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Incredible Women. Incredible Fashion. Every Day.

Porter
Cover story

2018’s Best Dressed

With

25 Incredible Women

Over the past 12 months, we have been compiling the definitive guide to the year’s best dressers, be they experimentalists, classicists or just too-cool-for-school. There were some hot debates, some near-misses and some last-minute chart risers, but here they are, the 25 women whose style we have swooned over in 2018…

Cover Stories
Zoë Kravitz

Zoë Kravitz

Credentials Kravitz has long been high up on our barometer of cool (she was on the cover of PorterEdit back in June 2017), but this year she graduated to a status we only issue in extreme circumstances – fashion icon. Her magic formula? Daring dresses (that MET Gala lace showstopper); effortless, I-woke-up-like-this off-duty style; and – This. Is. Important. – a dry sense of humor that makes for an even better finishing touch than the engagement ring Karl Glusman gave her in February.

Glam squad Fashion: Andrew Mukamal; hair: Nikki Nelms; makeup: Nina Park.

Look of love The recent promotional tour for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald gave Kravitz just the stage she needed to impress in a series of dresses by Gabriela Hearst, Armani Privé and Saint Laurent; the latter – a sequin-covered column dress with a huge pink bow – securing our top spot.

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Margot Robbie

Credentials Robbie’s red-carpet outings for I, Tonya may have begun in 2017, but there were still plenty of jaw droppers in 2018 as she navigated the awards circuit for the multi-nominated film. So much so that powerhouse Chanel signed her up as an official ambassador of the label, a deal that was sealed at the Oscars. Now, with the release of Mary Queen of Scots, she’s been showcasing her style once again, courtesy of outfits by Self-Portrait, Isabel Marant, Rodarte and Chanel.

Glam squad Fashion: Kate Young; hair: Bryce Scarlett; makeup: Pati Dubroff.

Look of love It was a last-minute entry, but the Rodarte dress (second from left) that Robbie wore to the London premiere of Mary Queen of Scots was frothy yet daring and the stuff that dreams are made of.

Dakota Johnson

Credentials Off duty, you’re likely to catch Johnson in denim and distressed tees with a loose-fit blazer or leather jacket. But by night, her Hollywood-dynasty ancestry comes to the fore in the form of glittering gowns by the likes of Gucci and Dior.

Glam squad Fashion: Kate Young; hair: Mark Townsend; makeup: Pati Dubroff.

Look of love So much goodness to choose from – black Gucci at the Golden Globes, red Dior in Venice… But it’s got to be the incredible strapless silver Gucci gown at the Suspiria premiere in London.

Dakota Johnson

Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex

Credentials The Duchess of Sussex has quickly found pace with her sister-in-law Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, when it comes to making outfits sell out. From the moment her engagement photos with Prince Harry were released, her clothes and accessories have been instant retail hits, as have her efforts to move along some of the more stifling royal fashion traditions, such as shiny tan tights and always-immaculate hair (Meghan’s ‘messy’ bun was headline news in the UK).

Glam Squad She often does her own hair and makeup, but when the experts are called in, it’s hair: George Northwood; makeup: Daniel Martin.

Look of love We really loved wedding gown number two, the Stella McCartney-designed, crepe halterneck dress that the Duchess changed into for the couple’s evening celebrations.

Tilda Swinton

Tilda Swinton

Credentials No one does it quite like Tilda. If there are rules, she won’t follow them; in fact, she’ll deliberately subvert them, because she dresses for herself, not because she cares what others think. One thing you can be sure of? She will always bring the fashion drama, often while wearing Haider Ackermann.

Glam squad Hair: Helen Reavy; makeup: James Kaliardos.

Look of love The voluminous pink satin pants by Schiaparelli Haute Couture, worn with a tailored black jacket featuring hand-shaped fastenings.

Saoirse Ronan

Credentials We really began to take notice when Ronan was on the awards circuit for Lady Bird earlier this year, in a series of very cool choices by the likes of Chanel, Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton and Versace. And she’s rounding out 2018 as impressively as she started promoting Mary Queen of Scots – the Gucci dress (second from right) she wore to the film’s New York premiere was perfection.

Glam squad Fashion: Elizabeth Saltzman; hair: Adir Abergel; makeup: Kara Yoshimoto Bua.

Look of love That strapless, pale pink Calvin Klein dress for the Oscars, complete with huge bow and Cartier earrings, was arguably the look of the night and definitely Ronan’s look of the year.

Rihanna

Credentials Fashion needs risk-takers and Rihanna is one of the bravest. Her consistently committed and envelope-pushing statements at the annual Met Gala earned her a role as co-host in 2018.

Glam squad Fashion: Jahleel Weaver; hair: Yusef Williams; makeup: Priscilla Ono.

Look of love Rihanna’s 2018 Heavenly Bodies Met Gala creation was a sartorial tribute to the Pope designed by Maison Margiela, complete with papal headpiece.

