OK, not your typical style icon, but if style means being true to yourself and unforgettable, Phyllis Diller is most certainly an icon.

Phyllis Diller, who passed away in 2012, made her costuming, hair and makeup an integral part of her self-invented comedic persona. Diller’s 2005 autobiography is titled Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse. That is so her.

So what if her wig was unkempt, her colors loud and her makeup gaudy—She was all there, a complete package day in and day out, long before Lady Gaga.

Killer Diller style: “My photographs don’t do me justice - they just look like me.”
I feel a great affinity for this woman’s unconventional and wacky style. I’d rather be fun than elegant, at least some of the time. Most of all, I want to be myself. Phyllis Diller once said “I wanted to become me, totally me. The more me, the better. I instinctively knew this and I was right.” Apparently her famous window-rattling laugh did not need invention.

She was a beautiful woman. It took courage, talent and self-assurance to pull off an act in which being unattractive was part of the gag.



The mid to late 1960s were good years to have an over-the-top style. I love the way her style just goes one (or maybe two or three) steps too far, but always with fashion in sight.

House of Patou, 1968
Phyllis Diller in her cotton ball dress 
Schiaparelli, ca. 1930
A caged bird
A 1978 photo of Phyllis Diller in her closet (Los Angeles Times) “Honey, I adore clothes. Always have, even as a baby. I follow fashion like a scientist follows rats. If I like something, I buy it in all colors.”

This week at the Vintage Fashion Guild, the Parade is dedicated to the style of Phyllis Diller. Go funny and fearless...go maximalist! 

You think I'm overdressed? This is just my slip!”—Phyllis Diller
These items and more are found in the VFG Parade forum

1 Comment