14 Women Every Minimalist Should Look to for Outfit Inspiration

If you think defining your own personal style is difficult, imagine what it's like for a celebrity. Designers quite literally throw themselves (okay, their garments) at the A-list 24/7, and having so many options at their disposal must be overwhelming (to say the least).

I'm not saying this problem equates to that of some of the more serious issues in our society but, personally speaking, I'd struggle to maintain my style identity if suddenly the entire catalogue of the world's most sought-after clothes were at my disposal. Which is why I think it's so easy spot a star who dresses the way they want to dress, as opposed to what stylists would have them wear. And none are more headstrong than the minimalists.

When your career calls for you to wear lavish gowns more frequently than jeans, it's little wonder the likes of Rihanna and Beyoncé utilise every opportunity to make a bold statement. However, with the minimalist and quiet luxury movements more prolific now than ever before, we thought it was high time we gave minimalist style icons the space they deserve.

Of course, we appreciate all fashion sensibilities, but we're particularly inspired by those who choose simplicity over standing out, and whose wardrobes consist of clean lines as opposed to tulle and taffeta. Because style is so much more than wearing the first expensive dress that comes your way.

For this, I delved deep into the fashion archives to bring you the best pared-back dressers from the '60s right up to today. From Françoise Hardy and Audrey Hepburn to '80s It girls like Winona Ryder and Iman to Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Zoë Kravitz, keep scrolling to see, in no particular order, 14 of our favourite minimalistic style icons.

1. Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy


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Style Notes: Serving as a PR for Calvin Klein during its '90s reign, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy was the epitome of pared-back chic. Sleek tailoring, midi skirts and accessories The Row would design today were her go-to—even for the lavish state dinners she'd attend with her husband, John F. Kennedy Jr.

2. Zoë Kravitz


(Image credit: @zoeisabellakravitz)

Style Notes: Somewhat enigmatic off-camera, we only really see Zoë Kravitz when she's on red carpet duty or when she gives us an all too infrequent update on Instagram but, when she does check in, you can get she's wearing something pared back and perfect.

3. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley


(Image credit: @rosiehw)

Style Notes: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is elegance personified. Equally confident in a couture gown as she is suiting and low-key jeans outfits, her eye for simple silhouettes is unrivalled.

4. Audrey Hepburn


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Style Notes: Little black dresses, trench coats, high-waisted trousers and chic white blouses… Audrey Hepburn's capsule wardrobe is a minimalist's dream.

5. Winona Ryder


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Style Notes: While Winona still sets our fashion pulses racing today, her '80s ensembles will always have a place in our hearts. No one could pull off a brown suit quite like she could.

6. Solange Knowles


(Image credit: @solangeknowles)

Style Notes: Solange Knowles' style can't be boxed in—she wears what feels most intrinsic to her and that's inspiration in itself. Lately, though, she's been leaning on a neutral palette and relaxed separates.

7. Sabrina Elba


(Image credit: @sabrinaelba)

Style Notes: Sabrina Elba is fast becoming one of my favourite dressers; you never know what she'll sport next. What you can guarantee, however, is that it'll be incredibly considered, fit perfectly, and focus on what I deem minimalistic staples.

8. Sade


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Style Notes: The cream roll-neck, the high-waisted skirt in contrasting black, the chunky gold hoops, the earthy-hued pout… There's nothing about this look that we don't love. Correction: There's not a super-minimalistic Sade look we don't love.

9. Jennifer Aniston


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Style Notes: Don't be fooled by her penchant for beachy hair and flip-flops; Jen is as minimalist as they come. No-fuss dresses are her forte, with simple, never-date accessories serving as her only add-ons.

10. Françoise Hardy


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Style Notes: In the '60s, Françoise dominated the French music scene for the best part of the decade and became one of the most influential women in the industry. However, her influence also spread to fashion—androgynous to the bone, her uniform consisted of shirting, tailored trousers and low-heel boots.

11. Selena Gomez


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Style Notes: Lately, Selena Gomez has been forgoing OTT gowns for understated dresses (this Toteme dress being a highlight) and extremely wearable separates, cementing her status as a minimalist style icon.

12. Phoebe Philo


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Style Notes: Having redefined women's fashion during her sovereignty at Céline, Phoebe Philo is singlehandedly responsible for making minimalism more interesting and what it is today. And for that, we'll be forever grateful.

13. Iman


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Style Notes: Being a minimalist in the '80s wasn't easy, but Iman's fondness of monochrome made her a beacon of classiness in a sea of brash looks.

14. Angelina Jolie


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Style Notes: If you thought minimal fashion had to be all about oversized suits and coats, think again. Angelina Jolie makes minimalism work with her love of elegant pieces thanks to the muted colour palette and interesting shapes created by her cardigan and the folds on her dress.

Now, Shop Minimalist Pieces Inspired By the Icons Above

Maxine Eggenberger
Deputy Editor

Maxine Eggenberger is Who What Wear UK’s deputy editor and has over thirteen years of experience in fashion journalism. She been creating engaging and elevated style content specifically for Who What Wear UK since 2018, covering runway reports, emerging trends, long-form features, self-styled shopping stories and columns, including her edit of the best new-in buys. She ensures the highest editorial standards are met across the site, leads the editorial team in their SEO strategy and keyword planning, works closely with the beauty team on content initiatives, represents the brand at industry events, and regularly contributes to social media, including her own Who What Wear UK TikTok franchise, French Style Fridays. Previously, Maxine appeared on ITV's This Morning in her own fashion segment and has interviewed countless celebrities—everyone from Victoria Beckham to Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o.

Prior to Who What Wear UK, Maxine’s career began when, after completing her first-ever internship at Look magazine, she was offered a position on the brand's fashion desk. She accepted, leaving university a year early in the process. Her passion and natural talent for writing and styling meant she swiftly rose through the ranks to become the title's fashion news and commercial content editor, with a stint as InStyle.co.uk’s fashion and beauty writer along the way. She later served as Look’s acting Editor in Chief, overseeing both print and digital, before embarking on a successful freelance career, working with Grazia, The Pool, and Marie Claire amongst others.

Maxine is based remotely from her countryside home near Edinburgh where she spends her downtime renovating her house, walking her dogs, hosting friends and trying to master the art of making Old Fashioned cocktails.