Written by Bertie Bowen


Dressing like… Bonnie Parker

Fashion stylist Bertie Bowen channels the clothes and spirit of a fictional character. This week, she’s criminally à la mode thanks to tips from Faye Dunaway’s Bonnie (not Clyde).

Bonnie with car and gunI bought a car. It’s changed my life. I am not exaggerating – I did the big supermarket shop and felt like an adult for the first time in my life (I am 32).

Also, the temperature has dropped enough to contemplate wearing a hat, so this week I have decided to dissect the wonderful beret-wearing, getaway car-driving Bonnie Parker from the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde. A tenuous link, but a link nonetheless.

Bonnie is a wild child, something that’s evident from the opening scene where she is lounging around in bed, pouting into the mirror like a moody teen and wearing… nothing. NOTHING. We instantly know she’s different, a rebel.

When she does eventually get dressed, she throws something on and rushes out the house without a second thought. I don’t think she even puts on underwear.

DEVIL MAY CARE: style rush

Let’s get something clear: Bonnie always looks good. But she doesn’t try too hard; in fact, she barely tries at all. She dresses in a rush, like she does everything, with one eye on the door, anticipating the law walking right into her bedroom. Her clothes are crumpled, possibly unwashed, but they’re always stylish. Underwear is optional.

Bonnie wearing a beretEXPOSED: but still covered

Bonnie is partial to a deep V-neckline. As she’s rather small-chested, rather than flaunting her cleavage the low neckline creates an elegant appearance with just the smallest hint of danger. Likewise a shirt undone one or two buttons more than a typical woman would in 1934 reveals Bonnie’s daring nature. Keep the rest of your outfit modest: midi skirt, arms covered, nothing too tight.


She looks great in a two-piece suit and sports a few different ones throughout the film. The stand-out for me is a monochrome, grid-print skirt and matching, belted jacket, accessorised perfectly with black beret and, erm, hand gun. Suit seems too formal? Try a co-ord instead. These are the modern version of the suit: a top and skirt or trousers in matching fabric. You’ll look smart yet interesting, a bit like Bonnie herself. The hand gun is not essential.


Faye Dunaway started a beret-buying frenzy after the film was released in 1967 and no wonder – she looks marvellous. She wears several different ones in the film, all jauntily cocked to one side, giving her a cool edge we can but dream of. I only own one beret so far (leopard print), but I will be sure to snap up a few more before the cold sets in. They’re going to be super popular this winter – don’t say I didn’t warn you. They look especially good if you have bobbed hair…

A BIT ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES: neatness be damned

Bonnie’s hair is magic: it’s shambolic and mussed up one minute then coiffed and smooth the next. If you don’t have a personal hair stylist following you around all day, fear not: Bonnie’s hair looks its best when it’s unkempt and wild, which befits her character.

Bonnie with kiss curlWhen they’re first getting to know each other, Clyde tells Bonnie he doesn’t like her teased kiss-curl style and she instantly undoes it, without saying a word. Clyde unravels her and from that moment on there’s no going back: she’s under his spell (and he under hers).

Bonnie is unapologetic, bold, romantic, smart, and free – to the bitter end. She runs from her tormentors and lives life on the edge. And yes, perhaps she is really running from the monotonous responsibilities of adult life, but surely we can all relate to that?

I’m not very good at impulsive adventures (excuses ranging from “I put my pyjamas on as soon as I got home” to “But I’ve got a jacket potato in the oven”), but you’ve got to admire Bonnie’s energy and most definitely her style – sartorially and literally. She doesn’t want to conform; she wants excitement and action! And she wants to go out with a bang. Dressed beautifully.


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Written by Bertie Bowen

Stylist, writer and mother living in East London. A clompy shoed, curly haired, Radio 4 enthusiast. www.mothershoppers.com