Style Icon: Billie Icon Style Guide

Frank Sinatra told Ebony magazine in 1958: “With few exceptions, every major pop singer in the US during her generation has been touched in some way by her genius. It is Billie Holiday who was, and still remains, the greatest single musical influence on me. Lady Day is unquestionably the most important influence on American popular singing in the last twenty years.”

Billie Holiday epitomized the glamour, class, and beauty of African American woman. Her look was simple, natural, and strong, using a limited palette of color due to the lack of cosmetics options for African-American women. One of the most identifiable accessories in jazz history was Billie Holiday’s (1915-1959) gardenia – which, for a decade from the late 1930s, was a key part of her look. Legend has it that the first gardenia was pinned on her head to cover a patch of hair which had been singed by tongs. It quickly became her trademark..
Music Flower Dress Lipstick = Lady Day

Collages120 She was often photographed with her hair pinned up in an elegant chiffon accessorized with a beautiful white gardenia. Accessories were a big part of her style and she wore them all, statement necklaces, pearls, cock tail rings, gloves, and chandler earrings. She wore fancy cocktail dresses that showed off her figure that had extra feminine details like bows, sequins, and studs.






Billie’s Style 101

  • Elaborate Hair Accessories. Billie was often photographed wearing her signature accessory: beautiful flowers which she pinned in her hair. For an authentic Billie-inspired look, adorn your hair with fresh flowers or look for a floral hair clip or headband.

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  • Statement Jewelry. Never one to blend in with a crowd, Billie liked to wear lots of gorgeous, statement-making jewelry. She wore chandelier earrings, cocktail rings and strands of pearls for a lounge-like vibe which can easily be mimicked today.


  • Fancy Frocks. Even when she wasn’t performing, Billie always accentuated her curves with gorgeous, body-skimming dresses. Printed, lacy or bejeweled, Billie looked amazing in every dress she wore. Channel her style for yourself by wearing a fancy dress during the day or by rocking a show-stopping cocktail dress for a formal party or event.

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  • Luxe Details. Whether she wore an oversized bow, a fur coat or a sequin-encrusted sweater, Billie knew how to make a statement with her wardrobe. She always wore pieces with that extra dose of pizzazz, which made her style anything but average.

billie-holiday-monterey-jazz-festival-by-nat-farbman-1958 Lady Day

Credit: College Fashion






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