We look back at 27 times Jane Birkin inspired our wardrobes

Jane Birkin poses in a coat for a magazine shoot
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Renowned for her signature effortless style, relive Jane Birkin's most iconic looks here...

British-born singer and actress Jane Birkin has died aged 76, with the tragic news prompting an outpouring of love for the "timeless Francophone icon".

"Because she embodied freedom, because she sang the most beautiful words of our language, Jane Birkin was a French icon," President Macron announced in a statement after the news of her passing. "A complete artist, her voice was as gentle as her commitments were ardent. She bequeaths us a legacy of songs and images that will never leave us."

Jane Birkin walking through Paris holding a basket

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Birkin, dubbed the original rock chick, was best known for her 1969 hit “Je t’aime...moi non plus”, a song that she recorded with her French heartthrob lover Serge Gainsbourg.

Fashion however was Birkin's biggest influence - being the inspiration behind the iconic Hermès Birkin bag and inspiring the wardrobes of the women the world over.

Jane Birkin taking a photograph with a camera on her back

(Image credit: Getty Images)

As the world looks back at the icon's incredible life, we chart her style history, and the way in which her effortlessly cool, unique brand of Parisian-meets-boyish style has inspired us for decades - and will continue to for the generations to come.

1970 Before the likes of Cameron Diaz and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Jane Birkin was leading the way in off-duty airport style. Flared jeans, a luxe knit and of course her trademark straw bag were the style icon’s travel essentials.

1969 Anyone who can look this cool on a go-kart gets our seal of approval. Birkin’s tonal mix of army greens with brown leather boots and belt is a trend-leader in its own right and gives a fresh spin on the present-day military trend.

1970 Way before crop top and bras as outerwear were on the catwalks, Jane was doing it her way with low-slung wide-leg pants and forever-classic ballet pumps.

1971 Jane Birkin’s cosy yet sultry mix of roll neck jumper, shorts and knee-high socks looks as fresh and relevant today as it did then…

1974 A Breton stripe jumper with cut-off jeans may be our default weekend look but Jane was one of the pioneers of this oh-so effortless and elegantly cool look. Everything you’d expect from the style icon. 

1971 This tried-and-tested shorts, pea coat and roll neck jumper is a fail-safe off-duty look for women the world over.

1985 The tried-and-tested look of fashion editors the world over came from the way Jane pulled off an unbuttoned laid-back luxe shirts with serious sass. 

1977 Jane Birkin has inspired everyone from Alexa Chung to Keira Knightley in how to master the fine art of undone eveningwear. Here, her metallic disco-ready pants and straw basket is a genius mix of high-low style.

1994 You know that over-sized coat with tailored trousers and white trainers you’ve been rocking this year? Look who was at it first…

1994 Ever since the Hermes Birkin was created in her honour, Jane has used it to maximum effect – here showing how to give a power-woman spin to mannish tailoring.

1996 Jane was the pioneer of the fail-safe cashmere sweater with straight leg (never skinny) jeans combo. And of course, adding a luxe leather Birkin to this off-duty power pairing.

The 1970s Trust Jane to pull off the tricky knee-high boors trend. Leading the way in styling a killer red pair, Birkin dresses down the bold colour with denim and opts for an awkward length of cropped trouser for a catwalk-ready look that can be worn today just as well is it could be in the 70s…

1979 Don’t you wish you looked like this relaxing by the pool? Jane’s all-white look and borrowed-from-the-boys white shirt is timelessly elegant.

1974 Cut-off jeans? Check. Ballet pumps? Check. Relaxed cotton shirt? Check. Our off-duty wardrobes were inspired by this fail-safe look.

1969 The originators of matching couple style, Serge and Jane also give a masterclass in the art of styling a neck tie and scarf.

1969 What to wear with an heirloom diamond necklace? In the case of Jane Birkin, it’s a simple V-neck cardigan and mini skirt. Luxury meets laid-back – it’s a style lesson to still draw on today.

2008 An advocate of a loose, over-sized silhouette, Jane Birkin still provides an endless source of inspiration for anyone looking to skew skinny in favour of skilful layering.

1970 How many times have you balanced out a super-short dress with flat pumps? Jane was there first…

2009 Just like modern day style icons, Jane’s never been one to follow red carpet style rules. And this achingly cool look shows just what a pro and inspiration she is. Cue an elusive mix of over-sized mohair jumper, revealing a subtly sexy glimpse of skin, teamed with a perfect-length fitted pencil skirt and all topped off with a killer pair of heels – it’s all just so right.

1969 A daringly cut-out evening dress paired with off-beat jewellery has been the inspiration behind many a bohemian red carpet look…

2009 Aside from endless off-duty styling tips, Jane’s understated eveningwear is an eternal well of inspiration. This slim-line (never tight, you see) cocktail dress, sexy courts and no make-up or jewellery is our go-to for formal occasions.

2011 No A-list wardrobe is complete without a designer handbag, even when off-duty and headed for the gym. The person behind this? You guessed it…

1978 Borrowing your boyfriend’s blazer - or your dad’s for that matter - and throwing it over a loose white tee is a catwalk and A-list approved look we’ve channelled a million times over. And just like Jane, we never tire of it.

2011 Attending the Stella McCartney show with daughter Lou Doillon, Jane gives a lesson in mastering the art of understated eveningwear. Effortlessly sexy in her satin tux and heels, it’s Birkin’s signature no-make-up and bags of attitude spin that we admire so much.

1970 Looking as good today as it did in 1970, this paired-back maxi dress blends together Jane’s unique ability to add ‘I just threw this on’ vibe with covetable accessories. The mini Louis Vuitton bag our case in point...

1974 This classic mix of crew neck tee and stonewash jeans is central to Birkin’s style DNA. Peep-toe red shoes and signature straw basket give the ultimate off-duty summer look that oh-so-cool French spin we all so admire.

1969 Leading the way in home-customisation, Jane is an advocate of the cut-off, raw-hem look.

Jane Birkin may have sadly left this world, but her style will continue to inspire us for generations.

We will continue to update this story.

Jenny Proudfoot
Features Editor

Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.