Eleanor Calder, a 21-year-old student from London, is a rising style star for thousands of teenage girls. She has more than 3 million followers on Twitter, and was just ranked 27th on a list of influential British Twitter users–way ahead of the first fashion figure on the list, supermodel Cara Delevingne, who clocked in at #82. Her fans, dubbed “Calderics,” have launched dozens of Tumblrs dedicated to her style. She even managed to snap the second most popular Instagram of all of Fashion Month, thanks to her 1 million-plus Instagram followers.
Despite her rampant popularity, Calder doesn’t have a hit album or movie, she doesn’t run a style blog, nor, to our knowledge, has she ever been snapped by The Sartorialist or any other street style photographer. So what makes this otherwise perfectly normal young woman a style icon?
The answer is one very famous boyfriend. “El,” as her fans call her, is dating Louis Tomlinson, a member of mega-boy band One Direction (and as with any good celebrity couple, they have a moniker: “Elounor”). She’s also at the epicenter of a controversy: A small but very vocal group of One Direction fans believe that she is a “beard” paid by management to cover up Louis’s secret relationship with band member Harry Styles, a relationship fans refer to as “Larry Stylinson.”
But Calderics aren’t interested in the drama–they just want to know where Calder buys her clothes. Enter the style bloggers on Tumblr. They’ll take any photo of Calder they can get their hands on–pictures from Calder’s Twitter or Instagram accounts, blurry photos fans snap of her out and about, paparazzi shots of her with Tomlinson–and set to work finding the exact items Calder is modeling.
Like any good style star, Calder has her signature items. She loves Mulberry purses and Ray-Ban sunnies, and the rest seems to be a steady stream of Topshop, Zara, and American Apparel. And because there are probably more blogs devoted to Calder than there are photos of her, owners of these blogs take requests from followers and put together outfits they think she would likely wear shopping with friends or to events like prom. Some have even put together tutorials on how to get Calder’s hairstyle–almost always curled and parted down the middle–as well as her makeup style.
We caught up with Dana, 17, who runs the Twitter Eleanor’s Clothes. Dana had around 1,000 followers on her Tumblr when we first spoke with her, and more than 11,000 on the accompanying Twitter account. Calder actually follows Dana on Twitter and has messaged her in the past about items followers are looking for when Dana gets stumped.
Dana told us she loves Calder’s style because it is “classy, girly, and timeless,” adding, “I think a 12-year-old or a 26-year-old could rock a style similar to El’s!” She points out that many girls Calder’s age typically show more skin (ahem, Miley Cyrus), so her followers appreciate having a style icon who dresses cute and looks “effortless” without being inappropriate.
Dana is, of course, a One Direction fan, but she admires Calder for more than just dating a member of her favorite band. “She inspires me in so many ways! I love how she deals with haters, she goes to a great university, which shows how she has the brains to back up her beauty,” she told us. “[Calder] makes me want to try my best at school! She just has such a great personality!” This seems to be the consensus of many of the Calder fans on Tumblr, who agree that in the face of fans who are nasty to her–and that is putting it kindly–she’s handled herself with class, acting like a “normal” girl who is dedicated to her family and to school. And, of course, to her really famous boyfriend.
It may seem strange to idolize a woman who is just doing what the rest of us do every day, but in a way that’s part of the appeal. At the end of the day, Calder is just a fan who got the dream man. Even though her famous boyfriend surely buys her expensive things occasionally, she still sticks with the high street–not a bad thing for young girls to emulate.
And what if the worst should happen–if “El and Lou” ever break up? “I would still follow her style [and] keep my blog up,” Dana told us. “I am here to support Eleanor for the long run!”