Feminist Style Icons We Love

Posted by Fiona McAlpine on

By Fi McAlpine

Just what you need this weekend -  a list of our favorite Fab Sosh life/style inspirations. Enjoy. 

Katherine Hepburn

'If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun'.


An original boss from way back, Katherine Hepburn caused a very famous stir by wearing (wait for it) …pants. This was one of the great scandals of classic Hollywood. Thanks Katherine, I quite enjoy wearing pants, and no one can give the stink-eye quite like you.

She is even more awesome because she was totally unappreciated in her time:

'But before we get too nostalgic, we should remember that Hepburn was widely resented in her own time, vilified for her patrician affectations and trouser-wearing audacity; and, along with other idiosyncratically independent stars (Dietrich, Crawford, Davis), classified as box-office poison.

Every concerted push towards women's rights and freedoms has produced a corresponding backlash. Hepburn, who was abrasive, brash, full of herself, terrifyingly androgynous (and the daughter of a card-carrying suffragist in feminism's first wave), had to pay for her insolence in movies that contained their own backlash'.


Lesley Lawson

'Back in the '60s, there was a car sticker that read, 'Forget Oxfam, Feed Twiggy'.

More commonly known as Twiggy, Lawson was an integral and formative member of the swinging sixties. Although not self-identifying as a feminist (sigh) Twiggy was part of the Fashion Revolution that brought hem lines up to the ass. This came at the same time as second wave feminism, The Feminine Mystique, and other cultural revolutions that redefined women’s ownership of their own body and sexuality. 

Basically everyone who has ever attended a Slut Walk or shared the Free The Nipples campaign, can thank the swinging sixties and its humble mini skirt for paving the way. 

Jane Fonda

'Revolution is an act of love; we are the children of revolution, born to be rebels. It runs in our blood'. 


Jane Fonda personified the sixties on the other side of the pond – with her no-fucks-given anti-war, pro-civil rights California style. 

Fonda is a chairperson of the Vagina Monologues, a long time supporter of V Day and flew to Sweden in 2006 to endorse the new feminist political party Feministiskt Initiativ. She might be 77 but she is still using her substantial powers for good. 

Plus, y'know, Barbarella was the sickest.

Patti Smith

'Some of us are born rebellious. Like Jean Genet or Arthur Rimbaud, I roam these mean streets like a villain, a vagabond, an outcast, scavenging for the scraps that may perchance plummet off humanity's dirty plates, though often sometimes taking a cab to a restaurant is more convenient'.

An absolute legend of androgynous minimalist style, poet and muso Patti Smith obviously gets a mention on this list. She tends to shy away from direct questions on women's rights, letting her songs speak of themselves. Nonetheless, we just love her gender bending ‘tude. 


'I feel like I’ve earned the right to say: bitch – I’m Madonna'.


We couldn't agree more. If anyone knows how to manipulate the media and shock the pants off the populace, it is bad-ass Madonna herself. It mightn’t seem too racy any more but in the 80s she sang about virginal sex and banging jesus. Miley Cyrus, eat your heart out.

Madonna has also become more open and analytical about her beliefs in recent years. She opened up about being sexually assaulted at knifepoint as a young woman when she first moved to New York. She doesn't shy away from the issues, and argues that women are still the most marginalized group in society. That the fight for women's rights isn't over - but is actually just beginning. 

Amen, sista. 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

'God forbid I exude confidence and enjoy sex'. 


Not technically a real person, but a 90s style icon nonetheless. I couldn’t put it better than this article from Bitch Media:

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer's eponymous protagonist kickboxed her way, via the big screen, into our heroine-starved, media-junkie feminist hearts, along the way reconfiguring the popular vampire/horror text.

Buffy was explicitly conceived as a feminist reimagining of the horror genre. Buffy's exploits implicate the audience in a witty defiance of genre conventions: Instead of shouting, "Don't go in there!" to the naive gal traipsing through the darkened vacant house, we shout, "Go, girl!" as Buffy enters the dark alley to dispatch the monster of the moment with her quick thinking and martial-arts prowess”.

Tavi Gevinson

'Feminism is not a rule book, but a discussion, a conversation, a process'. 

Named the world's most influential teenager, insanely cool pint-sized feminist Tavi Gevinson is the founder of Rookie Magazine, an online rag that seamlessly folds in original style articles with actual voices of young women talking about the issues that matter to them. She gives us so much hope for the future, plus her distinctly contrarian style always hits the mark.  

Beyonce Knowles

'I'm over being a pop star. I don't wanna be a hot girl. I wanna be iconic'.


We are so glad she finally gets it. Despite writing appalling lyrics such as “if you like it then you should have put a ring on it” she is keenly aware of the line between owning her sexuality and letting others exploit it. As one of the most powerful women on earth, we were so pleased to see her ‘come out’ as a feminist, even if only to explain to everyone that feminists aren’t all flannel-clad beasts. She also makes some of the catchiest tunes around and gets women worldwide to shake their booty – not as a display for men, but because it is fun and it feels good. So there. 





Fi is the Co-Founder of The Fabric Social, a social enterprise working exclusively with conflict-affected women. The Fabric Social work to transform one of the greatest causes of poverty: armed conflict. You can shop, donate, or get involved here


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