IN A YEAR THAT INCLUDED BREATHTAKING GOWNS, DENIM IN EVERY COLOR, TOWERING HEELS AND FASHION FAUX PAS, WE TURNED TO TASTEMAKERS, TRENDSETTERS, FASHION BLOGGERS, EDITORS AND YOU, THE READER, TO TELL US WHO EARNED THE TITLE OF BEST DRESSED-AND WHO MISSED THE MARK
World's Best-Dressed Woman
1. Gwyneth Paltrow
"It was simple without being simple at all," says Saltzman. Paltrow's reaction to the gown? "She said, 'It's flawless.'" In Tom Ford at the Oscars.
"She doesn't like a high neckline," says Saltzman. In Elie Saab (left) and Boy. by Band of Outsiders (right).
"She truly has earned her body," says her trainer Tracy Anderson. "And every year she gets more and more comfortable in her own skin." In Prada at the Met Ball.
"She's terribly good at the less-is-more approach," says MiH designer (and Goop collection collaborator) Chloe Lonsdale. In Stella McCartney.
When Gwyneth Paltrow
walked out the door to attend the Met Ball on May 7, she left one key item behind: the ice-blue ball-gown skirt that designer Miuccia Prada had created to match her eyes—and the top half of the ensemble, which the actress decided to wear on its own as a sexy backless, asymmetrical minidress. Instead of high drama, "Gwyneth said, 'I don't want to be dragging a big ball skirt around with me. I just want to be comfortable,'" says Paltrow's stylist Elizabeth Saltzman. "I'll never forget Mrs. Prada's reaction. She goes, 'That's power.'" And confidence, which Paltrow consistently showcases with clean, body-conscious silhouettes that exude "luxe simplicity," says Saltzman. "She has a uniform: It's simple, not overdone." While Paltrow wears designers ranging from BFF Stella McCartney to the up-and-coming Band of Outsiders, she has certain rules: "She doesn't do fringe," says Saltzman. And even as Paltrow turns 40 on Sept. 27, "the age factor never comes up because the body doesn't go with that number!" says Saltzman, who takes Paltrow's measurements several times a year to ensure flawless fits. Nor is Gwyneth a slave to trends. "She goes, 'I'm happy-and that matters more,'" says Saltzman. "That's what sets her apart from the rest."
Best High Fashion Style
2. Diane Kruger
"Only a true fashionista could pull off this bustle. I love that she wore this stately and voluminous gown with a simple ponytail." In Dior Haute Couture.
"This cape appeared on the runway with matching pants. Kruger rocks it her way as a mini." In Jason Wu.
"She consistently chooses pieces with intricate details, like built-in corsets and elaborate draping." In Vivienne Westwood.
"Boldly pairing a structured dress with a beret-like hat, Kruger puts a personal stamp on her style." In Chanel.
"Over-the-knee socks at a museum gala? Works for her." In Prada.
Get Her Look!
Sacred Heart Collections "Jolie" Dress, $125; sacredheart collections.com
Diane Kruger's combination of elegance and confidence has made her a true fashion icon by the age of 36. Willing to try almost anything-and able to pull it off-she collects designer labels like YouTube collects cat videos. The former model never uses a stylist and regularly does her own hair and makeup. She has said she always "makes an effort." It consistently pays off.
Pamela Edwards Christiani is the style and beauty editor at People. This Virginia native has got the glam squads of the most stylish stars on speed dial.
Best Classic Style
3. Princess Kate
"It's very fitted to her body and shows off her waist." In Alexander McQueen.
"The hat and dress together create this long beautiful silhouette." In Alexander McQueen.
"Lace can feel old lady, but in this unexpected turquoise color, it feels fresh." In Jenny Packham.
"It shows her love for a little bit of the unexpected by having the high slit." In Roland Mouret.
"The belt adds that modern edge. It gives a perfect shift dress an update." In Amanda Wakeley.
Get Her Look!
Belted shift dress, $130; banana republic.gap.com
All the rules our grandmothers taught us, Kate, 30, brought back. She understands it's about being feminine and sexy without revealing anything. But there's always a bit of the unexpected, which makes her modern. And everything fits perfectly. Like Edith Head said: "A dress should be tight enough to show you're a woman and loose enough to prove you're a lady."
