Since last Tuesday, when Lauren Bacall died, I have been obsessed with all of the photographs of her that have deluged the internet. Many I had seen before, as I have a fascination for women and style from the 40s and 50s, some I had not. All the while internet-stalking this amazing woman, I thought about what she taught us about style -- beyond "The Look." To me, she symbolizes sensuality over sexuality, casual elegance over self-conscious self-curation.
1. You can never go wrong with a bright red lip. My Mom always told me that the more tired (or grumpy) I was, the brighter my lipstick should be. A red lip always makes a statement, so find your perfect shade of red. It dresses up jeans and a tank top, and is the perfect accessory to the LBD.
2. A strong side part always looks polished. When I don't know what to do with my hair, I part it sideways -- really sideways -- like to the outer edge of my eyebrow (for Bacall - and for me -- always on the left). And no matter the rest of my look, I then get complimented on my hair.
3. Big sunglasses add an air of mystery. Big, round, black sunglasses.
4. Pearls trump diamonds anyday. While Jackie may be the name you associate with a multi-strand pearl necklace, Bacall also wore them -- double strands, triple strands, longer single strands, and chokers, throughout her life. Find one and wear it over and over again and your elegance quotient will rise.
5. Full eyebrows are feminine. I have always had full eyebrows and so naturally I look for them in my fashion icons. Hers were not only full, but perfectly arched. Don't over-tweeze... ever!
6. High-waisted pants and dress shirts can be sexy. Bacall was not about showing skin -- some have contrasted her directly with Marilyn Monroe in that sense. But she sure had sex appeal in those high-waisted pants and boyfriend shirts.
7. Showing too much skin is rarely elegant. Refer to point 6 above. Embrace turtlenecks this fall, a staple of Bacall's wardrobe.
8. Age gracefully. By the time Bacall passed, she was both old and beautiful. She aged gracefully, always looking fabulous and appropriate for her age, never looking either like she was trying too hard to not look her age, nor like her plastic surgeons was overly eager. Beautiful, elegant, and appropriate to the end.