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A History of Style: Fashion Inspired by Edith Head

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Edith Head

When you think of a fashion icon from the past, who is the first person that comes to mind? Marilyn Monroe? Audrey Hepburn? Edie Sedgwick, perhaps? While all three of those women have enviable styles that we absolutely love, there are so many other fashionable women that have graced the history pages.

This biweekly column focuses on just that: unexpected and out-of-the-box fashion icons from the past. We feature women who have not only made an impact, but also have distinct signature styles that we can still draw inspiration from today.

If you haven’t seen them already, be sure to check out our other “A History of Style” posts on Amelia EarhartBillie HolidayJoan JettLouise BrooksDorothy Dandridge and Elizabeth Taylor.

This week, we’ll be taking a closer look at famed Hollywood costume designer Edith Head. Although she worked behind the scenes, Edith was quite the style icon herself and donned plenty of classic ensembles and unique accessories to create her one-of-a-kind look. Read on to learn more about Edith’s life and unique style, then check out some outfits ideas to help you channel her look for yourself:

Edith Head 1

5 Facts About Edith Head

  • Edith Claire Posner was born on October 28, 1897 in San Bernardino, California. Although she started her career as a teacher, Edith became interested in art and began taking night classes in order to learn how to draw and sketch.
  • In 1924, Edith was hired as a costume sketch artist at Paramount Pictures. She started out designing costumes for silent films and by 1938 had become head of Paramount’s costume department as well as one of the most famous costume designers in Hollywood.
  • Over her 60 year career as a costume designer, Edith worked with dozens of talented Hollywood actresses and created some of the most memorable film costumes of all time. Some of her most well-known work was done for Grace Kelly in Rear Window and Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, Roman Holiday and Funny Face.
  • Throughout her career, Edith was nominated for 35 Academy Awards in the category of “Best Costume Design”. She won a record eight times and currently holds the title for the most Oscar wins by a female.
  • Edith passed away on October 28, 1981, but her legacy still lives on. In fact, although it’s never been officially confirmed, it’s widely believed that the character Edna Mode from Disney/Pixar’s The Incredibles was modeled after Edith. The resemblance is pretty uncanny, don’t you think?

Edith Head 2

Edith’s Style 101

  • Timeless. Edith was known for avoiding trendy pieces when she designed film costumes, and her classic aesthetic translated to her personal style as well. Edith was very careful not to choose pieces that could easily be dated and instead wore no-frills outfits that were simple, chic and timeless.
  • Tailor-Made. Edith made sure her classic wardrobe also fit her to a “T” by having individual items tailored to her exact measurements. The next time you buy a new pair of jeans or a blazer, be like Edith and take the item to your local tailor to have it perfectly fitted or hemmed.
  • Dress Code. Edith rarely strayed away from her “uniform” of a skirt, blouse, blazer and pumps — four classic wardrobe staples. Wearing a basic outfit formula, then switching up the colors, fabrics and styles helped to create her signature look.
  • Calling Card. Other than her clothing choices, Edith also showed off her style-savvy through her accessories and hairstyle. Edith’s round glasses and blunt bangs were her trademarks and made her easily recognizable to many. Mimic Edith by establishing your own style trademark. It can be a piece of jewelry, a hairstyle or even a signature color. Just make sure it’s uniquely you!

Outfits for Inspiration

Outfit #1

Edith Head Inspired Outfit 1
Product Info: Blouse- House of Fraser, Necklace- Max & Chloe, Sunglasses- ASOS, Skirt- ASOS, Pumps- Target, Earrings- Kohl’s

Outfit #2

Edith Head Inspired Outfit 2
Product Info: Blazer- Zara, Blouse- H&M, Sunglasses- Sunglass Warehouse, Jeans- Kohl’s, Belt- Madewell, Ring- ASOS, Pumps- H&M

Outfit #3

Edith Head Inspired Outfit 3
Product Info: Blazer- Dorothy Perkins, Dress- Oasis, Clutch- Nasty Gal, Sunglasses- ASOS, Necklace- Send the Trend, Flats- Nine West, Bracelet- Bloomingdale’s

What do you think?

Do you find Edith’s style inspiring? What do you think of her look? Would you wear any of these outfits? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below!

Posted on on December 25, 2011 / Filed Under: Inspiration / Tags: , , , ,

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12 Responses to “A History of Style: Fashion Inspired by Edith Head”

  1. 1
    December 25th, 2011 at 11:54 am

    she also looks like lady gaga!

  2. 2
    December 25th, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    I wish I could rock round frame glasses, but my face is too round as it is! haha Lovely post! Merry Christmas all!

  3. 3
    December 25th, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    beautiful outfits!!!

  4. 4
    December 25th, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    As soon as I saw a picture of Edith Head, I immediately thought of the lady from The Incredibles. Ha ha. In any case, I love these outfits. They are classy and timeless.

  5. 5
    December 26th, 2011 at 12:27 am

    hey I love those blazers, thinking of buying one this year but don’t know what style, color, cut to go for my petitie figure…anyway loved them.

  6. 6
    December 26th, 2011 at 12:40 am

    I think it’s very cool that she started out as a teacher, but then switched over and had great success in a completely different field. I takes a lot of pressure people who have an undecided major.

  7. 7
    December 26th, 2011 at 2:55 am

    I love the idea of having a style calling card, but I probably couldn’t commit myself to something as quirky as Edith’s glasses or bangs.

  8. 8
    December 26th, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Her style is very inspiring and I really like the Edith-inspired looks you put together! They’re classic, yet subtly quirky. I saved the first and last one for further reference :)

  9. 9
    December 30th, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    I have to agree with the first comment posted here. At first, when I saw the pictures of Edith, I saw a similarity with Lady Gaga, which to be correct, would only happen the opposite way. First came Edith, then Lady Gaga. But besides that, I really do admire her style and all of the prizes and recognitions that she won were proof of her hard work. For emulating her style, I love the 1st outfit. It’s classic and simple enough to copy and to wear for a job interview! Great post!

  10. 10
    January 11th, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    Lovely post and I do agree that Edith had quite amazing style herself.

    My only problem with this post is that it was Hubert Givenchy who really designed the costumes for Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, Roman Holiday and Funny Face.

    Edith was in charge of evey costume in the movie except for the ones belonging to Miss Hepburn.

    There was quite a big controversy when she won the Academy Award for Sabrina for Givenchy’s work.

    I loved the post, anyways.

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