Breakfast at Tiffany’s Style

27 Dec Breakfast at Tiffany's

No film better utilizes Audrey Hepburn’s flighty charm and svelte beauty than this romantic adaptation of Truman Capote’s novella. Hepburn’s urban sophisticate Holly Golightly, an enchanting neurotic living off the gifts of gentlemen, is a bewitching figure in designer dresses and costume jewelry. George Peppard is her upstairs neighbor, a struggling writer and “kept” man financed by a steely older woman. His growing friendship with the lonely Holly soon turns to love and threatens the delicate balance of both of their compromised lives…[Director  Blake] Edwards’s elegant yet light touch, [George] Axelrod’s generous screenplay, and Hepburn’s mix of knowing experience and naiveté combine to create one of the great screen romances and a refined slice of high society bohemian chic.

– Sean Axmaker,

Perhaps like most girls, I fell in love with Breakfast at Tiffany’s before I had even watched it — and even when I had already watched it, before I understood it. Just the idea of this wisp of a girl bandying around New York in the most glamourous outfits, waking up with mascara perfectly applied and hosting a party in a sheet, never looking like she tried too hard (or even at all) was marvelous just to imagine. How cool for her business cards to say “Miss Holiday Golightly, Traveling”. (I think this detail may be found in Truman Capote’s short story, and not the movie.) And she makes being a call girl seem so awesome that I daydream about falling into the profession sometimes — but only if I could live it while looking like Holly.

Breakfast at Tiffany's

It’s a pity that the costumes worn by Audrey Hepburn throughout the film are cast aside for the unapologetically iconic Givenchy frock. It’s her character’s signature look, and it’s an inarguably beautiful dress. But enough! Breakfast at Tiffany’s is more than that: it is about how style is interweaved into Holly’s everyday life that leaves a mark with me.

All these looks are very understated yet elegant, hinting that Holly would rather spend whatever money she hustled on fine clothes than furniture. It’s very French in that all the outfits seem well-made but styled nonchalantly, and also very American in that they are all very spare and minimal, with barely any jewelry.

Almost all of Holly’s outfits are neutral in color, with splashes of bold color here and there (the striking orange coat in the five-and-dime scene and the ridiculous Pepto-pink feathered masquerade dress come to mind). What sets them apart are the signature touches of luxury: the Tiffany blue eyeshades, tasseled ear plugs, silken garments, the cigarette holder — all speak to a lifestyle significantly more upscale than she could probably afford, but must have. Holly remains chic, whether she’s wearing a men’s tuxedo shirt as a nightgown…

Breakfast at Tiffany's

…having a nightcap in a terrycloth robe…

Breakfast at Tiffany's

…in a peach silk robe with the sleeves casually pushed up (I love this detail to bits!), with a glimpse at the makeshift details of her life — the bathtub sofa, crate coffee table, suitcase end tables, jam jar coffee mug…

Breakfast at Tiffany's

…at the library in an olive cardigan, oversized shades, and quilted-and-chained leather bag…

Breakfast at Tiffany's

…taking a break in a grey crewneck sweater, jeans, and a towel wrapped around her head…

Breakfast at Tiffany's

…or seconds away from a hailstorm of chicken and chocolate, in a putty-colored funnel neck sweater, black capris, and pigtails. I swear, only Audrey Hepburn can pull off capris and pigtails to great effect. Breakfast at Tiffany's

My favorite look is when Holly brings Doc Golightly to the bus station, and proceeds to get absolutely shitfaced with Paul/Fredbaby. Breakfast at Tiffany's

The look is, again, extremely simple: a trench coat, head scarf, black pique polo, tweed pencil skirt, and what I think are white kitten-heeled mules. Terribly chic, terribly simple, but very difficult to pull off. Breakfast at Tiffany's

Favorite scene is Holly getting ready, the dialogue from which was sampled nicely in Une Very Stylish Fille by Dimitri from Paris. I play this scene on loop when I’m getting ready myself.

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Also loving: Holly’s terribly understated make-up. No contouring! Just some heavy false eyelashes to heighten the glam factor.
Breakfast at Tiffany's

It’s truly tragic that none of Holly’s modern-day counterparts can hold a candle to her in the sartorial sense. I have yet to come across a modern romantic comedy that wholly embraces fashion; only very few slightly half-hearted attempts come to mind, which I shall chronicle within future posts of Motion Picture Love.

Style Inspired By: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Taking cues from the featured movie, each post on Motion Picture Love shall include a Style Inspired By section. We all don’t play characters in the movies, so it is very important to to translate a certain look into real-life wear. My goal is to create everyday looks influenced by the featured film, e.g. translating an extravagant evening costume from a film into something more appropriate for work. Polyvore is the main tool used to create the collages; click through to see the details of each look.

I can see the following outfit worn at work, for someone in the creative field or in a company with relaxed dress codes, such as advertising or publishing. It can also be worn at night, if one must, but a sequined blazer or cardigan would be preferable. If you don’t smoke, the Fred Perry cigarette case is a perfect sub for a business card holder.

Inspired By: Breakfast at Tiffany's


This next outfit may be worn at work as well, or for a casual brunch with friends. In contrast to the preceding look, this is more suited for a slightly more conservative workplace (although I’m not too sure that bankers could wear this…if you’re a banker, let me know. I’m curious!) The trench-style jacket may be a bit too much for the balmy weather here in Manila, but freezing air-conditioned offices sometimes make heavy jackets and shawls a requirement. I want to stay true to Holly’s affinity for pearls, but avoid going the traditional and cliched route with the typical strand. The pearl medallion necklace from Vera Wang keeps the look fresh.

Inspired By: Breakfast at Tiffany's
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
with Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Mickey Rooney, Patricia Neal
directed by Blake Edwards
wardrobe by Hubert de Givenchy

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