Style Icon: Beth Ditto

Beth Ditto of Gossip

Photo: Gossip

Mary Beth Patterson, aka Beth Ditto, fronts indie rock dance band Gossip. Beth’s uncompromising, in-your-face attitude and physical presentation has earned her a special place in the hearts of millions. In a little over three years, Beth went from a Arkansas-born small town gal to the sole performer at an elite Fendi after-party. Her lovable personality, bold fashion, and talent culminate to create one of the most iconic musicians of our time.

Despite her obvious influence on fellow fashionistas, Beth remains humble about her outlandish aesthetic and awe-inspiring presentation. In the Wall Street Journal post “Beth Ditto: Fashion’s New Darling?” Beth said, “I’m not really a fashion icon. I wouldn’t go that far.” Beth’s humble nature and down to earth personality only make her all the more lovable. Her grounded sense of self has earned a cult following of fans, staggering record sales, and a few noteworthy awards, such as New Musical Express magazine’s award for the Coolest Person in Rock (2006), and Glamour magazine’s award for International Artist of the Year (2008). As if musical success and international recognition wasn’t enough, Beth’s also added fashion designer to her admirable CV. In the summer of 2009, she designed a line for a UK retailer specializing in women’s clothing sized 14 to 32.

Beth Ditto of Gossip

Photo: Gossip

Beth’s passion for fashion has resulted in a handful of legendary outfits, and also a few controversies – but what true style icon hasn’t run into the occasional crowd of opposition?

In one of my favorite Gossip songs, “On the Prowl,” Beth’s soulful voice croons, “I’ll give you something that you’ll never forget.” She lives up to that promise with a never-ending playful presentation of alluring ensembles, which only add to her fabulous feminist mystique!

Beth Ditto of Gossip

Photo: Gossip

What do you think, readers? Is Beth an example of iconic style? Let us know below!

About Annie

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  1. vadjutka 03/12/2010 at 11:33 am #


    I am a little off topic here, but I want to tell you that I just bumped into your shop and it was love at first sight! Even blogged about it! One day they will be mine! 🙂

  2. Natalie B. (ModCloth) 03/12/2010 at 11:34 am #

    Awesome post, Annie! Beth proves that every woman can be creative and chic, and the number on a dress’ tag really doesn’t matter.

  3. Angela 03/12/2010 at 11:38 am #

    I have to admit that I’m not that into their music, but I am SO into Beth’s look! She never disappoints.

  4. Hannah 03/12/2010 at 12:41 pm #


  5. Katie 03/12/2010 at 2:18 pm #

    I really don’t like Beth Ditto. I’ve never liked her style, but more importantly, there’s a fine line between supporting a healthy, natural weight and supporting obesity. If an anorexic girl was as much of an exhibitionist as her people would be deeply disturbed.

  6. Jennifer (ModCloth) 03/12/2010 at 2:28 pm #

    I love this lady and her uncompromising, unapologetic style!

  7. Mandy (Modcloth) 03/12/2010 at 2:45 pm #

    Love her music, love her line, love it all.

    <3 Great post Annie!

  8. Brit 03/12/2010 at 3:33 pm #

    Beth Ditto? Iconic? Hardly. As Katie said, there is a difference between naturally curvy and morbidliy obese. As soon as people lost interest in her she started bashing other singers (like Katie Perry) in order to keep getting attention. That’s just pathetic. On top of that, her fashion is just weird, and not in a good way. In short, she disgusts me.

  9. Zach (ModCloth) 03/12/2010 at 4:52 pm #

    I think she looks great. She has the style and confidence to make it all work.

  10. Ginny 03/12/2010 at 5:31 pm #

    Katie & Brit – I TOTALLY agree with you!

    Plus sized women should only be allowed to wear stretchy pants and mumus. Better yet, they should be rounded up and kept in colonies like lepers, so people don’t ever have to see them. They can’t be famous or successful. Only the skinny girls can promote unhealthy lifestyles, like drugs and alcohol abuse and driving under the influence. Only skinny, famous girls can be catty and have attitude.

