The International Best-Dressed List has come a long way since its inception, in 1940, when founder Eleanor Lambert mailed out hand-cranked mimeographed ballots to 50 voters, and then notified the 10 winners (all American women) via Western Union telegram. For 2019, we canvassed thousands of Air Mail readers through an interactive polling system, created just for the I.B.D.L. Our far-flung participants were enthusiastic, especially when it came to their write-in candidates, many of whom were endorsed with ardent explanatory notes.

Reflecting the international readership of Air Mail, the 30 honorees of 2019 represent 16 different countries, making this year’s List the most global to date. Our honorees also come from a range of professions; among those named to the List are entrepreneurs, actors, athletes, a writer, an artist, and assorted fashion-world denizens. We also have an abundance of first-timers, some quite young (Elle Fanning), who showed unusual sophistication this year, and others (Ralph Fiennes) seasoned masters of their craft. Cate Blanchett, front-runner in the Women’s category of the International Best-Dressed Poll, landed on the List for the fourth time, potentially putting her on track for the Hall of Fame—to which station five-time winner Queen Letizia of Spain rose, along with the imperial Valentino. (The rule of thumb for Hall of Fame eligibility is a minimum of three appearances on the List, though there are notable exceptions.)

Those for whom 2019 was an exceptionally good year fared particularly well with our voters. Thom Browne—who recently purchased one of Manhattan’s most beautiful houses—turned out to be the topmost vote-getter in the Fashion Professionals category. The invariably elegant Rachel Feinstein, whose current exhibition at the Jewish Museum has earned her wide acclaim, emerged as another newcomer. Conversely, Roger Federer, in spite of his upset at the U.S. Open last summer, ranked first on the Men’s list among Air Mail voters.

The more the List changes, it seems, the more it stays the same. In 1970, Eleanor proposed that “taste is hereditary,” having noted that descendants of earlier honorees showed up with “amazing consistency.” Almost two generations later, this dynastic phenomenon continues. Tracee Ellis Ross’s mother, Diana, was first named in 1973. Zoë Kravitz’s father, Lenny, debuted on the I.B.D.L. in 1998. (At the time, Eleanor said that her committee of style arbiters—then including Hall of Famers Nan Kempner, Lynn Wyatt, Anne Slater, and Kenneth Jay Lane—“all screamed for joy” at the drop of the singer’s name.) Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana’s grandmother, Queen Sirikit of Thailand, entered the Hall of Fame in 1965. Likewise, Lady Kitty Spencer follows in the footsteps of her soigné aunt, Princess Diana of Wales, who ascended to the Hall of Fame in 1989. For a complete roster of Hall of Famers, please consult the appendix to The International Best-Dressed List: The Official Story, which can be purchased by clicking on this link.

The passionate engagement of Air Mail readers with this year’s Poll is indicative of how much the audience and appetite for images of fashionable people have expanded since the List’s beginnings. Though the standards by which great style is measured may have changed over the decades, the impetus behind it has not. As Eleanor pointedly observed, “You cannot separate people, their yearnings, their dreams, and their inborn vanity from an interest in clothes.”

The 2019 International Best-Dressed List


  • Cate Blanchett (Australia, U.S.)
  • Inés Domecq, Marquesa de Almenara (Spain)
  • Elle Fanning (U.S.)
  • Rachel Feinstein (U.S.)
  • Zoë Kravitz (U.S.)
  • Janelle Monáe (U.S.)
  • Tracee Ellis Ross (U.S.)
  • Lady Kitty Spencer (U.K.)
  • Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana of Thailand
  • Phoebe Waller-Bridge (U.K.)


  • Roger Federer (Switzerland)
  • Ralph Fiennes (U.K.)
  • LeBron James (U.S.)
  • Jean-Gabriel Mitterrand (France)
  • Ivan Pun (Myanmar, Hong Kong)
  • Vito Schnabel (U.S.)
  • Harry Styles (U.K.)
  • Prince Carl Philip of Sweden
  • Martin von Haselberg (U.S., Argentina)
  • The Duke of Westminster (U.K.)


  • Jean-Christophe Bonaparte and Countess Olympia Von Arco-Zinneberg (France, U.K., Germany)
  • Amal and George Clooney (U.S., U.K., Italy)
  • Ginevra Elkann and Giovanni Gaetani dell’Aquila d’Aragona (Italy)

Fashion Professionals

  • Catherine Baba (Australia, France)
  • Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert (Sweden, Italy)
  • Bianca Brandolini D’Adda (Italy, U.S.)
  • Thom Browne (U.S.)
  • Tonne Goodman (U.S.)
  • Aurora James (U.S.)
  • Saloni Lodha (India, U.K.)
  • Hikari Mori (Japan)
  • Zac Posen (U.S.)
  • Geoffroy van Raemdonck (Belgium, U.S.)

Hall of Fame

  • H.M. Queen Letizia of Spain
  • Valentino