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Remember Rene Russo’s revealing black dress in the Thomas Crown Affair? I bet I hit reverse a dozen times—every time I watch this film—to take another look at her clothes. I still want everything Russo wore… plus her body… her hair… to have sizzling sex with Pierce Brosnan… Without a doubt Rene Russo’s onscreen character, Catherine Banning, is one of my top fashion icons.

While most of us have fashion icons, how many of us actually use them as our own style and beauty guides?

I’ve asked supermodels, corporate powerhouses and women I meet in department stores to name their style icons. Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Onassis are on many lists, but what does that really mean? Most of us don’t dress anything like the women on our list, so does having a fashion icon just make us feel good because we recognize great style?

If we don’t take our cues from our style icons with the clothes we wear, then why do we even have one?

My style icons have changed over the years. In high school every girl I knew wanted to look like Twiggy, but the only one of us who did was my girlfriend, Lee. She was—and still is—tall, thin, leggy and beautiful, but in high school she had the Twiggy hair cut and the clothes to match.

In my early 20’s, I adopted a bit of the rock goddess, Marianne Faithfull, but instead of heart-shaped glasses, mine were aviators with yellow, transition lenses.

Soon I gravitated toward the clean lines of Calvin Klein and everything Lauren Hutton wore in Vogue magazine. Since then my style has stayed pretty consistent, although last year I got rid of the business look and added back a little rocker chic. This year I may take a few cues from Diane Keaton. Now she’s a woman who’s fashion sense is unique and iconic, and I love it! Here’s a look at her her style evolution, starting in 1977.

Of course we’d all look great if we had a personal stylist like the Thomas Crown Affair’s costume designer, Kate Harrington, and we had those clothes… They’re still my idea of elegant, grownup, sexy chic! Most of the clothes Rene Russo wore in the film were from the 1997 Celine collection by Michael Kors, and that amazing see-through, black dress on the dance floor? It was Halston, but… HELLO!!! Skip the dress! I’d rather have her body, please!

Even though the Thomas Crown Affair look doesn’t fit most of our lifestyles, many of us want to up our fashion game in 2018. When we’re tempted to buy something that’s not in keeping with the look we want to achieve, what if we ask ourselves, “WWAW?” What would Audrey wear, or Jackie or an “elevated casual” version of our fashion icon? While fashions and trends have changed since Audrey’s day, even so, would Audrey wear trends like plastic shirts and ratty jeans? I think not.

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  1. Hi Brenda, I am sooo with you about Renee & The Thomas Crown Affair!!! Like you were reading my mind:-D It is one of my all time movies. I have watched it countless times. I have even tried to copy her hair style multiple times. Thanks for this post. Your Awesome!!!

    • Hi Susan! Casting Rene Russo and choosing Kate Harrington as wardrobe designer sent so many of us into overdrive, trying to look like that character! Every time I went to get a haircut, I took the same, rumpled, Rene Russo/Thomas Crown Affair photo from a magazine and said, “MAKE ME LOOK LIKE HER!” After explaining to me at least a dozen times why my hair won’t do that, my stylist finally got to the point where he just stared at me in the mirror and said nothing! You’re awesome for stopping by! See you again, Brenda

  2. I’m laughing at the your thoughts on Rene Russo’s slim, tall body. She said she has never had a weight problem, that she never diets, that it’s just part of her genes that she be slim. Well, that said, IT HAS NEVER BEEN IN MY GENES to be thin. I’ve worked on this all my life and now so is my daughter. But, I’ve never been overweight (until now) and because I’m tall I can wear almost everything. But, I have my own style, developed over decades. As you know, I was a stylist at Sak’s 5th Avenue, working with high-end clients of all shapes and sizes, tall and short. I’ve found that almost every woman has HER style, but sometimes needs styling tips and accessory advice. I’ve seen you from your photos and I love your look. YOU know what works for you! Personally, right this minute, I’m in love with Melania Trump’s looks and the iconic Iris Apfel, who must live by the statement that MORE IS BETTER, and it definitely works for her. Also there is the incredible Anna Della Russo, the Italian women who is the Fashion Director of Vogue Japan. Over-the-top does not even begin to describe her, but as she has aged she is paring down. In fact, she is having an auction of many of her designer frocks, the money to benefit scholarships for fashion students.

