At 85, Jane Fonda Is the Ultimate Effortless Style Icon

Originally Published: 

Jan Fonda wearing a gold dress
Photo via Getty Images

Whether or not she wants to admit it, Jane Fonda has always been a style icon. (She once remarked that she considers the mere notion to be “a hoot.”) The actor, who turns 85 on December 21, has decades of sartorial influence under her belt, going back to her 1968 film Barbarella. (The costumes influenced Jean-Paul Gaultier’s seminal designs for the 1997 film The Fifth Element.) Her red carpet prowess has only gotten better with age—all the more impressive these days, seeing as she’s four years into her eco-conscious decision to never purchase new clothes again. “I’m best when I’m wearing something structured, with no frills or bows,” she told W in 2015, around the time she started gravitating towards fitted blazers and suits. “Something that will show my waist and bum, because I’ve always had a good bum.” In celebration of her latest milestone, take a look back at some of her most memorable looks over the years.

Photo via Getty Images

Has anyone ever looked as chic leaving the hospital after giving birth as Fonda did with her newborn daughter Vanessa? We’re going to go out on a limb and say not once, not ever.

Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Fonda added a feminine edge to one of her more masculine looks at the 1979 Golden Globe Awards by accessorizing with jewels.

Photo by Bret Lundberg via Getty Images

In a move that pretty much embodies her whole persona, the activist added a touch of Hollywood glamour to her “Raises Not Roses” t-shirt when urging female office workers to organize by accessorizing with a silk scarf.

Photo via Getty Images

Leave it to Fonda to wear nighttime sunglasses and boot-cut Levi’s to a film premiere.

Photo via Getty Images

Fonda’s fucshia blazer, floral bustier, and super-high-waisted trousers made for a quintessentially ‘80s ensemble at the American Film Institute’s celebration of Gregory Peck.

Photo via Getty Images

Fonda embraced the early ‘90s in the decade’s best trends—a windbreaker, red turtleneck, and voluminous curls—at the activist Stanley Sheinbaum’s 70th birthday party.

Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

As again evidenced at the 1993 Academy Awards, evening gloves were once a wardrobe staple for Fonda (who is seen here with then-husband Ted Turner).

Photo via Getty Images

Fonda took an entirely different approach to Oscars attire two years later.

Photo via Getty Images

Clearly, Fonda has the range: She epitomized Beverly Hills-chic at a Television Critics Association Awards dinner with a white high-necked dress, beige pumps, and brown sunglasses that same year.

Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc via Getty Images

Fonda partied after the 2000 Oscars in a shimmery ballgown paired with fingerless gloves that stretched all the way up her arms.

Photo via Getty Images

Easing back into the spotlight after a nearly 10-year hiatus from acting, Fonda played it safe with a black dress at the 2004 Golden Globe Awards, topped off with a touch of personality in the form of evening gloves.

Photo via Getty Images

Believe it or not, Fonda was in her mid-seventies when she wore this form-fitting rocker ensemble.

Photo via Getty Images

Later that year, she offered a more sophisticated take on monochrome in a zebra-printed blazer and flares.

Photo via Getty Images

A sequin-covered Fonda gave the young-ins stunting on the red carpet a run for their money—and then some—at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival.

Photo via Getty Images

Fonda’s straight-from-the-runway—it was even sample-size—emerald green Balmain jumpsuit at the 2015 Grammy Awards got the ultimate seal of approval: “Ohmigod! I want to be you when I grow up!,” Rihanna told her backstage.

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris via Getty Images

Fonda’s bra was fully visible at the New York premiere of her film Our Souls at Night. Believe it or not, this was the second daringly sheer dress Fonda wore in a single month.

Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic via Getty Images

Fonda mastered the tricky red-pink combo at her film Book Club’s Los Angeles premiere.

George Pimentel/WireImage via Getty Images

Fonda stole the show at the Cannes Film Festival’s BlacKkKlansman premiere in an ethereal beaded Valentino couture cape.

Photo via Getty Images

Talk about iconic: Fonda was arrested at the first of her Fire Drill Friday climate change protests wearing a red coat that she’d just informed the crowd was the last clothing item she’d ever purchase.

Photo via Getty Images

True to her word, Fonda attended the 2020 Academy Awards in the same red beaded Elie Saab couture gown she wore to the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

Christopher Polk/NBC/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

Fonda accepted the Cecil B. Demille award at the 2021 Golden Globes in an ivory suit that recalled the all-white ensembles of suffragettes. During her speech she noted Hollywood’s need for better representation. “It’s about who’s offered a seat at the table and who was kept out of the rooms where decisions are made. So that’s all of us, including all the groups who decide who gets hired and what gets made and who wins awards. Let’s all of us make an effort to expand that tent, so that everyone rises and everyone’s story has a chance to be seen and heard.”

Charley Gallay/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

At 84, Fonda proved an off-the-shoulder jumpsuit has no age limit.

This article was originally published on