This Week I Love …

… Ellen DeGeneres.

I love Ellen for a whole host of reasons. I love her marvelously goofy, playful, insightful humor. I love her great big heart. I love her fearlessness about her career in the comedy boys’ club and her marriage to Portia De Rossi. And, obviously, I love her because she brought Dory to life. But I also love Ellen for her stellar personal style and her commitment to it.

Ellen wears makeup (she’s even a spokeswoman for Cover Girl), she’s worn her hair in some relatively feminine styles, and she’ll do high heels on occasion. But although I have stumbled across a photo or two of her showing a bit of cleavage, I’ve never seen her in a dress. Or a skirt. Or a smoky eye or big earrings or red lips. Ellen is dedicated to clean, classic, androgynous looks, and she makes every vest, blazer, and perfectly tailored pair of pants she wears absolutely SING. Her wardrobe is simple, elegant, and impeccably curated and she wears it with marvelous relish. In virtually every photo I’ve ever seen of her, she looks happy, relaxed, and comfortable. I sincerely hope that’s because she has chosen to dress as herself, in clothes that she loves and that reflect her personal style choices. The more I experiment with androgynous looks myself, the more I adore Ellen’s signature look.

I recently did a service trade with a buddy who runs her own business as a personal trainer and massage therapist. I arrived at her house to do her closet consult, we kicked her boyfriend out of the room, and we sat down at her dining room table to chat a little about her goals. I asked her if she had any celebrity style icons, and without a moment’s hesitation, she said, “Ellen DeGeneres.” And I said, “YES!” Because Ellen’s polished androgyny was the perfect template for my friend, a look that would suit her perfectly. And because, much as I love Audrey Hepburn and SJP, it’s so nice to know that some women are looking elsewhere for sartorial inspiration.

P.S. Ellen, if you’re reading this, I am free ANY TIME AT ALL to appear on your show. Seriously. Call me.

Image via Dallas Voice.

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49 Responses to “This Week I Love …”

  1. Tina

    I love Ellen as well! I am curious about the sentence that you posted regarding whether LGBT readers would see her choices differently. I am not sure what that means. Do gay people view fashion differently?

    • Sal

      Conversations I’ve had with friends have led me to understand that the dressing choices of prominent/famous LGBT people can be polarizing for political and social reasons.

  2. Robert

    Ellen DeGeneres,she’s just fabulous! She’s very smart! And i couldn’t agree with you more,she has a very big heart…She’s very comfortable with who she is,and i’m shure that’s not easy at times!
    I love her style! Her courage! And i think one of her biggest accomplisment was: It’s O.K. to be yourself, Be who you are,Not what your not…Great Post!
    P.S. I would also “love” to raid her closet!!

  3. Elin

    Since you asked….

    I love Ellen’s style. I love her consistency, but I love that she still manages to always look fresh. She has androgyny down pat, but she still makes it look unique.

    What I don’t love is being compared to Ellen. I’m a tall blonde slender woman with short hair. But, the visual similarities between Ellen and I end there. Ellen’s style is way too preppy for me. I’d look like I was wearing a costume if I wore her outfits. Yet, straight people tell me I look like her – but only if they know I’m a lesbian. People, give me something I can work with! I’m not androgynous. I’m completely happy with my femme style. My style is far more Portia than Ellen. (I can dream of that comparison, can’t I?)

    I realize that people make these comparisons because it is easier to fit me in the ‘gay’ box if they have a gay celeb to compare me to in their mind. But we only share the blonde short hair. So, while I love her style, I wish people would stretch their mind a little to make real comparisons, if they must do so. At least we have the L Word to thank for people recognizing that not all lesbians wear flannel and drive a truck. That’s progress, right?

    Excellent post, Sal, as always. And thanks for asking. 😉

    • The Sacred Femme

      I absolutely love Ellen and my partner loves to ‘complain’ about how I’ve been merging her into my very own Degerenes twin, but she always looks so flawlessly put together in a boy-next-door way! She looks completely comfortable and happy within herself, what more could a girl ask for?

