Most modern-day celebrities will be remembered for many things—sensationalized headlines, a short-lived marriage, perhaps a couple of memorable red-carpet gowns—but probably not for their unique, enduring sense of style. Some—relatively few—manage to evade being trodden down into the great melting-pot of forgettables, and Jean Seberg was one such lady.
An Iowa-born actress, famous as much for her outspoken political views as she was for being a major player in French New Wave cinema, Seberg surpassed fleeting fame, instead earning the prestige of an enduring and timeless sartorial icon. The “Breathless” actress passed away in 1979, aged 40, but continues to inspire women—in actions, style and grace—to this day. Her style can only be described—like a brilliant novel or a cult film—as a modern classic. Seberg is truly deserving of the “icon” ephithet; she was—is—one of an elite band of women who managed to effortlessly transcend the faddish, superficial world of fashion and turn mere ensembles into style.
Seberg’s vintage chic aesthetic was a charming amalgamation of Parisian chic and the more relaxed, easy-going essence of Americana. While the rest of the world discovered mini-skirts and psychedelic florals, Seberg was the epitome of French nonchalance, eschewing crass colors and heavy make-up in favour of a more delicate, neutral palette and neat tailoring. The result was a style legacy that was uniquely her own: androgynous, elegant, and eternally relevant. Little flared dresses and cat-eye sunglasses added a touch of glamour to a look based on simplicity and ease: a pixie haircut, a slouchy sweater, minimal jewellery. Seberg’s look was unfussy but unerringly classic; at once, she managed to look groomed and sophisticated, but ready to face the day in flat shoes and fresh make-up. These factors —along with a certain je ne sais quois—made Seberg’s style uniquely her own.
1. Stick with classics.
Notice that Seberg’s look was always minimal, but gorgeously pulled together and utterly memorable. How did she do it? By using simple, classic items as her foundation. Seberg’s look revolved around one or two forever-fashionable, beautifully tailored items: a striped dress, a sleeveless shirt, a simple pair of tailored shorts. Her charm and poise made these simple looks so enduring; take Seberg’s cue and rock those classic items with attention to detail and quality, minimal accessories and a big, big smile.
2. A little menswear goes a long way.
Take it from us: Yes, it is absolutely OK to steal your boyfriend’s shirt. But if he’s a bit lax on the laundry front—or if you’re loving the single life—then, by all means, buy your own menswear! A slouchy white shirt—paired with tailored pants, a sleek pair of shades, and some cute loafers—strike the balance between androgynous and alluring, and create an effortlessly chic look that’s super easy to wear. Who said prioritizing comfort had to mean sweatpants?
3. Keep accessories simple.
Sticking with a basic formula of tried-and-true classic pieces, Seberg opted for a simple approach to accessorising. Her look was accentuated only by small details: a flick of eyeliner, a little watch, a chic pair of sunglasses. Accessories were functional, not decorative, giving that tomboyish effect to her very own brand of casual chic.
4. Day-to-night dressing is a doddle.
Want to add a little drama to your look for something special—a hot date, a night out with the girls? Simple. If you’re wearing a neat, tailored outfit in the day, this look can easily be dressed up with a bit of lippie and a swift perusal of your jewellery stand. Just add an elegant cat eye, a classic clutch, a spritz of perfume and you’re good to go.
5. When in doubt: wear stripes.
And, of course, if you’re having a tough time deciding what to wear in the morning, make like Jean and grab a stripy Breton top. It’s a wardrobe staple for anyone after that easy, French luxe look: forever chic, there are hundreds of ways to dress it up or down.