What are fashionistas? From Betsey Johnson and Marilyn to Ellen

by Natalie Rebecca Hechtman
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What are fashionistas? From Betsey Johnson and Marilyn to Ellen

What are fashionistas? Diverse representations of being fashionable defined

Fashion and those responsible for creating trends don’t merely create beautiful garments that walk the runways. Of course, the average person can become transfixed by all the dreamlike images. However, many fashion designers and stylish fashionistas use the medium as a vehicle to communicate their ideas, ethics, and values.

The fashion industry affords designers and the public an unparalleled opportunity to take a stance and educate people about issues that are pivotal. In addition, it’s the unique trendsetters who communicate their specific intentions.

Forbes’ 10 fashion icons and the trends that made them famous highlighted the fact that even before Instagram, influential fashion icons were always sought after. 

What makes an influential fashion icon or fashionista? 

Fashionista meaning and notable definitions

Is being a fashionista defined by one’s confidence? Is it being unabashedly proud of your look? Is it redefining what it means to challenge the status quo? 

The Oxford dictionary defines a fashionista as:

  1. a designer of haute couture.
  2. a devoted follower of fashion. 

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines fashionable as:

  • downtown, edgy, funky.
  • dapper, dashing, dressy, kicky, natty, rakish,
  • sassy, saucy, spiffy, spruce.
  • chichi, classy, flossy, haute (also haut), nobby, posh, ritzy, soigné (or soignée), swank (or swanky) 

What does being a fashionista and or a fashionable person say to the world about one’s style and sense of fashion? 

Fashionistas like Betsey Johnson shape our notion of what’s fashionable

Where would we be if it weren’t for powerful fashionistas like Betsey Johnson? In a world where ‘fitting in’ seems to have become an imperative, where one’s individual identity is often lost in a see of those ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, brave, determined refreshingly outspoken trendsetters are crucial.

Betsey Johnson paved the way for many fashionistas wanting to share their voice and opinion. She ‘rocked’ the fashion world and redefined fashion by following her own set of rules. Her whimsical yet very feminine approach highlighted another facet of fashion - FUN!

A Fashion journalist commented that if there was a world devoid of Betsey, “we would have to invent her, simply to remind ourselves that fashion can be fun.”

Fashionista trends: “Sex and the City” challenges audiences

Sarah Jessica Parker proudly wearing a pair of men’s Y-Fronts on ‘sex and the city’ was at the time, the talk of the town. A woman in a pair of tightie whities? Viewers began debating whether this was promoting feminist ideas or whether she merely looked awkward in men’s briefs. 


Stylish model wearing bunny orange jacket

Style icons redefined notions of femininity and individuality

Before trans and pans were part of the vernacular, Frida Kahlo redefined the notion of fashion and femininity. Not only was Frida revolutionary in the art world and a revered Mexican, female, brave, insightful, feminist but she was a fashionista and trendsetter (can you tell I’m a MASSIVE Frida fan?!)

Frida blurred the lines of what it meant to be feminine and conveyed that quintessential mixture of delicate and strong. This is why we still marvel at her gumption. It was the way in which she presented herself, her unique sense of style that even today, we query, what is femininity?

Questions about individuality that fashion icon Frida Kahlo prompted

Can you be fashionable and set trends when your gender, sexual preference and sexual identity is more fluid? What does embracing your masculine and feminine sides reveal about you? Do we have to conform to a specific notion of fashion to be considered a fashionista?

Oh the plethora of questions that this mere mortal raised!

What is a style icon and what do they connote?

Marilyn Monroe also pushed the boundaries and she’s undoubtedly one of the most influential sex symbols of the 20th century. Her alluring persona and the mystique surrounding her, means that one cannot overlook this fashion style-god.

It wasn’t merely that she redefined the notion of sexy, or what it meant to be a woman, it was the culmination of many aspects that makes her one of the most revered fashionistas. From her curvaceous hips and buxom chest, to the effortless yet impactful way she wore a simple dress. This style icon redefined sex appeal and some might argue, what it meant to be a woman. Standing in an alluring manner over an air vent with that white fabric caressing her voluptuous frame, is an image that will forever be cemented in our minds.

Why Ellen’s notion of beauty is shaping fashion

Ellen DeGeneres is most definitely a stylish fashionista. She identified a notion of beauty that is inspired and further enhances how fashion can positively shape one’s identity. 

“To me, beauty is about being comfortable in your own skin. It’s about knowing and accepting who you are”. 

We are all familiar with Ellen’s signature suits, paired with trendy sneakers. Gliding on the studio stage, embracing her look and love of dance, is something we equate with this style icon.

She recently teamed up with Walmart and launched EV1, inspired by Ellen's own confidence and optimism. Denise Incandela, head of fashion for Walmart  described the fashion line as “effortlessly stylish”, as well as “cool, fun and accessible”, reflective of Ellen’s own personal style." Ms Incandela highlighted “tees with inspirational sayings” and “of course, fantastic sneakers”.


Fashionistas are not limited to a particular age bracket, design aesthetic or price point. It’s the all inclusive nature of fashion that makes our list of style icons so impressive and influential. 

Written by Natalie Rebecca Hechtman of My Content Marketer 

Which fashionable icon has helped you improve your sense of fashion?  

We love hearing from our loyal blog followers and invite you to share your thoughts. 

About Look at Mee and LAM Fashionistas

LAM Fashionistas Celebrate women aged 35+ and “voluptuous fashionistas”. Promoting a healthy and positive body image to women of all backgrounds, shapes and sizes reflects the company’s mission statement.

by Natalie Rebecca Hechtman


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