Fashion Icons for Real Women
fashion designer Coco Chanel working on a dress in 1959

In 1927, French fashion designer Coco Chanel debuted a simple, elegant crepe de Chine black sheath that has become the "little black dress" millions of women the world over count as a wardrobe staple. Merci, Madame Chanel!

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Whether you have a signature style or are still searching for one, chances are you've been influenced by these fashion icons. Because let's face it, even if you weren't old enough to be a "Material Girl" during Madonna's pearls and lace era, her wardrobe still set the tone for most of the '80s and -- like all the women who made our list -- continues to influence what you pull off the rack today. One thing sets these style mavens apart from the crowd, though. They didn't just dress well; they dressed for the rest of us. See who made the list, beginning on the next page.