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How to Have the Style and Grace of a Leading Lady

Updated on June 19, 2013
Leading lady style and grace is epitomized by actresses such as Grace Kelly.
Leading lady style and grace is epitomized by actresses such as Grace Kelly. | Source

Elegant Women of the Silver Screen

A small handful of women have made a lasting impression upon American culture as a whole--the ideal of feminine grace, style, and beauty is often equated with such leading ladies as Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Elizabeth Taylor. No leading lady today has (as of yet) made that impression; in a world that relentlessly glorifies celebrities like the Kardashians, Jessica Simpson, and Megan Fox, it can be hard to believe that grace and style even still exist.

However, for the modern woman who prefers dinner parties to bar hopping, or black sheath dresses to miniskirts, the grace and style of those long-ago leading ladies is attainable.

Elizabeth Taylor was one leading lady who evoked a classic sense of style with her own twist.
Elizabeth Taylor was one leading lady who evoked a classic sense of style with her own twist. | Source

How to Have Leading Lady Style

What one thing do all classic leading ladies have in common? They all had a personal style that remained feminine while still expressing their personalities (even Katharine Hepburn, who in her personal life largely refused to wear a dress). So, the first step to developing leading lady style is deciding what sort of image you want to project. Do you want to be polished and regal, like Grace Kelly? Do you want to be feminine and sultry, like Elizabeth Taylor? Gamine and timeless, like Audrey Hepburn?

Grace Kelly Style

Grace Kelly was a movie star who became a princess, and her blonde beauty and easy elegance made her an enduring favorite even after she gave up the stage for a crown. Emulate her style by...

  • Pairing a soft blouse with a tailored trouser
  • Wearing pastels
  • Choosing boatneck or V-neck dresses that show off the collarbone, not cleavage
  • Emphasizing the waist, whether in a shirt dress or with a pencil skirt
  • Donning a strand of pearls--always pearls!
  • Adding a bold red lip

Audrey Hepburn

If Grace Kelly was the woman you wanted to be, then Audrey Hepburn was the woman you wanted to have as your best friend--that friend with perfect taste who will also let you raid her closet. Anyone who maintains a lifelong friendship and style collaboration with Givenchy is definitely a style icon. Though Audrey always remained feminine, her slender figure lent itself more to gamine, relaxed styles when she wasn't pulling off a ballgown. Emulate her style by...

  • Pairing a crisp white shirt with slim black cigarette pants or a full skirt
  • Investing in a perfect little black dress with a stunning bib necklace
  • Slipping into an A-line dress
  • Adding a wide-brimmed hat
  • Working cat-eye liner into your makeup routine
  • Swapping out heels for flats or kitten heels

Elizabeth Taylor

In the 1950s, before she started playing with turbans and wild make-up, Elizabeth Taylor's style was a perfect mix of sultry and feminine. Her violet eyes, glowing skin, and glossy black hair made her a great beauty, but her film roles and tumultuous personal life captured America's imagination. Emulate her style by...

  • Wearing statement jewelry (if it's real, all the better)
  • Sticking to fitted pieces that hug your curves, like sweaters with pencil skirts
  • Choosing dresses with full skirts but nipped-in waists
  • Flaunting some tasteful cleavage while keeping the rest of your look simple

Who is your leading lady style icon?

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How to Have Leading Lady Grace

Of course, style is only one component of leading lady appeal. All of those silver screen stars we remember so fondly also had grace and elegance that made them memorable for more than their beauty. To exhibit leading lady grace:

  • Don't raise your voice in anger
  • Always send a thank-you note for a gift or afterattending a party or event
  • Graciously give and accept compliments
  • When attending a party, bring along flowers or a hostess gift
  • Be generous with your time and attention
  • Be patient
  • Be kind
  • Keep your shoulders back and your head up

Concluding Tips for Leading Lady Grace and Style

Despite how the old Hollywood studios spun it, grace and style is not something women are born with--it's something they develop and cultivate throughout their lives, creating an image that inspires and endures. With some careful fashion choices and an effort toward acting with social and personal grace, you too can evoke the same admiration that the leading ladies of Hollywood once did.


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