In truth, Hutton finds fashion rules "absurd"; her goal is to make an organic connection between outer wrappings and inner life. Because her clothes are in sync with her personality, they never wear her; because she holds on to favorites, they carry a bit of history. "I like to have things for years—things with holes, raggedy things," she says. "They make me feel good."

Feeling good, for her, is the touchstone of style, and she cultivates it. Long an environmental activist, Hutton has found her own piece of earth: After a near-fatal motorcycle crash nine years ago, "I needed a softer place to live than New York City concrete, so I bought a 1917 beach shack in Venice, California. It has a big vegetable garden. It's great therapy. A garden responds. You see things change and grow."

Evolution is something of a Hutton trademark. Even with a knee brace from a surfing injury and a business that keeps her more tied down than she'd like, she continues leaping into the unknown. "The doctors told me I'd be fine if I play only golf and tennis doubles for the rest of my life," she says with a laugh. "But I dive. I dogsled. I trek. I guess I'll have surgery." After all, you don't get to be an icon by standing still.

Express Yourself: A few words of wisdom from the master of personal style.

* On wardrobe essentials: "Always have a navy blazer. White pants, tan pants, navy or black pants—whatever looks good on you. Well-made T-shirts in long and short sleeves. And a good pair of black heels and camel-colored oxfords. If you can afford to, get high-quality classics so you can wear them forever and ever."

* On basic black: "It wipes me out. I can't wear it. Not everything works for everybody."

* On biker chic: "Motorcycle clothes need to be thicker. When you're going fast on the highway, you don't want to leave skin behind."

* On accessorizing: "I have small bones, so I can't wear big jewelry. The jewelry ends up walking around. I want Lauren walking around."

* On developing a signature look: "When I first came to New York, my favorite outfit was a pair of aqua terry cloth shorts and a men's maroon mohair sweater. All I'm saying is that you couldn't have been dumber than me. Finding your look isn't complicated if you go in without being frightened. Notice what people are complimenting you on. Experiment with new things once in a while, but have your tried-and-true pieces that work."


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