    Things will be sooooo much better that way…

  11. Kit 03/12/2010 at 5:38 pm #

    I agree with Katie and Brit a tiny bit…But Brit, there is NO reason to be that cruel, you don’t even know her so you can’t make that judgement about her!!!

  12. Mandy (Modcloth) 03/12/2010 at 5:39 pm #

    I agree with Zach.

  13. liz 03/12/2010 at 6:10 pm #

    i agree with katie. well put!

  14. Kim 03/12/2010 at 6:11 pm #

    I love their music! Great to rock out to! And it’s so refreshing to see a woman performer with a REAL body for a change. And she doesn’t cover it up, she shows it off, which is even better. She’s just like “yeah, this is me, deal with it”. GO Beth!

  15. Katie R. 03/12/2010 at 6:39 pm #

    First off – I’m not the 1st Katie, and in fact, I’d like to dispute what she said. I don’t see how this post was celebrating obesity. It was celebrating style. And, um, if “someone anorexic” starting dressing like an exhibitionist? Helloooo! There are wardrobe malfunctions galore at every fashion show, and even designers have said those ladies are unhealthily underweight. Let’s talk about fashion instead of weight, ladies. Let’s celebrate that Beth works what she’s workin’ with! You go, Beth Ditto!

  16. Katie M. 03/12/2010 at 7:56 pm #

    Katie #3 here. Here’s what I thought before I read any of these comments. HIDEOUS. Here’s what I think after reading the comments and taking everything into consideration. STILL HIDEOUS. I don’t care if you’re fat or skinny. The fashion here SUCKS. The fact that someone that big is wearing just makes it worse. *throws up a little* ughhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Katharine Ellis Tapley 03/12/2010 at 8:51 pm #

    Wow. Lots of Katies around here. It’s like third grade all over again (says the girl who demanded to be called Katharine in 3rd grade because she was tired of being the zillionth Katie).

    As far as Beth Ditto goes, her fashion isn’t my taste at all, but I like what she does with it.

    I don’t think this is celebrating obesity, but I’m speaking as someone who is married to a man with a medical condition that caused him to gain a LOT of weight and makes it incredibly difficult for him to lose any of it.

    I know it bothers him to see catalogs and commercials full of the skinny guys that he will never be, and see them defined by society as “sexy”.

    Thankfully, he’s a dude, so all I have to do to make him feel better is tell him he’s gorgeous, and that’s enough for him.

    Anyway, I know nothing about Beth Ditto’s personal choices or health. If she’s a rock star in that domino dress with matching tights, I say go for it, Lady.

  18. Christine 03/12/2010 at 10:16 pm #

    I have to agree, I really don’t see anything fashionable about her style at all. Just because you dress out of the box does not mean you are a fashion genius.

    Also, I must say that I do not support either fashion model extremes, starving skinny and morbidly obese are just as gross in my eyes. While I am a big supporter of bringing more “real women” into fashion, that is normal body types from curvy to petite to plus sizes, I do not consider Beth Ditto to be any sort of hero furthering this. People are very vocal about their disgust with anorexic models and there should be no taboo about the opposite extreme. It is not okay to be morbidly obese. It is unattractive and unhealthy, just as being morbidly underweight is. And I think it should be okay to say it.

  19. Dinah 03/12/2010 at 10:19 pm #

    I love Beth Ditto. She is UNAFRAID.

    Haters to the left.

  20. Katie M. 03/12/2010 at 10:39 pm #

    This website is about fashion. Not musical talent. Not weight. Fashion. Not – lets all be nice to each other or be nice about the girl in the picture because we feel bad for her. FASHION. Her sense of “style” is sickening. Come on!!!!!!!!!! This does not mean she is a bad person. This does not mean she isn’t talented (?). There is no reason to discuss weight. Her fashion sucks. S. U. C. K. SUCKS!!!

  21. Catarina 03/13/2010 at 12:24 am #

    Ditto with the Ditto article! I love her music and her unique style. I love that she doesn’t seem to give a hoot what she *should* wear (you know the so called bs about not wearing stripes etc) and does whatever she wants. A modern classic woman in my opinion. Go Beth!

  22. Miss Tarren 03/13/2010 at 2:59 am #

    christine: you hit the nail on the head.

