Born: Salinas, U.S., 1917
Died: New York, U.S., 1990
Known as the original Californian Girl for her golden locks and her classic fashion sense, Nancy “Slim” Keith is hailed as a New York Socialite and timeless fashion icon and as inspiration for novel and film characters. At the tender age of twenty-two, Keith graced the cover of fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar and in 1946 won the Neiman Marcus Fashion Award for inspiring others and having a significant influence in fashion.
Keith’s look was one of a chic, timeless style that so few of the time possessed. In her memoirs, Keith herself admitted ‘I opted for a scrubbed-clean, polished look’ whilst retaining a sensual femininity. With a signature style akin to that of Chanel, and a staple colour palette of mainly black, white, navy and red, Keith’s finished look was always modern and classic.
Keith was often pictured in feminine midi or maxi dresses but for a more casual look opted for a grey skirt and black sweater or the very fashionable white skirt over black trousers and black sweater look. However, she could easily pull off the androgynous look by pairing a black and white checked jacket with the same print trousers and a plain black top underneath; the result being unexpectedly chic and alluring. One of the most iconic photos of Keith is where she’s casually leaning against a wall, cigarette in hand, dressed stylishly in a pair of black high waisted chinos, a deep v white shirt and a cropped red military style jacket, representing the height of American fashion and patriotism.
As a socialite, Keith was also widely known for her acquaintances, just a few including Babe Paley, Ernest Hemmingway, William Randolph Hearst, Cary Grant and Truman Capote, for whom she was the inspiration for the fictional character Lady Coolbirth in his unfinished novel Answered Prayers.
Slim Keith Biography