Happy Birthday, Katharine Hepburn: Her Impact on Fashion

Known for her gender-bending style and highly stylized film persona, Katharine Hepburn made an indelible impact on both Hollywood and the fashion industry.

In honor of the actress, who would have been 111 today, FN is taking a look back at how she impacted fashion.

katharine hepburn
Katharine Hepburn relaxing on set in 1946.
CREDIT: Rex Shutterstock

Hepburn’s film career began in the early 1930s, when the film industry was dominated by women like Jean Harlow and Greta Garbo, who embodied what is now referred to as old Hollywood glamour.

In contrast, Hepburn had a lanky physique and a penchant for wearing menswear. Whereas her peers in the early ’30s were wearing sequins and furs, Hepburn stepped out in tailored suits and sensible low-heeled pumps.

katharine hepburn
Katharine Hepburn traveling in 1932.
CREDIT: Rex Shutterstock

On set, Hepburn had an immense influence over her costumes. According to the Smithsonian, the actress liked to play a role in fashioning her characters’ looks.

“One does not design for Miss Hepburn,” costume designer Edith Head once said. “One designs with her. She’s a real professional, and she has very definite feelings about what things are right for her, whether it has to do with costumes, scripts, or her entire lifestyle.”

katharine hepburn
Katharine Hepburn with Spencer Tracy in “Woman of the Year.”
CREDIT: Rex Shutterstock

Hepburn kept most of her costumes in her New York townhouse, and after her death in 2003, the collection went to the Kent State University Museum.

Click through the gallery to see some of Hepburn’s stylish looks over the years.

Want more?

Oscar Winner Katharine Hepburn’s Style Celebrated On and Off the Big Screen

From the Archives: Jackie Kennedy, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn & More Stars’ Summer Fashion

Shop the Shoes of Style Icons Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and More

Access exclusive content