  4. Cynthia

    I like Ellen’s style for much the same reasons that I like Mark Wahlberg’s. Perfect, comfortable, simplicity. If I were to someday remake my style in a way that does not include dresses she would be a good person to imitate.

  5. Jackie

    I love her style, and really would love to get the scoop on tailoring tips. If I try slacks, shirt, blazer, vest, and tennies, I just look sloppy, preppy, and dull all rolled into one. What are the secrets of cut and styling that make those outfits look so fresh and flattering?!

  6. Hope

    I’m hetero, but have been recently fascinated by Ellen’s style. It’s so different from mine, yet I’ve been thinking of ways to emulate it. A new daytime gym schedule has exposed me to her show — it’s on the tv there — and I’ve been admiring her ability to pull off the jackets, vests, and pants. Especially since she doesn’t seem to be flat-chested, which I would think would be a problem. Must be the magic of tailoring. Thanks for this post!


    I think she’s got great style too; plus she’s hilarious and brave.

    I also love that you’re highlighting her style – so much focus is on the super-girly and the uber-sex-pot styles in the media. Androgynous style is actually very common, even within my workplace.

    One small postscript re: Ellen – I don’t like tho that the Cover Girl ads imply that she got her look without botox or having her eyes done. I’m okay with her doing it; even the lighting folks get after you if you’ve got eye bags, but the make-up alone isn’t responsible for her youthful looks.

    • Hazel

      It’s probably airbrushing though, right? Or is it an open secret that she’s had work done?

  8. romy

    I love her, I used to watch her tv show Ellen (juuuust a couple of years ago ;P,haha), then I started watching her new show till warner in Argentina removed from the list :(. I love the fact that she only wears suits and always manage to look different. I love that when she hosted the Oscars years ago the only dress she wore wasthe swan one like the one Björk wore once. The only difference I notice through the years is the use of make up, which is really natural and suits her well. I love her.

  9. LQ

    I think she looks great and agree with 100% of your post, Sal, but if you ask me how I feeel about it? Bitter as shit is how. I’d love to do androgynous myself, it’s the way I feel inside most of the time, but Nature didn’t kit me out for it: you can’t do androgyny with 36Gs and hips to the horizon, not in that insouciant relaxed way at any rate. I’m happy for Ellen that she’s built more commensurately with her inner self-image and I wish her happy in every respect stylistic and otherwise, but she kind of makes me want to chew my hands off.

  10. Tara

    I like Ellen and love her style, but I am disappointed with her on one front. She is an avid animal rights activist and vegan yet she shills for a company who tests on animals (Cover Girl). I wish she would pick a more responsible company to put her name and face behind. Other than that, I think she’s swell.

  11. Abby

    I love Ellen’s style, but more in an I’m-attracted-to-women-with-her-polished-androgynous-style way than an I’d-like-to-emulate-her-style way. I’m genuinely uncomfortable in pants and would rather wear a skirt or dress every day than have to wear jeans. My partner is extremely androgynous, but her style is slightly less polished and more academic. She’s also Asian, so unlike a lot of gay women, she doesn’t have the problem of being compared to Ellen. Personally, I don’t think celebrities have any responsibility to dress for the public. I think she should wear what she likes regardless of what people say or think about it, and I’d rather see her continue to dress for herself, whatever that means for her.

    • Nobody's Girl

      Oh, attracted to Ellen? Meeee tooo. You should seriously look up some pictures of Kay Ryan and Eileen Myles, sexy academics. In fact, a lot of recent poet laureates have been somewhere between Ellen and your partner 🙂

      I’m always a little offended when gay women say, “Oh, I like Portia more than Ellen…” until I realize they’re probably trying to say they’re attracted to me/femmes. (I’ve got the curly hair and the flat chest, though not the wardrobe, of de Rossi.

