Fashion History: Breakfast At Tiffany’s Dress and Hairstyle

Breakfast At Tiffany’s was released in 1961 and is a romantic comedy featuring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard. It weaves a story of a cafe society girl Holly Golightly (Hepburn) who falls in love with a struggling writer Paul Varjak (George Peppard). Breakfast At Tiffanys Dress

If you’re struggling to furthermore remember the plot, we don’t blame you. Breakfast At Tiffany’s is ultimately a fashion film. It is deeply ingrained in pop culture as it changed the way we see fashion forever. The role of Holly played by Audrey was one of the most iconic and memorable roles in her career and the black-dress-long-gloves-cigarette-holder look has been replicated many times over the years.

Why Breakfast at Tiffany’s is So Popular?

This is a movie that defined the new NYC chic and brought us the iconic little black dress. Holly Golightly’s face still remains on the walls of vintage lovers from around the world.

What’s So Special About Breakfast at Tiffany’s Outfit?

If you ever heard about the little black dress, we have this movie and Hubert de Givenchy to thank for this classic eveningwear outfit. But there’s more to that.

Today it’s quite natural to see haute couture pieces on the silver screen. However, at these times it was practically unheard of. Giving permission to feature a designer outfit in a film was a huge step for every major designer, which involved researching the character and carefully weighing the consequences. Will the fashion house benefit from a movie on a light-headed party girl?

Luckily, Hepburn and Givenchy’s friendship started long before she engaged in Breakfast At Tiffany’s. By that time, she had already borrowed a few pieces for one of her previous movies, Sabrina. So when Hubert de Givenchy was faced with the choice of whether or not to provide an outfit for the new Audrey’s movie, it wasn’t really hard to say ‘yes’.

It’s also unfair to underestimate the work of the Breakfast at Tiffany’s costume designer Edith Head. A 6-time academy award winner for such films as Roman Holiday, Sabrina, and All About Eve, in this movie, it was Givenchy who received all the credit. Head was only referenced to as a ‘costume supervisor’, while it was her sho developed and approved the visual side of Holly Golightly’s character.

The Dramatic Black Dress Look

breakfast at tiffany's outfit and hairstyle little black dress

The famous Breakfast At Tiffany’s dress is a classic shift shape popular in the 1960s. Since then it has become a staple in any woman’s wardrobe.

As Holly Golightly emerged from a taxi in a long black dress, Danish in one hand, coffee in the other, to peer into the window of Tiffany’s store, she became an iconic symbol of elegance that inspired generation over generation.

It’s interesting that even though Breakfast at Tiffany’s introduced the concept of LBD to the masses, the most iconic look features a long black dress. In fact, Givenchy created two versions of the dress for the movie, and the shorter one was rejected due to being too revealing.

The simple black dress goes with any accessory and any choice of color which is what makes it so versatile. In the movie, Audrey wears a dress with massive faux pearls and jewels and long gloves, perfect for an evening out. Fashion experts argue that it’s these accessories that elevated the look from fairly simple to iconic and caused a run on triple strand faux pearl necklaces, long gloves, and oversized sunglasses that continues to present day. In fact, every Halloween party has at least one Holly Golightly.

Back to the movie, this dress reveals Holly Golightly’s character more than we realize at first. While she’s grabbing breakfast in an elegant evening gown, it’s evident that she’s a night creature, yet she comes across as very classy and refined person who has everything under control.

The Little Black Dress Look

Breakfast At Tiffany’s Outfit and hairstyle little black dress

A second “little black dress” in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, along with its wide-brimmed hat, was worn by Hepburn as Holly when she goes to visit mobster Sally Tomato at Sing Sing Prison. 

This black silk dress features a similar sleeveless, scoop neck design to the first and, unlike the first dramatic gown, ends slightly above the knee with an addition of feathered hem. Worn with a wide-brimmed hat, oversized sunglasses and earrings, and long gloves, it is the essence of 1960s daytime elegance. Later the same dress is paired with an extravagant pom-pom fascinator and oversize earrings, accompanied by a cigarette holder for an evening event.

