Icon Inspiration: Ali MacGraw, the True Prep

Formative (adj.) – Used to describe a time when something or someone is being developed.

Although my personal style is heavily inspired by many sources and people, there is no person who has had a greater influence on my fashion choices than Ali MacGraw when she starred as Jennifer Cavalleri in the 1970 film, Love Story. My own love story with her style first began on a snowy Saturday morning in 2007. I was a few weeks shy of my fourteenth birthday and was watching the movie on cable with my grandmother.

MacGraw’s style illustrates the true meaning of prep. Prior to watching the film, I thought dressing ‘preppy’ meant to wear an Abercrombie polo and a pair of jeans, while accessorizing it with a “Please Return to Tiffany & Co.” heart necklace and a Coach signature bag (I still cringe when I see pictures of my clothing choices from middle school).

From the a-line, long-sleeved red dress her character wore to meet her future in-laws, to the camel-colored wrap coat she wore while strolling the sidewalks of Harvard University’s campus, I was obsessed with each and every one of MacGraw’s timeless outfits. In Love Story, fashion wasn’t about logos or labels, it was the quality of clothes and the confidence MacGraw exuded when wearing the clothes. The dialogue and music in the movie is a little dated, but the clothing trends and styles in the film continue to be on point. Brands like J. Crew and Zara frequently make clothes that are similar to the styles MacGraw wore in the film.

As a senior in college, self-reflection seems to be almost a daily routine for me these days. While it may sound funny, I’ve bought certain pieces of clothes, specifically because they reminded me of Ali McGraw’s style in Love Story. One of my fondest “bad-ass” moments in high school was convincing my journalism class to go shopping on M-Street in Georgetown instead of attending the second half of our journalism convention. With the consent of our teacher (which reduces my bad-ass level significantly), we were able to go shopping. It was on that day in J. Crew, I came across a high-waisted, beige skirt that had a similar look to a skirt MacGraw wore in Love Story. Five years later, the skirt is still a regular in my Fall and Winter clothing rotation.

MacGraw is one of the most underrated fashion icons, but continues to be a favorite of mine. If you haven’t seen Love Story, I highly recommend watching it. I guarantee that it will bring out every person’s inner prep, self-professed hipsters and logo-maniacs, alike.