  12. Celynne

    My body shape isn’t one that can wear her style of clothes, but I definitely like her style! Ellen is a great style example for the LGBT community! I am friends with many queer people, and I’ve noticed that many lesbians feel pressure to either conform to the mainstream idea of femininity and how a woman should dress, or they lose themselves in the idea that because of their sexual orientation, they have to dress like the stereotype that goes along with it (man clothes, no makeup etc.). Ellen is the happy medium! A woman who is comfortable in her skin, wears what suits her and doesn’t dress or make herself up for anybody but herself.

    • Nobody's Girl

      I think the man clothes/no makeup thing is more intended to attract the kind of woman they like, not a matter of giving up. Have you ever seen DapperQ, or FitforaFemme’s partner? Both wear men’s clothing; neither wear makeup. Both are beyond stylish.

  13. Natalie

    YES! I love Ellen’s style. It’s one I haven’t been able to successfully recreate for myself, but I continue to try. I’m straight and work in a field that’s very male-dominated. For every day clothes, my style involves a variety of skirts, dresses, jeans, and pants. But for big professional events, I like to channel a little bit of Ellen and pull off a more androgynous look. When you’re only one of 10 women in a crowd of 100 men, it’s nice to use your clothes to help fit in with the boys’ club.

  14. alice

    Yes yes! Ellen is tops! I love how she’s found a style that suits her and sticks to it. Having a very consistent minimalist look is one of my style goals; while I love tailored items and neutrals though, I’d say that my style leans more feminine than Ellen’s (skinny pants, the occasional skirt/dress).

  15. Chelsea S.

    While I like to do a bit of Annie Hall-esque menswear dabbling, Ellen’s style is more the type of look I’m attracted to in other women, though generally minus the makeup. She always looks great, her clothes fit her perfectly (obviously she has wonderful tailors), and she always seems at ease in her own skin. I’d argue that any woman interested in trying out the androgynous look should go for it, even if you’ve got curves! Speaking for myself as a queer woman attracted to boyish chicks… the hotties come in all different shapes and sizes 🙂

    I do acknowledge (having second hand experience with this with my exes) that finding androgynous clothes that fit a woman’s curves is no easy task! We used to go back and forth between the men’s and boy’s departments, and often the shirts would be too long and the shoulders too broad (men’s) or the sleeves too short (boy’s) or the pants too long (men’s), etc. I think the key would be to find clothes that fit your curves, and have them taken in around you. Expensive, but I would think ultimately satisfying and worth it! Of course another solution would be for designers to not get so hung up on gender and create more masculine clothing fit for a woman’s body. Now THAT would be awesome.

    • Nobody's Girl

      I do the Annie Hall thing too. I love to borrow partners’ blazers. Sometimes people will tell me, “Nice boyfriend jacket.”

      Heteronormativity ftw.

      And it makes me so mad how hard it is for the tomboys to dress up! Especially how excited you get when there’s a menswear look in the women’s section, and then it doesn’t fit like menswear at all. I remember when this girl and I both got the same military-inspired coat…on the rack, it looked manly. But it nipped the waist, enhanced the bust, etc etc to the point where she never wore it, and I wore mine constantly in inappropriate situations.

  16. Nebraskim

    Until this post, I hadn’t realized how much of Ellen’s style I apparently do efface — even down to her hairstyle although my hair is brown (with some white….). I am hetero but I love the androgynous look and always have. My style icon is Diane Keaton, who pulls off the androgynous, but in a more feminine way. I enjoy skirts, but they must be tailored and in no way frilly/girly. I think the key to Ellen’s style is the impeccable over-the-top tailoring. She looks effortless (which to me is the KEY component of anyone with “style”) but that look belies a lot of behind the scenes trying on everything, tailoring it to within an inch of its life, crisply pressed shirts, etc. etc. Plus, she gravitates to luxe fabrics (that cotton shirt and blazer above didn’t come from Old Navy, folks.) When my friends mock me for ironing shirts and pants, I just tell them I like the look of a hard crease. To me, the hard crease that Ellen rocks adds a bit of glamor and sheen to her overall look. While it’s an edge, it’s the one fem thing she does.

