How To Dress — And Play — The Leading Lady

The Leading Lady is the epitome of womanhood. She is well-dressed, well-mannered, and has impeccable taste. The Leading Lady is often what women strive most to be.

From popular culture such as TV shows and movies, the Leading Lady has long been a standard that many women wish to emulate.

How To Dress — And Play — The Leading Lady

The term ‘Leading Lady’ comes from Hollywood movies. There’s a Leading Lady- the main female protagonist, and there is usually a best friend or a sidekick.

The leading lady is the one who progresses the plot, has the best wardrobe, and really wants the best for herself and her life. 

So, if you want to be the Leading Lady in your own life, then you will need to know how to dress – and play- The Leading Lady. Find out how in this guide!

What Is ‘A Leading Lady’?

The Leading lady is the leading female character in a movie. The plot, story, action, dialogue and every piece of information that we get revolves around her.

She is the one driving the narrative. The leading lady can also be the love interest. 

The whole movie is largely based around the Leading Lady’s story. For instance if you have not seen the movie The Holiday (2006), then you are missing out. 

In The Holiday, Kate Winslet plays the main protagonist, who has reached an impasse in her life- unsure of what to do about her love life, struggling with a broken heart and watching the ‘love of her life’ move on without her.

An elderly gentleman advises her that she has been playing the ‘best friend’ or the side character in her life.

He says ‘You’re supposed to be the leading lady in your own life!’ in an effort to get her to take action. 

Now, what this means is that you can be the leading character in your life.

You can impact your life by taking control of it, dressing how you want, acting how you want to act, and go on a journey towards happiness and success. 

Famous Leading Ladies

Leading ladies first began as the most beautiful women in Hollywood, and these leading ladies have also become synonymous with pop culture, and are icons in their own right. 

These women have the most beautiful costumes, and often influence the fashion industry- starting makeup or hair trends that last a millennium. 

Nowadays, a leading lady is the one who takes charge of her life, is powerful, strong and knows what she wants. 

When we think of leading ladies, we often think of the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and so many more.

But these women are not just icons from the Golden Age of Hollywood, there are modern leading ladies too. 

Some of the most iconic leading ladies are:

1. Vivien Leigh 

2. Audrey Hepburn

3. Marilyn Monroe

4. Grace Kelly

5. Elizabeth Taylor

6. Diana Ross

7. Isabella Rosillini

8. Julia Roberts

9. Taraja P Henson

10. Keira Knightley

11. Kate Winslet

What Makes A Leading Lady?

Up until now, you may have felt like the supporting character in your own life. You may always be thinking about what others think, and putting everyone else’s needs before your own.

While this is a good quality to have, and you should be caring about others, you do not want to put yourself on the sidelines all of the time.

The side character, or the ‘best friend’ is the one who supports others. She hides in the corners of rooms, never taking the stage for herself. She is a wallflower, who holds her true self back. 

So, what makes a leading lady- a leading lady?

Instead of hiding behind masquerades and insecurities, the leading lady takes life into her own hands. She takes center stage, she looks for fun, glamor, adventure and so much more. 

The leading lady is a bombshell. She is well dressed, she draws the eye and captures the attention of all who see her.

She has a leading lady energy that you can capture if you dress like one, and play the role of the leading lady in your own life. 

How To Dress Like A Leading Lady

The leading lady is all about the glitz, glamor and femininity.

She accentuates her curves, shows off her assets, but dresses in a classy and eye-catching style. Leading lady fashion trends are fast making a comeback. 

To dress like a leading lady, you have to embrace your womanhood, and not be afraid of expressing your femininity, personality and style.

If you want to embody the leading lady character, then you have to change your wardrobe. 

Think about all of the Hollywood female icons, the ones we have mentioned and some that perhaps we have not.

Their clothing is impeccable, but they also ‘act’ like the leading lady. They have an air of elegance and sophistication to them that makes them even more desirable. 

To dress like the leading lady, there are a few tips that we have for you to accentuate your features and your wardrobe. 

