- Sheer-panelled blouses– A lesson in visual trickery, a sheer sleeve and darkly panelled torso plays on the body shape like light and shade.
- Cashmere sweaters– For off-duty chic, a bosom-hugging scoop or v-neck cashmere sweater is a friend of the curvaceous — comfortable, not clingy.
- A-Line and full skirts– For Sophia, nipping in the waist and skimming the hips amplified that knockout silhouette.
- Leopard-print coat– Could you get more Italian than a leopard-print coat? I think not – let it stand on its own with a red lip only.
- High-waisted shorts -A high waist and curves are a match made in heaven – look for styles cut slightly wider to glide over the hip.
- Balconette swimsuits – An ample bust needs support – Sophia knew it, and did justice to her body shape in balconette styles that work against gravity.
- Statement jewels– Any woman knows the power of a good statement jewel — particularly Sophia, a fan of diamonds, pearls and everything in between.
- Waist belts– All the better to highlight those measurements with — a must have.
- Silk scarves– As a headscarf, around the neck, on her handbags — Sophia was rarely without one. A bold print or colour palette makes for a quick accessory pick-me-up.
- Cat’s-eye sunglasses– If there’s anything any Italian woman is sure to bring to the table, it’s high voltage glamour. Cat’s-eye sunglasses nails this brief.
- Sky-high pumps– It’s all about volume — height-wise, that is. All the better to vamp yourself up with, and the ultimate in femme.
For more practical insights and advice from the leading experts in health, relationships and wellbeing, finances and career, fashion and beauty, pick up a copy of Rescu Me: The makeover guide for a life more fabulous by Bahar Etminan.