Guy, Alison and Banim, Maura. "Personal Collections: Women's clothing use and identity." Journal of Gender Studies, 9.3 (2000): 313
Though “Personal Collections” has no distinct connection to Sabrina or even the medium of film, it is a study of the relationship between women and their perception of clothing, which is largely the basis of the popularity of Audrey Hepburn among such women. She represented everything they hoped to be, in terms of style, and this remained with them throughout their lives (as Moseley discussed). The authors contend that clothing is often associated with negative experiences, particularly related to women’s gender identities; women are forever contained by a fear of the patriarchal system that can distort self-image and perception of the self and others. However, fashion can also offer the converse to this: it is the chance for freedom, experimentation, self-discovery. The study puts forth three different views of the self as projected through one’s clothing: “The woman I want to be,” “The woman I fear I could be,” and “The woman I am most of the time.”
Perceptions of Hepburn lie in the first category, “The woman I want to be.” Fans have aspirations of clothing in order to create an image perceived as successful: images that have already been realized in another capacity and seem achievable to at least some extent. In movies like Sabrina, Hepburn represents archetypes of feminine success, such as the transformation into an exotic sophisticate and Sabrina’s eventual winning of a husband. Yet while the aspirations may be standard, the authors hold that aspiring for such an image works as a form of rebellion and experimentation: women may actively engage with clothing to create an image that is consistent with aspects of their real or perceived identity. It is the yearning for this perceived identity that has played an enormous role in the continuous popularity of Hepburn’s films.