From troubled goth girl obsessed with knifes to a humanitarian-focused mother of six, Angelina Jolie's life has been anything but ordinary. But one thing that has remained relatively stable is her signature style - Though she's now ditched the vial of ex-husband Billy Bob Thornton's blood that she wore around her neck in favor of more traditional accessories. With legs up to her armpits, curves in all the right places and those lips, the actress can make men khakis and a man's shirt look sexy and a strapless leather dress look sophisticated.
When Angelina Jolie was born to actors Jon Voight and Marcheline Bertrand in 1975 her upbringing seemed cut out to be very normal. However her parents' divorce only one year later led to an estranged relationship between Jolie and her father, and an isolating high school experience as she struggled to fit in with the significantly more affluent students of Beverly Hills High School. By 14 she dreamt not of becoming an actress but of making a living as a funeral director, a period during which she wore black clothing and dyed her hair purple, and during her later high school years she began cutting herself to escape the pain of being teased by her peers. Ironically, she was living as a toned-down version of her breakthrough role as the deeply troubled Lisa Rowe in Girl, Interrupted for which she would win an Academy Award.
Jolie's early feelings of isolation and self-hate were no doubt heightened by her initial failed attempts at modeling. After being teased in high school for her skinny frame and the fact that she wore braces and glasses, Angelina was rejected by casting agents for these same reasons. It was not until she turned 16 and she discovered a new-found commitment to becoming an actress that her confidence began to rise, though she would still periodically fall back in to depression. During this stage the braces and glasses came off and she began modeling in Los Angeles, New York and London, with casting agents being particularly drawn to her bedroom eyes and sultry pout. Her first film role being as a German dominatrix, Jolie appeared to be embracing her bad-girl image rather than attempting to hide it.
And though her hair is no longer purple, it is her continuing unconventional attitude that makes her so captivating. Not only in interviews (she famously admitted to a penchant for S&M still insists that she is technically bisexual) but also in fashion: Jolie constantly emits a sultriness that makes overtly sexy clothing and extravagant make up unnecessary. Sure she can do a striking red lip and a glamorous evening gown, but she never goes over the top with her style choices. When out during the day with any number of her six children she is usually dressed in jeans or a black maxi-dress with a leather jacket, but manages to avoid looking dowdy or out of date.
Angelina Jolie at Ocean's Thirteen red carpet premiere. | Photo: |
Even on the red carpet Angelina prefers simple and streamlined block-colored gowns and natural looking hair and make up - And never attempts to cover up any of the 13 tattoos that adorn her body. Any other celebrity might risk being labeled as boring for making similar choices, but when you're talking about somebody like Jolie it's clear that reservedness isn't really an issue (just think about that canary yellow Ungaro dress she wore to the premiere of Oceans 13). She knows what works, but is never afraid to add an element of surprise.
Of course, anyone who has ever looked at the cover of a gossip magazine knows that her bad-girl attitude hasn't always served to benefit Jolie in the eyes of the public. When she started her relationship with top Hollywood actor Brad Pitt he was only recently divorced from fellow actress Jennifer Aniston, and the new couple admitted that they had indeed fallen in love on the set of Mr and Mrs Smith which was filmed while Pitt and Aniston were still married. Dubbing Brad and Angelina "Brangelina", the media kept the Hollywood scandal burning for five years, branding Angelina as a home-wrecker. Consequently the public showed a considerable amount of sympathy for Jennifer Aniston, who's film roles and private life have been significantly more wholesome.
However the scandal did nothing to damage Angelina Jolie's career or her sense of grace. Rather than shunning the public eye the actress has retained an enviable confidence and self-assurance, restoring public faith by doing what she does best: Telling the truth. In a time where celebrities tend to either desperately attempt to veil their less-than-wholesome pasts or make outrageous fashion and lifestyle choices to attract attention, a little honesty is very refreshing. She's removed her "Billy Bob" tattoo and become devoted to her humanitarian work, certainly taming her wild-child nature but not completely losing sight of it. Insisting that "I am still at heart - and always will be - just a punk kid with tattoos", Angelina makes no attempts to hide who she is. And that, in the end, is what style should really be about.