    • Hi Marsha, You’re right that women have their own style but sometimes need guidance and input. Then there are other women who have no clue. NONE! I like to think I know what works for me. Every time I stray and put-on a kimono or something Iris Apfel, it backfires on me. I’d love to wear the Icon Accidental’s style, but I don’t have the hair and the grit to pull it off. I, too, love Melania Trump’s style. Elegant and tailored and haute couture. Unless it’s Halloween, I feel most of us are past the age–and don’t have the money–to buy totally new looks and experiment. That’s what dressing rooms and FedEx are for. Try it on and send it back! Thanks for your insight, Marsha. Brenda

  3. Oh, I wish I had some style. My usual look is pajamas (I work from home) and when I go out I usually manage the “confused” look. I’m just not adventurous enough to try new things so I end up wearing the same tried and true. Which is so damn boring!

    • Don’t beat yourself up, Rena! Most of us aren’t adventurous enough to try new things. I just said that to Marsha in my previous comment. Here’s something Marsha got me thinking about: What if you go to a department store–preferably a big one that has lots of styles and prices–and get some guidance from a saleswoman–preferably near your age? The young saleswomen have no clue what to do with us! Tell her your problem, let her give you some suggestions for your budget, height and weight? You might also go to Sephora and book a makeover… with a woman who’s makeup you like. I did that recently and it wasn’t very expensive, and she solved my problem for how to make my concealer work better. Hey! As long as you’ve thought about it to this point, what if you go to a new salon and ask for a hair makeover? I stopped a woman in a department store, who’s hair I loved, and asked where/who did her hair. Bingo! I’ve been going there ever since! It’s only hair… It will grow out if you don’t like it. Might be a fun way to start the new year, and it won’t be boring! xoxox, Brenda

    • Hi Rena, I personally live in my PJ’s as much as I can:-D I can definitely relate. I am always on the hunt for a cute & chic pair!! Try it the next time your at TJMaxx’s or your favorite store. Bet you’ll be surprised.

  4. Two more movies with clothes that could be worn today – Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Goodbye, Columbus (I made my now deceased husband sit through that movie six times so I could memorize Ali MacGraw’s Villager wardrobe). My style idol is Carine Roitfeld. I’ve always been thin, but have super skinny legs that preclude wearing skirts like her. I’m almost 74, and have worn jeans exclusively since I was 60. Abercrombie and Fitch – Harper, Low Rise, Super Skinny, have them in every color. I guess I don’t have anyone’s “look” in particular, just kind of an elderly sporty rocker chick!

    • Hi Lynn, First of all… BAN THE WORD “ELDERLY!!!” We will never be ELDERLY! I’m 68 and just came from a business meeting where I wore black leather pants, black ankle boots and a black cardigan with a fur collar. Glam rocker chic! I’m looking at Carine on Instagram. Something about her reminds me of Ali MacGraw, the eyebrows for starters. Carine has a classic, tailored style. I love it. I don’t know how tall you are, but my friend (built Chanel’s Beauty and Fragrance line for 25 years, now in her 70’s and consults for businesses like Oscar de la Renta) wears pencil skirts and tall black boots… With boots, you can’t tell if you have thin legs or not. By the brands you like, and your style icon, I imagine you have the fashion thing NAILED! Sounds rather Jackie O when she lived in NYC. Please come talk to me, again, Brenda

  5. Oh, how I wanted to look like Twiggy! I was tall & skinny and my nickname was LEGS. But, those eyes. I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup so even attempting to make my eyes look larger was out of the question.
    Like most women, I’ve had many style icons over the years. Jackie O was one. In the last few years, Jennifer Anniston has even been on my radar. She dresses in a classic, updated way. Take a look at some of her outfits. I think you’ll agree. The French know how to dress. I love Ines Fressange and Emmanuelle Alt. Classic, clean styles.
    At 64, I still love fashion. I’m aware of trends (what’s in, what’s out) but I do pick and choose, always conscious of age appropriateness.
    My favourite article of clothing is my jeans. I like a slim or skinny leg, blue or black, no distressing, perfect fit. Crisp white shirts and cashmere sweaters are a wardrobe staple, too.

