A History of Style: Fashion Inspired by Isadora Duncan

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Isadora Duncan

When you think of a fashion icon from the past, who is the first person that comes to mind? Marilyn MonroeAudrey HepburnEdie 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 DandridgeElizabeth TaylorEdith HeadMary Tyler MooreSylvia PlathEdith Bouvier BealeMarlene DietrichFrida Kahlo and Cyndi Lauper.

This week, we'll be taking a closer look at dancer Isadora Duncan's ethereal sense of style. Read on to learn more about Isadora's life and unique style, then check out some outfit ideas to help you channel her look for yourself:

Isadora Duncan 1

5 Facts About Isadora Duncan

  • Angela Isadora Duncan was born on May 27, 1877 in San Francisco, California. She became interested in dance at an early age, but soon came to dislike the strict rules and rigidity of her ballet lessons.
  • Isadora is known as the "Mother of Modern Dance" and developed a free-flowing dace style that was based on natural movement.
  • When she was 21, Isadora left the U.S. for Europe and in 1904, opened her own dance school in Germany. She later opened a second school in Paris and a third in Russia. Her schools incorporated dancing along with education in order to to inspire a generation of free-thinking, independent women.
  • Isadora opened her schools to children from all walks of life, taking in students from disadvantaged backgrounds. She eventually adopted six of her pupils. The girls later performed in a dance group called the "Isadorables" alongside Isadora.
  • Isadora's death is considered to be among history's most bizarre and tragic. On the night of September 14th 1927, she was riding in a car with a friend when the long silk scarf she was wearing became entangled in the spoke of one of the wheels, breaking her neck and killing her instantly.
Isadora Duncan 2

Isadora’s Style 101

  • Free Spirit. Since she was a dancer, Isadora needed to wear clothing that would allow her to move around, so naturally she was drawn to lightweight, airy dresses. She also performed barefoot and wore dresses that exposed her arms and legs, which, back then, was considered by many to be "immoral." Isadora didn't let the criticism bother her, though, and continued to wear what she wanted while dancing, making her a true free spirit and fashion pioneer.
  • Greek Goddess. Isadora's dancing was strongly influenced by classical Greek art and dance, and that Grecian influence spilled over into her sense of style. Isadora wore lots of neutral colored, Grecian-inspired tunics and dresses both onstage and off. You can mimic this style by looking for items that have classic Grecian elements, like draping and braided details.
  • The Girl with the Long Scarf. Although one did cause her untimely demise, scarves were Isadora's signature accessory and she wore them often. Isadora actually helped to popularize long and flowing scarves during her time, so show your appreciation by donning one of your favorite scarves in a new way. (Just learn from her story and use caution when wearing it!)

Outfits for Inspiration

Outfit #1

Isadora Duncan Inspired Outfit1


Product Info: Necklace- Kohl's, Dress- Warehouse, Headband- ModCloth, Shoes- DSW, Bag- Zara

Outfit #2

Isadora Duncan Inspired Outfit2


Product Info: Earrings- Neiman Marcus, Top- Aerie, Wristlet- Amazon, Bracelet- Mango, Shorts- J. Crew, Sandals- Wet Seal

Outfit #3

Isadora Duncan Inspired Outfit3


Product Info: Earrings- Topshop, Dress- Forever 21, Belt- Dorothy Perkins, Scarf- Oasis, Sandals- H&M, Clutch- ASOS

What do you think?

Do you find Isadora’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!