Wear Heels Or Classic Pumps

The leading lady can often be found in heels. Heels are a symbol of elegance and femininity, so it makes sense that the female lead would have these shoes.

If heels are not appropriate, then stick to classic pumps instead.

Show Off Your Curves

One of the most important style tips we can give you if you want to look like a leading lady is to show off your curves.

Wear dresses and skirts that highlight your waist, to emphasize your natural feminine shape (Also check out The Drop Waist Dress: How To Wear This Vintage Style).

Try wearing belted dresses or skirts to pull you in at the waist, so that you go out at the hips, or stick to A-line dresses for a flowing, feminine look. 

Keep Hair Well Styled

Another essential tip is to keep your hair well styled and groomed.

Ensure that you stay on top of hair appointments, so there are no unsightly roots or split ends. The leading lady has hair that is always perfectly coiffed or styled. 

Take Inspiration From Hollywood Leading Ladies

You should take style inspiration from Hollywood legends such as Audrey Hepburn, or even modern icons like Scarlett Johansson.

These women epitomize the leading lady, and always appear perfectly dressed and styled for the occasion. 

Try High Waisted Styles

High waisted style jeans, trousers and skirts can accentuate the waist, and make you appear more womanly and feminine.

These styles also have a vintage feel that can help you emulate the look of glamorous Hollywood women. You don’t always have to wear dresses to be a leading lady- a well fitting suit or trousers can be just as stylish.

Try Vintage Clothing

If you want to find some truly classy, sophisticated and feminine clothing, then you could try shopping for some vintage pieces. You never know what you might find!

No Short Skirts

The leading lady is all about class and elegance.

Skirts should not be too short that you can see too much, and you should be able to bend down without exposing anything. This brings us onto our next point.

Do Not Expose Too Much

The leading lady is seductive and beautiful, but she does not reveal too much. There is never too much cleavage on show, or too much leg on show.

It is fine to reveal a little, but leave something to the imagination- that’s part of the allure of the leading lady!

Avoid Grunge Clothing

Grunge, rock style, and bohemian clothing are simply not suitable for a leading lady. Think of classic pieces that are timeless and elegant instead. 

Make Sure Your Clothes Fit

This is super important. Your clothes have to fit you well. Something that is too tight or too loose can look untidy, and you want to look polished at all times.

Shoes Must Be Well Kept

As mentioned before, your shoe choices should be elegant and graceful. Wearing shoes that are scuffed, broken or tatty can be distasteful and distracting.

You want a distinguished, sophisticated and neat look instead to fit the leading lady mold. 

Accessories Are Key

The leading lady is adorned with classic jewelry. She does not wear cheap, tacky jewelry, and she never wears too much.

Stick to simple pieces that are timeless, rather than wearing chunky earrings and a necklace. If you have statement earrings, then there is no need for a necklace too as this can be overpowering. 

The leading lady also often wears a small watch, and always has a high quality handbag that accentuates her outfit, rather than a backpack or a tacky bag.

How To Play The Leading Lady

Having the perfect wardrobe is only part of the leading lady persona. You have to play the leading lady too in your actions, behavior and manners.

Leading ladies know how to command the room, know what they want, and how to get it. But, they do so in a polite and endearing way. 

A leading lady is not obnoxious or rude in her actions. As a leading lady, you will need to behave in a certain way to keep up the appearance. 

Know How To Make An Entrance

The first step is knowing how to make an entrance.

This is much to do with having excellent planning and a good mindset. Have confidence in your body, show off your curves, and show up to events. 

Do not stand in a corner hoping no one will notice you. How you hold yourself, how you walk and interact with others can also give you the appearance of elegance and power.

Know how to act in public- always go to events with a smile on your face, and a great attitude and sense of decorum- no matter what the weather is like! 

Learn How To Own The Room

A leading lady does not sit idle and wait for things to fall into her lap.

A leading lady takes charge of her life and gets what she wants because she works for it. Communicate with others, network at events, and be present. 

