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A History of Style: Fashion Inspired by Elizabeth Taylor


Elizabeth Taylor

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 Brooks and Dorothy Dandridge.

This week, we’ll be taking a closer look at the style of the late actress and activist, Elizabeth Taylor, who had over 60 years in the biz and, as a result, developed a one-of-a-kind, style-savvy look. Read on to learn more about her life and unique style, then check out some outfits ideas to help you channel her look for yourself:

Elizabeth Taylor 1

5 Facts About Elizabeth Taylor

  • Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born on February 27, 1932 in London, England. Prior to the start of WW2, Elizabeth and her family relocated to Los Angeles. Shortly after moving to LA, Elizabeth was discovered by several film studios and appeared in her first movie at the age of nine.
  • Elizabeth continued to act throughout her life. Some of her most famous roles were in National Velvet (1944), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) and Cleopatra (1963). She also won the Academy Award for Best Actress — twice! The first was for the film Butterfield 8 (1960) and the second for her role in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966).
  • Elizabeth was infamously known for her multiple marriages — over the course of five decades, she was married eight times, to seven different men.
  • In the mid-1980s, Elizabeth used her fame to support and bring awareness to HIV and AIDS programs by co-founding the American Foundation for AIDS Research. She later founded The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 1993. Elizabeth’s humanitarian work earned her many awards and honors including the Presidential Citizens Medal.
  • After struggling with health problems for a few years, Elizabeth passed away on March 23rd, 2011 at the age of 79. She left behind a large estate, which included over $150 million worth of jewelry. In fact, many pieces from her massive jewelry, clothing and accessory collections will be auctioned off this week at Christie’s with some of the proceeds going to The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

Elizabeth Taylor 2

Elizabeth’s Style 101

  • Taking the plunge. When Elizabeth was a young actress in the 1950s she wore lots of simple and beautiful dresses, but always made sure to amp up the sex appeal. She chose pieces with plunging necklines that showed off just the right amount of cleavage in a way that was never vulgar.
  • Bedazzled. Elizabeth always embraced out-of-the-box styles, but as she got older, her style became even bolder. In her eyes, bolder was better and she loved pieces adorned in sequins, flowers, beading, feathers and bows. Her eclectic ensembles always made a buzz at events or on the red carpet.
  • Color theory. Whether she wore a demure dress or an oversized caftan, Elizabeth was all about wearing rich hues and bright colors. Her colorful clothing made a bold statement, which you can easily mimic by wearing a dress in your favorite shade.
  • White Diamonds. Judging from the fact that she owned millions beyond millions of dollars worth of jewelry, it’s safe to say that Elizabeth was a huge fan of gorgeous (and expensive!) jewels. She took her one-of-a-kind bracelets, rings, necklaces and earrings and piled them on for a look that simply exuded opulence and glamour.

Outfits for Inspiration

Outfit #1

Elizabeth Taylor Inspired Outfit 1
Product Info: Necklace- Jigsaw, Dress- ModCloth, Headband- Witchery, Clutch- Papaya, Flats- Nine West

Outfit #2

Elizabeth Taylor Inspired Outfit 2
Product Info: Earrings- Topshop, Dress- Oasis, Bracelet- House of Harlow 1960, Clutch- Forever 21, Pumps- ASOS

Outfit #3

Elizabeth Taylor Inspired Outfit 3
Product Info: Silver Ring- Friis & Company, Black Ring- Debenhams, Dress- ASOS, Tights- H&M, Earrings- Zappos, Booties-

What do you think?

Do you find Elizabeth’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 11, 2011 / Filed Under: Inspiration / Tags: , , , ,

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18 Responses to “A History of Style: Fashion Inspired by Elizabeth Taylor”

  1. 1
    December 11th, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Elizabeth Taylor was incredible person! I really like the way you find some outfits inspiration in her style… :)

  2. 2
    December 11th, 2011 at 9:43 am

    One of the best fashion icons of her time, alongside Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. :)

  3. 3
    December 11th, 2011 at 9:53 am

    I am such a fan of her style! Great post.

  4. 4
    December 11th, 2011 at 10:26 am

    LOVE Elizabeth Taylor, and the last outfit! I wish you made these a little more winter-friendly, though.

  5. 5
    December 11th, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Elizabeth Taylor was a talented, beautiful and nice actress. Her style was wonderful.

  6. 6
    December 11th, 2011 at 11:12 am

    elizabeth taylor is great but I wouldn’t call her an “unexpected fashion icon”

  7. 7
    December 11th, 2011 at 11:22 am

    I would wear all of these! She had great style.
    Thank you so much for posting! Been waiting for this for awhile :P

  8. 8
    December 11th, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Love Elizabeth Taylor! I love the yellow dress!

  9. 9
    December 11th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    I love love love Elizabeth Taylor!! Amazing style. Great post (along with your others)!

    I would love to see a fashion and makeup inspiration post on Sophia Loren!

  10. 10
    December 11th, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Liz Taylor epitomized glamour! Love the first look.

  11. 11
    December 11th, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Love Elizabeth Taylor! She was so incredibly glamourous.

    When I was younger I used to watch National Velvet over and over…

  12. 12
    December 11th, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Please do one for Brigitte Bardot!

  13. 13
    December 11th, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    I love Liz but she’s so well known for her style and being an actress, Ms. Taylor’s what you’d expect to look first for fashion. How about someone a bit more surprising, like Sylvia Plath?

  14. 14
    December 11th, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Thanks for all the comments, everyone! Elizabeth is a little more ‘expected’ than the rest of the women I’ve featured thus far and I hear ya– I’ll be featuring lesser-known fashion icons in the future.

    Shelby- I love the idea of doing a post on Sylvia Plath.. I never would have thought of her! Thanks for the great idea and I’ll definitely be adding her to my list of women to feature in this column.

  15. 15
    December 11th, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Of course everyone loves Elizibeth Taylor, but not everyone loves her style – she stirred controversy not only for being racy, but for being gauche. Is she guilty? Perhaps, but that’s the fun of it all! I think she’s unexpected because she never wore the expected, predictable classics without embellishing them with some personal, distinctive and glamorous touch.

  16. 16
    December 12th, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Outfit 3 was my favorite! Love the boots ;)

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