  23. Brit 03/13/2010 at 3:53 am #

    I came back to read the post again and Kit is right. That was cruel, but it came across much harsher than I had meant. Rather I should say that she upsets me. Because the attitude she gives the world isn’t badass, it’s heinous. She’s in the public eye and therefor held to a higher stander, if she or anyone else likes it or not. I don’t support anyone who supports an unhealthy weight. Anorexic = Bad. Obese = Bad. And no one looks good in an all domino patterned ensemble.

  24. Richard (ModCloth) 03/13/2010 at 10:35 am #

    I don’t know much about Beth Ditto, her eating habits, or what she stands for. But after reading this post and seeing her singular style, I’m a new fan. I admire anyone who is comfortable in their own skin and isn’t afraid to stand apart from convention. Maybe that’s the message we should all be taking away from her – not necessarily that we should emulate her style, but that we should ‘ditto’ her fearlessness about being individuals.

  25. Katie R. 03/13/2010 at 10:39 am #

    To Katie M.: Have you ever read the Edna Woolman Chase quote, “Fashion is general, style is individual”? That’s why this piece is called “Style Icon,” not “Fashion Icon.” It may not be your taste, and quite frankly, it’s not mine either! I wouldn’t wear those outfits either. But I appreciate Ditto’s fearless attitude when it comes to expressing HER personal STYLE.

  26. Vix 03/13/2010 at 11:30 am #

    I agree with Richard, well said! All the rest of you put your claws back in, the world doesn’t need anymore cynics.

  27. Sophie S. 03/13/2010 at 1:30 pm #

    Ginny hit the nail on the head.

    I also find it interesting that the modcloth blog is featuring Beth Ditto when the modcloth store doesn’t sell anything that would fit her.

  28. Katie M. 03/13/2010 at 2:13 pm #

    You know what’s hilarious? If a healthy sized person wore any of these outfits their sense of “style” would be featured as one of the faux pas on this blog. Ever notice how people overuse the word genius? Someone has one good idea and…BAM! Wow, that person is a genuis! Same with “style.” Dress as weird as possible – whether you look good or not – and suddenly you’re fearless and stylish. As far as being iconic, Beth Ditto’s style is not.

  29. Alyse 03/13/2010 at 4:45 pm #

    I like their music, not her fashion sense. and also i don’t like it when “curvy” (or sometimes just plain fat) people are called “real” women. Am i a figment of someones imagination because I’m tall and skinny? Can someone tell me this?

  30. Katie R. 03/13/2010 at 4:55 pm #

    Hey, Sophie – Here’s a little research to read up on before criticizing:

  31. Rebecca 03/13/2010 at 7:11 pm #

    I love listening to The Gossip, and I think Beth’s style is HER OWN choice. Would it be mine? No. But that’s what makes the world so interesting, people being themselves.

    Also, ditto to what Alyse said about the term “real.” Is a woman any less “real” if they don’t have a big butt and boobs? Gimme a break. If I’m not “real” because I’m skinny and have a thin frame, I guess that makes me unreal, right 😉

  32. becca boo 03/13/2010 at 7:46 pm #

    She reminds me of one of my best friends. I like her balls-y style, its interesting. I do think she should take better care of herself, but I don’t see many celebs doing that so oh well, to each there own!

  33. Anna 03/13/2010 at 8:18 pm #

    I adore ModCloth for celebrating Beth’s amazing creativity, originality and daring. Instead of making this about size, perhaps we can acknowledge that Beth brings a unique perspective to fashion. Her clothing line, while not everyone’s taste, was not the boring and predictable “celebrity line”. She is innovative and fearless–fashion qualities that are worth celebrating.

  34. Angela 03/13/2010 at 11:38 pm #

    The girl can sing, but if being a “style icon” means dressing like a drag queen, leave me out.

  35. Lulu 03/14/2010 at 1:00 am #

    i love Beth Ditto. she’ll always be a fashion icon to me. i first read about her when she was on the cover of BUST and have absolutely loved her since then! especially her hair!!

