In the age of stylists, fast fashion brands and social media, it’s hard to define who today’s real style icons are.
Behind most celebrities, there’s a stylist painstakingly curating their image based on current trends, brand partnerships and simple revenue needs.
It’s rare for a person to achieve the “icon” status while they are alive, yet it’s not impossible. Coco Chanel, Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Princess Diana are definitely some of those powerhouse women who made their mark on fashion history long before they were gone.
What Makes A Style Icon?
But what makes someone a style icon? Gaining icon status is more than simply just always wearing the same style of hat, pair of glasses, or a particular color. It’s a combination of all of the below…
Style icons always wear their signature cuts (like Coco Chanel) and/or signature accessories (like the iconic handbags of Jackie O or Grace Kelly).
Consistency in style
Style icons are identifiable no matter where they go and this makes them more approachable. We feel as if we know them.
Embracing personal style over fashion
Style icons don’t fall for seasonal trends. They stay true to their personality and work on adjusting/upgrading their true style as they age and as fashions move on (see Jackie O for the perfect example of this as her style evolved from the early sixties into the seventies).
You never see style icons overdoing anything. They never use too many patterns, colors or accessories, and never make an overwhelming impression with their outfits.
Style icons never try too hard. There is always a nonchalant elegance in their whole appearance and aura, no matter what their style is. It feels real and authentic, just like putting on display what’s on their inside - and being proud to do so. Their style feels like a “second skin”.
Style icons often have their signature colors, hairstyles, makeup, etc. They rarely make big changes. It’s all about soft evolution.
Style icons stay true to who they really are, and they are committed to always be their best possible self.
Style icons are all strong, determined and confident women who know their worth. They have their own ways of living and being, and they don't sacrifice it for fame or fortune. They have their own values.
The “Je ne sais quoi” factor
The way style icons carry themselves, the confidence that they project, and the inner beauty that they radiate makes them truly irresistible.
True style icons are rare to find but are always memorable. They don't need to shout from the rooftops that they’ve arrived, or publish some shocking photos to get noticed (Kim Kardashian West – I’m looking at you).
They draw everyone’s attention to them by simply “being” - being themselves, not being afraid of showing off who they really are, and constantly striving for being their very best self.
But, an iconic style is not only available to those who live in the spotlight.
We can all shoot for the stars and develop an authentic style that works for our lifestyle, job and personality. In fact, I recommend it! As women, we deserve to shine no matter where in the world we live, what we do, and what our circumstances are!
My personal style icons are Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Princess Diana and Kate Middleton.
If you take a look at their styles, you’ll notice a pattern. They all represent a classic, timeless elegance and a simple yet sophisticated style. All of these women are strong and confident but remain feminine and graceful. They wear simple and defined cuts, soft colors and interesting details. They never show too much skin and stay classic with their combinations. They have a very powerful presence.
Identifying your style icons can help you to define your personal style. And by this, I mean understanding what it is that you like about them, and what the recurring pattern in their style is that’s so attractive to you.
I’m not suggesting that you should copy them, by any means (after all, you’re an original – not a cheap imitation). However, looking for inspiration can help you to become more experimental with your own choices. You have to try things to know whether they suit you, after all!
How To Use Style Icons To Determine Your Authentic Style
When defining your own personal style, it may seem a little counter-intuitive to be looking to others for inspiration. However, taking note of what you are drawn to and what appeals to you can give you some great insight as to how you would like to present yourself.
Note down a few people whose style you admire - they may be friends, family members, classic cinema heroines or modern day pop princesses.
Collect some pictures of your icons (print them out and stick them on your vision board, or maybe create a specific Pinterest page). Choose photos where they're wearing outfits that you find particularly attractive.
Take a note of any patterns that attract your attention. Is there a recurring theme? What is it about the outfits or overall look that you love?
Consider your existing wardrobe. Which elements already reflect your icons’ style? Which elements are completely “off brand”? (You’ll probably find that these are items that you already don’t feel great in!)
Make a list of the items you feel that you need to help you get closer to the style you’re aiming for. However – don’t go shopping for them all at once. A true style icon prioritizes quality over instant gratification and fast fashion. Besides, it’s good to allow yourself to “grow” into your new style – if your mind doesn’t match your wardrobe, then the people you meet will sense that, and you won’t give them the right impression.
Identifying your true authentic style can be exciting – and daunting. Not ready to commit? Let my FREE Chic Sheet show you how aligning your style with your inner beauty can help you not only to look more stylish and put together but to actually feel beautiful from within.
Veronika Nemeth is the Founder and Creative Director of The Stylish Female Society. She is a seasoned Image Consultant, Personal Branding Expert and Transformational (Life)Style Coach helping heart-centered women to find their soul-aligned style and create a magnetic presence online & offline by uncovering their true essence and revealing their inner beauty through their style.
Her mission is to inspire women to step into their power, live their own truth and shine their authentic light through being the best version of them.