Rihanna

Yara Shahidi

Credentials We’ve been impressed by Yara Shahidi for her intelligence and activism for a while now (the actress covered PorterEdit in February), but this year we added fashion to her long list of attributes. She does off duty with ease, in a mix of streetwear and simple staples, and from Vera Wang and long braids at the NAACP event, to lilac Giambattista Valli at the Critics’ Choice Awards (far left), she’s been knocking her red-carpet choices out of the park.

Glam squad Fashion: Jason Bolden; hair: Nai’vasha; makeup: Emily Cheng.

Look of love The actress went girlie yet glamorous in pink Gucci (second from right) complete with a front floral gathering for the Emmy Awards. We loved it.

Zendaya

Zendaya

Credentials The actress may well have ranked higher up, but we just haven’t seen enough of her on the red carpet in 2018. But what we did see? A miraculous, modern Joan of Arc at the Met Gala in custom Versace; rocking yellow and pink ostrich-feathers by Marc Jacobs in Los Angeles; one-shouldered Giambattista Valli for the Oscars… You name it, she can do it.

Glam Squad Fashion: Law Roach; hair: Ursula Stephen; makeup: Sheiks.

Look of love It’s a tough call, but we’re going for that spectacular Met Gala outfit.

Sarah Paulson

Credentials Paulson always incorporates her personality when it comes to fashion – intelligent, unconventional, stunning.

Glam squad Fashion: Karla Welch; hair: Adam Breuchaud; makeup: Lona Vigi.

Look of love Tiered pink Valentino (second from left) for the Ocean’s 8 premiere is our Paulson pick.

Emma Stone

Credentials While Stone often carries the torch for sharp tailoring on the red carpet, she’s equally as comfortable in mini dresses or full-on red-carpet gowns – versatility is her best fashion quality. There’s been a lot of Louis Vuitton since she became a face, but she’s cleverly exploiting the variety of the mega-label.

Glam squad Fashion: Petra Flannery; hair: Mara Rosak; makeup: Rachel Goodwin.

Look of love The simple silver Louis Vuitton dress she wore to the London premiere of The Favourite is almost as award-worthy as her performance. Especially worn with that deep burgundy lip.

Emma Stone

Thandie Newton

Credentials Newton is never one to play it safe, meaning that her red-carpet looks are always striking. Experimenting with pattern and cut, she is loyal to designers she loves, such as Duro Olowu, but champions new labels, too – see the riotous Richard Quinn dress (far right) that she wore to the Bafta TV Awards for evidence.

Glam squad Fashion: Erin Walsh; hair: Nai’vasha and Sheridan Ward; makeup: Kay Montano.

Look of love Newton commissioned a Vivienne Westwood gown (second from left) depicting Star Wars characters played by black actors for the Cannes premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story. As the first black female character in any of the franchise’s installments, she wore it to make a statement about representation.

Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen

Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen

Credentials The Olsen sisters are no strangers to best-dressed lists. Those of us who appreciate their anti-statement-dressing approach are die-hard fans. The key takeaway? This is not a wide palette; black, cream, white, tan, gray and navy are all you need to look chic. Oh, and sunglasses, don’t forget the sunglasses.

Glam squad Hair: Mark Townsend; makeup: Erik Soto.

Look of love We’ve chosen the designers’ CFDA Awards outfits – not necessarily their most impactful outing, but it sums up everything they do best: accessories, silhouettes and, of course, black.

Lupita Nyong’o

Credentials When it comes to style, Oscar-winner Nyong’o thinks about the full package; often, her hair looks or eye makeup are as much, if not more, of a focal point than her dresses. Case in point: the star’s warrior-inspired purple Versace dress (middle) was topped (literally and stylistically) by her hair – a sculptured vertical up-do.

Glam squad Fashion: Micaela Erlanger; hair: Vernon François; makeup: Nick Barose.

Look of love White fringed Tom Ford at the Governor’s Awards (second from left) – although special mention goes to her Halloween outfit – the actress almost made a better Dionne from Clueless than the original.

Cate Blanchett

Credentials When she chaired this year’s jury at Cannes, Blanchett’s wardrobe changes included a pale-pink suit by Stella McCartney; a plumed Armani Privé gown; custom Mary Katrantzou and Iris Van Herpen; and she still managed to squeeze in looks by Givenchy, Alexander McQueen and Loewe, too. Just imagine the excess baggage.

Glam squad Fashion: Elizabeth Stewart; hair Nicola Clarke; makeup Mary Greenwell.

Look of love We heart the white Stella McCartney suit and embroidered cape-coat (made from certified sustainable wool and organic silk) she wore to the Green Carpet Fashion Awards.

Cate Blanchett

Victoria Beckham

Credentials Beckham is the ultimate muse for her own line, filling some of the gargantuan void left by Phoebe Philo’s Céline exit with smart, cerebral, chic separates for day.

Glam squad Hair: Ken Paves; makeup: Wendy Rowe.