  36. Emily 03/14/2010 at 3:11 am #

    I think what is important about Beth Ditto, is that if someone of a smaller size than her wore what she wears with as much confidence and with as much love of their own body they would be in the same style league.

    It’s not size that matters here, it’s how a woman carries herself. If she feels like the most beautiful woman in the room, than she is. I am a plus size person, and when I am wearing my favourite dress and my favourite pattered tights and heels no one can stop me. Beth Ditto is probably unhealthy, but who are we to judge? Maybe she has a medical condition, or just geniunely enjoys being who she is.

    How about we all take a leaf out of her book and be proud of who we are as individuals.

  37. Sophie 03/14/2010 at 9:11 am #

    This is getting useless. Like politics. If you’re a republican, then a discussion with a democrat is not going to change your mind. Vice versa. I think she’s really ugly. Some of you think she’s fabulous. To each their own, I guess. No one’s going to change my mind!

  38. Sophie 03/14/2010 at 9:13 am #

    PS – I’m not the first Sophie. Haha!

  39. Sophie S. 03/14/2010 at 1:49 pm #

    Katie R., I appreciate that ModCloth is aware of the sizing problem, but, as evidenced by sellers like Igigi, SWAK, and LucieLu, there ARE designers making cute clothes for larger girls. The fact remains that ModCloth’s clothes fit a very narrow range of sizes.

  40. anon 03/14/2010 at 1:55 pm #

    I’m so shocked by the mean comments! Hate is what makes a person ugly – not their size or the way they dress.

    Get a grip girls.

  41. Sarah 03/14/2010 at 6:54 pm #

    “If an anorexic girl was as much of an exhibitionist as her people would be deeply disturbed.”

    Humm….*opens up fashion magizine* Kate Moss, Lindsey Lohan, Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse, Lady Gaga….Should I continue? I think we have already been disturbed by anorexic girls…curves please!

  42. moony 03/14/2010 at 7:01 pm #

    i agree with the anonymous person above–all you ladies need to get a grip!

    this blog is about fashion, not musical preference or diatribes on weight. so what if you don’t like her style? she can rock hers and you can rock your own.

  43. Hilary 03/15/2010 at 7:00 am #

    Wow, massive discussion going on here.

    To get the ‘weight’ issue out of the way. I think that fashion and body shape does go hand in hand. You dress to compliment your body shape, do you not? Beth’s fashion probably goes against what would normally be considered for her body type, and carries it off with fabulous confidence. I guess that is what helps her to gain ‘Fashion Icon’ status.

    To the actual topic. I do quite like Beth’s use of bold prints, I think they look great, except a more extreme than I would personally were. She is a performer after all, so they are going to be a little on the experimental side. Not so sure about some of her earlier style, bit too different for me. Though, I love how she has an idea and absolutely runs with it. Hair and make-up complimenting well.

    And to get completely off topic again. Her voice is stunning!

  44. Annie (ModCloth) 03/15/2010 at 10:48 am #

    I love Beth’s bold, uncompromising presentation, which is why I chose to highlight her as a style icon. To me, her size is of little to no significance – what truly matters is her fearless, outlandish attitude of dress, a’la Grace Jones, Isabella Blow, and Daphne Guinness, previous style icons.

    Beth was actually a recent Faux Pas to Fabulous subject, which just goes to show that her risky fashion is quite polarizing. To me, that makes her style all the more admirable!

    Thanks for all the thoughtful feedback, everyone!

  45. Alyse 03/15/2010 at 6:35 pm #

    @ sarah
    Lady Gaga? Britney Spears? Neither of these women are anywhere close to anorexic!

  46. Kristina 03/15/2010 at 7:38 pm #

    Ginny made my fave comment.

    Beth is totally herself, and she’s awesome.

  47. Wanderlusting 03/15/2010 at 8:29 pm #

    @GINNY – your DELIGHTFULLY sarcastic comment wins this whole post!

    I wouldn’t dress like Beth.

    And she could stand to lose some weight. But she has also obviously doesn’t give a sh*t which is ADMIRABLE! She looks how she wants and dresses how she wants and people need to be less afraid these days.

    So in that sense, YES i think she is a good role model. Who cares if she is FAT? Since when did rock and pop singers have to be role models anyway? SHEESH.

