Style Tip: 3 Steps To Iconic Style, And The Power Of Imagination

The summer 2015 issue of Porter Magazine opens with an unexpected piece by fashion journalist Kate Betts, titled “Is nothing left to the imagination anymore?” At VT, we’re constantly inspired by women of style and substance, as seen in our “Icons” series, and we expressed our opinion on tastefully sexy style in the Huffington Post.

The issue of hypersexualized, pop culture style that Betts brings up is, ultimately, all about the personal choice you make when getting dressed every morning. Do you want use clothes to attract attention to your body, or your mind? Working with some of the most powerful women in America, our job is to line up their wardrobes so that they can focus on sharing their gifts with the world. And having seen hundreds of transformations during the 20-year existence of Visual Therapy, we can attest that it’s life-changing.

Joan-Didion style

Joan Didion

Where do you begin? Well, if we could sum up some of the most important style advice we have, here it is. 



1. Dress for yourself. Not your partner, not your social circle, not your co-workers.

2. Let style enhance your personality, not disguise it. Let the clothes be your help in aligning your identity (inner) with your image (outer).

3. Use the power of suggestion instead of the shock of vulgarity. For example, ditch bondage dresses in favor of romance inspired by Valentino and Altuzarra’s spring collections.

Bianca Jade Jagger white pantsuit

Bianca Jagger

Enjoy this outtake from Kate Betts’ piece on iconic style, and find the full article in Porter Magazine, summer 2015.

I grew up in New York city in the 1970s and early 1980s. Back then, the whole culture was defined by larger-than-life style icons such as Bianca Jagger and Mariel Hemingway.

My friends and I wanted to look slightly seductive. We wanted to be Bianca Jagger in a sleek white pantsuit, or Carly Simon with a crown of flowers on her head.

Ironically, the fashion tricks I learned growing up have been revived recently on the runway, from Gucci’s buttoned-up denim and patchwork to Saint Laurent’s structured jackets with silk scarves.

Barbara Walters young style

Barbara Walters

Compared to the recent trend for revealing every inch of skin, runway fashion has rarely been so buttoned up. Perhaps it’s because designers themselves are tired of pop culture’s hypersexualized imagery: they want to dress real women, with real style.

At university, my role models were grown-ups — Joan Didion, Joni Mitchell, Barbara Walters. They were chic, when chic meant comfortable in your own skin, self-posessed and elegant.

Joan Didion

Joan Didion

These days we have pop icons instead of style icons — women who are willing to do anything for attention. Nothing is left to the imagination.

What has happened to the substance of style? The style icons I admired as a teenager had personality and conviction: they dressed for themselves. Style is about knowing who you are and telegraphing that confidence to the world.

Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell