Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe

Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe

Even if she was going to a black tie dinner, she always went as herself, in black and white, and what could be more stylish than that? Susan Girard cited in Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, Full Bloom: The Art and Life of Georgia O’Keeffe.

She moves in one piece. Her black clothes have no suggestion of waist line. From the delicately poised head to the small stout shoes is a rhythm unbroken by any form of hampering. Delicate, sensitive, exquisitely beautiful, with the candor of a child in her unafraid eyes and the trained mind of an intuitive woman. Blanche Matthias, Chicago Evening Post reporter and friend of O’Keeffe, cited in Full Bloom.

O’Keeffe’s attitude toward clothes had always been individualistic, though this became more pronounced with age. Ever since reading Charlotte Perkins Gilman in 1915, O’Keeffe had chosen her clothes for practicality and freedom of movement, as well as for her private aesthetic pleasure. High heels and cosmetics were anathema. Simple and severe, her clothes were often monochromatic, black or white, and idiosyncratic as to line. Roxana Robinson, Georgia O’Keeffe: A Life.

Irving Penn, Georgia O'Keeffe

Irving Penn, Georgia O’Keeffe


Georgia O’ Keeffe’s style embodies purity at its best. Her look was honed early on, favoring first men-tailored suits, a man’s bowler-type hat, oxfords, later refined to include black ensembles with white collars, caftans, capes, kimono style jackets, and flat-heeled shoes. She eschewed dressing like other women artists who favored a more bohemian look.  Her aesthetic was simple, serene, elegant, even reductive. An expert seamstress who did illustrations of women’s clothing early in her career, O’Keeffe was in an ideal position to style herself as she chose.  I find it fascinating that O’Keeffe simplified her style after reading Charlotte Perkins Gilman, an early feminist who advocated social and domestic reform, including reform of dress: boys and girls should dress in the same way and play with the same toys.

 

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10 Responses to Georgia O’Keeffe

  1. I loved this! I had to share it on Facebook (Art According to Cary). I like your blog very much.

    • Beatrice says:

      Je ne me souviens vraiment pas de Giscard ou Miterrand prêts à visiter le Salon de l’Agriculture dès le premier matin de l’ouverture. Je ne suis même pas ŝur qu’ils y allaient d’ailleurs !Il faudra aussi penser à aller dès le premier jour au salon de l’habitat car aujourd’hui il y a, en France, beaucoup plus de maçons et de plaiamers-chbuffogistes que d’agriculteurs ! Beaucoup de gens l’oublientFC

  2. vberndt says:

    I love what Georgia O’Keeffe did with her clothing. The words about her black clothing having no waistline are perfectly reflected in the images provided, as well as her eyes being unafraid. The pictures chosen are perfect because they show some of her personality that is touched on through words in the blog like individualistic, candor of a child, and unafraid. Because of the images provided, I can see what is meant by her clothing being simple and severe and monochromatic. The images are directly related to the words and I enjoyed having them both to help learn about her style.
    However, I do not see her attitude toward clothing as being individualistic as referred to in the blog. Her clothing may have been different from other women, but it seems like, from the images and the other portions of the blog, that she simply had a manly attitude toward clothing. That attitude and style may have been unique among women, but among everyone her ideas were very common within the wardrobe of a man.

  3. Katherine Ryan says:

    Georgia O’Keeffe dresses in a simple, straightforward manner. She does not draw attention to herself with elaborate outfits, as do many of her contemporaries. The images chosen in this post represent O’Keeffe’s subdued style well. The post clearly explains that O’Keeffe thinks through her fashion choices and does not carelessly clothe herself. Fashion matters to O’Keeffe and she wants to dress herself in a way that causes others to take her seriously, and the photographs in this post reflect these ideas. Through the images readers can visualize O’Keeffe’s polished style and better understand why she dresses in such a refined style. The pictures succeed in drawing out the simplicity yet subtle beauty and softness in her style, which could be incorrectly perceived as harsh or overly manly. O’Keeffe manages a delicate balance by maintaining a soft, gentle look in somewhat unshapely, masculine styled attire. I personally was surprised when I read and saw that O’Keeffe dressed in such a monotone nature when she is famous for her bright, colorful, vivacious paintings. I enjoyed seeing the contrast between her personal fashion and her paintings and learning about her reasoning for taking such a simplistic, yet thoughtful approach to her style.

    • Raven Wenner says:

      O’Keeffe herself explained, in a rare interview, that she kept her wardrobe to black and white so that she would save time getting dressed in the morning by not having to colour-coordinate her clothing . She said It ensured she didn’t waste time or aesthetic sense on anything but her paintings.

  4. Pat Cypher says:

    According to published letters, in her later years she wore Balenciaga suits and Ferragamo shoes . . .

  5. Annie Anskey says:

    I was delighted so see Peter Juley’s photograph of Georgia against her painting After a Walk back of Mabel’s. I actually prefer it to Stieglitz’s more severe take of the same; her painting seems to enhance the artist’s own appearance, and the whole becomes a more coherent but nuanced composition.

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