The Emmy-winning designer has re-created the simple-yet-sexy silhouettes of the '60s on Mad Men
and brought her body-conscious aesthetic to Banana Republic. Her advice to all women: "Always wear high heels."
Best Red Carpet Style
4. Emma Stone
"A more mature dress, it's a work of art and she is the perfect canvas." In Chanel.
"The smoky eye, the dress-this is va-va voom! And no one would ever pair that belt with that dress. With Emma you never know what you're going to get." In Lanvin.
"She puts a lot of thought into her look." In Jason Wu.
"This is adorable with a hint of sexiness." In Lanvin.
"She hits the youthful nail on the head, but the color keeps it elegant." In Alexander McQueen.
Get Her Look!
"Something Borrowed" dress, $228; unique-vintage.com
Emma Stone is a fashion darling. What I love about her is that she takes risks and they always pay off. Sometimes she looks sweet; sometimes she looks like a vixen. It shows how versatile she is. But she is still very approachable. Emma, 23, is like the girl next door who happens to have immaculate taste. And I think all of that combined makes her a style star.
Giuliana Rancic, the E! red carpet guru, has been covering Hollywood's glitziest award shows since 2002. She also praises and pans celebs on E!'s Fashion Police with Joan Rivers, Kelly Osbourne and George Kotsiopoulos.
Best Jeans Style
5. Jessica Alba
"The pink jeans and teal shades work because everything else is neutral." In Elizabeth and James.
"Pairing the wide-leg jeans with a platform lengthens her legs. And the blazer is a nice pop of color." In J Brand.
"I'm a fan of mixing denim with denim. The contrast between the colored jeans and the jacket is just right." In Adriano Goldschmied.
"The wash is a bit lighter, and it works with the cream and pale pink." In J Brand.
"The length of the blazer is just right. Longer is better because of where it hits the butt." In J Brand.
Get Her Look!
1969 Modern Trouser jean in rinse, $69.95; gap.com
Jessica, 31, can wear denim so many different ways. There are a lot of trends, but she gets them right every time. Whether it's a print or color, or wearing a vest or jacket, she does a great job of incorporating that into her existing style and everyday look. And she keeps accessories simple yet always on-trend. Nothing is overboard.
She first emerged in the spotlight on MTV's The Hills
-then the reality star reinvented herself as a designer in 2007. Now Conrad designs LC Lauren Conrad
for Kohl's and her line Paper Crown.
Best Risk-Taking Style
"A fun and interesting fall look!" In Topshop.
"It's really sexy, but the accents are what's interesting. Her hand tattoo, for example." In Adam Selman.
"She's way ahead of the trends. I love red and pink together." In Acne.
"You always want to look at her because you know you'll be surprised." In Adam Selman.
"Who doesn't want to pair enormous hoops with pajamas? And it would be foolish to wear flats with this!" In Emilio Pucci.
Get Her Look!
"Cleopatra" Necklace, $35; wastudios.com
is gutsy-but her style is attainable. It's not like she straps meat across her body like Lady Gaga
. When Rihanna
, 24, first became famous, she wore rompers and cute boots. Now she's like, "I'm going to put on whatever I want because I can!" When she wears fishnet ankle socks and pumps, you think, "It's a good look. I should try that!" Her style is so stimulating, and she just exudes cool.
Man Repeller's Leandra Medine
A fan of "outfits that women love but men hate," Medine, a 2011 New School grad, extols harem pants, jumpsuits and other indie styles on her blog Man Repeller and has over 93,000 fans on Twitter.
Best Under 25 Style
7. Jennifer Lawrence
"She looks jaw-dropping! There's a high neck, but the cutouts give it a wow factor." In Prabal Gurung.
"She looks classy, not overly sexy. It's very figure-flattering." In Prada.
"She can wear a little red dress like nobody else. The color just makes it." In Michael Kors.
"The mix of colors and textures makes this interesting." In Victoria, Victoria Beckham.
"The side detailing shows off her curves." In Prabal Gurung.
Get Her Look!
"Cristy" platform sandals, $115; Available at Macy's stores nationwide
Jennifer Lawrence, 22, can wear a paper bag and look sexy. She often picks pieces cinched at the waist to show off her hourglass figure. But she's not afraid to take a risk. It shows she's young, she's figuring out her style, and she's not scared to try something that not everyone is going to love. She doesn't yet have a signature style. Like most 22-year-olds, she plays with fashion and mixes it up.
