It's pretty much common knowledge that the special diplomatic relationship between the U.S. and the U.K. extends far beyond purely politics. Whether looking "across the pond" means gazing east or west, the popular cultures of each nation certainly influence and inspire one another — especially when it comes to fashion.
Designers, models, and pop stars — the United Kingdom has no shortage of fabulous fashion inspiration. Perhaps it’s the mix of the tradition, the punk rock heritage, and of imported cultures that makes British fashion so hard to replicate elsewhere. From the classic look of Kate Middleton to the grungy edge of Kate Moss, it's hard to pinpoint just who and what defines British style. Should it be defined by gilded gowns or ripped jeans? High Street or Camden Market? Hunter boots or Doc Martens?
Whatever the case, it is clear to see that each British style star possesses an inherent, made-in-the-U.K. coolness that virtually every American yearns to replicate. On the heels of London Fashion Week and the 2015 Brit Awards, it seems as though these British style icons are everywhere — so why not take a look at some well-known women who do British style best?
There are a few women who just absolutely need to be included on a list of top British style stars, and Alexa Chung is one of them. From model to TV presenter to fashion icon, Chung has consistently proven a reliable source for a specifically British brand of fashion inspiration. Her red carpet and street style looks each achieve the perfect balance of girlish-meets-boyish charm. Whether dressed in skinny ripped jeans or a couture gown, Chung always brings it, adding some sort of intricate detail that gives any look a special touch. Plus, her flat and loafer game is always on point.
No surprise here. Over the past few years, there really hasn’t been anyone more emblematic of traditional British fashion than Kate Middleton. Hers is the style of tailored suits, a-line skirts, and fancy, formal, totally un-ironic hats. But the greatest thing about Middleton is that, despite all the formalities of her wardrobe, she still manages to incorporate a modern twist into everything. What other princess could pull off Alexander McQueen on her wedding day?
It’s fair to say that Florence Welch is pretty much the queen of British cool. As lead singer of Florence + the Machine, Welch never disappoints when it comes fashion. With most of her on stage looks custom designed by Gucci and all of her red carpet ensembles stunning in their vibrant eccentricity — layered skirts, bright colors, and bold patterns are a staple — Welch proves that Brits know what it means to dress like a rock star.
Relatively unknown on American shores, Fearne Cotton is something of a British institution, serving as part of the BBC Radio 1 broadcast team since the 1990s. Over the course of her tenure at the national station, she consistently stunned in quirky looks full of a distinctly British personality.
A dance pop superstar, Ellie Goulding’s fashion is as cool as her oh-so-catchy tunes. A Nike spokeswoman, Goulding rocks a unique street style that’s somehow athletic bohemian, and girly all at the same time. She always brings the glam on the red carpet, too, consistently stunning in ensembles far from ordinary.
Be it through songs like ”Only Love Can Hurt Like This” or through her inimitable style, Paloma Faith oozes pure retro coolness. Her eccentric outfits always bring the old-school charm, with bold lips, prints, silhouettes and (especially) hairstyles creating an unapologetic persona that proves individuality never goes out of fashion.
Supermodel Cara Delevinge isn’t a run-of-the-mill supermodel. Like Kate Moss before her, not only does Delevinge stand a few inches shorter than many of her catwalk counterparts, but she also continues the tradition of the supermodel rock star in nearly every sense of the term. She’s been the face of major fashion campaigns, she designed for Topshop, and she even starred in an A$AP Ferg music video. And, perhaps most memorably, she revived everyone’s eyebrow game.
The OG of British supermodels, there will never be another Kate Moss. From the very beginning of her reign over the fashion scene in the 1990s, Moss has risen above the fray of fashion faces to become the classic British “It Girl,” even despite standing at a short-by-model-standard 5’7.” As the face of Gucci, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Calvin Klein, Burberry, and Topshop (where she also served as a guest designer), Moss created an astounding fashion legacy that will forever define British style.
Did you think Victoria Beckham couldn’t be included in this list? Over the course of her career, Beckham went from indecisive Spice Girl to definitive figurehead of British fashion. Sure, she’s had a few memorable fashion missteps along the way. But in 2015, with her now signature minimalist look, Victoria Beckham proves an undeniable icon of British style.
FKA Twigs certainly understands the connection between fashion and music. The British indie star utilizes fashion in all the best ways possible, in turn granting even more edginess to her already hyper-cool music. Take, for example, the video for ”Water Me,” where her bold makeup, hair, and accessories (extra points for the nose ring) add a whole new level of trip to the track. Unsurprisingly, such style translates onto the red carpet, where FKA Twigs consistently pushes the Brit fashion boundaries.
It’s almost impossible for Jessie Ware to get any cooler. Although still somewhat of an "Artist to Watch" on American soil, Ware has racked up a hefty amount of indie pop hits on the British charts. Her style proves the perfect mix of minimalist-meets-rocker-chic, with chunky accessories (hoop earrings seem to be a favorite) and a bold lips serving as classic staples.
After serving as part of the legendary British girl group Girls Aloud, Wales native Cheryl Cole went on to establish a lofty career of her own. With her solo evolution came a change in her sense of style — gone were the coordinating mini skirts and in were designer gowns. Cole serves up classic red carpet glamour, her looks each tailored to Middleton-level perfection. Plus, it should be noted that she has an insane back tattoo.