How to Dress Like Ava Gardner


With a classic curvy figure, a stunning smile, rich brunette waves and glowing eyes, Ava Gardner was the bombshell of Hollywood in the '40s and '50s. She showed off her figure in multitudes of floor-length gowns, fur stoles and pencil skirts on- and off-screen. Her timeless wardrobe is the essence of old Hollywood glamour.

LBD -- Long Black Dress

Gardner played daring femme fatales in many of her films, including her role in The Killers, in which. she famously wore a floor-length, single-strap, black satin gown with a slit up to her thigh. Re-create her screen siren look with a long, curve-hugging black dress that hits to at least your ankle.

Opt for a strapless or sleeveless cut with a sweetheart neckline and some rouching up the front torso of the garment. Pair the dress with strappy black stilettos and black elbow-length gloves for an evening on the town or a black tie affair.


  • Gardner kept her accessories to a minimum when she had on a beautiful gown. Choose one piece of subtle jewelry, such as a single bangle or some teardrop earrings, to wear with the dress to keep the look sleek and sophisticated.

Pencil It In

This classic beauty also knew how to wear daytime ensembles with skill and ease. Look for a black, houndstooth or tweed pencil skirt that hits to about the knee and tucks in snugly at the waist. Add a ballet pink or cream cashmere or wool sweater, tucked into the skirt, along with a pair of Mary Jane pumps for a classy office ensemble.

Layer over a lightweight trench coat and suede gloves for chillier weather or switch out the sweater for a lightweight blouse in warmer months. Accessorize this look with a bright silk scarf tied around your neck and a statement cocktail ring or bracelet.

Bohemian Bombshell

One of Gardner's most noted films is The Barefoot Contessa, in which she plays a Spanish film star. Capture her frilly, bright, bohemian look with a cotton, off-the-shoulder peasant top with a playful flounce. Tuck the top into a full, A-line skirt in a bright red or black.

Top off this dazzling look with a large, black lace shawl wrapped around your shoulders, a chunky statement necklace and earrings in a bright red or yellow, and a pair of high, black stiletto heels. Make the look more appropriate for day-to-day life by swapping out the peasant top for a satin blouse with some playful frills. Swap out the shawl for a tailored, hip-length '40s-inspired blazer and you have an off-screen Ava Gardner look in a snap.


  • For a sultry nod to her film The Little Hut top off a mid-calf, black A-line skirt with a fitted, black lace top and black pumps.

Bedazzled Carpet

Gardner was a darling of the red carpet, wearing some of the most stunning formal wear in history. Capture her glamour with a low-cut halter dress that goes all the way to the floor. Opt for a dress covered in silver sequins to revive her look at the 33rd Oscars. Alternatively, look for a halter dress in a white or cream that nips in at the waist, has feminine detailing around the neck and flows out gently around the legs.

Add a pair of strappy stilettos in a soft metallic, such as rose gold or silver. Don a princess-length bejeweled necklace and some luscious faux diamond teardrop earrings. Make the look truly black-tie worthy with a pair of elbow-length white gloves and a faux fur wrap.


  • This film siren played with daring cuts and necklines. Look for dresses with asymmetrical straps, low-cut backs and daring cut-outs around the décolletage for the bombshell appeal.

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