May 7, 2021

Vintage Denim – Style Icons

5 min read

icons in denim

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Style icons have worn every cut and brand of denim for decades. Brigitte Bardot wore her cropped Levi’s with ease; Lauren Hutton paired her all-American denim skirt with a white tee; and nothing came between Brooke Shields and her Calvin Klein jeans. In honor of the seasonless staple, we’ve compiled the best vintage pics of Jane Birkin, Twiggy, Janet Jackson, and more elevating the classic blue jean.

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Shirley Temple, 1938

Shirley Temple wears a pair of denim overalls for a visit to her barn to see her three ponies lived. The young film star is pictured here with Little Carnation.

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Elizabeth Taylor, 1947

Back in the ’40s, jeans were seen more as utility wear—suitable for house or yard work—rather than a fashion statement. That explains why Elizabeth Taylor paired her bootcut jeans with a flannel button-down to wash her dog.

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Jane Russell, 1949

Jane Russell was one of the most well-known pinup stars during the ’40s and ’50s, but in this 1949, the actress showed off a whole new look. She swapped out her swimsuit for a pair of high-waisted jeans and brown cowboy boots.

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Debbie Reynolds, 1950

Debbie Reynolds upheld her reputation as America’s sweetheart, while she played a game of baseball in 1950. The actress paired her cuffed jeans with a collared tank top and a hair bow.

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Doris Day, 1951

Doris Day kept her outfit casual when she posed for a portrait at Warner Brothers Studio in 1951. Leaning against a bale of hay, the actress wore a pair of dark denim pants and a high collared button-down.

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Betty Grable, 1952

Betty Grable poses on top of a Pinto horse in 1952. Wearing a western shirt, dark jean pants, a cowboy hat, and boots, the actress looks as though she was ready to be cast in the next John Wayne western.

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Marilyn Monroe, 1954

Marilyn Monroe paired her high-waisted dark wash jeans with a wide belt buckle and a white camisole, while she filmed a scene with Robert Mitchum in 1954.

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Joan Collins, 1955

Joan Collins strikes a pose as she admires her pet parrot in 1955. The actress makes a fashion statement wearing high-waisted jeans with a popped collared shirt and large hoop earrings.

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Jane Fonda, 1956

At the age of 19, Jane Fonda poses on top of a lounge chair in a garden, while wearing a stylish monochromatic outfit. The actress casually rolled the sleeves up to her elbows on her denim shirt and paired it with printed pants.

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Grace Kelly, 1955

Before Grace Kelly became the Princess of Monaco in 1956, she was Hollywood royalty. Looking as regal as ever, the actress struck a pose during a photoshoot wearing a paisley shirt, dark rolled up jeans, and ballet flats.

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Brigitte Bardot, 1958

French actress Brigitte Bardot was known for her casual style. Here, the fashion icon is seen wearing what’s known as a Canadian tuxedo, a.k.a. pairing a denim shirt with a pair of jeans.

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Angie Dickinson, 1959

In the same year that Angie Dickinson starred in the John Wayne western, Rio Bravo, the actress struck this pose on a desert wall.

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Lucille Ball, 1960

While performing with her co-star Keith Andes in the Broadway musical Wildcat, Lucille Ball wears a linen button-down shirt with high-waisted jeans. As far as accessories go, the actress wore her belt abnormally low around her legs.

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Goldie Hawn, 1964

As a young ingénue—and still a few years away from her Oscar-winning performance in Cactus Flower—Goldie Hawn embraces summer style in a ruffle tank top, a pair of white jeans, and flip flops.

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Sharon Tate, 1965

While guest-starring on an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Sharon Tate films a scene with David McCallum wearing a white button-down and dark jeans. Soon after, the emerging actress landed her first feature film role in Eye of the Devil.

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Jean Shrimpton, 1965

British model Jean Shrimpton gives the camera a stare as she sits cross-legged on a stool. For the photoshoot, the model wore a simple striped T-shirt and baggy jeans.

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Katharine Ross, 1965

Katharine Ross looks polished and laid back in white jeans and a navy T-shirt in 1965. Although Ross was primarily on TV around this time, by 1967 she was one of film’s leading ladies, starring in projects like The Graduate and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

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Tina Turner, 1966

Tina Turner wears a paired of faded flared jeans and a velour sweatshirt for a studio session at Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles, California in 1966.

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Bianca Jagger, 1972

Bianca Jagger’s take on festival style is everything. Here, she dons cuffed jeans with a peacoat, cape, and heeled boots for the Bardney Pop Festival in May 1972, as one does.

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Jane Birkin, 1973

Jane Birkin poses for photos at the beach in 1973. The French actress wore a pair of relaxed jeans with a loose ruffled top and a pair of heels.

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Ali McGraw, 1969

Posing for Mademoiselle magazine, ’70s style icon Ali McGraw laid barefoot in the grass wearing flared jeans and a striped T-shirt. The model, famous for her dark brunette locks, covered her hair with a bucket hat.

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Lauren Hutton, 1974

By the ’70s, jean skirts became a wardrobe staple for young women⁠—and American model Lauren Hutton was no exception. Here, Hutton looks effortlessly chic in a brimmed hat, a simple white tee, and a belted denim skirt.

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Diana Ross, 1975

Diana Ross parties in New York City in a casual look, consisting of high-waisted jeans and a tank top. The singer had recently branched out into acting around this time.

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Olivia Newton-John, 1975

Olivia Newton-John sports a pair of bootcut jeans with a fuzzy sweater and turtleneck, while posing for her first album cover. The actress, who rose to fame as an actress in Grease, released her first pop single, “Follow Me,” in 1975.

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Farrah Fawcett, 1975

Farrah Fawcett was one of the most influential icons of the ’70s—from her feathery hair to her best-selling poster. Here, the actress poses for a portrait in a peasant top, dark indigo jeans, and, of course, her iconic hairstyle.

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Twiggy, 1976

British fashion icon, Twiggy, pairs a graphic T-shirt with flared jeans, as she strolls through London’s Hampstead Heath with her boyfriend, Michael Witney.

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Charo, 1976

Spanish singer Charo opted for a coordinated denim look for her performance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1976. The singer paired wide leg denim with a matching bikini top.

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Debbie Harry, 1977

Debbie Harry adds a touch of grunge to her look with a pair of denim cut-offs. The Blondie singer paired her look with a black muscle tee.

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Madonna, 1979

Madonna strikes a pose during a studio photoshoot. Looking simple and chic, the singer wore a black cutout shirt, straight leg jeans, and high heeled boots.

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Michelle Pfeiffer, 1980

A few years before her debut in Grease 2, Michelle Pfeiffer appeared on the TV show B.A.D. Cats. While filming, the actress wore denim hot pants and a midriff-barring button-down.

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