What Twiggy Taught Me About Defying Convention With Style

Plus a proper Swinging London playlist!

twiggy style
(Image credit: Archive)

It's liberating when you finally come to the realization that you don't have to dress like everybody else. For me, it happened in 9th grade when I became transfixed by The Rolling Stones and subsequently discovered the Swinging London scene of the '60s: an era that has both captivated and haunted me — this, because I now knew I could never rub elbows with a young Penelope Tree or become David Bailey's muse du jour.

Naturally you can't speak of such times without mention of the decade's golden girl, Twiggy, who at the time, I only knew as the British America's Next Top Model judge who replaced Janice Dickinson and greeted model hopefuls with an ever-charming, "'elloooo." But once I fell down the rabbit hole of Googling vintage Twiggy images, I was hooked on trying to emulate her. I mean, as well as a 15-year-old girl from Long Island could anyway.

To me, Twiggy's style had so much off-kilter appeal with her psychedelic colors, graphic prints, mile-high hemlines, and tongue-in-cheek accessories. I was no waif, and couldn't hold a smidgen of a candle to her in a mini-skirt, but her madcap style had me thinking outside the box. I stopped going to the Roosevelt Field mall in favor of trips to the hometown thrift stores my mom had been right about all along. I traded in my North Face puffer coat for a $19 PVC trench coat; my basic fleece boots for a pair of leather Chelsea boots; cotton leggings for vintage trousers; and flashy designer sunglasses for $5 round frames I fished out of a bargain bin. And then there was the beauty...

While I didn't have the agreeable hair type (mine's c-c-c-curly) to take on Twiggy's famous crop, she single-handedly convinced me that as far as makeup goes, it's all in the eyes. I discovered the divine powers of liquid liner and mascara wands and have made the cat-eye flick, feathery lash look my signature ever since.

For the first time, it felt like my appearance was setting me apart instead of causing me to blend in with the pack. While I was by no means the most ballsy dresser at my high school, my clothing helped me carve out my identity and didn't just give me confidence, but attitude as well. And if Twiggy has taught me one thing about style, it's that the latter is most essential anyway.

In honor of Twiggy's 65th birthday, I'm not only paying homage to the woman that sparked my individual Youthquake movement, but celebrating her golden decade's most important ingredient: the soundtrack. From the Stones' early stuff, to hits from their British Invasion peers like Marianne Faithfull, The Troggs, and more, here are 25-tracks that'll help you come out swingin'.

Related Links:

32 Iconic Photographs of Twiggy

The Supermodels of the 1960's

Lauren Valenti
Beauty Editor

Lauren is the former beauty editor at Marie Claire. She love to while away the hours at coffee shops, hunt for vintage clothes, and bask in the rough-and-tumble beauty of NYC. She firmly believes that solitude can be a luxury if you’ve got the right soundtrack—that being the Rolling Stones, of course.