Discover the essence of Jane Birkin style with our expert tips. Elevate your fashion game and embody timeless elegance effortlessly.
Over the past month, we’ve been breaking down our list of 16 classic fashion icons everyone should know. Last week, we covered Cher — the singer/actress you all know and love. This week, we’ll be talking about an influential figure on the European fashion scene, Jane Birkin.
The singer/actress/model/muse took over international pop culture in the 1960s and 1970s with her chic, undone style and provocative films and songs that were sometimes banned for being too sensual. (We’ll get into that later.)
A natural beauty and muse to many an artist (including the most renowned French musician in modern history), Jane Birkin is a stylish example of the je ne sais quoi of European fashion.
Keep reading to find out more about Jane’s early life in England, rise to French superstardom, and influence on the fashion scene.
Table of Contents
All About Jane
An English Rose
Jane found huge success in France and is considered a French style icon, but she was actually born in London, England in 1946.
Her mother was a successful actress, and her father was a Royal Navy lieutenant-commander and spy during WWII. Her brother, Andrew, is a filmmaker and has photographed her many times.
At 17, Jane was offered a part in a musical produced by her soon-to-be first husband John Barry.
But she had yet to achieve the fame that was waiting for her. To begin, she starred in minor roles in counter-culture films like the movie Blow-Up. That role created a small buzz around her name due to her brief nude scene.
Also Read: Guide to Achieving the ’60s Mod Look
Ooh la la
Jane soon divorced John Barry and met Serge Gainsbourg. Gainsbourg, in case you don’t know, was one of the most important and influential figures in modern music and remains, to this day, an icon in France.
Birkin’s collaborations with Gainsbourg were often erotic. Their duet “Je t’aime…moi non plus” (I love you…me either) featured lyrics and vocals that were considered so sexual that it was banned from the radio in six countries and couldn’t be played in France before 11 pm.
Naturally, because the tune was so taboo, it became a hit. (The ‘60s and ‘70s were a lot more wild than you think…) Jane became a symbol of effortless beauty and sexuality, captivating the world with her stunning looks and provocative art.
She and Gainsbourg were in a relationship for 13 years and collaborated on loads of different music and film projects, but eventually split in 1980.
Jane married a director that same year, though Serge continued to write songs for her and was always in her life. But Serge died in 1991, and Jane went on to say “when Serge died, everything else collapsed. Nothing was really the same again.” She divorced her then-husband shortly after.
Still, Jane managed to succeed on her own and continue working in music and film. In 2017, she released the album Birkin/Gainsbourg: Le Syphonique, featuring songs Serge wrote for her. She even performed it at Carnegie Hall earlier this year.
A Muse to the World
Jane was a muse to many famous directors and musicians, but also to the entire fashion world. Her modeling popularized the minimalistic casual fashion vibe that was huge in the ’70s.
One of her most iconic fashion moves was carrying a large wicker-basket purse (not sure how comfortable this is but it looks fabulous) — you might notice that those wicker basket style bags are back today! (Fashion, it’s cyclical.)
Jane also inspired the world-famous Birkin Bag by Hermès. Then chief executive of the design label was sitting next to Jane when her bag spilled, and decided to design one for her after she complained about not having a good leather bag.
Also Read: Best Designer Bags from Top Luxury Brands
Fashion Inspired by Jane Birkin
Jane’s style has been pretty consistent throughout her career. Her it-factor comes from blending the casual with the sensual. You won’t find many photos of Jane in extravagant evening gowns or elaborate lingerie, but you’ll find her looking just as gorgeous in a simple t-shirt and jeans. (How does she do it?) Here’s a guide to copying her look for yourself:
A white t-shirt and jeans were Jane’s go-to back in the day. She loved an easy-going aesthetic. Also, notice the infamous basket purse! Loose-fitting clothes showed off Jane’s slim figure in a subtle way and helped to enhance that “Oh, I just put this on in a second!” look she became known for.
