Style Watch: 2014 Fashion Trailblazers

Rita-OraIn just a few weeks, we’ll be bidding farewell to 2014, a year chockfull of memorable fashion moments, missteps and mind-blowing triumphs. And while we’ll all be inundated with best of lists and other year-end recaps, SoulTrain.com thought it was only right to toss in our two cents (a little early) with a salute to the fashion game changers of the year.

Rita Ora

The British beauty took 2014 by the horns with her colorful, out-of-the-box style choices. While her style is reminiscent to that of pop songstress and fashion maven Rihanna, Ora showed she has a personal style sense all her Iggy Azaleaown. With a mixture of old-Hollywood glam (check out those beautiful blonde locks) and edgy street style, Ora can rock anything from oversized pants suits to sleek and sexy bodycon numbers. We salute her for not being afraid to be different, not shying away from color and making fashion choices on her own terms.

Iggy Azalea

2014 has at least, in part, been the year of Iggy. The Australian rapper has blazed up the charts with such songs as “Fancy” and “Black Widow,” but her contribution to popular culture doesn’t end there. Sure she may not have always been at the top of the best dressed list, but Azalea has lovingly embraced her womanly curves and tall stature. She has tackled evening gowns with grace and casual styles with ease, all while showing off her curvy figure, not hiding it. One of our favorite looks from her this year: The sexy, silver Versace gown with cut-out detailing she wore to the MTV Video Music Awards. Absolutely stunning.

Lupita Nyong’o

lupita-nyongSure, she was everyone’s “It Girl” for the first half of 2014, but that doesn’t stop us from saluting Lupita Nyong’o on our list of the year’s fashion trailblazers. Sky-rocketing to prominence in 12 Years A Slave, Nyong’o dazzled even the most jaded of fashion critics with her strong embrace of color and the added elegance she brought to designs of some of the world’s greatest style minds. While she’s definitely more well-known for her red carpet looks, Nyong’o provides clear inspiration for everyday looks as well.

Jennifer Lopez

JLO at American Music AwardsWe went back and forth on whether or not to include Jennifer Lopez on our fashion trailblazers for 2014 list; she’s been an icon for some years now and she’s certainly not new to the style game. With that said, there is no denying that in 2014 JLo upped her game considerably. At the age of 45, Lopez has continued to put her younger counterparts to shame, dressing in skin-tight ensembles, tackling the latest trends and not being sorry along the way. Lopez makes our list for one distinctive reason, however: She has shown that even as the years pass by, there is no need to take a step back in terms of style. Case in point: Her striking red Donna Karen gown at the Billboard Music Awards—an inventive frock that impeccably balances sass with class.

—Amy Diaz

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