In today’s fashion a similar dress can be made into casual wear by wearing more boho-style accessories such as tan open sandals, a thin belt, and long feather earrings. As it can by paired with almost anything, little black dress has become the centrepiece of any women’s capsule wardrobe.

The Moon River Look

Breakfast At Tiffany’s Outfit and Hairstyle

In a strikingly different look, Audrey can be seen later on in the movie, singing Moon River in a grey sweater and blue jeans, hair wrapped in a turban, still looking elegant. With hair wrapped in a turban and in flats instead of heels, this look reveals a part of Golightly’s personality that she probably is not aware of yet. It turns out that beneath the jewelry and fine clothing, there is a simpler side to Golightly that she doesn’t allow the world to see.

This outfit is completed with ballet flats and a scarf which can again be easily copied today to create different styles.

Wearing a loose sweater with tight-fitting jeans and a vibrant hair scarf is a great way to look stylish yet relaxed and to take the look into the evening, just pop on a pair of heels and add some jewelry. The beige trench coat is another classic piece that is still being worn today. Audrey wears the coat with a black polo shirt and herringbone pencil skirt to keep the color pallet neutral.

How to Do Breakfast at Tiffany’s Hair

Though it may look complicated, achieving the Holly Golightly chignon is not as difficult or time-consuming as you might have guessed. The most important is to check whether your hair is long enough to create a ponytail, and you’re good to go.

Here’s what you need to do to recreate the chignon that Audrey Hepburn donned as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s:

  • a few bobby pins
  • hairspray
  • brush

Breakfast at Tiffany’s Hair Step-By-Step

  1. For starters, towel dry your damp hair and apply a setting spray before blow-drying your hair using a round brush. In this way, you’ll ensure that your hair is sleek.
  2. After blow-drying your hair, create a side part using a comb and brush all of your hair toward the back of your head.
  3. First, backcomb the internal part of the top of your hair to add the desired height and volume. Use a bit of hair spray to fix the volume.
  4. Then, pull your hair back into a low ponytail. Grip the ponytail firmly around its base, twist the tail of your hair into a tight spiral that you coil clockwise around the base of your hair.
  5. Once you’ve made half a circle, take the grip you’ve had on your ponytail’s base and transfer it to the bun you’ve just formed.
  6. Tuck the end of that tail under the chignon, securing it with bobby pins.
  7. Add just a spritz of hairspray and you’re free to don this iconic look.

The Story of Breakfast at Tiffany’s Dress

The opening long black dress was frequently voted among the most iconic images of 20th Century cinema and has since become a genuine fashion legacy. Have you ever wondered what happened to that particular dress?

Few people could imagine that kind of resonance just because of a dress, so the dress is not available anymore. Eventually, it’s either been destroyed or lost.

However, three copies of the iconic dress were produced:

  • one for the Givenchy archive,
  • one is currently on display at the Museo del Traje in Madrid,
  • one was presented as gift to Audrey Hepburn.

After Audrey’s death in 1993, Hepburn’s gown was donated to City of Joy Aid. It’s been there since and, in 2006, it appeared on the front cover of Harper’s Bazaar worn by Natalie Portman. Shortly after that, it was auctioned at Christie’s skyrocketing from its reserve of £50,000 to £467,200 (~US$947,000). The buyer remains unknown to the general public. Seems like shopping vintage is a pleasure available for every wallet.

Breakfast At Tiffany’s dress history

The Holly Golightly look is occasionally featured in movies.

In 2012 Anne Hathaway referenced the Breakfast at Tiffany’s little black dress in perhaps a most unlikely role: as Catwoman in the Batman flick Dark Knight Rises. It turns out, that the comic book Catwoman drawn by artist Adam Hughes, was based on Hepburn, making it a double homage.

In 2017’s Big Little Lies, both Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley’s characters donned a version of this outfit at a Hepburn-themed party.

When the film was released, Tiffany’s profile as a luxury jewelry retailer was already established. Of course, it was further boosted by the film. In 2017 Tiffany’s opened a cafe in the newly refurbished home goods department of its NYC Fifth Avenue flagship. Finally, after more than 50 years, you could actually have breakfast at Tiffany’s.


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