Fashion Icon: Our Style Panel members share their sartorial inspirations

Fashion Icon Style Panel
Fashion Icon Style Panel

There may be no shortage of style inspiration on the internet thanks to street style blogs, Tumblr, Pinterest and more, but when it comes to IRL style icons, who influences how you get dressed? From silver screen starlets to contemporary fashion darlings to fictional characters, most of us likely have a multitude of style icons that inspire the way we shop and our daily outfits.

But could you pick just one person as your ultimate style icon? Leave it to the Style Panel to be able to answer the unanswerable. From unexpected DJs to favourite TV shows, this week’s challenge shows that it’s actually a good thing to be all over the map when it comes to inspiration.

Barbara Ann Solomon, has not one, not two but three different leading ladies that are constantly inspiring her looks. Taking serious inspiration from the streets, Solomon calls two of the most popular street stylers—Taylor Tomasi Hill and Miroslava Duma—two of her icons for their daring and camera-catching looks. As for Zoe Smythe of Zoe’s Fashion Feed, family truly does matter. She has declared her mom and grandmother as her biggest influences for their classic take on fashion. And is even sporting her grandma’s vintage suit! D’aww.

Whether it’s a movie star, a model or parent, read on to see who inspires our Style Panel every time they get dressed in the morning.

Question 44: Who is your style icon? Read the answers now!


Fashion Icon Style Panel Cee Fardoe

Cee Fardoe, 27
Paris via Vancouver | Coco and Vera

When I think about style icons, women like Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn and Marion Cotillard often come to mind—but the woman who has truly had the most impact on my style is Leigh Lezark. That name often elicits reactions that range from raised eyebrows to an incredulous, “Who?”, so I’ll explain. Leigh Lezark is one third of The Misshapes, a DJ trio out of NYC; she is also a model and, for lack of a better term, an It-girl who pioneered black on black as a personal style statement in the early 2000s, when the majority of North American women were buying themselves a rainbow of Juicy Couture velour tracksuits. Leigh is a rarity in fashion—she looks beyond trends and perhaps stubbornly, wears only what she loves. She is the reason I spent a small fortune on Feria’s number 21, Bright Black, hair dye in university. Although she sports a blonde bob and designer clothes in a variety of colours these days, she never looks like anyone but herself. I admire her moxie. And whenever I put together an all-black outfit, I start by asking myself, “What would Leigh wear?”

Cee’s wearing: Blouse and heels, Zara. Dress, ASOS. Clutch, Les Composantes. Belt, H&M.

Fashion Icon Style Panel Stephanie Koch

Stephanie Koch, 27
Kelowna | Inherited Jeans

My personal style consists of basic staples, oversized pieces, and edgy accessories to create simple outfits with a twist. I consistently identify with Swedish do-it-all, Elin Kling, whose style credibility lies in her chic simplicity. Dressing like her means plain tees and tanks, menswear inspired pieces, ankle boots, slim and cropped pants, denim, undone hair and natural makeup. Together these pieces can be combined into many fuss-free, day looks that I gravitate to time and time again.

Stephanie’s wearing: Toque, TNA by Aritzia. Blazer, H&M. Tanktop, Wilfred by Aritzia. Jeans, J Brand. Purse, vintage.

Fashion Icon Style Panel Nicole Wilson

Nicole Wilson, 29
Toronto | Dainty Girl

I know I’m not alone when I list Carrie Bradshaw as my style icon. From the moment I laid eyes on that little pink tutu in the opening credits of Sex and the City, I’ve been coveting Carrie’s closet. Through countless cosmos and boyfriends, Carrie’s fashion forward yet timeless style remained constant all the way to to her happy ending. She’s fearless yet tasteful. Modern and feminine. Imperfectly perfect and most importantly, she wears her choices with confidence.

For this look, I was inspired by Carrie’s staple: a full skirt. Carrie has rocked the full skirt time and time again. I love the way she effortlessly pairs a casual tee with a girly tulle skirt and killer heels! Since I don’t have a tutu (yet), I styled my look with a full-skirted mint lace dress, a cropped stripe tee and a black blazer for a touch of sophistication. With the sparkling jewellery, chic handbag and hot pink pumps, this look is ready for spring! It reminds me of the Parisienne-chic looks Carrie wore strolling the promenades in Paris in the final season.

Nicole’s wearing: Dress, Urban Outfitters. T-shirt, Jacob. Blazer, Topshop. Shoes, Nine West. Handbag, Sneha Varma. Necklace, LOFT. Bracelets, Vintage and The Black Box Boutique. Ring, Rebekah Price.

Fashion Icon Style Panel Amber Desilets

Amber Desilets, 30
London | Canadian Fashionista

Audrey Hepburn is one of the biggest trendsetters of this century, even if you haven’t seen any of her movies or read any books about her you have probably been influenced by her style in some way. Hepburn was very feminine, but still had a tomboy side; she could mix sweet with classic and make even the simplest outfits look stunning—from the little black dress which Hepburn made famous by pairing with pearls, a tiara and sunglasses in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, to oversized sunglasses to capri pants, which were her real-life staples.

Hepburn was not only famous for being an actress and a fashion icon, but a humanitarian as well. She devoted much of her life to UNICEF and some disadvantaged communities in Africa, all while fighting appendix cancer. Audrey Hepburn is an amazing role model with a timeless look we could all learn from. “I believe in manicures. I believe in overdressing. I believe in primping at leisure and wearing lipstick. I believe in pink”… words to live by.

Amber’s wearing: Dress, Smart Set. Watch, Aldo. Ring, Cocoa Jewelry. Pearls, Gift from the hubby. Sunnies, Smart Set. Shoes, Christian Louboutin.

