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From red carpet walks and movie premieres to fashion week front rows and street style pics, this year it kind of felt like fashion was back. This gave us all a small sigh of relief.
After more than a year of ‘being bored in the house’, mandatory mask wearing, and endless Zoom calls and meetings, we finally had reasons to take off our hair bonnets, try out the newest TikTok make up trend, and simply get dressed up.
Celebrity style reflected this refreshing change. We saw bright playful colors, sheer looks in various fabrics, showstopping monochromatic moments, oversized, exaggerated coordinates, and revamped loungewear.
This year’s most memorable looks started off in January with Michelle Obama’s jewel-toned purple monochromatic outfit designed by Sergio Hudson. Though she wore it for the inauguration of President Joe Biden, all eyes were on her. From her flawless hair to perfect accessories, she reminded us why she will forever be our First Lady and, more importantly, a fashion icon in her own right.
Late Winter into Spring gave us Cynthia Erivo’s bright green scuba gown by Valentino – that was on everyone’s best dressed list – and Zendaya’s fashion looks on several magazine covers such as Elle and GQ. Is there any 2021 look from Zendaya that we did not love?
Beyonce’s frequent social media posting in 2021 has made us all honorary members of the beehive, Tiffany Haddish’s new confident body and blonde hair has inspired us all to be bold, and Cardi B.’s out-of-the box September Paris Fashion Week looks still make us gag.
While we don’t know what fashion will exactly look like in 2022, these ladies provide inspiration for what is to come. Below you will find HelloBeautiful’s most stylish women of the year. Listed in alphabetical order, these ladies won in 2021.
Ashanti played no games when it came to her fashion choices this year. It is almost like someone said “Sis, go off,” after her Verzus challenge with Keyshia Cole and she responded by saying “Say less.” A mix between body-hugging silhouettes, sexy street style, and fashion forward looks, Ashanti stepped on knecks nearly every time she stepped out. Outfits of note include her pink birthday gown and black cut-out dress both designed by Michael Costello, her animal print two-piece from Dolce and Gabanna and her Burberry trench coat worn during a recent Good Morning America interview.
Beyoncé has always been a trendsetter, but this year we’ve seen more of her style in real time. The Queen Bee has posted more on Instagram in 2021 than in years past and we are here for it. Posts have featured her in several designers including GuccixBalenciaga, Alexandre Vauthier, Dolce and Gabbana, and her fashion line, IVY PARK. In July 2021, Beyonce posted a ready-to-wear look with a pair of floral printed pants, a long sleeve white top, and a Telfar bag. Social media went crazy lamenting that her post would make Telfar even more popular than it already was. But what do you expect when Beyonce starts sharing more of her fashion choices on the Internet? All in all, her style has evolved into a sexy sophistication that we love. Beyoncé continues to be diverse in her choices while keeping us interested and waiting for every new post.
3. Cardi B
Making Birkin a household name, securing a Balenciaga campaign, and slaying everyone at Paris Fashion Week, Cardi B. emerged as a true fashion killer this year. What we love about her looks is how she stepped out of her comfort zone and leaned into high fashion couture. And she did it in a way that maintained her aesthetic and personality but wowed everyone at the same time. The risks that she took fell in line with current trends – and the progression of the fashion industry- and celebrated all that we loved about returning back to in-person events. Our favorite looks include her plaid and gold plated blazer and headpiece by Schiaparelli, her embellished Dolce and Gabanna jumpsuit, her Richard Quinn moments, and her camel leather custom outfit by Baba Jagne.
4. Mary J. Blige
As the Queen of Hip Hop and Soul, Mary J. Blige continues to bring us rich auntie vibes with every outfit. Her ‘fly girl’ style is a mix between fabulous furs, exaggerated gold jewelry, and streetwear classics.
Throughout the year she’s been seen on stage in Gucci, at the MET Gala in Dundas, and on her social media platforms wearing Chanel. She showed up to the premiere of her documentary, Mary J. Blige’s: My Life, draped in a sexy Alexandre Vauthier silver dress and showed out on IG posing in nothing but a custom Laurel DeWitt body chain. One of the many Black women examples that age is nothing but a number, the 50-year-old songtress truly turned heads this year.
It’s not just Ciara’s prayer that we want to know more about, but it is her closet too. Because the R&B songtress didn’t have just one or two fashionable moments this year, but several. Known for wearing silhouettes that compliment her figure, Ciara took risks with green sequins, higher-than-thigh high splits, and see-through cut-outs and fabrics. Her hair and beauty looks – in addition to her fashion choices – also made us say “Yassss” and her collaborations with “not-so-well known” designers enhanced her looks this year. Ciara’s formal fashion nod to her husband at the MET Gala is a look we all remember, her pink long bundles and matching pink sweatsuit are the definition of monochromatic, and her custom Mugler cut-out suit should be in all of our closets.
6. Cynthia Erivo
It’s not easy to always achieve a red carpet moment, but Cynthia Erivo is one of those few celebrities that tends to slay every single time. She has been taking risks with each red carpet appearance in 2021 and it is definitely paying off.
Cynthia’s style choices have helped her become more of a household name, and we are looking forward to what she brings in 2022. Our favorite red carpet moments include her custom-made Vera Wang gown for the 2021 Critic’s Choice Awards, her bold neon green Valentino dress for the Golden Globes, and her purple oversized Balenciaga knit-wear two-piece for the House of Gucci premiere.
7. Ari Lennox
Ari Lennox, whose real name is Courtney Shanade Salter, made headlines this year for all the right reasons. She shut down naysayers who attempted to attack her for showing her Black Girl Magic and rocking a lace front wig, dazzled at her 30th birthday party in a silky bra and shorts set with some pink heart earrings, and continuously reminded us of her signature style in several social media posts. From her sequins red carpet gowns and see-through bodycons to her barely-there swimsuits and two-piece sets, Ari applied PRESSURE and then some in 2021.
Lizzo is one of those celebrities people either love or hate. The same can be said about her style. Allergic to body shaming and traditional rules about what should – or should not – be worn, Lizzo continued to push the envelope this year.
If she wasn’t shocking fans with her TikTok videos, she was turning heads on red carpets. Some of her most memorable fashion looks include her platinum blonde wig and multicolored fur bikini and a matching coat she wore to kick off 2021, her see-through sparkly floor-length dress that forced many to talk about double standards and body acceptance in the fashion industry, her Gucci overcoat, shoes, and bag for this year’s Gucci Love Parade, and her most recent purple and black Richard Quinn jumpsuit.
9. Nicki Minaj
We didn’t hear much from hip-hop’s real-life Barbie this year. Nicki Minaj seemed to spend 2021 drinking water and minding her business. But when she did choose to step out, Nicki did not disappoint. Her on-going love affair with pink manifested itself in monochromatic looks of all shades, cute hairstyles that we wanted to try, and elevated high fashion outfit choices.
In an IG post with the caption “#BarbieTingz,” Nicki rocked a pink Louis Vuitton Coussin PM and matching top. More recently, she removed her pink attire, wearing only pink tresses and her birthday suit for her 39th birthday. Nicki’s most memorable look year is from her surprise appearance on the Real Housewives of Potomac Reunion with Andy Cohen. Her all-black Dolce & Gabbana suit
10. The Hollywood Reporter 2021 Power 100 Women in Entertainment presented by Lifetime – Red Carpet
Many of us have used down time during the ‘vid’ to reinvent ourselves on social media. Tia Mowry is no different. Over the past year she has become a fashion reel maven showing the world why we fell in love with her and her sister years ago and providing fashion and hair inspiration for us to follow.
Tia’s style is tailored, sophisticated, and effortless. Her IG profile is filled with well-fitting suits in classic colors, peasant and flowy dresses, and staple coordinates. Throughout the year, she has also matched her outfits with her hair, rocking slicked back ponytails, jeweled hair pins, and wavy lengths. We are looking forward to more fashion content next year. Whenever you’re ready to go back to the office, Tia’s profile is a good place to go for workwear inspiration.
Rihanna can do no wrong. It really doesn’t matter what year it is, we can assume that she will be listed among the most stylish if not named the most stylish herself. What was different in 2021, however, is how controversial some of her looks seemed to be.
The denim panties she wore on a date with A$AP Rocky, while figure flattering confused many. And her Balenciaga “hoody dress” and scully cap, worn to the MET gala, was probably one of the most talked about fashion moments of 2021. But we don’t call her a fashion icon for nothing. Trends start by being talked about – and no one was more a topic of discussion than her. We loved Rihanna’s over-the-top furry hats, silky slip dresses, and edgy, chunky coats and jackets.
12. Gabrielle Union
Gabrielle Union’s 2021 Fashion Awards red carpet look – alone – earned her a spot on this year’s most stylish list. Her jaw-dropping, neon yellow Valentino gown and sky-high hair didn’t just nearly break the internet, but the look is indicative of how Gabby’s style has evolved.
While traveling with her hubby and promoting her new book, Gabrielle took advantage of every moment to show her personal style. In fact, during 2021, she’s been seen donning several designers. Up-and-coming Black designer Samantha Black, Prabal Gurung, Giorgio Armani, Prada, and Bulgari are just a few.
13. Zendaya Coleman
Zendaya has been writing her own unique fashion story for years – and 2021 has been a very defining moment. With each red carpet look and media appearance, Zendaya took risks. And each part of her looks are well-thought out.
She wore many of the world’s most famous designers and fashion houses this year including Vera Wang, Vivienne Westwood, Valentino, Balmain, Dion Lee, and Moschino. At such a young age she is well on her way to becoming one of the most iconic fashionistas of our time.