No one can argue against the cultural relevance of the last decade; in many ways, it was filled with the most rapid changes in the zeitgeist humanity has ever seen. From the emergence of social media to the rise of social and political movements, the world as a whole changed in inconceivable ways—including the fashion industry. We’ve witnessed massive upheaval within the industry like Barney’s closing its doors and strides toward a more inclusive fashion industry, so it would be an understatement to say that the past decade was at all predictable. But through it all, we could always count on style; specifically, we could rely on style icons to always serve us up a look. And oh boy, did they put in work. Ahead you’ll find 20 women whose personal style helped to define the 2010s in fashion.
WHO: Lady Gaga
WHAT: 2010 MTV Video Music Awards
WEAR: Franc Fernandez Meat Dress
Honestly, you can’t round up looks of the past decade without speaking to the downright odd outfits that the decade produced—including Lady Gaga’s one-and-only meat dress. It should be noted that Gaga’s style has evolved over the decade and she’s come to wear gowns you can buy at Bergdorfs instead of the grocery store, but this look truly speaks to the time in which style went not only avant-garde but became a way to speak about the issues facing the times.
WHO: Kate Middleton
WHAT: Royal Wedding, 2011
WEAR: Alexander McQueen wedding gown
Not only was the past decade filled with contemporary looks, but it had its historical moments too—like when Kate Middleton married Prince William and became the Duchess of Cambridge. Not only did we get to witness the royal wedding of the decade, but watching the duchess make her way down the aisle in this Alexander McQueen gown was just a taste of all her stylish and classic moments to come.
WHO: Michelle Obama
WHAT: Commander-in-Chief's Ball, 2013
WEAR: Jason Wu
Michelle Obama was, still is, and forever will be iconic for so many reasons. Not only was it incredibly powerful for women of color around the world to be able to witness a black First Lady of the United States, but Michelle also brought a breath of fresh air to political style. Case in point: She opted to go beyond the typically mundane looks and support upcoming designers of color. Talk about a stylish fashion statement.
WHO: Lupita Nyong’o
WHAT: 86th Annual Academy Awards, 2013
WEAR: Prada gown; Fred Leighton jewelry
Lupita Nyong’o may from time to time get snubbed by the Academy (ahem, where’s her nomination for Black Panther or Us?), but in no way could you overlook her style. From the moment she arrived on the red carpet in this plunging Prada light blue gown back in 2013, she established herself as someone with style to watch—and brought it all decade long.
WHAT: Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards, 2014
WEAR: Adam Selman gown; Pologeorgis fur stole; Manolo Blahnik heels; and Paul Morelli and Jacob jewelry
One could say that the 2010s were defined by two things: the naked dress, and Rihanna—which, coincidentally became one for the CFDA awards back in 2014. Truly, only Rihanna could pull off a barely-there dress made out of 230,000 Swarovski crystals—and I’m okay with it. She not only blessed us with this gem of a look, but also, she launched Fenty Beauty, Fenty Lingerie, and her luxury clothing label, Fenty, this past decade cementing the fact that It was Rihanna’s decade and we were all just living in it.
WHO: Zendaya Coleman
WHAT: 87th Annual Academy Awards, 2015
WEAR: Vivienne Westwood gown
Of all the stars, it must be noted that Zendaya had the greatest glow-up of the decade. The former Disney star not only redefined her career through shows like, Euphoria, but women of color everywhere all felt seen when she would show up to award shows rocking her natural hair paired with an equally bomb look. Whatever texture, and whatever outfit Z wore, we all were left wondering if we could become the carpet, just so she could step on our neck.
WHAT: China: Through the Looking Glass, Met Gala, 2015
WEAR: Givenchy gown
Beyoncé once said, "Don’t hurt yourself,” but honestly, I've spent the last decade hurt. As any member of the Beehive knows, Beyoncé had us going through the past decade (in the best way). She emanated a level of excellence that only Beyoncé can achieve. I mean, I could list all the incredible things she did in the last decade: producing an iconic visual album, launching her apparel line, being the first black woman to headline Coachella and turning it into a record-breaking Netflix documentary—and we haven’t even gotten to any of the fire fits she served us with. But let’s be real, this singular look says it all.
WHO: Zoe Saldaña
WHAT: Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, Met Gala, 2016
WEAR: Dolce & Gabbana gown; Christian Louboutin heels
One would be naive to not correlate style with Zoe Saldaña—I mean, just look at this Dolce & Gabbana gown she wore to the Met Gala back in 2016. But, beyond blessing us with her beauty, Saldaña has continuously spoken up about the lack of LatinX representation within Hollywood over the past decade. Whoever said caring wasn’t stylish didn’t know about Saldaña.
WHO: Amal Clooney
WHAT: 69th Annual Cannes Film Festival, 2016
WEAR: Versace gown; Cartier jewels
While the wider population may know Amal purely by her husband’s last name, the truth is she’s so much more than that. Not only is Amal a lawyer, and human rights activist, but she's also a style icon. Gracing both red carpets and the United Nations floor with iconic looks over the past decade, Amal is proof that you can, dare I say, have it all.
WHO: Kim Kardashian West
WHAT: 2016 MTV Video Music Awards
WEAR: A vintage Galliano dress
Even the most anti-Kardashian of people can’t shy away from admitting the impact Kim Kardashian West has had in the past decade on style. Aside from her stake in rebranding the desirability of the bodycon dress, Kim’s style has been both the inspiration and focus of controversy for the past 10 years. After all, no other celebrity sent fast-fashion sites in a tizzy to re-create her looks in a matter of minutes; and no other person has quite brought to the forefront conversations around cultural appropriation versus appreciation. So no matter what you feel, there’s no denying this woman’s place in the cultural zeitgeist.