Redirect your attention to the room, and don’t worry about yourself or how you look. Ask others about their lives, create friendships and conversations.

Don’t try too hard to impress others, and open up the discussion instead. They could end up having to impress you. 

If You Want Something, Ask

So many women spend too much time doing acts of service for others, hoping to be noticed or rewarded.

Unfortunately, the world doesn’t often work like that. If you want something, there is no harm in asking. 

Think about what you want. If you are at an event with a manager, or you are out with a partner, and there is something on your mind, bring it up!

The worst that can happen is that they can disagree with you, but at least you are having an open discussion about it and it is on the table, so to speak. 

Set Boundaries

You are the leading lady in your own life. No one can make you do anything that makes you uncomfortable or that you do not want to do.

Don’t settle for less, ladies. Set boundaries for yourself, in terms of where your limits are, and in terms of what your goals are.

Having boundaries can ensure that you have dignity. If someone tries to push you too far, then the leading lady is not going to let them. 

What To Do

  • Always ensure that your skirt or dress falls just above or below the knees and is not too short.
  • Wear a belt to accentuate the waist.
  • Keep nails short, well cared for and in a neutral color. Never have scuffed nail polish.
  • Find the perfect perfume and stick to it. It is your signature fragrance, and should be associated with you.
  • Wear high waisted clothes to elongate the legs.
  • Show off statement jewelry by itself, or wear something classic. 
  • Carry a journal or notebook and pen rather than your smartphone.
  • Walk your dog on a leash rather than carrying it in your handbag. 
  • Always have a newspaper, book or publication with you to pick up in your spare time instead of looking at your phone.
  • Be well mannered, respectful and polite in all circumstances. 
  • Take a top-handle handbag with you that compliments your outfit, rather than an over the shoulder bag. 

What Not To Do

  • Wear a short skirt that shows off everything you have to offer! It’s not classy, or elegant, and you will be drawing eyes for all of the wrong reasons. 
  • Wear distressed or embellished clothing and denim items.
  • Have nails that are unmanicured, broken, chipped, or painted in bright, neon and unsightly colors. If they are chipped- repaint them!
  • Wear tight fitting clothing that can draw attention to your stomach, rear or bust. 
  • Carry your phone around with you, or hold your keys, cards, lipsticks and other items in your hands. Place them in a stylish handbag. 
  • Ignore current affairs. You should be well versed and knowledgeable in the world.
  • Wear a bum bag or backpack. Accessories should be stylish and classy. 
  • Go out without perfume on.
  • Wear over the top jewelry. 
  • Have bed hair or unwashed and unstyled hair. 
  • Behave inappropriately. 
  • Wear scuffed shoes.
  • Be rude, ill-mannered or obnoxious. 

Tips On How To Be A Leading Lady

Once you have nailed the wardrobe, you know all of the best ways to carry yourself and behave in company, we have some further tips for you. 

1. Believe In Yourself

To be a leading lady, you have to believe in yourself. This does not mean having an ego.

But, knowing that you are beautiful, kind, you love your body, and you are able to care for others and go forward in life is so important to your wellbeing and your confidence levels. 

2. Focus On Your Goals

Leading ladies know what they want to achieve. Have short term and long term goals. 

3. Nurture

Nurture your mind, body and soul, and nurture those around you that you care about. Be fair, just and use your women’s intuition. 

4. Let Your Personality Shine Through Your Wardrobe

Finally, the guidelines we have given are just that- guidelines. You can have fun with it and find what kind of outfits and accessories truly make you shine.

Use the ‘leading lady’ persona as inspiration, and create a wardrobe and look that works best for you and your body type! 

Final Thoughts

To summarize, the leading lady is one of the most iconic personas in popular culture. The leading lady takes control of her life, her wardrobe, and her mindset.

You will notice in many movies that women who are downtrodden will have a ‘make-over’, change their wardrobe and start exemplifying the woman that they truly want to be. 

Women are powerful, go-getters, and beautiful. Let your wardrobe demonstrate that with the leading lady aesthetic.

Jessica White
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