Top Ten Unexpected Style Icons

27 December 2010

Chloe Sevigny, Francoise Hardy, Audrey Hepburn and Kate Moss are some of the most stylish women in the world - and also the most namedropped. Want some original style inspiration for the new season? Natalie Smith and Zoe Walker of So Much To Tell You ( bring you their top ten unexpected pop culture style icons, from royalty to TV divas.

1. Princess Diana
There’s something of this season’s prim shapes, minimalism and pale blue shirting that reminds us of a young Di – breezy, casual, simple. The woman once said, "I like to be a free spirit. Some don't like that, but that's the way I am". We like that.

2. Sweet Valley High covers
The world of literature is littered with sartorial inspiration, from The Great Gatsby's Daisy Buchanan to the ball gowns in Anna Karenina. If you lower your brow just a little, you'll find even more. Namely, you'll find it in the original Sweet Valley High covers, in all their pastel hued glory. Illustrated by artist James L. Mathewuse, the retro cover art features twins Elizabeth and Jessica plus friends in an array of all American preppiness - buttoned up polos, matching hair ribbons, sweaters that looks suspiciously like American Apparel and perfect 80s hairstyles.

3. Karen Dalton
"My favorite singer in the place was Karen Dalton. Karen had a voice like Billie Holiday and played guitar like Jimmy Reed." - Bob Dylan. Dalton is a favourite blues singer, but her style is impeccable too – black turtlenecks, a heavy, too short fringe and worn out jeans – Patti Smith before Patti Smith – and the saddest, most soulful voice around.

4. Vintage Spice Girls
Some of them may have looked like drag queens in their platforms, sequins and leopard print, but we applaud the fearsome five for their commitment to a look. Discovering your style and sticking to it, regardless of trends, is surely something to admire - as is their ability to dance in those ridiculous platforms.

5. Kathryn Blackmore
Blackmore is a jewellery designer from Leeds. She makes the most incredible confections – sort of pom poms in sugar shades, but that doesn’t do it justice. Her personal style is wonderful – simple shirts and sherbet coloured dresses, long loose and natural hair.

6. Hilary Banks, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
Her first line was asking Daddy for $300 so she could buy a hat, and she continued this love with fashion and millinery throughout the series. Always perfectly put together, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air's Hilary Banks is still a sassy 90s inspiration, with her yuppie wardrobe of short two-pieces, gold jewellery and tailored jackets. Little sister Ashlee and preppy brother Carlton are also fashion plates in their own right.

7. Michelle Stratton, American Gigolo
Lauren Hutton’s turn as Michelle Stratton is this rather terrible film’s saving grace. There’s just something about her camel and cream silk date outfit that screams this season’s Chloe. We’re also quite partial to her centre part and jaunty yellow cable sweater - her preppy style is quite at odds with her character’s desires.

8. Peg Boggs in Edward Scissorhands
The pastel colours throughout the film are just as inspiring, but sartorially we can't look past Winona's Avon selling mum Peg Boggs. Looking like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth in a lilac coloured two-piece with matching hat, pearl earrings and bold acetate glasses, Boggs was the perfectly coiffed prim foil to Johnny's gothic Edward.

9. Minnie Castevet, Rosemary's Baby
Mia Farrow's style influence in this film is undeniable, but we find actress Ruth Gordon's portrayal of interfering elderly neighbour Minnie Castevet just as inspiring. Her polka dot headscarf, long strand of pearls, coloured hair, rain hat and white gloves make her one of film's most stylish villains - just don't copy her makeup. Another of Gordon's characters should also be on this list: 80-year-old Maude from another of our favourite films Harold and Maude. Think a 70s wardrobe of velvet textures, tweed coats, layering and muddy colours, all teamed with her now signature hair braids.

10. Nancy Mitford
While we adore her intelligent and funny writing, we also love her style – "she was the first of the family to rebel, upsetting her parents by cutting her hair short, using lipstick and wearing trousers". Scandal! Later on in life, she embraced Dior’s ‘New Look’ and took a French lover.


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