Tess wrote a fun post about her style icons and challenged her readers to think about theirs. She analyzed what she liked most about their looks and picked out the little things she could do to imitate them. But I just kind of stared at Catherine Zeta-Jones’ flawless face for a while and felt inadequate. I’ve never really consciously had a style icon, partly because I’ve always been okay with whatever I was wearing (whether I should have been or not), and partly because I knew if I chose an icon, I would just frustrate myself trying to emulate them. As Tess said, lots of people idolize Audrey Hepburn, but no one since then has come close to achieving her look with the same success. That’s what makes her so magical – her look, her style, it’s unattainable. Besides, lots of the people I would choose as style icons have people paid specifically to make them look spectacular. They have the time and personnel to get their hair done fabulously and their makeup applied to perfection. They have the budgets to wear the most fashionable trends. Me? A forty-dollar skirt is a splurge. I get a new purse every other year, if I have to. I wear sneakers until they have holes in them (and then keep them anyway). My skin gets splotchy just like the rest of us and often I get smudged mascara shadows under my eyes.
But I have to have some kind of style icon, right? I don’t just wear what I wear because it fits. I must have had some reason for wanting to buy those purple suede heels.
Obviously I have some subconscious influences. Let’s see what we can come up with…
1. Lisa R.
Let’s start with a more realistic icon. Lisa showed up at school one day in senior year wearing a fitted black button-up blouse, black slacks, and pointy-toed red heels. She looked absolutely stunning and to this day I yearn for the right combination of pieces that would help me pull off that look. I subscribe a little too heavily to the “neutral with a pop of color” school espoused by Stacy and Clinton (see #2), so this shouldn’t be too hard, right? But it’s never happened. I bet I can make it happen, though. Just gotta find another button-down shirt that fits, no problem. Yep.
2. Stacy and Clinton
They’re not really style icons – more like style guides. Style counselors. Style yogis. I couldn’t pull off a lot of the things Stacy wears (four-inch heels? no thank you), but she wears them fabulously, because she’s Stacy London. (Oh wow, you can even look up what she was wearing on any given episode. And use their map to find all the hot stores they visit! Squee!) I used to watch “What Not To Wear” religiously, and the lessons eventually get burned into my brain – ignore the number and wear what fits; fit to your widest part and tailor it from there; avoid synthetic materials; colors don’t have to “match,” they have to “go.” Even if I don’t specifically dress like Stacy, I try to dress how Stacy would tell me to dress. Key word, “try.” She would probably disapprove of my old sneakers.
3. Ann Taylor Loft models
The Loft has gotten me through many a fashion pinch. Cute but unique top for work? Check. Trendy adorable cardigans for Mom? Check. Professional-grade khakis on sale? Check. Lovely earrings and necklaces I can only dream of affording? Uh…check. But of course one never seems to have all the pieces that make you look like they do in the magazines. I still don’t understand the concept of layering cardigans, and I’ve been unable to find the right belt/tunic combination that seems so effortless on the models. Goodness knows I’ll keep trying, though, as long as the Loft continues to have a sale section.
4. Anthropologie models
Oh, Anthropologie. We have a history. For about three years in a row, I fell painfully in love with $300 Anthropologie coats. One of them haunts me to this day – an ankle-length brown wool Edwardian masterpiece with brass buttons and a tailored, seamed waist. If Mary Poppins appeared in a gothic romance, she would have worn that coat. It was spectacularly gorgeous and unimaginably beyond my budget. Well, most of the store is beyond my budget, but when has that ever stopped anyone from liking something?
Occasionally Anthropologie abandons its ethnic-boho-chic roots and strays into 80s-chic territory, which is not my thing. Color blocks, weird silhouettes, jumpers or whatever those awful shorts are called…not good, none of it. And this makes it easier for me to pretend Anthropologie doesn’t exist. But inevitably, they return to the flowy, romantic, vintage looks they do best (as in, their current “India-inspired” collection), and I sigh and pine and draw up elaborate schemes to break into the back room and snag a few things. Hey, you know who could help with that?
5. Kim Possible
Come on, who didn’t want to look like Kim Possible? Flawless red hair, big green eyes, that cute black top, cargo pants, and those gloves. She took down bad guys, got the boy, and still made it to class on time.
6. Christina Aguilera circa “Back to Basics;” Nicole Kidman in “Moulin Rouge”
Okay, see, this is why I never consciously chose a style icon because some things you just can’t change. My complexion will never be creamy and pale (well, it will probably always be pale, but not the right kind of pale). My eyebrows…okay, well, I could probably invest in getting my eyebrows in shape, but that just sounds painful. My hair refuses to hold a curl. My jaw and chin will always do whatever it is they’re doing now. And I will never have the right skin tone to pull off the classic pinup red lipstick look (little veil and everything). I’ve been trying, and I’ve had moderate success, but it’s just not me.
7. Eva Green
Again with the red lips and smokey eyes. Frankly, Eva Green always looks a little crazy when she shows up at awards shows, but she positively smolders onscreen while simultaneously giving off a quirky girl-next-door vibe. “Kingdom of Heaven,” “Casino Royale,” even “Golden Compass” – she looked fabulous and charmed everyone. No wonder guys fall for her. I guess the best way to imitate her would be by being confident in your own look.
Because they look effortlessly classy all the time, and they don’t have to fake-n-bake and get thirty gazillion tattoos to earn attention, Megan Fox.
9. Kate Beckett (“Castle”)
Jeez, I can’t believe it took me so long to think of her. “Castle” and “NCIS” are the only two shows I follow, and Ziva has recently lost her status as a fashion idol (although she can still surprise me with a cute top or coat). Sorry, Ziva. If your writers would just move things along, maybe I would be more forgiving.
Every week, though, we’ll turn on “Castle” and almost immediately I’ll hiss “oh my God, her shirt,” as if I’m witnessing some celebrity pass by on the street. She’s constantly wearing a fierce leather coat, fabulous tops, and/or rockin’ boots, and her hair is always perfect. Oh, and the smokey eyes, and the nude lipstick, and the coat…and the part where she also takes down bad guys and Nathan Fillion has the hots for her…
Well, this is a Top 9 list, I guess, because I can’t think of a tenth. So who inspires you in the fashion world? What look do you try to go for?