Style Inspiration: Little Edie Beale’s bold self expression

Style Inspiration: Little Edie Beale’s bold self expression

Oh, Little Edie. You’ve definitely heard the name and seen an associated meme, probably involving panty hose on your head, a leotard and a tiny American flag or sparkler. Perhaps you’ve heard about Grey Gardens, too— a documentary about Little Edie and Big Edie Beale, the distant cousins of Jacqueline Kennedy and Lee Radziwill. The film was made in the 70s by a couple young filmmakers who unknowingly had captured and created a time capsule of one of the most iconic and weird mother/daughter duos in their crumbling manse in East Hampton. (Which has recently been inhabited and restored, and it’s featured in Veranda.) 


There’s a lot to be said. About all of it. But today, let’s talk about Little Edie’s style. She was once considered a great beauty in her youth, then a total oddball recluse in her life, and an absolute style icon posthumously. I think her style has never been more relevant now, in our era of letting it all hang out, breaking all the rules, dressing for ourselves, having fun and not taking ourselves too seriously. 

Little Edie, also known as Edith Bouvier Beale, gained fame as a cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and became a cultural figure through the 1975 documentary "Grey Gardens," which showcased her eccentric and individualistic fashion sense.You could best describe it as a whimsical mix of dilapidated vintage elegance and weirdo bohemian charm. To call her unconventional would be an understatement.

She was decades ahead of her time, combining unexpected patterns, textures, accessories. Little Edie's arsenal included headscarves, pinned brooches, and layers of flowing fabrics. And the dual function of a skirt as a cape when needed. 

I think what makes Little Edie so courant and such an icon is her fearlessness in expressing herself outwardly, working with what is immediately anvailable ant her fingertips— old brooches, a handful of scarves and fabric, PANTYHOSE.  

Her style was an outward expression of her inner creative spark.

At its most evident level, we can see her influence in the return of the headscarf, which you KNOW I am a huge fan of.

Little Edie’s sartorial impact in the canon of fashion is about unhinged self-expression and individuality. We are all gorgeous weirdos. Why not wear our insides on the outside?? Her unapologetic approach to style serves as a reminder that fashion is a form of self-expression and should be embraced as a means of celebrating one's unique personality and creativity.

Her legacy is an enduring influence on the celebration of personal style and originality. And that’s something to truly celebrate. 

Here’s a photo from a party I went to a while back. The photo makes me so joyful because it’s so bright and expressive and patterned and layered. It’s a little kooky and entirely me. And in that bold self expression, I identify with Little Edie the most. 

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