Look of love The white and pale-pink striped dress (second from left) she wore from her own label during London Fashion Week Men’s in June was summer perfection.

Chloë Sevigny

Chloë Sevigny

Credentials There is no boundary Sevigny is afraid to push. Her playful, female-gaze approach to getting dressed makes her perennially inspiring. Miuccia Prada holds particular appeal for the Big Love actress.

Glam squad Sevigny often likes to DIY, but for big occasions she works with stylist Haley Wollens.

Look of love The leather hot-pants look she wore on the Miu Miu Cruise runway stole the show.

Olivia Palermo

Credentials Legions of women look to Palermo for realistic ways of wearing runway trends. Never one to abandon Upper East Side polish, she’s akin to Duchesses Catherine and Meghan for causing the pieces she wears to sell out.

Glam squad Hair: André Davis or Abby Haliti at Julien Farel’s salon in New York; makeup: Daniel Martin, Nelson Catarino.

Look of love While she predictably embraced the return of the leather pant, we noticed Palermo has been more experimental, too, and we love how she pulled off this clash of prints (far right) during Fashion month.

Nicole Kidman

Credentials Kidman is red-carpet gold. Hollywood royalty who clearly loves fashion rather than tolerates it, she would rather polarize than play it safe. She’s also one of our favorite-ever PorterEdit cover stars.

Glam squad Fashion: Julia von Boehm; hair: Kylee Heath; makeup: Kate Synnott.

Look of love The royal blue Armani dress with a bow at the front that Kidman wore to the Oscars wins our award for Outstanding Dress on an Actress on a Red Carpet.

Nicole Kidman

Tracee Ellis Ross

Credentials Because Ellis Ross clearly loves clothes, that’s why. When the actress starred in our annual Women in TV issue in 2016, she was shopping from the rail (a Lanvin trench, since you ask) and her Instagram is proof that sourcing sartorial statements is a favorite pastime. She can do street, high-octane, romantic…you name it.

Glam squad Fashion: Karla Welch; hair: Larry Sims; makeup: Lisa Storey.

Look of love Hands down, the 10 epic looks Ellis Ross wore in one night to host the American Music Awards. She and Welch used the occasion to highlight the work of black designers, including Dapper Dan, Olivier Rousteing and Virgil Abloh.

Tessa Thompson

Tessa Thompson

Credentials Tessa Thompson has rounded out 2018 with a very impressive fashion contribution courtesy of the promotional tour for Creed 2. Switching up suiting for showstopping dresses (lime Valentino at the London premiere), there’s something for everyone to love here.

Glam squad Fashion: Wayman and Micah; hair: Lacy Redway (with guest appearances by Vernon François).

Look of love Monochrome, high-necked Naeem Khan for the win.

Jennifer Lopez

Credentials Someone’s got to bring the va-va-voom, and you can always rely on J.Lo to do the honors. Balmain and Versace are particular favorites, but David Koma and Zuhair Murad also featured in her 2018 repertoire.

Glam squad Fashion: Rob Zangardi and Mariel Haenn; hair: Lorenzo Martin; makeup: Scott Barnes.

Look of love It was a departure from her usual curve-hugging looks, but the huge, hot-pink tulle Giambattista Valli gown she debuted at the New York premiere of Second Act was still pure Lopez glamour.

Gemma Chan

Credentials Crazy Rich Asians propelled Chan into the spotlight and this year’s Best Dressed list. Showing her range with labels including Self-Portrait, Prabal Gurung and Oscar de la Renta, she excels at ladylike with a modern twist.

Glam squad Fashion: Rebecca Corbin-Murray; hair: Clariss Anya Rubenstein; makeup: Monika Blunder.

Look of love Chinese-born designer Huishan Zhang made the simple sublime with this white dress.

Gemma Chan

Lady Gaga

Credentials Now that Gaga is a little less outlandish in her fashion tastes, we can take inspiration more easily from her outfit choices. The Golden Globe-nominated actress still takes things to extremes – see her pink frothy Valentino Haute Couture choice (second from left) for the premiere of A Star is Born in Venice – but in a very good way.

Glam squad Fashion: Sandra Amador and Tom Eerebout; hair: Frederic Aspiras; makeup: Sarah Tanno.

Look of love The incredible oversized Marc Jacobs suit she wore to the ELLE Women in Hollywood Awards in October.

Rooney Mara

Rooney Mara

Credentials Mara’s style could be described as ‘severe’, but look a little closer and you’ll see that ‘daring’ is a better word. There’s often plenty of femininity in there, but always a note of clever cutting or interesting details.

Glam squad Fashion: Ryan Hastings; hair: Adir Abergel; makeup: Kate Lee.

Look of love Mara signed as a face of Givenchy fragrance this year and it’s a great match for the actress – the simple gray dress she wore to the Met Gala in May was triumphantly purist.

Feeling inspired? Now learn how to get red-carpet ready from four stylists who are responsible for dressing some of the most famous – and most stylish – women in the world

The people featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown.