In an 1981 interview with Barbara Walters, an elderly but still fiercely independent Katharine Hepburn explained (for what must have felt like the millionth time) her choice to live a life free of matrimony and motherhood. Although Katharine Hepburn was indisputably one of the great beauties of Hollywood’s Golden Age, she raised eyebrows by wearing only pants and never holding her tongue. “I have not lived as a woman. I have lived as a man,” Hepburn said “I’ve just done what I damn well wanted to and I made enough money to support myself. And I ain’t afraid of being alone.” “Is that why also you wear pants?” asked an intrepid young Walters. “No, I wear pants because they’re comfortable.” Walters, apparently unsatisfied by Hepburn’s explanation, pushed on: Today it’s easy to forget that less than 100 years ago women who wore pants were considered daring and more than a little scandalous. For a beautiful starlet like Katharine Hepburn to refuse feminine dresses for manly trousers was utterly baffling to the American public. To be blunt, Katharine got a lot of shit for doing things her own way. Fortunately she never gave a damn. Katherine’s then-ridiculed outfit choices paved the way for modern women to wear we please and go about our lives in the relative comfort and freedom of pants.
Katherine’s uniform of wide-legged trousers were not only practical but wonderfully flattering on Hepburn’s long, lean, and athletic frame. Tall girls around the world can look to Katherine as an accidental fashion trailblazer who dressed for the body she had, regardless of current fads. Katharine Hepburn’s style has never been more relevant to fashionistas of modern-day. Wide legged trousers (once dismissed as manly and unstylish) are one of Spring 2014’s biggest runway trends. Androgynous womenswear has never been more popular amongst designers, models, celebrities, and stylish women on the street.
So next time you slip into a pair of wide legged trousers, take a moment to think of Katharine Hepburn, a woman who enjoyed great beauty but never let it define her, who lived, loved, and dressed only for herself, and an icon who adored a damn good pair of pants.