    • Nobody's Girl

      I don’t think it’s femme at all. Men have always carefully ironed their clothes…it seems more dapperly manly to me, butch rather than femme.

  17. Em

    While Ellen and I have VERY different styles (I’m decidedly more feminine ^_^), I’ve ALWAYS loved hers. She looks so cool and relaxed and comfortable without looking frumpy or not put-together. The woman can do no wrong. XD

  18. rb

    I like what I know about Ellen as a person, but I am not drawn to androgynous styles. (I’m hetero, by the way.)

    I like her nice tailoring and good fit and apparent quality, but I could do without the converse worn with dressier items.

  19. Hannah K

    When I was in junior high in the mid-90s, my de facto uniform of striped button-downs, wide-leg cords, the occasional tie, and a pencil in my hair led to my being compared–derisively [by quasi-homophobic idiots, clearly]–to Ellen in the inevitable “burn book.” And while on the one hand I knew they were trying to insult me, on the other hand I was like, “sweet! that’s exactly what I’m going for!”

    I’m straight and my figure flattery priorities direct me toward more womanliness-oriented stuff, but the straight-up elegance and power of Ellen, Donna Tartt, Janelle Monae, et al is my FAVORITE THING EVER.

    (Blazers are my favorite article of clothing for exactly this reason–all the power, plus the nipped-in waist!)

  20. Jennifer

    I love Ellen’s use of menswear-inspired tailoring with the whimsy of sneakers or brightly colored accents – the combo of serious and fun is just perfect. Someone else mentioned Annie Hall, and indeed I also love the style of other icons who play around with androgynous looks and menswear, including Diane Keaton and Tilda Swinton. I wish we had more celebrities who explored such territory…

  21. Sadie

    This is a bittersweet topic for me. I find androgynous women appealing on lots of levels and I applaud my friends when they take style forays in this direction. I love the tailoring and fabrics of men’s finer garments. But it’s never, ever worked for me – I’ve always been petite-short, with an hourglass figure and a feminine face. When I was queerer (a lesbian instead of a “hasbian”) I felt pressured to be androgynous – and the price of not succeeding was being ignored.

    You have seen the Butch Clothing Company in the UK, yes?

  22. Eden

    I like Ellen’s style, but like many have already commented above, I don’t feel entirely comfortable with the fit of most suits, due to my very curvy lower half.

    Another style icon that I’d love to be able to immitate would be classic Katherin Hepburn. wide legged trousers and a great blouse.

  23. sarah

    oh man, I love me some Ellen! Ellen rules. I, for one, find the playful insousciance of the sneakers with the suit very charming – and just a little off-beat, like Ellen herself. And though Covergirl’s animal testing may make me uncomfortable, I have to say, I’m thrilled that Ellen is their covergirl. Given the ongoing persecution of LGBTQ in our country, I think Ellen can do a lot of good as a Covergirl spokesperson.

    And I’ve always loved her style. My own style is eclectic, and maybe even polarized: my work clothes are anthropologie femme, but my weekend/casual wear is decidedly tomboy, maybe even butch. I do the same with hair: from long to pixie and back again, constantly cycling (I might be a style commitment-phobe!!) If I were to clean up my weekend look a bit, I’d like to be more like Ellen. The only real catch is the cost of tailoring – as some of your other commenters have noted, Ellen’s wardrobe looks to be made of quality materials and impeccably tailored. It’s even more difficult to attain this look (without making the clothes yourself) if one is tall, as hems just aren’t as generous these days. I own very few oxford shirts, for example. I love the look but they always look ridiculous on me – the cuffs end above what could passably be construed as “bracelet length.” ha! But maybe someday, if I’m wealthy, I’ll affect a bit more Ellen in my off hours. Till then, i’ll just admire her. She’s so rad.

