Recently, we've been hearing a number of powerful people expressing a similar sentiment--one that maybe shouldn't even need to be said--about women and our ability to be simultaneously smart and stylish or interested in fashion.
If there's one thing I've learned while working and meeting people in the fashion industry, it's that the two are definitely not mutually exclusive. One of my favorite quotes about this comes from writer/director/style icon Sofia Coppola circa Marie Antoinette: “You're considered superficial and silly if you're interested in fashion, but I think you can be substantial and still be interested in frivolity.” More recently, quotes from Barack Obama and British Vogue EIC Alexandra Shulman have helped to get this point across.
At Barnard University's commencement ceremony last week, the POTUS gave some sage advice about women advancing in the workplace, inspired by our stylish and substantive first lady, Michelle Obama:
Until there are women who tell her ignore our pop culture obsession over beauty and fashion and focus instead on studying and inventing and competing and leading, she'll think those are the only things that girls are supposed to care about. Now, Michelle will say there's nothing wrong with caring about that a little bit. You can be stylish and powerful too.
Isn't he the best? Shulman hopes that she can help present more positive role models in the media who are both glamorous and smart:
Young girls look up to Cheryl Cole or Cat Deeley and that is a pretty narrow prescription of existence," she said. "We want to show glamorous women in other industries, it doesn't always have to be dour women doing cerebral activities. It is possible to use your brain and want to wear Jimmy Choos and have great eyelashes. In this country there is an attitude ,or a snobbery, that suggests that women can't do both, which I would like to see change.
Click through for 10 of our favorite ladies who exemplify that women indeed can do both. Our list obviously isn't comprehensive of ALL the people who are smart and stylish (for example: we did not include ourselves), but these are just some of the ones we idolize the most.
Michelle Obama Michelle Obama is Princeton and Harvard educated and worked at one of the biggest law firms in the country. As the First Lady of the United States, she's become a tireless advocate for veterans' rights, poverty awareness, nutrition and her husband. She's done all of this in an eclectic mix of great outfits from established and emerging designers--establishing herself as a style icon.
Sofia Coppola She may have chosen the same profession as her father, but Sofia has a cerebral, precise, thoughtful approach to writing and directing that is all her own, and it has landed her a Best Original Screenplay Oscar and Best Director nomination. She is also one of our biggest style inspirations and a longtime friend and muse to Marc Jacobs and even designed her own clothing line and a range of handbags for Louis Vuitton.
Jenna Lyons J. Crew's creative director and, now, president, breathed new life into the company and also acts as a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund judge, proving herself as one of the fashion industry's power players and someone who knows a lot about how this business works. Her style influence can be seen on just about every glasses-wearing orange-lipped girl in this city.
Anna Wintour Do we even need to explain? In addition to overseeing the biggest fashion glossy there is, Wintour essentially runs the fashion industry. And while her outfits may follow a formula, one can never accuse her of being a fashion victim or not dressing her age. She pretty much always gets it right. Maybe because she defined what "it" is.
Tavi Gevinson Clearly wise--and stylish--beyond her years, this 15-year-old wunderkind has extended her ability to intellectualize fashion into an successful, ground-breaking online magazine that she edits herself in between school, fashion shows, singing and acting gigs and public speaking engagements. She's written and spoken at length about how being a feminist doesn't mean you can't be interested in fashion and is thus part of the inspiration for this article.
Tilda Swinton Cambridge educated, she did some time at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. She left to take on more quirky projects and her acting talent has won her international recognition. She's been on countless best-dressed lists and her fashion is considered "smart" and challenging. Quote: "It's a real comfort zone for me to feel alien."
Cate Blanchett She attended Australia's National Institute of Dramatic Art and her work as an actress was critically acclaimed early in her career--she's since been nominated for five Oscars. Her confidence in her often unconventional red carpet choices is what sets her style apart from other actresses.
Iman Yes, Iman was a model, but these days she's better known as a business woman. She started a cosmetics company because she found it difficult to find makeup to match her skin tone--that business was worth $25million in 2010. She's also known for her humanitarian work with various children's charities and fighting the use and proliferation of conflict diamonds. Her style is confident, and she never shies away from color.
Miuccia Prada Famously conflicted about being a woman in fashion, she nevertheless makes the clothes that women want to wear, and does it in a thought-provoking way. Her own style reflects her provocative designs.
Natalie Portman She became an actor as a child, speaks at least 5 languages, and graduated from Harvard. Her style is feminine and never garish.