Monday, 26 March 2012 06:06

Women's History Month | Timeless Style Icons

Written by Beth
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March 26, 2012

Bold, brazen, or chic; call them what you will, but there are certain female style icons that we will never forget. Throughout history, these fashionable females have shaped the way women dress, shop and accessorize. That being said, we thought celebrating those that set the trends that forever shaped our wardrobes and stylistic culture would be the perfect way to honor women’s history month.

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey tops the list of unforgettable style icons. Exuding elegance and grace, Audrey popularized many of fashion’s most timeless looks, such as the pixie haircut, the little black dress, and ballet flats.  Audrey’s style is demure, always classy and we <3 it.


The face of ’66 is still very much a face of reference today. This British super model turned actress/singer is an eternal symbol of everything mod. Twiggy’s boyish haircut and skinny frame epitomized the freedom and power of the ’60s youth.  When rocking a groovy look today, people are taking a page from Twiggy’s book. 

Marie Antoinette

Who would have thought this lady from 300 plus years ago would still be influencing us today? Marie’s influence on style doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, especially with Sofia Coppola’s rendition of her life garnering such a huge following. Opulence and over the top luxury are synonymous with Marie’s monarch feel. Even Austin Scarlett created a Marie-inspired look on Project Runway All Stars a few weeks ago.

Patricia Field

Bright color and zany accessories are Patricia Field’s signature style. Without realizing it, you have already undoubtedly been affected by her --  she is the visionary stylist behind Sex and the City. As the woman behind Carrie Bradshaw & Company’s dramatic flair on the most fashionable TV show in history, she gets major credit.  Full of attitude and love for New York, Patricia Field encourages women to have fun with fashion.

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Diana Ross

We all know The Supremes for their glamorous, high-fashion gowns, hair and makeup--but what you may not know is that in the group's early days, Diana Ross served as costume designer, seamstress, hair stylist and makeup artist for the trio. The Supremes went on to influence the fashion and style of groups like Destiny's Child for years to come. But Miss Ross didn't stop in the 60's; she went on to define the over-the-top fashion of the 70's Disco era, and brought her signature style to classic films like Lady Sings the Blues and Mahogany.

Rachel Zoe

We die for RZ! One of the most famous stylists of all-time, this Chanel-loving, boho embracing, couture fanatic has worked with some of the most famous celebrities and put them on the fashion map (Nicole Richie, Mischa Barton, and Anne Hathaway, to name a few). Complete with her trademark phrases and addictive behind the scenes reality show, Rachel Zoe has definitely branded herself as a fashion force to be reckoned with. This stylist recently branched out into designing her own line that is sure to be an iconic collection for years to come.

Elizabeth Taylor

Liz proved that diamonds truly are a girl’s best friend. Known for leading the most glamorous of lifestyles both on screen (Cleopatra) and off (her $150 million jewelry collection), the lady with the violet eyes will forever symbolize the curvaceous sensuality of Hollywood’s golden age. Taylor leaves behind her perfume empire and an aspiration to add a little sparkle to our lives.

Grace Kelly

So many girls grow up wanting to be a princess or a movie star. In a life that resembled a fantasy, Grace Kelly got to be both. Epitomizing the notion of 1950s ladyship, it made sense that Grace moved from the big screen into the royal court of Monaco. The fascination with an American girl marrying European royalty has remained strong to this day, with Princess Kate Middleton taking a cue from Grace for her famed wedding dress.

Iris Apfel

This 90 year old fashion darling is unmistakable. A fashion maximalist, always clad in huge glasses, we should all be so lucky to be this stylish when we grow up. Starting out as a decorator and then moving on to collecting art and eventually rare couture, Iris is most famous for her break the rules fashion sensibility.  A believer in not dressing to hide her physique nor her age, Iris doesn’t wear girly, chiffon dresses. And that set of beliefs has led to the Costume Institute asking to display her accessories. This “rare bird of fashion” proves that you’re never too old to play dress up.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Jackie O is credited with setting the bar for all First Ladies following her. A symbol of strength through crisis and the power of women in the 1960s, Jackie’s pink Chanel suit, sunglasses, gloves, pearls, and pillbox hat articulated the politics of personal style. The woman behind President Kennedy is the reason why this First Family was compared to royalty. Her taste was so excellent that she redecorated the White House. Her charm impressed even the toughest of leaders, with Nikita Khrushchev even asking to shake her hand before JFK’s. Who says fashion can’t improve diplomacy?


Before Lady Gaga there was Queen Madonna. Pop music changed under this singer’s prowess, and with it so did fashion. Young women of the ’80s strove to emulate her look, and thanks to Madonna’s ever-evolving style, we will never get tired of her influence. The bravery of constantly reinventing oneself and the confidence to start trends instead of following them is why Madonna has been a star in music, film, business, and fashion for so long.

Coco Chanel

The mother of modern fashion, Chanel started by breaking away from Victorian propriety and creating expensive simplicity. The usage of black, jersey, perfume, and the importance of a tweed jacket are all owed to Mademoiselle. Not only did she design and make clothing impeccably, she also ran her own business in a time when no other women dared do so. This self-Made Woman changed fashion forever, creating the ultimate couture house. The only fashion designer to make Time’s list of the 100 Most Important People of the Century, Chanel is just as iconic of a name today as it was 80 years ago.

Bettie Page

The pin-up look has been popular for 60 years and it’s all because of Ms. Page. Bangs and a fascination with the burlesque are what make this sexy style so desirable. Going against the conservative culture of the ’50s, Bettie Page’s look brought attention to the daring and dark. Her influence regained a huge resurgence in the ’80s and holds strong today with Bettie Page clothing stores specializing in retro and vintage inspired wares.

Diane von Furstenberg

Famous for making a wrap dress that’s affordable and prints that are luxurious, DVF was founded in the 1970s and is alive and chic as ever today. This former royal turned designer and businesswoman is currently the president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, mentoring women and aspiring designers alike. With a face as famous as her dress, Ms. Furstenberg’s flair for fashion is easily recognized.

Michelle Obama

Our current First Lady represents more than hope and change; she is a lady who knows how to lead in style. Named on Vanity Fair and People’s Best Dressed Lists, she also made Harvard’s list of distinguished alumni, proving she can be style savvy and smart. Michelle made Jason Wu a household name when she wore his gown on inauguration night and her Isabel Toledo inauguration outfit is still referenced today. Her super toned arms promote health and fitness, and her choice to wear pearls caused many to compare her with Jackie Kennedy. With Mrs. Obama comes a return to classic American style. Her intelligence, poise, and style decisions are shaping the future of America as we speak. We are so lucky to have this style icon as our current First Lady.

These women went against the trends of their day and made a lasting mark. Hopefully they will inspire you to set a fashionable and enduring example next time you get glammed up. Of course, these are just some of the women we admire for their impact on fashion.  In the comments below let us know if your favorite style icon didn’t make the list.

Last modified on Wednesday, 11 April 2012 07:22


Beth Livesay resides in Laguna Hills, California. She works as a Senior Editor for Nails Magazine. Her work as an editor has been acknowledged by The Los Angeles Times and The Storque (the official blog of Etsy).  In addition to Beth’s work as an editor, she has contributed to several web and print publications including Romantic Homes, Altered Couture, Where Women Create, and Brides You can learn more about her through her blog, Couture Over Coffee.

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