College Fashion's Zephyr Basine
The Boston-based editor began collegefashion.net as a sophomore at University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The blog offers advice for "living a fabulous life on a student budget" and gets up to a million page views a week.
Best Pregnancy Style
8. Reese Witherspoon
"Talk about how to be sexy while pregnant! It's a basic black dress, but she added a little spice with the bright pink open-toe heel." In Versace.
"The color is stunning. And the slit is sexy but not over-the-top." In Atelier Versace.
"This is fun and girlie. It has an empire waist that gives her a great line and shape but doesn't make her look big."
"The jean jacket adds a little flavor, especially with the rolled-up sleeves."
"It's a beautiful everyday look. She makes the bright work with the natural tone of her bag." In Vanessa Bruno.
Get Her Look!
Ruched maternity dress, $29.98; motherhood.com
Reese, 36, has been able to put so much style and beauty into a less than fashionable time in a woman's life. She really works with the shape of her body to accentuate the best parts! And she keeps her pregnancy looks simple but not boring. She's been looking classy but sexy, and with her fun personality, she always adds some color.
The Brazilian-born model is expecting her third child with actor Matthew McConaughey
and is also the new face of Macy's I.N.C campaign and the designer of Muxo handbags (above).
Best Street Style
9. Miranda Kerr
"The print bag and embellished sandals add a bohemian vibe to this really simple wash of color." In Balenciaga.
"The pants feel youthful and fun while the rest of the outfit is sophisticated. It's all about the mix." With a Burberry Prorsum bag.
"Bordeaux is the key color for fall, and the doctor bag is a big trend." With a Louis Vuitton bag.
"Those shorts could go super casual music festival, but the chiffon blouse and heels make them ladylike." In Isabel Marant.
"The snakeskin-print shirt isn't even a risk because the neutral color and simple shape defang it." In Equipment.
Get Her Look!
Dana Buchman "Sofie" satchel in biking red, $69.30; kohls.com
Miranda, 29, has the effortlessness of an off-duty model, but even her most casual ensembles have polish and style. She's a working mom, so she wears silky blouses or structured blazers that make her look grown-up and elegant. But she'll balance that with something trendy, like a print pant. She's really skillful at blending of-the-moment pieces with essentials every woman should own.
Who What Wear's Hillary Kerr (left) and Katherine Power
Launched in 2006, whowhatwear.com was born out of two pals' desire to shop for celebs' everyday looks. The L.A. editors help more than 5 million readers do the same.
Best Trend-Setting Style
10. The Kardashians
"They have teetered in our lives, thereby popularizing the trend for absurdly high shoes." Kim, 31, in Christian Louboutin shoes.
"They are fleshy, fabulous and they give the thumbs-up to voluptuous vixens everywhere." Kim in Givenchy.
"Not since Jayne Mansfield have frocks been so tight-all thanks to the K's." Kim in Roland Mouret.
"They have shown us that a fake lash can be luscious and elegant." Khloe, 28, in Azzedine Alaia.
"The K's have made it fashionable to be brunette again." Kourtney, 33, in Gomez-Gracia.
Before they became the queens of reality fabulosity, they all worked retail. So whether it's casual or red carpet, they know how to throw together an outfit and sell it. Is it occasionally cheesy and ostentatious? Of course it is. But like 'em or loathe 'em, they are here to stay. They are the new Gabor sisters-cartoony and larger than life. They are bold, brassy and fun-loving. They might be annoying every once in a while; who isn't? At the end of the day, they are never pretentious, and they are having a good time.
Known for his biting wit and impeccable style, the creative ambassador for Barneys New York first made his mark on the fashion world as a window dresser at the famed Manhattan store. The Brit went on to write five books and inspired a U.K. sitcom based on his life.
- Contributors Bridgette Bartlett,
- Pamela Edwards-Christiani,
- Jackie Fields,
- Jen Garcia,
- Catherine Kast,
- Andrea Lavinthal,
- Raha Lewis,
- Thailan Pham,
- Michelle Tan,
- Suzanne Zuckerman.