The grand dame and epitome of WASP style, C.Z. Guest was a true tastemaker whose style transcended eras | Illustration by Briana Murphy for The Market Herald

C.Z. Guest: The Glitzy Story Behind a Quintessential Fashion Icon

There are few fashion icons that curate a style as quintessentially American, tasteful and elegantly understated as the late C.Z. Guest.

The grand dame and epitome of WASP style, C.Z. Guest was a true tastemaker whose style transcended eras. Guest’s look and lifestyle defined the term “good taste.”

Recognised as a stage actress, writer, champion horsewoman and socialite, C.Z. Guest was more than just a member of the elite upper-class. Described as a country girl at heart, C.Z. wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty and enjoyed horse riding and gardening throughout her life.

The fashionable life of a Boston Brahmin

Born into a family of ‘Boston Brahmins’, C.Z.’s life as a socialite came quite naturally from her upbringing. Attending society events, balls and dinners C.Z. quickly became well-connected to some of the top names in America’s elite circles.

Mainbocher became C.Z.’s favourite designer, and even custom made pieces for her.

I just think it’s very important to have your own look if you can.

C.Z. Guest in an interview with Look TV

Recognised as a style icon, particularly for her sleek and rather sporty attire, C.Z. earned a place in the International Best Dressed List in 1959. In 1962, C.Z. was featured on the cover of Time magazine as part of an article on American society.

Image: Time magazine cover, 1962 | Source: Time Archives
C.z. Guest At The Everglades Club In 1920 | Source: Morgan Collection/Getty Images

She was a country girl at heart, and she had a gardening column for many years…What she cared most about was that things looked beautiful and were done a certain way.

Cornelia Guest in an article for Harper’s Bazaar
Spinach-green faux-marbre and Stark’s leopard-spot carpeting make a bracing statement at C. Z. Guest’s Long Island country house, House & Garden, 2004 | Source: Architectural Digest

I never considered myself an icon or anything like that… that’s just too pretentious.

C.Z. Guest in an interview with Look TV

In 2002, C.Z. won the 2002 CFDA Fashion Icon Award. Since her passing in 2003, C.Z. fashionable legacy continues to be praised and appreciated, particularly through the iconic photography by well-known photographer, Slim Aarons.

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