Never did a woman look so damn good in trousers the way Katharine Hepburn did. She had the perfect combination of looking elegant, effortless, graceful, strong and feminine at the same time. I don’t know any modern day leading lady that could compare to her. She even hired a men’s tailor to make custom suits for her.
She was one of the first women in Hollywood to wear pants. She sort of gave the finger to the studio men and confines of society at a time when wearing pantsuits and speaking out against marriage was scandalous. And like many women who aren’t fearful of speaking their minds, she was criticized. She was criticized for being private, for not giving many interviews, for wearing jeans to work, for not wearing as much makeup as other Hollywood ladies. She has been described with these words: outspoken, feisty, intellectual, unconventional, straightforward, bold, complicated, witty, quirky, and mysterious. And that’s why I’m sweet on her.
I love that she still looked fabulous wearing silky button-down blouses, trousers and loafers, that she didn’t need to show off her legs and cleavage to get attention – she had ample beauty not to need to do that. But I utterly loved how stunning and glamorous she also looked in dresses, like this head-turning full-length Adrian gown from The Philadelphia Story or that gorgeous flowy chiffon gown in Bringing Up Baby. When I first saw these two movies, I remember saying to myself, “Where could I go, and in Hawaii for that matter, so that I could wear these kind of dresses?”
Katharine Hepburn did things her way during a time that I can only imagine must have been so stifling for a woman with a strong personality. But she must have done something right despite the criticsm – she was the lead opposite some not too shaby guys, from Bogart to Grant (and appeared in nine movies with the love of her life, Spencer Tracy). And she still holds the record for the most best actress Oscar wins (four), and was also nominated a whopping 12 times. To this day, people often recite her infamously feminist quotes; my favorite as a teenager was “Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.” Now, my favorite quote from her is “Stone-cold sober, I find myself absolutely fascinating.” I think this should be a mantra for all women today.