Colgate Couture:

In terms of style icons, Jane Birkin is kind of the ultimate. Profes-sionally a model-turned-actress-turned-singer, Birkin is best known as a muse. She has inspired everything from music (her longtime partner was French singer-songwriter extraordinaire Serge Gainsbourg, with whom she recorded the infamous tune “Je t’aime … moi non plus“) to luxury handbags (the H?ermes Birkin bag was created in her honor), and has garnered legions of fashionable followers like Alexa Chung, who cites Birkin as her main wardrobe influence.

The British beauty burst onto the scene in the mid-1960s with appearances in films that would define the era of Swingin’ London, such as “Blowup” and “Wonderwall,” but it was at the end of the de-cade when she began a high-profile relationship with Gainsbourg and moved to France with him that Birkin became an international phe-nomenon. The public fascination with the couple led Birkin to be one of the most photo-graphed women in the world and, through-out the course of their 13-year relationship, her signature style was copied by women across the globe.

The interesting thing about Birkin is that her style, while iconic, was by no means revolutionary. She favored simple pieces, rotating dif-ferent pairs of wide-legged denim, knit t-shirts, mini dresses and tall boots throughout the years. With an admittedly no-fuss ap-proach to fashion, what is it about Birkin that has made her so in-fluential over the years? No matter what she wore, Birkin made it look amazing simply because she believed it was amazing. She is living proof that it’s the attitude – not the clothes – that make the (wo)man. This is why her style is so often inimitable: no matter how many white tees or flared jeans you wear, you won’t look like Birkin until you match your clothes with a healthy sense of insouciance.

Take, for instance, Birkin’s accessory of choice: the wicker basket. She was known for using woven baskets as her handbags for decades because she could never find a leather purse that she liked. A chance encounter with the chief executive of H?ermes, who witnessed the con-tents of her basket spilling all over the floor, prompted the creation of the Birkin bag, one of the most expensive and coveted handbags in the world. Birkin used her namesake purse off and on for a few years before abandoning it in favor of her trusty wicker basket.

To get Birkin’s look, invest in quality basics. The fantastically soft T by Alexander Wang line offers shirts that are perfect for a Birkin wan-nabe, and Free People always stocks faded denim in the loose cuts that the icon preferred. For dresses, look for monochromatic minis – Birkin tended towards designs that were super short and long-sleeved, usually with crochet or lace detailing. For the colder months, slip a black pea coat and tights on with your mini dress. BB Dakota’s “Dedrick” ankle-length coat looks strikingly similar to a coat Birkin was photographed wearing in Paris with Serge back in the early ’70s and it will keep your entire body warm enough to wear the micro minis that Jane loved all year round. Regarding Birkin’s signature handbag style, unless you’re selling some vital organs or have been saving up money since before you were born, the odds are that you can’t just buy a Birkin bag whenever you want. A fun and rather cheeky take on the legendary design comes courtesy of the brand Thursday Friday, which offers a silk-screened image of the bag on a canvas tote. Or, why not do as Birkin did and try out a simple wicker basket? Pair with blunt bangs, heavy eye makeup and total nonchalance and you’ll be well on your way to true Birkin status.

Contact Alexis Manrodt at [email protected].