Beyond bra-digans: How Katie Holmes hit her style stride

Katie Holmes wears Chanel
Katie Holmes wears Chanel to the Tribeca Chanel Women's Filmmaker Program Luncheon in New York City on 4 November  Credit: GC Images

What’s up with Katie Holmes? The actress (she's in the forthcoming horror film Brahms: The Boy II and the big-screen adaptation of The Secret) hasn’t been able to dash out for a pint of milk lately without igniting fashion pieces full of rapturous praise for her genius with denim/wide-leg trousers/knitwear. 

Google yields some 58 million results for “Katie Holmes Style”. US Vogue has published at least 13 stories online about Holmes and her outfits since a certain cardigan-quake in late August (on which more later). That’s a rate of over a story per week for a woman whose last major project was Batman Begins, in 2005. 

Holmes in her Khaite bra-digan Credit: AKGS

Not that she’d notice. As Holmes told Elle UK for her just-released December 2019 cover story, describing her attitude toward the constant attention, “I feel like my time is better spent watching an old film, reading a great book, spending time with friends and family. That is somebody else’s version of me and I can’t do anything about that.”

The thing is, none of those stories are wrong. In fact, I'd venture that today, as a 40-year-old single mum, Katie Holmes is more dazzling than she has been at any point in her two-decade-plus career.

You could trace the genesis of Holmes’s current style moment to the 2019 Met Gala, where she wore a purple tulle Zac Posen extravaganza with a spray of violet feathers around her shoulders (one of the prime takeaways from Anna Wintour’s annual Costume Institute fundraiser was Holmes’s first and last public appearance with then-beau Jamie Foxx). 

But the true opening salvo of Holmes’s personal fashion renaissance came courtesy of the knitted bra and matching greige cardigan she wore with jeans in late August. Despite doing nothing more dynamic than, you know, hailing a cab, something about the contrast between the dull (a greige cardigan, for chrissakes) and the unexpected (worn slipping off the shoulder, with just short of nothing underneath) was enough to lead the £1,700 Khaite bra-digan set to sell out everywhere it was stocked. “It was very comfortable and easy,” she shrugged to Vogue. 

Holmes wearing Saint Laurent in New York Credit: GC Images

Since then, she’s worn a perfectly tailored, wide-legged, deep blue Gabriela Hearst trouser wore to a press conference. A pumpkin-orange Mango blazer (affordable!), over a white t-shirt, cropped ecru chinos and black leather mules. A slithery Gabriela Hearst slip dress. And my favourite look, a black Saint Laurent minidress with dotted sheer tights, an outfit she completed with pointed black stilettos, a tiny black handbag, an umbrella-holding assistant and a great big smile.

That smile is key. Holmes appears to be having a wonderful time in all her breathlessly chronicled outfits. There’s something fabulous about witnessing a woman - one who for most of her public life has been famous in large part for her alignment with more famous men - enjoying her independence and having fun with fashion. 

Just as we saw with Celine Dion’s full-throttle embrace of couture, Holmes has found the confidence and conviction (and stylist - she’s working with Allison Bornstein) to enjoy dressing for her life. Long may it last.