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Inspiring Women: Audrey Hepburn

As a Finalist in the 2013 Singapore Blog Awards for Nanyang Optical Best Lifestyle Blog, we were asked to write a post on what or who inspires us from the 60’s. This is a themed challenge that is in line with this year’s blog awards.

Looking back at the 60s, one thing I absolutely love is the fashion, and its stylish female icons. Feminist revolution in the mid-60s to the androgynous hippie style of the late 60s, women of this decade defined popular fashion. Sex kittens, cutey pixies and elegant powerful women were all part of this grandiose mix. 

It was an era where fashion and beauty were infused with an evolving role of feminine confidence. It was a time when great and influential women like Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Onassis, Bridgette Bardot, Coco Chanel and Twiggy once lived.

These women were not only fashion icons, but their personal stories of survival, courage and pushing boundaries in history continue to inspire me in many ways. One of my greatest fashion icons and person of inspiration is Audrey Hepburn.

Audrey Hepburn: The Legendary Style Icon
Audrey Hepburn is a petite woman of timeless Hollywood elegance and beauty. Her sense of fashion is classic and almost always the same. She exudes a certain kind of grace that I wished I had. During the time of the blond bombshell sex kittens like Marilyn Monroe and Bridgette Bardot, Audry Hepburn kept things different with her waif, thin, flat-chested physique and brunette mane. Her fashion style resonates well with me and some of them include:

#1: Know What Works For You and Stick With It
At a young age, Audrey Hepburn knew what styles looked good on her and she stuck with it all of her life. For example, she had a small 22″ waist. So she wore clothes that clinched on the waist or silhouette structured outfits to enhance her figure.

#2: Keep It Simple
Audrey Hepburn’s style has always been about simplicity. She never liked anything complicated and uncomfortable. Just look at some of her basic wardrobe must-haves: a pair of over-sized dark sunglasses, a string of choker pearls, a pair of kitten heels or ballerina flats, a fitted suit and the famous little black dress.

#3: Maintain Good Posture & Grooming
What works for Audrey can always be found in the details. Grooming was a big thing for her. Her look is unmistakeably neat and well-groomed. For example, a flawless face, manicured nails and smoothly combed hair was how she always presented herself. Posture was also very important to her. Her early training in ballet taught her to maintain good posture and grace, never looking sloppy.

Audrey Hepburn: The Brave War-Torn Child
Not a lot of people know the real Audrey Hepburn. Despite coming from a well-travelled European family with aristocratic roots, she has been through and witnessed first-hand the tribulations of war, at home and in public. Her father left her family abruptly when she was very young after her mother caught him having illict affairs with the family’s nanny.

She has many recollections of the war. One of which she said “More than once I was at the station seeing trainloads of Jews being transported, seeing all these faces over the top of the wagon. I remember, very sharply, one little boy standing with his parents on the platform, very pale, very blond, wearing a coat that was much too big for him, and he stepped on to the train. I was a child observing a child”.

While she may physically look petite and frail, her courage was bold and strong. When the Germans in Holland confiscated all radios, Audrey Hepburn secretly delivered underground newspapers in her oversized boots. At the tender age of 15, she was a prolific ballet dancer, and danced secretly for the Dutch resistance during World War II. She gave ballet recitals to make money for the resistance until she was too weak from malnutrition. War had left Audrey Hepburn suffering from colitis, jaundice, anemia, endometriosis, asthma and depression.

Audrey Hepburn: The Woman Who Saved Lives
Her history of having almost starved to death during the Nazi-occupied Holland of World War II, led her to dedicate the later part of her life to help save improvised children in the poorest nations. She became a formidable UNICEF goodwill ambassador for starving children around the world.

On the personal front, Audrey Hepburn located her estranged father in her 30s. And while he remained emotionally detached from his only daughter, she kept in contact and supported him financially until his death.

In 1993 at the age of 63, Audrey Hepburn died from appendiceal cancer. As one of the most beautiful women who ever lived, Audrey Hepburn’s beauty was not only skin deep. It came from within.

I am inspired by the woman Audrey Hepburn was. She was a survivor and she had courage. She lived her life with purpose and never bolted in the face of fear. And when she made it good in life, she gave it all back.

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