Bettie Page is gone, but her signature look carries on

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Bettie Page understood the value of a signature look. She never tried to reinvent her style or change that tune. Her look -- blunt, thick bangs in the shape of an upside down horseshoe, arched brows and upturned cherry-red lips -- became as recognizable as her name. She was soft, sensuous curves from head to toe, and the eye could rove her entire form without bumping up against an angle.

The pin-up model -- read a thoughtful L.A. Times obit here -- died yesterday at 85, and in her later years she did not care to be photographed. Bettie wanted to be remembered for her beauty and vitality. She didn’t want the record to skip on her flaws and the tune to play differently.


And it’s that very tune that women still access today, more than 50 years after she made waves as a Playboy model. What makes it so appealing is that Page made it easy for us to sing along. Just as she made bondage look as innocent as baking a Betty Crocker bundt cake. Like Marilyn Monroe, Katharine Hepburn and other great style icons, she gave us the greatest gift: an easy opportunity to mimic her look and try her on for size.

Even today, websites offer tips on how to get Bettie Page’s bangs. (Pop stars like Christina Aguilera and Katy Perry have been spotted recently with a similar short forehead fringe. And who can forget Uma Thurman’s itsy-bitsy bangs in ‘Pulp Fiction’?) In Las Vegas, there’s a shop called Bettie Page Clothing, which sells everything needed to be Bettie -- from hair bows and purses to dresses like the Peggy Denim, (right, $126.) Leighton Meester, as Blair Waldorf on ‘Gossip Girl’, wore the Captain dress (left, $155) and the fashion blogs went crazy.

Stars today are so stingy and fickle with their style. They flit from coif to coif and go from curvy to gaunt in a flash. Why is it that actresses are so quick to dive back into the cocoon and reemerge as a brand new butterfly? I, for one, appreciate a woman who sticks by her signature look. Monroe died too soon, but Hepburn’s trademark fondness for trousers and blouses ripened and aged along with her. That other Hepburn, Audrey, never wavered from her capri pants, flats and gamine style.

Ladies, take a cue from Bettie’s legacy and find a look that works for you. Is it bangs, red lips or a high ponytail? Maybe a predilection for wide belts or ethnic jewelry? Find that one thing that makes you feel confident and unique -- even sexy or chic -- and keep it close. Practice by playing that tune over and over again. Do like Bettie and learn the lyrics until they become your own.

-- Monica Corcoran

Photo credits: Top, Associated Press; bottom,