Katherine Hepburn wore pants in opposition to skirts. An exhibition at Lincoln Center currently celebrates Katherine in film stills and exhibited clothing from within the archives of Kent State University and the New York Public Library.
The pants are displayed in the part of the exhibition called “Clothes For Publicity and Private Life”. “Try a skirt. Try one,” she has been quoted as saying. “I realized long ago that skirts are hopeless.”
Balenciaga (Soho), Chanel (Soho), Comme Des Garcons (Chelsea)
Actresses of the 1930s and onward would have worn clothes as feminine as the roles they were cast into as advertisement for a production, and trousers if anything, not jeans. Hepburn could be said to have ushered in American casualness, or a girl as one-of-the-boys. A woman in a man’s store.
Stubbs & Wooton Top Hat Men's Loafer (Chelsea)
My mom and I shopped at The Limited in the nineties. There I knew we would find a young stylish man working as a store clerk. We would find a man’s opinion. I always felt most validated by a man's opinion in a woman's clothing store. What was it? That this sales associate might wear these clothes? Something was suggested. He had a more discerning eye. That the associate’s opinion was based in seeing as much as it was based in wearing.
Vintage Cape (Chelsea)
Hepurn set aside one closet for costumes as separate from her wardrobe. She saved an occasional dress from a theater production, even saving one dress from a theater production of The Philadelphia Story in 1933 and tailoring this same dress to be used 34 years later in the film The Glass Menagerie in 1973. The alteration of the dress included a 2 ½ inch addition to the bodice of the dress’s undergarment.
Vintage Silk & Lace Dress (Soho)
Hepburn worked frequently with costume designers for many productions, and tellingly, in the 1969 production of Coco, Katherine bought couture outfits directly from Chanel when she felt that Cecil Beaton, her costume designer at the time, “would never achieve Chanel’s simple elegance” for the performance. Each outfit was a sleeveless dress and coat.
Chanel Blouse (Soho) underneath Dries Van Noten Jacket (Chelsea)
Yves Saint Laurent Coat (Chelsea)
Katherine purchased a white version and a black version.
In anticipation of soiled details, a number of white detachable collars and cuffs were produced as replacements for the original collar and cuffs during the run of the performance.
But that was for the stage. She refused ornamentation off-stage. Katherine was anti-ornamental.
Chanel Suede Boots (Chelsea)