Real Simple readers reveal that a fabulous muse is the best accessory.
My best friend, Hillary. Not only is she fabulously fashionable but she would also never hesitate to tell me if I looked ridiculous. Either that or we happily look ridiculous together, because that is what best friends do.
Shaker Heights, Ohio
Diane von Furstenberg. Her designs are beautiful, classic, and feminine.
Kansas City, Missouri
My mom. While all the other mothers sported “mom jeans,” my mom had cool hippie shirts, feather earrings, and leather skirts. During my teenage years, I sometimes wanted to crawl under a rock and hide, but now, looking back, I realize she was fearless and brave with her fashion choices and simply beautiful.
Monroe, New Jersey
My biggest fashion inspiration is anyone who looks and acts comfortable in her own skin.
Surprisingly, my three-year-old son, Michael. His fashion advice is always practical, yet it works for me. Once, while I fussed over a shirt that was too low-cut for work, he said, “Wear a different shirt.” He was right. Whenever I am lamenting about what to wear as I stand in front of the closet, he peeks in, pulls out one of my favorites, and says, “Wear this.”
Denise Zirkle Brouillard
The fashion designer Adrian. He dressed all the glamour movie queens of 1930s and 1940s Hollywood. Rent The Women, from 1939, to witness his genius.
New York, New York
Believe it or not, a traveling preacher I once read about in Guideposts. This woman, a missionary in Maine, had a wardrobe of exactly seven identical dresses. She said it kept her life simple. While I don’t go to quite that extreme, it did inspire me to stop worrying about how stylish I looked or didn’t look and to pare my wardrobe down to four skirts with mix-and-match tops, three pairs of shoes that can go from casual to dressy, a spring jacket, and a winter coat. Life is too short to spend it worrying about clothes.
Rochester, New Hampshire
My nine-year-old niece, Andie. She has the ability to make a fashion statement out of any item of clothing. She has many hand-me-downs from my 16- and 14-year-old girls, and if a shirt is too big, she simply ties a knot in it or adds a scarf as a belt and wears it as a dress. She can mix and match colors and patterns that most people would never dream of, and she always looks beautiful. She once went to school with a hanger still stuck in the back of her dress. She couldn’t cut the little plastic staples and didn’t want to ask for help. When questioned about it, she simply declared, “It’s hanger day!” I hope she always stays carefree and unique.
Guilford, Connecticut Renaissance paintings. I love long, flowy skirts and adorning my hair with flowers.
Claverack, New York
I have always loved and followed Isaac Mizrahi for his joie de vivre and appreciation of women. I respect his style and business sense, and I always want to hear what he has to say.
My grandmother. She bought me my first Anne Klein suit when I was ready to enter the working world. She was my role model for a woman executive in New York City. Her guidance and fashion sense were factors in my own success as a businesswoman.
Jennifer Aniston always looks stunning. Even in jeans and a tank top, she is always so together.
Michelle Hilton Rheinlander
Bluffton, South Carolina
Whoopi Goldberg. She wears what she likes, when she likes, where she likes, and doesn’t care what others think about her style.
Bowling Green, Kentucky
The washer and dryer are my biggest inspiration. Daily, they dictate my every fashion decision.
I like wearing stylish clothes, but my biggest fashion inspiration is Gilda Radner, who said, “I base most of my fashion taste on what doesn’t itch.”
Chesapeake Beach, Maryland
Marlene Dietrich. She wore a top hat and a tux and made it look like women’s wear. Fantastic.
Niantic, Connecticut Katharine Hepburn personified that wonderful tailored look of the 1940s.
Mahwah, New Jersey
The crazy color compositions of Andy Warhol inspire me most.
Diane Keaton in Annie Hall. She proved that a woman could be feminine without frills, plunging necklines, or punishing shoes.
Pippi Longstocking―pigtails, brightly colored tights, and big, comfy shoes.
North Attleboro, Massachusetts
Ali MacGraw―especially in the film Goodbye, Columbus.
Growing up watching movies like Funny Face, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Sabrina, I found my role model in Audrey Hepburn. Her clean, classic style reminded me to keep it simple. What could be more perfect than the little black dress?
My mom and my grandma taught me that fashion is 50 percent what you wear and 50 percent how you wear it. You can make a potato sack look good if you combine it with confidence, a smile, and a really cute pair of shoes.
I try to follow Coco Chanel’s motto: “Before you walk out the door, take one thing off.”
Willoughby, Ohio Carrie Bradshaw, baby!
My toddler. The fearlessness with which she combines colors and patterns, never worrying about what’s in or what others might think, inspires me to do my own thing as well. We only live once. Why not shake things up a little?
Brooklyn, New York
I look up to Lauren Hutton for being true to herself. When she started modeling, she was told to get the gap between her two front teeth fixed, but she refused. That gap, along with her beauty and grace, made her the fashion icon she is today.
El Segundo, California
Parisian women. I lived in France for two years, and they had a major impact on how I dress. Their simple sense of style and use of accessories, like beautiful scarves, still influence me today.
Katharine Ross as Elaine Robinson in The Graduate. Her skirts, boots, sweaters, and hairstyles were very basic but incredibly chic and timeless.
Syracuse, New York
My unborn baby. Never in my life have I wanted to show off any rotund features, but the joy and excitement of carrying my first child makes me proud to have a giant watermelon belly. I care less about wearing designer pieces and more about embracing what this new roundness represents.
New York, New York
Edie Sedgwick, with her cropped hair and dramatic eye makeup, could turn the simplest dress into a fabulous, head-turning ensemble. And that, to me, is the definition of a true fashionista.
Simpsonville, South Carolina
My love for fashion was definitely influenced by my dad’s style. He wore gorgeous suits and was never afraid of color―think a gray flannel pin-striped suit with a lavender French-cuffed shirt and a deep purple paisley tie. He had the ability to be conservative, classic, and trendy all in one outfit, without ever being over-the-top.
Lorelei A. Vargas
Yonkers, New York
Franco, an elderly gentleman from a small hilltop town in southern Italy. Every day, he wore the same beautifully tailored, classic wool-tweed sport coat. He always looked attractive and appropriately dressed.
My grandmother Joyce. She loved mixing chunky cocktail rings with bohemian head scarves and flouncy dresses. She was beautiful because she didn’t care what others considered “fashionable.” She wore what made her feel good.
Santa Cruz, California