  24. Carmen

    I love Ellen. Her show may have been what helped me out of post partum depression while on maternity leave with my first child. I watched it religiously b/c it was the only thing that made me laugh all day. I too adore her style. It’s not for me but it’s PERFECT for her. And the hair. Foxiest pixie ever. Interestingly enough I watched her show with my inlaws one day and while they love her and the show, my FIL was super bugged by the androgynous clothing. It was totally distracting for him and he didn’t feel it looked like “her” at all. His generation would have never been cool with women in traditionally male styles. I was surprised how differently her style was seen by him cuz to me she seems so sharp and classy all the time.

    Oh and Portia Di Rossi is funny as shit and does the best dead pan delivery on screen. Arrested Development and Better Off Ted rocked.

  25. Anonymous

    I’ve heard she’s a LOT different from her public persona in real life. And not in a good way.

  26. LaChina

    I love Ellen for the same reason I love Rosie. When I look at them I don’t think gay, I just think great women! They rock! Who needs labels? But I agree Ellen has a flawless style, but I’m not sure if its the clothes or how content she seems to be in her own skin.

    • Nobody's Girl

      Am I crazy that I didn’t like “I love Ellen for the same reason I love Rosie. When I look at them I don’t think gay…”

      Is that saying that if you looked at someone and did think gay, you wouldn’t love them, they wouldn’t be great women?

      I don’t think I’m being totally facile here in saying this.

      Plus, you don’t understand how important labels are to the queer community, how much it rocks to have them. To finally be able to say “I’m bi” or “I’m genderqueer” after years of thinking there’s no one else like you in the world. In our culture, people who have no labels are straight, anyone who doesn’t do the big deal coming out thing is straight–straight is the default, and we need labels to define ourselves to ourselves, and to the world.

  27. Kylie

    I identify as queer, and I truly think that Ellen can do no wrong, fashion-wise. Every time my partner and I watch her show, we comment on how we love/want her sneakers, jeans, jacket…whatever. I’ve also noticed that her hair has gotten very gradually shorter over the years she’s been doing her show. So now it’s not an issue (read: dyke hysteria) that she has super-short hair, but it might have been if she had cut it drastically from being longer. I honestly feel like Ellen has done a LOT to normalize gayness today. Yay Ellen!

    P.S. Sal, I really appreciate that you posted this, because “lesbian” style is knocked so much in pop culture. I adore butch and androgynous style, so it feels really affirming to have a femme lady share the love.

  28. Annette

    I love this post! For years, I’ve struggled both with staying out (funny enough, not so much with coming out in the first place) as well as finding my personal style. I went from kind of a butch-masculine-baggy style to trying-too-hart-to-look-straight… That was until I started to really accept myself as well as pay close attention to one beloved talk-show host with a big heart and stunning blue eyes (I’ll admit it, I’m madly in love with her…).
    I absolutely love Ellen’s style, and though I’m dark haired, I have repeatedly been told that I remind people of her. When I dress kind of alike, I just feel like I’m totally “me”, and totally honest. This realization has made clothes shopping so much fun now? I know exactly what I like and what not (colors, patterns, styles, cut), and if I’m ever unsure about a piece, I can go “WWEW” (what would Ellen wear)? 🙂
    The only frustration is that I can often not afford the really awesome pieces. The same goes for extensive tailoring that would be required for many cool vests and jackets and button-down shirts that just won’t fit my female frame…
    Still, I’m super happy! 🙂

  29. DiamondBee

    woooooooooooooooh,Ellen is nothing but amazing! that glittering smile that just brightens her face…her style of clothing and ofcos her sense of humour. she is just a miracle angel