This past year, a few select women have continued to set the standard and inspire us Coco girls. They’ve been the example photo we’ve taken to the hairdresser—“Give me her cut!”—the outfit we’ve scoured the racks for in search of the look-for-less—“I’ve gotta have that dress!”—and the makeup we’ve imitated for the first time—“Hey, if she can rock a bold red lip, maybe I can too!” Here is a list of women who have influenced our personal style and beauty throughout the year:

Zoe Saldana (The Sweetheart): If Hollywood were high school, Zoe Saldana would probably be the head cheerleader who all the girls secretly wanted to be BFF’s with, and all the guys not-so-secretly wanted to date. Her typical wardrobe selections are as girly-girl as they come, often adorned with ruffles, lace, or floral accents of some sort. But she balances it out with tousled hair and a piercing smoldered eye that let’s us know there’s a bit more underneath it all. Mysterious as she may be, there’s no secret that Zoe Saldana is keeping busy on the screen in such major films as “Takers,” and the multi-award-winning, “Avatar.” Hey, any chick who can make blue skin, full body tats, and beaded corn rows look chic—albeit in 2010—is a winner in our book!

Jada Pinkett-Smith (The Body): If ever there was a woman to motivate me to drop everything I’m doing right in that moment and haul ass to the gym—it’s Jada! Mrs. Smith clearly doesn’t play around when it comes to staying in shape, and it has certainly paid off for her. Jada looks just as amazing these days as she did during the times of Lena James, Stony, and Peaches. Whether out and about with the family, on the red carpet, or on screen in her hit show “Hawthorne,” she glows. Her style is edgy and youthful—usually a micro-miniskirt or one-shoulder frock with metallic accents. And though she typically plays it safe in the makeup department, we can always count on Jada to surprise us with some sort of funky hairstyle! Welp, off to the treadmill I go . . . And you already know “Whip My Hair” will be blasting through my headphones during the workout—gotta keep it in the family!

Kerry Washington (The Timeless Beauty): Poised. Elegant. Regal. All words more than befitting of actress Kerry Washington. Kerry has been a constant show-stopper all year, turning heads and dropping jaws whenever she’s spotted. She has a look that is current, yet timeless, all in the same breath. Always draped in a classic silhouette and sleek heel, complemented by just-right tresses and barely-there makeup, Washington inspires us to put our best foot and face forward. And with flawless skin and signature facial features to die for, (Ugh! Who doesn’t want that pout?!) there’s no wonder she earned a beauty campaign with Loreal Paris.

Solange (The Free Spirit): Not only does Solange Knowles march to the beat of her own drum, but she scratches and spins the beat for us to dance along! The singer/songwriter turned DJ has finally stepped out from behind the scenes (or as some would argue, from under her sister’s shadow) to gain the recognition and respect that she deserves. Over the last year, Solo has definitely pushed the envelope on what is universally accepted as beautiful and stylish. She shows us how to mix and match prints, have a little fun with our makeup, snip some hair here, throw on a fro there, and layer colorful accessories. Everything she does radiates youthfulness and carefree optimism. And the beat goes on . . .

June Ambrose (The Stylist Extraordinaire): Behind every show-stopping, best-dressed celeb usually lies a lesser-known, far-less-fab, but nevertheless qualified, wardrobe stylist. Unless, of course, that celeb is a client of my fashion “auntie-in-my-head,” June Ambrose. June is just as much a diva as any A-lister she’s ever dressed. She pounds the pavement of New York City on the daily, literally stopping traffic with her sky-high pumps, twisted turbans, and oversized shades. June’s style inspires us to think big and experiment with looks that don’t necessarily make perfect sense. She plays with prints, color, proportions, and texture like nobody’s business. And to make things even better, she takes us along the ride via Twitter, spilling chai tea on the daily and spiraling out of control over all the marvelous fashion-finds she comes across. Her Twitpics say it all!

Gabrielle Union (The Girl Next Door): Seriously, does this woman ever have a bad day? Always armed with a fresh face, flawless hair, and a smile, Gabrielle Union makes 37 (yes, thirty-freaking-seven!) look damn good. She has that girl-next-door charm; never too glamorous or over-the-top, but still extraordinarily beautiful and relatable. We admire how she keeps it classy at all times but still seems to be down-to-earth and fun. Her style is simple and feminine, often with a pop of color that we can appreciate.

Rihanna (The Rockstar): Ohhhh, Rih-Rih. We couldn’t leave you out of the mix; we’d never hear the end of it (giggles). It’s quite possible that Rihanna’s style and beauty choices have garnered even more attention than any platinum-selling album or hit single that the Bajan superstar has had over the course of her career. I, for one, don’t remember all the words to “Umbrella,” but I can certainly give you a timeline of ‘ella ‘ella’s dozen different haircuts and tattoos. Rihanna is young, fearless, beautiful, and carefree. She does what she wants, when she wants to do it—no tattoo or piercing too wild, no nail polish or hair color too bright. And though we may not always agree with her choices, we can’t help but commend her for being a risk-taker and trend-setter. She doesn’t need a stitch of makeup, but she wears it oh-so-well. And I’d be lying to say that I wouldn’t pounce at the opportunity to play in her closet! The girl’s got style . . .

Who’s inspired your style and beauty in the last year?

– Chelsea Smith

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  • fr

    I can be a style snob and don’t think everyone who dresses different is stylish. And I rarely kiss celebrities rears for the sake of them being in the public eye, but I must say out of this list Rhianna had me saying “WOW”. Now, she is kinda slipping, but that girl had edge, style and attitude for days, which takes alot if you are wearing the clothes and not letting the clothes wear you. Solange is also pretty good, but somehow she doesn’t convince me. Once she gains a real confident attitude is will be unstoppable. Kerry is ok. I have always liked her. Everyone else, meh.

  • anonymous

    zoe is overrated, i don’t get it with her.

    however, nia long is definitely the bomb, her short cuts are amazing. i am definitely a fan of halle berry, angela simmons, and what about vashtie?!!?