    • YES! YES! YES! We can borrow one another’s clothes!! Jeans, crisp, white shirts and cashmere!!! Jennifer Anniston always catches my attention. She’s what I’ve named “elevated casual,” which Ines de la Fressange is as well. I stopped in her store last year when I was in Paris and bought a tweed blazer with a thin, rust, suede belt she suggested. I’ve never been much for blazers, tweed or brown, but I love this and wear it collar up, nothing on underneath with slim blue jeans and blue and white espadrilles. Love it. As long as we’re dressing classic, classy, no “Coachella,” cold shoulders, miniskirts, crop tops, we can wear more than you think we can, and I’m older than you. Loved your comment! Brenda

      • Oh, don’t get me wrong! I keep my wardrobe up to date with new trends. Like you, I am careful which ones I choose though.
        I love the idea of no top under your blazer – a little tease. That’s getting sexy right.

        • But it would be ever so embarrassing when I had one of my hot flashes and whipped my blazer off in a frenzy! 😉

          I loved Rene’s classic style in “The Thomas Crowne Affair” as well. I remember the classic cashmere sweaters and camel coat by Michael Kors. I find that style to be quite similar to that of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy…classic, simple, casual…but, boy, did she know how to dress-up! For me, it’s all about the “look,” the inspiration, not an exact copy. Gotta’ be ME!

  6. I love the way Robin Wright’s character dresses in “House of Cards.” Both elegant and sexy, as only Robin can pull off. I also love your picture of Marianne Faithfull. Coolest rock chick ever.

  7. Hi Laurie!! Great to see you here, again! Marianne Faithfull… must agree! I saw a photo of her recently with Keith Richards. They were having tea and reminiscing! Both of them have lots of hard miles on them, but oh, what lives they’ve led! Robing Wright can wear anything! She has the figure for it, and her House of Cards wardrobe is how I used to dress for business. Classic, classy, tailored, elegant, designer clothes. I can no longer afford to dress like that, plus I don’t have many occasions to wear clothes like that… Still have to fight myself from looking at them though. I just ask myself, “So… Where are you going to wear that? Whole Foods?” xoxox, Brenda

  8. Hi have got me thinking…..I don’t know whose style I try to emulate. I admire many women. I loved the power suit dressing in the in Dallas and Dynasty. …now I am more relaxed in my dressing..skinny jeans and leather jackets…or faux leather pants….
    bit more rock chick…

    • You have a great style, Hilda. I went through the power suit phase in the 80’s as well. Just recently gave away a Louis Feraud suit that looked like it was made for Crystal Carrington! xoxo, Brenda

  9. Love this! By the way, I have a pair of black lace up boots that look a lot like the ones in your photo. I wear them all of the time to balance out some of my feminine clothing. When I was younger, I liked the style of Stevie Nicks. As I have gotten older, I like a sophisticated style with a little edge. Maybe a combination of Audrey Hepburn and Stevie Nicks? I only wish my budget matched my taste. LOL. I have gotten into a bit of trouble lately shopping the after holiday online sales at Saks, Neiman Marcus, etc. I have scored some terrific deals on some classic pieces. I am a Libra— and a great shopper.

    • I have a signed, large format, Polaroid, self-portrait Stevie did in the ’70’s on my bedroom wall. (You’ll like this! It’s a link to the photo before I hung it. She’s someone else who has an iconic style! Sophisticated with an edge! That describes my style. If you’re going to get in trouble online or in store, Neiman’s and Saks are the places to go. FYI, Neiman’s is my store of choice. I’m a great shopper first time around, but for some reason didn’t inherit my mother’s keen eye for sales. She was friends with the saleswoman in couture at Neiman’s in Dallas, and the woman would hold back Valentino suits for mother to buy on sale. I have a similar Neiman’s friend but would never ask her to do that… If she offers… That’s another story! YES, thank you! Wonderful to see you here, lovely lady. Thank you, Brenda

    • I stopped a chic Michelle Williams look-alike at the train station in Philadelphia because she had on those very boots. They looked amazing on her! As I got closer, I realized she wasn’t quite as young as she looked from a distance. But super adorable!

  10. Perhaps a “thumbs up” vote that our style of dress affects our perceived age? I love those boots as well, but they look like too much trouble to put them on… Do they lace all the way to the top? Thanks, Val. xoxox, Brenda

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