Fashion Icon Style Panel Zoe Smythe

Zoe Smythe, 30
New York City | Zoe’s Fashion Feed

I’m very drawn to the looks of the late 1940s through 1960s. I have always found Audrey Hepburn stunning, but feel lucky to have fashion icons a little closer to home. I have inherited a great deal of my fashion sense from my mother and my grandmother. My granny Sally had stunning clothes and many of them she made herself. Over the years, she has passed many of her favourite pieces on to me—this suit is particularly special. My Granny Sally made it to wear as she left on her honeymoon in 1949.

Fashion Icon Style Panel Barbara Ann Solomon
Photography by Trevor Negin

Barbara Ann Solomon, 25
Toronto | Barbara Ann’s Style Blog

As an artist I take inspiration from all the different elements in my life. As a style blogger, I get inspired by those who push the boundaries. I can’t really pinpoint one person who I can say is my style icon, because there are so many. Naturally, I’m inspired by Alexa Chung, whose quirky and cute look is perfect for the office. Miroslava Duma, for me, is all about unexpected glam and a look that is perfectly polished, and of course the other fiery redhead, Taylor Tomasi Hill who always looks effortless, glamourous, and hot. TTH has inspired many of my looks, and helped teach me to push boundaries of what is expected in the office.

Barbara’s wearing: Sweater, Topshop. Pants, Joe Fresh. Sandals, Zara. Bracelets, Liana Marie and vintage.

Fashion Icon Style Panel Kristin MacDonald

Kristin MacDonald, 27
Fredericton, NB | Doll Parade

This week we were asked to take a cue from someone who serves as a figure of iconic style for us and put together our best tribute to the look. I went with someone fictional, but nonetheless of great sartorial inspiration to me: Blair Waldorf. I loved absolutely everything about her pretty Upper East Side get ups season after season (as well as her hilarious facial quips which I have had more than one person compare to my own—uh oh, not super sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, you guys). My best take incorporated my tweed suit by J. Crew & some feminine accessories.

Fashion Icon Style Panel Kayla Short

Kayla Short, 26
Halifax | Short Presents

These days it seems like everyone and their dog has a “life and style blog,” and as a result there is quite a high turn over, and often times a lack of quality. Despite the constant emergence of new style bloggers there are a few that I consistently read time and time again. I always make sure to check-in with my fellow local East Coast fashion bloggers, Style Panelists and, of course, a couple international blogs as well.

One style blog that stays in my web favorites is Andy Torres’s blog Style Scrapbook. I’ve been following her blog for over three years now, and even well before I even started thinking about starting my own. I have many fashion icons—Audrey Hepburn and Edie Sedgwick to name a few—but Andy is more of an everyday style inspiration for me. Andy lives on the other side of the pond, and so I can always rely on her fashion posts to be well ahead of trends. Her style choices are quirky and hard to pin down to one specific style, but I think that’s what I love about her. A while back she posted something that really stuck with me: “I wear what I like and I like what I wear.” I think it’s important not to take style too seriously. What I take away from Andy’s blog is that it’s okay to rock new trends, but it’s important not to lose yourself in the process. Of course, there are outfits on her blog I’d never wear, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love it on her. I admire her laissez-faire attitude as well as her bold, and daring looks. I love that she makes no apologies for wearing what she likes, and that’s something that inspires my style.

Kayla’s wearing: Trousers, Zara Canada. Jumper, Tommy Hilfiger. Socks, American Apparel. Pumps, Marc Fisher. Scarf, Allie’s Boutique (Halifax). Sunnies, Joe Fresh. Bag, Tommy Hilfiger.

Fashion Icon Style Panel Melanie Morais

Melanie Morais, 24
Edson, AB| BornLippy

When we were asked who our style icon was, the first person that came to my mind was Rachel Bilson. I’ve loved her sense of style since the good ol’ The O.C. days. What I love about her style is that it is very casual yet always has a very put together feel. She wears what is comfortable and practical and still manages to look fabulous! She is fearless in her style choices which is what makes her so successful in fashion. I’m not going to lie, if any one goes on my Pinterest page it’s pretty clear that I have a bit of a Rachel obsession from style to beauty to hair. I’ve always taken inspiration from her, she was one of the reasons I went ombre last summer! My motto is if Rachel can do it, I can too!

Melanie’s wearing: Jacket, Urban Outfitters. Jeans, Levis. Shoes, Urban Outfitters. Sunglasses, Ray-Ban.

Fashion Icon Style Panel Deanne McRae

Deanne McRae, 22
Mississauga | Threadbare

While every fashion lover is given a reason to drool over Chanel at least three times a year, I have spent a good portion of my time obsessed with Coco herself. Our first thought when it comes to Coco usually involves a tweed jacket accompanied by pearl necklaces of varying lengths, but what I love most about Coco is the relaxed, male inspired attire of her younger years. Here I have featured her iconic hats, striped shirts, and high-waisted, loose-fitting trousers in order to channel and pay homage to my fashion hero.

Fashion Icons Style Panel Whitney Cosgrave

Whitney Cosgrave, 25
Los Angeles | See Shop Eat Do

It might be a little cliché, but I would have to say that Jackie Kennedy is one of my all time favorite style icons. Her classic fashion choices are just as chic and relevant now as they were in ‘60s; she never wore anything super trendy, but was always well dressed and put together without ever looking too ‘done.’ My outfit is a bit of an homage to all things Jackie (ironically, I actually put together and wore this look before even being asked to show a look inspired by my favorite style icon): she often wore Chanel, sported patterned pants on her iconic trip to Capri, and the style name of my J.Crew sweater is actually “The Jackie.” The former First Lady seems to be influencing my sartorial selections even without my fully realizing it!