Must All Actresses Be Fashionistas Too?

Jessica Schiffer

At the HONOR show last week, Christina Hendricks (best known for her brilliant role as Joan on Mad Men) swept in clad in a magenta bell-sleeved dress by the brand. She looked amazing, which should come as no surprise to her fans, and a bevy of photographers instantly swarmed around her to capture the look. There’s nothing unusual about this—actresses have been front-row fixtures during fashion week for years now, a phenomenon that goes far back but that has also ramped up with time.

Blake Lively, Sarah Jessica Parker and Allison Williams are just three of the many names that come to mind as particularly prevalent at the shows each season. It’s ultimately a coup for brands to get the It-actress seal of approval, though it also anchors the stars themselves with greater fashion credibility. In our increasingly fashion-obsessed world, this is no small gain.

What I struggle with is the apparent need for today’s actresses to be fashionistas. It often seems less like a personal choice and more like a societal order. Anything that doesn't scream of a passion for fashion renders the ladies in question as “lesser than” those with A-plus style in the minds of the media and the larger public. In fact, it’s difficult to think of any actress today who is wildly successful and not also armed with a winning stylist who has helped transform her into a style icon, as well. Every newbie on the scene is catnip for brands and publications that are always on the search for their next girl crush. It’s no crime, but it isn’t fair either.

Consider that this doesn’t happen for men in the industry on nearly the same scale. Style is simply not a prerequisite for an actors’ success. It might make them stand out in a different way, but those that choose not to participate in the world of sartorial greatness are not pushed to the sidelines, either. Their talent precedes any concern for wing tip collars and Burberry cufflinks. In a world where not ALL women truly care about fashion, shouldn’t actresses be allowed the same?

Scroll down to see some of the actresses who have popped up at NYFW so far.

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