WHO: The Hadid Sisters
WHAT: Glamour Celebrates 2017 Women of the Year Awards
WEAR: On Bella: Cristina Ottaviano Silk pantsuit; On Gigi: Zuhair Murad gown; Christian Louboutin pumps
Yes, I know this is not one person, but to be fair no other duo has quite shaken up the fashion world since Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen. Stepping into the limelight back in the early 2010s, Bella Hadid and Gigi Hadid have modeled in just about every fashion week since then. But their style is by no means limited to the runways; they both have served up iconic red carpet and street style looks, solidifying the fact that fashion runs in their veins.
WHO: Zoë Kravitz
WHAT: 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, 2017
WEAR: Dior Haute Couture
While some may recollect a time when Zoë Kravitz was a teenager, this past decade she solidified her own with breakout roles in productions like Big Little Lies. But her career isn’t the only reason this woman can define the previous decade; one could say she was one of the only stars to continuously rock her natural tresses on the red carpet. And while this may seem minor, the past 10 years have challenged beauty norms in a way that has evolved the definition of beauty and style to be more inclusive.
WHO: Victoria Beckham
WHAT: NYFW F/W 18
WEAR: Head-to-toe Victoria Beckham
No other woman quite encapsulated what it means to be posh in the 2010s other than Posh Spice herself. She didn’t have one iconic look of the decade per se, rather, Victoria Beckham’s ability to continually serve up a pantsuit look, is well, something for the ages.
WHO: Priyanka Chopra
WHAT: Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & the Catholic Imagination, Met Gala, 2018
WEAR: Ralph Lauren Swarovski crystal-embellished gown; Cartier jewels
Priyanka Chopra could be one of Hollywood’s most underrated style icons. While some may have first encountered the actress upon her marriage to Nick Jonas, she has been a steady fashion plate and one of the highest-paid Bollywood actresses for quite some time. But beyond her career and activism, Chopra always comes correct. Whether it’s her street style or during award season, the actress breaks all the style "rules” in the best way.
WHO: Meghan Markle
WHAT: Royal Wedding, 2018
WEAR: Stella McCartney dress; Cartier earrings
Y’all thought we were done with the royal weddings? Nope. This past decade blessed us with not one but two. And in that fashion, Meghan Markle also blessed us with this second controversial reception dress from Stella McCartney on her big day, along with the most fabulous guest list to ever attend a wedding. And while some questioned (and continue to question) Meghan’s style choices from that day on, for many, as they tuned in to watch the royal nuptials, they realized that for the first time they could see themselves reflected in a Dutchess and her personal style.
WHO: Chrissy Teigen
WHAT: Vanity Fair Oscar Party, 2019
WEAR: Marchesa dress; Lorraine Schwartz jewelry; Jimmy Choo heels
Chrissy Teigen is many things—boring is not one of them. Not only does she constantly impress me with her witty banter (mostly found on Twitter); but her on- and off-duty style over the past decade continues to surprise and delight me and her millions of fans. Whether she’s spotted with her adorable babies or walking the red carpet next to her Instagram husband, this woman looks good without fail.
WHO: Celine Dion
WHAT: Paris Fashion Week, 2019
WEAR: Chanel jumpsuit and matching belt
Honestly, what is life without Celine Dion? Do you know any other women who can pull off a Chanel spandex jumpsuit? That look aside, the Canadian musician has been in the spotlight since she was 18, but like wine, her style has only gotten better with time. Her ability to wear everything from spandex to gowns this past decade is proof that true style has no age.
WHO: Lana Condor
WHAT: Camp: Notes on Fashion, Met Gala, 2019
WEAR: Giambattista Valli couture; Lark & Berry earrings
At the end of the decade, we saw Lana Condor begin to establish herself as not only someone to watch on screen (with her popular Netflix film, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before) but on the red carpet as well. Only time will tell how Condor’s style evolves, but from what we’ve seen thus far we’re placing heavy bets she’ll be defining the next decade of what it means to embody style too.
WHO: Jennifer Lopez.
WHAT: Versace's Women's S/S 20 Collection Presentation, 2019
As you probably know, it’s no easy feat picking one iconic look from a legendary style icon. No other celebrity has been able to quite procure as many collective gasps as Jennifer Lopez—and Pinterest boards dedicated to her decades of fashion, might I add. But maybe the look of all looks is the reboot of the deep-V Versace dress she originally wore to the 2000s Grammy Awards. Like J.Lo herself, this dress is timeless, ageless, and forever iconic.
WHAT: 2019 American Music Awards
WEAR: Versace gown and mini bag
While Lizzo’s rise to popularity was over the past few years, she in many ways is the fullest expression of how style has evolved over the past decade. In fact, no other musician has quite used their platform like Lizzo to promote body positivity and self-acceptance while looking good as hell doing so. Lizzo’s style represents how far we’ve come from the days of restricted beauty and style expectations and our evolution into a space where, for once, true style isn’t defined by decade, age, ethnicity or size. True style is timeless.
Jasmine Fox-Suliaman is a fashion editor living in New York City. What began as a hobby (blogging on Tumblr) transformed into a career dedicated to storytelling through various forms of digital media. She started her career at the print publication 303 Magazine, where she wrote stories, helped produce photo shoots, and planned Denver Fashion Week. After moving to Los Angeles, she worked as MyDomaine's social media editor until she was promoted to work across all of Clique's publications (MyDomaine, Byrdie, and Who What Wear) as the community manager. Over the past few years, Jasmine has worked on Who What Wear's editorial team, using her extensive background to champion rising BIPOC designers, weigh in on viral trends, and profile stars such as Janet Mock and Victoria Monét. She is especially interested in exploring how art, fashion, and pop culture intersect online and IRL.
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