The Style Personalities of ’50s Actresses

Miriam Cordwell and Marion Rudoy’s Hair Design and Fashion: Principles and Relationships, published in 1956, outlines several different style “personality types” for women of the mid-century. I’ve had this book in my collection of vintage tomes for a while and recently decided to flip through it again. Here at TMP, we love old movies and the fashions of their time. So, after coming across the “Personality Types” chapter, I thought it would be fun to share the types with TMP’s readers, and to figure out the style personalities of a few of our favorite classic actresses!


“High-fashion women are assertive, forceful, direct, and immediately aware of new fashion silhouettes. They have the courage to discard the old and wear the new, the exaggerated, the unexpected. They are completely uninhibited.”

“The high-fashion type recognizes the important relationship and complimentary advantages of choosing every detail of her attire – millinery, furs, jewelry, bags, gloves, shoes, umbrellas – for what each will contribute to her over-all appearance. In general, these women live by every nuance of capricious fashion.”

Elizabeth Taylor
Notable ’50s films: Father of the Bride, A Place in the Sun, Giant, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

(Image via Doctor Macro)
(Image via Doctor Macro)

Lana Turner
Notable ’50s films: The Bad and the Beautiful, The Prodigal, Peyton Place, Imitation of Life

(Image via Doctor Macro)
(Image via Doctor Macro)


“In this category taste is prefaced by ‘good’ things. Quality, not quantity, is the preference of the woman of quiet elegance, whether it be a piece of jewelry, furs, or a garment. Impeccably put together from head to toe, her sense of style reflects understated elegance and quiet distinction. […] She invariably chooses the simple, well-cut garment of good workmanship and handsome fabric, and does not mind wearing it over and over again.”

“Conscious of the varying moods of fashion, she is not, however, necessarily a slave to them. Her carefully-selected wardrobe will usually carry the quiet imprint of current trends and silhouettes, but they may not advertise this awareness at first glance.”

Audrey Hepburn
Notable ’50s films: Roman Holiday, Sabrina, Funny FaceLove in the Afternoon

(Image via Doctor Macro)
(Image via Doctor Macro)

Grace Kelly
Notable ’50s films: High Noon, Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief

(Image via Doctor Macro)
(Image via Doctor Macro)


“They are the ones who don jeans, wear tousled hair, and stride about with a somewhat rebellious, defiant air […] women who, by such affections, give notice that they are all for freedom and not for convention.”

“Such a woman manages her time and her activities deftly enough to look scrubbed, neat, trim, efficient, unhurried, and ready for whatever the occasion demands. There never is any reason to doubt her femininity. She was called casual in the first place because she gave the effect that all of this was effortless, easy, and just a happy accident.”

Joanne Woodward
Notable ’50s films: A Kiss Before Dying, The Three Faces of Eve, The Long, Hot Summer

(Image via The Hairpin)
(Image via The Hairpin)

Katharine Hepburn
Notable ’50s films: The African Queen, Pat and Mike, Desk Set, Suddenly, Last Summer

(Image via Doctor Macro)
(Image via Doctor Macro)

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