To steal this look, you probably have everything you need, namely a plain white t-shirt, flared jeans (if you can get bell-bottoms, go for it!), and some simple shoes. If carrying a full wicker basket isn’t for you, try a straw purse. They’re smaller but maintain the aesthetic.
Always in Style
Jane has been photographed in a classic white button-down countless times. These shirts were paired with everything from trousers, to high-waisted jeans, to khaki shorts, and sometimes no bottoms at all! Jane’s style focuses on those classic types of pieces.
I feel like ’70s Jane would love the fanny pack resurgence going on right now. It totally captures to the lazy-cool vibe she became known for. Staples like button-downs and Mary Janes don’t get old. Try adding a blazer or belt for even more of Jane’s charm.
Jane’s style can be defined as understated. When wearing something more elegant and dressed-up, like a little black dress or jumpsuit, she’ll usually pair it with a few simple accessories that don’t draw too much attention away from her natural beauty, even when they’re statement pieces. Her outfits are balanced.
T-shirt dresses are laid-back and comfortable but can be made to look super cute for a day or night event. Paired with chunky sandals, layered necklaces, and a basket shaped bag (a tribute to Jane’s old favorite), this timeless look is simple and cool.
Effortless Chic: Mastering the Jane Birkin Style with Modern Twists
The iconic style of Jane Birkin effortlessly blends Parisian cool with a touch of bohemian nonchalance. Here are some tips and recommendations to capture her vibe and make it your own:
Basics as Canvas:
- T-Shirt Staple: Start with a classic white tee, Jane’s fave. Roll your sleeves, add jeans, shorts, or a skirt, and bam – you’ll have that Parisian cool style. Feeling quirky? Throw on a graphic tee.
- Denim Devotion: Hunt down high-waisted mom jeans or straight-leg cuts at a vintage store. Go for light or medium washes and add a little distress for that lived-in look. Cuffed legs? Yes, please! Don’t forget the ankle boots.
- Knitted Love: Jane loved to cozy up in chunky sweaters, cardigans, and turtlenecks. Oversized equals relaxed vibes, but tucking them into jeans looks so polished and cute. Layer your knits over dresses or shirts for extra fashion points.
- Dress & Denim Duo: Throw a denim jacket over a flowy floral dress for an effortless contrast. Play with lengths and textures for added interest.
- The Scarf Trick: Add a pop of color and texture with a silk scarf tied loosely around your neck or woven into your hair. Experiment with different prints and knots.
- Belted Magic: Cinch your waist with a woven leather belt over a sweater, dress, or even a t-shirt to create a retro silhouette.
Adding Birkin Staples:
- Basket Case: Channel Birkin’s iconic wicker basket for an instant Parisian touch. Use it as a purse, picnic basket, or even a plant holder.
- Vintage Treasures: Embrace vintage finds like floral dresses, denim jackets, and chunky jewelry for a unique and authentic Birkin vibe. Mix them with modern pieces for a personal touch.
- Undone Hair: Ditch the perfect blowout! Embrace Jane’s signature messy waves and flyaways for a laid-back, effortless look. Use texturizing spray or sea salt spray to achieve the effect.
Remember, the beauty of the Birkin style lies in its effortless chic and laid-back attitude. Embrace the basics, don’t overthink it, and most importantly, feel confident in your own skin.
Will you be channeling the effortlessly chic Jane Birkin?
The fascination with Jane’s style is undeniable. People across the globe have admired her ability to make anything (or nothing) at all look elegant, sophisticated, and trendy.
Are you running to put on a pair of flared jeans? Will you be buying a wicker basket sometime soon? Or maybe a knock-off Birkin bag? Let us know how you will channel Jane Birkin in the comments!
For more information on Jane Birkin, check out these great sources:
- All Music Jane Birkin Biography
- CBS News Jane Birkin: Life (and music) goes on
- The Cut Jane Birkin Encounter
- Vogue Jane Birkin: On Film, on Serge, on Fashion, on Refusing to Say Her Own Name
- Wikipedia Jane Birkin page