Barbra Streisand Shares Perfect Fashion Advice

Hello, gorgeous!

Barbra Streisand
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's no wonder Barbra Streisand has been called a nitpicky perfectionist: she's spent a good portion of her career fielding negative comments about her looks. Thankfully for all of us, she used that criticism to propel her forward in her career and self-acceptance, becoming one of the most talked-about, uniquely styled stars of her or any generation. So it's lucky that she's finally sat down to give the rest of us some advice on the matter.

Listen: not all of us have a subterranean mall in the basement of their home filled with an unending supply of magical vintage and one-of-a-kind pieces. But it took a lot of time—and a lot of flack from the public—for her town own not only all her clothes, but her own personal sense of style.

"People should express themselves and wear whatever they feel on any given day," she said in an email interview with the New York Times. "And that has nothing to do with age."

Barbra Streisand in 'On a Clear Day'

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Babs, as she is known, has been a staple in Hollywood since the 1960s, when she sprang onto the scene as a must-see New York nightclub act. From there, she went on to become an award-winning singer, actress, producer, director, and outspoken philanthropist. And throughout all of that time, Barbra's looks were mostly treated as less-than, which only inspired her to do more.

"Like I wrote in my book, 'Why can’t women be accomplished and attractive, strong and sensitive, intelligent and sensual?'" she explained in the interview.

For years, Barbra would trade more on her humor and uniqueness than any sort of traditional, leading lady coquettishness. It really wasn't until iconic editor Vogue Diane Vreeland "saw something in me," Streisand explained, "She spoke of me as a fashion icon, long before I imagined I’d ever make the best-dressed list."

Streisand's love of gender-bending fashion—wearing men's clothes in juxtaposition to other feminine pieces within the same look—became a signature for her, but was mostly born out of a discomfort of being seen or performing as a sexy, sensual woman (something she speaks about at length in her memoir, My Name is Barbra) when her own inexperience and inability in that arena made it hard for her to believe herself as such.

Barbra Streisand

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Now a woman in her 80s, Barbra cares far less about other people's opinions and much more about owning who she is and how she looks. There will always be gaffes, the point is the fun of it.

"People should express themselves and wear whatever they feel on any given day. And that has nothing to do with age," she explained. She recalled a time she suggested posing for a W Magazine cover story in nothing but a fresh white shirt "and no pants."

"Just legs," she added. It was a revelatory moment for her. "I was too afraid to be seen that way at that time. Now I’m too old to care."

It's the exact sort of mentality we should all bring to our own fashion adventures, don't you think? There will always be someone out there who thinks your nose is too big, your boobs are too out, your ass is too flat, and that you "can't wear something like that." But those people should never be listened to—if they were, we wouldn't have Barbra Streisand. And that's simply unacceptable.

Alicia Lutes
Freelance Writer

Alicia Lutes is a freelance writer, essayist, journalist, humorist, and screenwriter based in Los Angeles. She has written extensively on culture, entertainment, the craft of comedy, and mental health. Her work has been featured in places such as Vulture, Playboy, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, MTV, Cosmopolitan, Rotten Tomatoes, Bustle, Longreads, and more. She was also the creator/former host of the web series Fangirling, and currently fosters every single dog she can.