Channel Brigitte Bardot’s Style and
Add Some ‘Ooh La La’ To Your Everyday Look
When model Emily Ratajkowski packed her suitcase for Europe, she must have had Brigitte Bardot in mind as her style inspiration; Off the shoulder jersey tops, wide headband scarves, cold shoulder camis, nipped in waists and stripes - OK, the bikinis were decidedly skimpier than BB’s costumes (which at the time were shockingly small), but the bulk of her wardrobe made obvious references to the icon’s distinctive French Riviera style,in particular the black spaghetti strapped dress for Cannes, which bore more than a passing resemblance for Bardot’s own Film Festival dress in 1956.
By keeping accessories to a minimum (just occasional hoops) and wearing a nude lip, but no heavy cat eye liner or bouffant, Emily nods to Bardot’s style, without copycatting her and with other individual twists such as print mixing the striped dress with florals and shrugging the cargo coat off the shoulder her look is current and fresh.
This how we channel style (rather than mimicking every detail and parodying our fashion muses) by taking inspiration from one or more characteristic, or signature. Be it a silhouette - such as the Bardot Neckline,or her tightly belted waistline; an accessory like her ballet pumps or headband; or an idiosyncrasy - sexy undone hair and smouldering looks, barefoot and always ready to dance!
So let’s look at BB's signatures and borrow a few for ourselves, after all, cool girls have been doing it intentionally and subliminally for over 50 years!
OFF THE SHOULDER
Bottom row above: Left ASOS black jersey tee; Right Hailey Baldwin, Bella Hadid & Emily Ratajkowski.
Ok, so Bardot didn't ’invent’ off the shoulder; that happened way, way back in the 1800’s, but as the French Riviera’s original ‘It Girl’shesinglehandedlypioneeredthe neckline from the mid 1950’s onward, working a sexy decollete into her distinctive silhouette, with wide necked t-shirts, structured bustiers and ribbon tied ‘cocoon’ tops, saucily revealing the shoulders and clavicle.
Off the shoulder is a bit of fun and a little daring - will my strapless bra hold in place?? (YES! if it’s the ultimate strapless bra - Read my wedding guest article for more details
) and it’s a cut which designers revisit time and time again and since last spring’s runway collections, versions of the shoulder-baring shape are available for everyone, all year round including the ‘cold shoulder’
which is flattering on just about everyone.
Stripes and simple basics
are always in style and BB was a huge fan. In particular the super versatile St James Galathee stripe t-shirt
(top 3 photos), beloved of Picasso, Jean Seberg, Coco Chanel & Audrey Hepburn, to mention a few. Four words: French. chic, buy one.
These and versatile basic t-shirts were staples in Brigitte’s wardrobe and the tomboyish shirts teamed with her ballet flats, cropped jeans and skirts, as well as sweet gingham
prints in surprisingly prim cuts, made for a more relaxed, girl next door uniform for the overtly sexy star.
Items above: St James Long Sleeve in navy and white; Green gingham blouse by Betty B; Blush pink Repetto flats; Navy gingham shirt with cuff ties,Tibi.
BALLET PUMPS, BOOTS, BIKINIS, BOWS & BANDS
Often going barefoot, Bardot preferred flat,low heeled boots or ballet pumps and in 1956, the trained dancer, approached ballet shoe manufacturers Repetto and requested some customised dance slippers for her movie And God Created Woman.
So ‘Cendrillon’, a simple ballet pump with a flat heel and street worthy sole was created and showcased by Bardot - One of the original retail x it-girl collaborations, this classic ballet pump soon became a cult classic and is still an investment piece worth saving for.
Taking inspiration… Tyra Banks above,goes full bombshell with bouffant, smoky cat eyes, sexy pale lips and bustier.
Showing some skin with a cold shoulder blouse and nipped in waist (from style pantry on Pinterest) and a decollete-baring Alexa Chung with tousled ‘bouff’ with her own signature eyeliner and a pop of red lips for evening;
Destined always for Bardot comparisons, Georgia May Jagger has paired her undone bed hair and nude lips with more subtle eye makeup. And in fact I could just photoshop Bardot’s head onto Alexa here, with her basic t-shirt, boho beltedcut offs & repetto flats! The basics: White T-shirt from Topshop; Bardot’s signature heavy kohl;
Repetto Cendrillon and Alexander Wang cold-shoulder cami.
Commitment To Style
There are literally thousands of photographs of Bardot to pour over, but because she has always had such distinctive personal style, - and shock horror, she was photographed wearing the same items more than once - key items and features reoccur frequently and that is true iconic style. Although she wore very few accessories in general, save for occasional hoop earrings, or a belly chain, the wide headband, big hat or a girlish bow were all 'owned' by Bardot and she also paired just about every outfit - even her famous bikinis with her heavy cat eyes and nude lips. I’d love to know how she kept her eye makeup on for the beach by the way (I’m sure there were no ‘waterproof’ products until the 80’s!) and not everyone can carry off that dramatic heavy black kohl every day, but a subtle flick of liquid liner or a smoky eyeshadow can give a hint of BB's style too and by stealing one or two of her characteristic traits, we can all add a bit of Ooh La La to our everyday look!