Over the course of history, there have been countless women who’ve been given the title of style icon. Which is no easy achievement. However, for those who didn’t fit the general mold of what a stylist woman should be, there was little room to shine. Sure, there has always been an abundance of Audrey Hepburns, Grace Kellys, and Beyoncés when it comes to style icons. But what about the women who didn’t and don’t fit the mold? What about those who built their entire careers on being everything society said they shouldn’t be? It’s time that the world acknowledges the impact these women had on the fashion world and how their contributions to style have remained as staples until this very day.
Babydoll dresses, lace, knee-highs, tiaras, and Mary Janes were once associated with an ultra-feminine way of dressing. It was soft, delicate, and carried an almost unbearable childish fragility that made each piece look completely inappropriate and comedic on a grown woman. However, something happened in the early ’90s. Women began to adopt hyper-feminine clothing and injecting a shot of feminist bad-assery by taking something traditionally feminine and accessorizing the look with pure punk edge. Hole front woman Courtney Love may not have invented the kinderwhore trend, but she sure as hell made it the go-to uniform for every riot girl whose voice wouldn’t be silenced because she was a frontwoman and not a frontman.
During the late ’70s and early ’80s, women’s fashion was defined by big hair, palazzo pants, sequins, platforms, and anything that brought a glitzy amount of excess to the stage. Yet, some women skipped all of the glitz and glamour and sought out clothing that expressed notions of rock and roll rebellion. Debbie Harry’s career as the frontwoman of Blondie embodied just that. She opted to skip out on the bell bottoms and sequined jumpsuits and carved out a niche for herself and many other women by wearing clothing that carried simplicity but a hard rock edge that helped break the homogeneous style trends of the time.
During the ’80s, before Lady Gaga and Britney Spears could even walk, Grace Jones defined what it was to be a larger-than-life pop icon. Her looks were daring, avant-garde, and always had an air of raw feminine sexuality. In an era when women either had the choice to branch off into Sunset Boulevard, glam metal chic, Dynasty power suit moments, or Madonna inspired pop princess outfits. Grace came in and redefined what it was to be a fashionable woman in ’80s — especially what it meant to be a black woman in the ’80s. Instead of integrating into the molds created by white pop stars, Grace made it desirable for women of colour to branch out and define their own style in a way that hadn’t been entirely acceptable before.
The mid-2000s was a defining time in any millennial’s life. It was the era of super low-rise jeans, t-shirts with witty sayings on them, handkerchief cut skirts, and dresses — the list goes on and on. There were many celebrities who managed to embody the mid-2000s queen bee look. But no one else perfected the look quite like reality tv queen bee Paris Hilton. The heiress turned her familial fame into an empire that allowed her to sell everything from shoes to makeup. But not before distilling the perfect formula for it girl dressing: multi strap sandals, glittery chain mail dresses, jarring colours and pleated mini skirts, and halter tops were all fair game (and basically required) for any woman who wanted to be fashion forward.
What most people imagine a goth to look like has changed drastically over the years. Nowadays, goth kids generally wear huge platform boots, long black hair, leather, and Victorian-esque clothing that would resemble something out of an Anne Rice novel. However, many millennials have no idea where the real goth aesthetics comes from. Rather than channelling the wardrobe from The Matrix, ’80s goth kids had Siouxsie Sioux to get style tips from. With her signature black eyeshadow, razor cut hair, and ruby red lips, Siouxsie became the blueprint for every woman who wanted to delve into the world of goth. Goth back then wasn’t about vampires and shock value. It was about ambience, mood, and a distinctive knack for wanting your exterior to mirror interior. Siouxsie Sioux paved the way for goth women around the world to create their own persona bathed in black.