Hepburnism Defined {je ne sais quoi}

French women are always touted as the best-dressed, which I would be inclined to resent if I didn't so heartily agree with the sentiment. We find the simple colors, elegant lines, and unabashed natural beauty intensely attractive. With the Parisienne, "less is more" seems to be the aim, and it works. A hundred women might walk by but when you see a French-woman you'll know her immediately. Some have succeeded in capturing the essence of the Continental allure, even if they do not hail directly from France. My favorite of this set is Audrey Hepburn.

//Source: Pinterest//

I see a picture of Audrey and, obviously, I know who she is. But I see a style modeled from Audrey and I can still recognize it as her influence. This is, perhaps, the funniest effect of a style-icon: styles styled off the woman who wore them best. For who else wore a pixie-cut and short fringe better than Audrey in Roman Holiday? Who will forever stand in my mind as the gold standard of How a Woman Ought to Look in Black Cigarette Pants? Audrey. It's this trademark quiet elegance that made me coin the word "Hepburnism," which has since gone into circulation among my friends. I'm not sure I'm the first person to use the term, but I came up with it myself as far as I'm concerned. Hepburnism....if an item of clothing has extra Hepburnism, I'm eighty percent more likely to buy it. A boat-neck, three-quarter-length-sleeved tee, black ankle-pants, a crisp, vintage-inspired sundress. If a person has Hepburnism, they become one of my style inspirations. And to me, few things say "Hepburnism" quite like the Little Black Dress.

//Source: Anne Street Style//

"One is never over-dressed or underdressed with a Little Black Dress."
-Karl Lagerfeld
I love a good LBD so much that I dedicated a Pinterest board to "Hepburnism: The Art of The LBD." A little black dress is a power-play and there's no arguing with the fact. I add as much Hepburnism in my wardrobe as I can and always feel ideally clothed when I walk into a room in a chic black dress. There is truly no feeling to compare with that of being well-dressed and knowing the fact. In addition to wearing one often myself, I always find myself admiring that one woman in the room who is exuding the most confidence, simplicity, and elegance. More often than not, she's wearing a black dress. And now comes confession time: I own three black dresses. Second confession? I would buy another (...Or maybe two...). For now, I'm just glad to style and show you the three in my possession. First up?

The Efficient Baxter

I love the military accents of this no-nonsense LBD from Sharagano. It's a little black dress without being overly stuffy about it, and the bronze accents and symmetrical aspects of the design allow for fun shape-play with jewelry. I love pairing it with simple geometric jewelry, often in gold or bronze. Also, it is casual enough to pair with my faux snake-skin heels, which is a fun departure in itself.

Next up is my favorite dress of the three. I'll call it...

The Sweetheart.

I found this dress by MSK at the only stop in a Steinmart I have ever made. I am glad I did stop in, however, because as I've said, it's my favorite of my LBDs. 

More formal than either of the others, I feel the most Hepburnish in The Sweetheart. It shouts to be worn with red lipstick, a neat flick of eyeliner, a good perfume, a modest pair of heels. If I had a date to a someplace swanky, I'd choose this dress out of nearly anything in my closet.

Third of all, and the dress I've had longest is

The Girlish One.

I received this dress as a sample from eShakti several years ago and love the jersey-knit drape of the fabric. Because the dress was made to my specific measurements, it fits like a dream and I love it. Also, let's talk circle skirts for a minute:

Thought so. There is nothing more fun to spontaneously swing-dance in than a circle skirt and you know it. If you've lost touch with your childish side, just get a full-skirted dress. It'll come back. Promise.


These are my three little black dresses. I've worn them many times and will continue to wear them. The price-per-wear is very, very low. I still keep my eyes peeled for must-have LBDs and my weakness for Audrey-esque tops or the occasional (entirely irrational) desire for a pixie-cut have not abated, but for now, I'm happy with the Hepburnism in my closet.


  1. They all look really nice--but I think the last one is my favorite :) Myself, I don't think I could ever wear a "little black dress" because I look terrible in black (I have really peachy skin and black makes me look . . . dead, basically.) But as long as a girl CAN wear black, she can't really go wrong with a little black dress.

    1. Jessica, Emily's comment (further down) is a good substitute: find your best darkest color (navy? plum? chocolate? pine?) Choose it and go as dark as you can. :)

    2. That's a really good point--I love dark navy and it looks good on me, but somehow I never connected it to the whole "little black dress" thing because I thought those had to be, well, black! But I see now that it could work with any really dark color.

  2. I want to be Audrey Hepburn. : D She was so effortless. I only own one LBD, but it's my absolute favorite. I want more!

    1. "Effortless" such a perfect word for Miss Hepburn.

  3. I love this, Rachel! As a fellow Audrey-connoisseur I think we can agree the LBD is a non-negotiable, and you pull yours off very well indeed.

    Strangely, I only have one Little Black Dress in my collection at the moment - I had a few others over the years that I've gotten rid of for various reasons, but this one always stays. And hey, when you find Banana Republic at the thrift store, it's almost always a timeless purchase. :)

  4. I adore a good LBD! In fact, I just went into my closet to discover I have six of them, and want to purchase a 7th. Good grief, I might have a problem. Then again, they are all in different styles and all work for different situations, and I do work in a black & white only work environment. Maybe I'm not so crazy anymore. :p

    1. Haha! Black and white work uniform is a good excuse for owning too many LBDS. I would love to see a post about all of yours, Ashley!

  5. Great post, Rachel!!! :-)

    Hey, Jessica Prescott, I hear you on the wearing black thing... though any girl can find the darkest of "her colors" and have that be her LBD hue! :-) For me, a navy is the darkest thing I ought to do, and since blues are my color it still makes me look alive! ;-)
    For my sis, chocolate is her "darkest dark" and she looks like a million bucks in something accented with that! :-)

    There is a Darkest Dark in any colorway, and the Little Black Dress theory can swap over to it with no ill affects!!! :-)

    It can take a bit more hunter's skills to find the style we want in the color we need, but that just makes us appreciate the find more, and keeps us from spending to much money; right? ;-) It's all good!!! :-)

    1. Great tip, Elizabeth! There IS a darkest dark for every complexion. :)

    2. You guys are right--thanks! I'll go with dark navy, cause it looks pretty good on me.

  6. You are stunning, The Sweetheart is my favorite.