Being this cool is always in style.
Lauren Bacall's designer in To Have and Have Not was Milo Anderson
(But she'd have looked just as good in a potato sack.)
What I love about Lauren Bacall is the fact that she looked great in everything she wore, but she never looked like she was following anyone's fashion rules other than her own. She started out as a department store model and ended up a screen goddess known for her original style. Early on, she was inspired by the uncomplicated lines of Diana Vreeland's designs ... but she wore them in a way that was anything but simple. In fact, Vreeland once said of her, "She's perfect all over, and yet she looks like nobody else."
A notorious lover of fashion, Lauren Bacall once hosted a TV show to introduce French couture to the American audience. But that doesn't really explain her nuanced, signature fashion choices. Even as a model, she was never just a clothes hanger. Her style was irreverent, glamorous, elegant, and often rule breaking. (She wore sequins during the day decades before Sarah Jessica Parker.)
It never seemed like Lauren Bacall was trying to be different. She made everything look effortless -- even marching to a meeting of the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Lauren Bacall was definitely one of the best dressed actresses of her generation, but you never get the feeling she gave a damn about what any of her beloved fashion gurus said. That's exactly what made her stand out. Her life, her rules. As she grew older, she kept her signature flowing mane despite living in an age that shuddered at the very idea of women over 40 having long hair.
She was so fearless, she even wore a midriff-baring dress in 1941:
While I've been known to bare my own midriff on occasion, I really love to wear this tweed gingham jacket from Boden when I'm in a smart-aleck, tough-girl Lauren Bacall mood:
Cheap imitation. (How'd I do?)
While we're at it, let's look at that midriff-baring dress again in another fantastic To Have and Have Not scene. I'm not even going to get started on her perfect hair.
By the way, Lauren Bacall was an inspiration for more than just her dauntless style. Her book By Myself and Then Some is one of my favorite autobiographies. Her friends called her Betty, and reading this book seemed like reading a long, funny, poignant, fascinating letter from a true pal. Get to know the real Betty Bacall:
For many more examples of style inspiration at every age, check out my Fabulous Women: Style Inspiration board on Pinterest.
Want to leave a comment about your style inspiration? Head on over to the Chic Contraire Community Forum and start a conversation!