No one could ever accuse Betty White of being ordinary. Whether she delivered a quintessential Rose quip on Golden Girls or rapped with Sandra Bullock in The Proposal, the 99-year-old delighted in defying expectations, and we delighted in watching her. Perhaps that’s why the news of her passing on December 31 came as such a shock — Betty White has always seemed ageless, somehow encompassing both the roles of spunky best friend and even spunkier grandma all in one beautiful package. Ryan Reynolds captured it well when he took to Instagram to write, “She managed to grow very old and somehow, not old enough.”
Mirroring this sentiment, in the days that have followed, many touching tributes have been shared about the star’s humour, kindness and talent, but not enough has been said about her wardrobe. Although her clothing might not be the first thing you think of when reflecting on Betty White’s legacy, her affinity for elevated basics and vibrant hues has made her an underrated source of style inspiration.
Here we’ve rounded up five of our favourite fashion lessons that we’ve learned from Betty White.
Go big or go home
The precursor to 2018’s viral oversized straw hat, Betty White knew even in the 1950s that protection from the summer sun would never go out of style.
Tip: Lean into the vintage “Beach Blanket Bingo” vibes of an XL hat with a colourful co-ord.
Never one to look overly “done” — even in the ’70s when eclectic fashion dominated the mainstream — leave it to Betty to make a simple shirt and scarf combo look effortlessly elegant.
Tip: Experiment with different colours and patterns to spice up even the most basic of blouses.
Betty White wore many iconic looks as Rose in the Golden Girls, but nothing says 1980s fashion quite like this shoulder-padded skirt suit.
Tip: Play with the length of the blazer and skirt to give this classic silhouette a modern upgrade.
Sorry Kim K, but you weren’t the first celeb to sport a monochromatic ensemble. Case in point: Betty White’s whimsical white wares at this 2002 NBC event.
Tip: Take your look to the next level with tinted sunglasses or enamel jewellery.
All that glitters
A statement jacket is an effortless way to zhuzh up any outfit, and Betty White has the receipts to prove it. From bold patterns to glitzy embellishments, this wardrobe staple will instantly make you award show-ready.
Tip: If you’re hunting for a terrific topper, vintage and thrift shops are your best bet for not breaking the bank.