Handsome women

In a recent post I gave a detailed answer to a question that led someone to my blog. He or she had googled “Is Audie England all three women in the Boys of Summer video?”

I was puzzled as to how the teenage girl primping in her bedroom, played by Audie England, could be confused with the woman on the beach, running with a man through the edge of the surf. The latter seems to have darker, shorter hair, a different body type, and is older. Also, her facial features are of a very different type. I was trying to think of the right word to describe her appearance. Then I realised that the woman on the beach [According to Marc Tyler Nobleman, who researches such things, not much is currently known about her, but her first name was Claire], the girl wearing a white one-piece swimsuit, is what would once have been called “handsome”.

Not clear shots, just stills, but you can get a bit of an idea (the video is here):



Here is something of the history of the use of the word “handsome” to describe a woman. And the Urban Dictionary has quite a sensible entry too, here.

I suspect that handsome simply meant “very good” once. As in, “I was paid handsomely”, “What a handsome act!”. But the word has come to be associated more with men’s appearance than women’s today.

Some women who might be called “handsome”, at least in the way they are presented here (Keira Knightley, Olivia Wilde):



It is a look that used to be more fashionable. I think the following women would have been called “handsome” as a term of approval.

Margot Asquith:


Violet Asquith: or Violet Bonham Carter.


She was the grandmother of Helena Bonham Carter, the actress. I don’t think it is entirely fanciful to see the same aristocratic lineaments in the well-known actress:


Not a particularly characteristic shot, but perhaps an interesting example of what I have written about before, women playing peek-a-boo with revealing skin surface. She has used a heavy pendant to cover her otherwise extensive decolletage.

If I were writing this old post now, I would add “handsome” as another category.

Not a favourite actress of mine, but Sigourney Weaver could be called handsome:

Sigourney Weaver

Lady Ottoline Morrell, an important society and literary hostess of the early twentieth century, also exemplified the handsome aristocratic woman:


Another modern example of a handsome woman (in the wedding dress). There is often something sexy about a woman who looks a bit masculine but is a woman underneath:



3 responses to this post.

  1. […] have previously written about the phenomenon of the “handsome woman” and her popularity in times past. Perhaps […]


  2. […] Something I wrote on the “handsome woman”, which touches on the subtle appeal of a woman who looks just a little bit masculine. […]


  3. Posted by Julian O'Dea on April 22, 2015 at 11:33 am

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