Vera Wang
Vera Wang walks the runway for the Vera Wang Ready to Wear Fall/Winter 2020-2021 fashion show during New York Fashion Week on February 11, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

While scrolling through Instagram, there’s one iconic individual that consistently serves glamour and fashion. The woman in question can be seen striking model-worthy poses in a monochromatic Louis Vuitton outfit, wearing a crystal tiara and furry slides to watch the SAG Awards, and strutting in Balenciaga’s sharpest pumps, just for fun. I’m talking, of course, about Vera Wang.

Wang’s always been an icon in the fashion world—after all, this is the woman who reinvented the bridal industry as we knew it—but her style never struck a chord with me until 2020. Soon after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last May, the fashion designer posted a trio of outfit photos, wearing short shorts and a bright orange Palm Angels bra. Naturally, the Internet lost its mind. Users flooded Wang’s comments to applaud her toned figure at age 70, and the media followed suit. However, unlike the general public, I wasn’t obsessing over Wang’s “secret” or workout routine (to her credit, she simply replied to one comment that it’s “Work, sleep, a vodka cocktail, not much sun.”). Rather, her personal style drew my eye, as it had for months prior.

During the last year-and-a-half, the world collectively wore sweatpants as soon as lockdown began. Now that cities, nightlife, and even Broadway are reopening, everyone’s preparing to wear their sparkliest minidresses and highest heels again. But Wang never stopped. While influencers shared their takes on the “pillow dress” for their followers, Wang wore a bright orange ballgown, a gold chain necklace, and towering ankle boots—plus a matching face mask. When headlines were stating how to make athleisure “fashion,” she actually did—in Adidas leggings, a blue feather top, and white Balenciaga pumps. Wang’s outfits mixed casual and comfy pieces like bike shorts, leggings, and T-shirts with feathered vests, leather jackets, and plenty of bling. In short, she became my new style icon.

There was a moment where I didn’t care what anyone else on Instagram was wearing to combat pandemic gloom—Wang was the one to watch. As the 71-year-old’s winning outfit streak has only continued this year (plus her designs, which have made standout looks for Catherine O’Hara, Andra Day, and Anya Taylor-Joy), so has my belief that she’s the style maven we should be looking to right now. Her approach to wear whatever she wants—regardless of aesthetics or how over-the-top a piece may be—is the most enjoyable method of getting dressed I’ve seen on social media, and is also a great ethos to follow.

Wang’s incorporation of fine and fashion jewelry, sequined crop tops, and ballgowns with everyday leisurewear inspired me to dress up, too. When I wasn’t feeling excited by the T-shirts or sweatshirts I’d halfheartedly slip on before virtual events and classes, I’d simply ask myself: “WWVWD (What Would Vera Wang Do?)”? The answer, naturally, would be to add extravagance through pieces with personal value. Wang is a fashion collector; though her closet contains plenty of archival Chanel and Miu Miu, she’s also extremely hip when it comes to celebrating her peers’ work—her outfits frequently feature shoes, jackets, and tops by Vuitton, Balenciaga, Marine Serre, and Off-White.

While seeing Wang regularly reinterpret the wardrobe she’d brought to her home in Miami, pieces like Vetements stilettos, Chanel logo necklaces, and Balenciaga’s Knife pumps stood out as clear favorites. While I’ve always known there is power in dressing up, I hadn’t fully embraced just wearing pieces I loved…well, simply because I loved them. Wang’s outfits inspired me to throw on extra necklaces, wear bags that rarely left my closet, or slip into my favorite boots (regardless of the overall look), just to get the most use from pieces that made me feel like my best self. Her style proves that donning clothes and accessories that are undeniably glamorous, show off your figure (if you so choose), or are just whatever you feel like wearing on a given day make the best outfits.

As “hot girl summer” summer rears its’ head, I’ll be looking to Vera Wang for what to wear this season. The designer’s nonchalance and everyday approach to drama—be it lounging poolside with her pom, Lola, mixing houndstooth and leopard prints with Zales diamonds, or posing with bottles of her new “Party” Prosecco (a serve!)—is the effortless slayage we could all use to step into a post-vaccine world with confidence. Though I might not be able to pull off six-inch heels or strut through gardens in floor-length ballgowns like Wang, I don’t have to—her attitude and openness to different aesthetics is what constantly piques my interest, and what we should all be channeling this summer.

No matter your figure, age, or any other factor, Wang’s philosophy that the best outfits are simply whatever you want them to be is, in fact, one to live by. So, the next time you need fashion inspiration—or a major serotonin boost—consider Vera Wang your fashion fairy godmother.