Jane Birkin was so much more than the Birkin bag. Actress, musician, and one of the first modern day muses, Birkin is just as much a style icon today as she was in the 1970s.

The English style icon and muse grew up in Chelsea with a theatre actress for a mother and a Royal Navy Seal Lieutenant and WWII spy for a father. In school, she was constantly teased for her androgynous look and placed in comparison with her mother’s classic beauty, and it wasn’t until her move to France that she found the freeing confidence that she has become known for.

At just 17 years old, on the precipice of fame and becoming a household name, she embarked on a film career — booking roles in 1966’s Blow-Up and Kaleidoscope, 1968’s Wonderwall, and 1969 French films La Piscine and Slogan. The latter, which is where she met Serge Gainsbourg and became his muse, prompted her permanent move to France. Away from England’s beauty standards and the constraints of her family’s expectations, Birkin was free to explore her artistry, her sexuality, her life, and herself on her own terms. And, doing so, she captivated the world.

We have rounded up some key style lessons from Birkin, who has become synonymous with her tousled bangs, ’70s fashion, and the idea of the French It-Girl. Keep scrolling…

Fringe is the perfect accessory.

Always with her recognisable fringe, Birkin popularised the style as much in the 1970s as in the 2020s. Effortless, windswept, carefree, and just the right amount of disheveled, her hair was at once feminine and childlike.

You can’t go wrong with jeans and a white t-shirt.

Jane Birkin was known to pair the 1970s flared denim jeans that characterised this decade with a simple white t-shirt, creating the perfect model-off-duty look that is still a classic today.

The shorter, the better.

The beloved 1960s mini dress’ popularity was in part due to Birkin’s styling of it. She often opted for pieces that toed the line between tops and dresses, and frequently wore them in knits. One of the most iconic looks was the sheer sweater dress she wore to the premiere of Slogan, paired with her basket bag and ballet flats.

Pieces are season-less.

Short shorts aren’t reserved for the summer and white button downs know no boundaries. Birkin often wore tights under shorts to take them into the colder seasons, and styled her classic button downs on their own or with vests to keep them around all year. With the increase of popularity in sustainable, capsule wardrobes today, we can really look back at her influence on this one.

Sometimes unconventional accessories work the best.

Anything can be a bag if you want it to be. Jane took her wicker basket bag with her everywhere, until, of course, the Hermes Birkin Bag was born.

Oversized menswear is a perfect go-to.

In her forties, Birkin cut her hair short and started dressing in oversized menswear, evoking an androgynous look that is seen everywhere today.

If you have the opportunity to design a bag with Hermes, do it.

In 1989, Birkin sat next to Hermes’ CEO Jean-Louis Dumas on a flight from Paris to London. After the contents of her basket bag spilled, he said she needed pockets, to which she told him that if Hermes’ made a big enough bag fit for a mother, she’d ditch the basket. The two designed the bag together on the flight. Now a sign of status, prestige, and luxury, the bag has continued to cement Jane Birkin’s legacy as a style icon.

Images from @janebirkinstyle and @janebirkindaily

Sophie Wang