    You go Beth…looking forward to seeing you at Coachella!!! 🙂


  48. A.D 03/16/2010 at 7:28 am #

    Her music is awesome, and as long as her music is awesome, I don’t care about much else!

  49. Rachel Jiles 03/16/2010 at 8:57 am #

    It’s interesting that you are featuring Beth Ditto on your site. While I love Mod Cloth dresses I noticed that you don’t even go over a size “L”? I was shopping for my partner and wanted to surprise her but as I started browsing around I noticed that that there was nothing in an XL?

    It’s just sort of odd to me that featuring Beth Ditto on your site and praising her (I love her too and love her attitude) but yet you don’t even carry anything for curvier girls. They exist too!

  50. Annie (ModCloth) 03/16/2010 at 12:00 pm #

    @Rachel Jiles,

    Please see Natalie’s post,

    for more information re: ModCloth’s take on selling sizes above L/XL. If you have any additional questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to let us know!

  51. Ti 03/16/2010 at 6:07 pm #

    I love Gossip and I adore Beth Ditto because of the image she gives: no matter what size you are as long as you feel good about yourself. Yes, I wouldn’t wear what she wears, but she’s a rockstar I work on an office…
    Style and sizes have been an issue for a long time. Models are thinner every day and women around the world ain’t feeling better about it.. So for me Beth Ditto is an answer to all that, maybe not a perfect answer, but an answer non the less.

  52. natalia 03/18/2010 at 3:09 pm #

    I do appreciate Ditto’s comfortableness with her body, it makes me feel more confident about my own body.

    That said, I do think we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about obesity at all. She is very overweight, and it is probably unhealthy, regardless of the reason .

    @ Wanderlusting, yeah, you’re right. perhaps sometimes people just want to be themselves and not worry about being a role model or being admired. That’s a shocking thought to consider, and it makes me feel better about myself all over again.

    Thanks for this post everyone, it was cool to read and talk about :o)

  53. Jazz 04/05/2010 at 11:37 am #

    Well first off I have to say some of the comments have absolutely disgusted me, namely the 1st Katie, Katie M and Brit. Her sense of style may not appeal to everyone but its HER style and in my opinion she rocks it.

    Only Beth Ditto may be able to rock the looks she does because they are her personal style and she has the confidence and general up yours attitude to wear them. Which I think is admirable. Anyone can be “fashionable” it’s the easiest thing, but not everyone can achieve “stylish”. It’s a personal thing which develops with the person.

    And on the topic of her being overweight? Well, for me it’s hell of a lot better than seeing another pretty skeleton on display. She looks happy, gorgeous and confident and that’s enough for me as far as she goes for a role model. 🙂

  54. Madison 07/01/2010 at 3:06 pm #

    I completely agree with Jazz. Beth is confident and happy,and everyone has different style opinions,but she goes out and owns it. More power to her.And we aren’t all skinny model type people,so stop hating.

  55. tiffany. 09/12/2010 at 4:33 am #

    Whats funny about all of this is that we haven’t heard from anyone who actually KNOWS her (Beth)… what if she already HAS lost weight? What if we just found out right now that this is what she looks like after losing 75 lbs? …she’d get an applause right? What if she was only aloud to wear grey since birth and now the curse is up? BUT…we don’t know!!
    My point is, let’s hold off on judgement…especially when we don’t have any facts.


    • tiffany. 09/12/2010 at 4:34 am #

      bad spelling error on *allowed …yikes!

  56. Emily 09/16/2010 at 8:09 pm #

    Her style is ballsy, though I wouldn’t wear it. She is also quite pretty for her size.

    That said, her weight is worrying. She’s *huge*, and that is undoubtedly unhealthy, no matter how much weight she lost of why she is still that size. It does not mean she’s ugly – it just means she should lose weight.

    Also, most models should gain weight.

    For reference, I think Christina Hendricks is the most beautiful woman in the world. It’s balance between curves and healthy. Size 000 is seldom healthy, even if you’re naturally that size (weight gain drinks are useful when your diet isn’t enough), and so is the size Ditto is.

  57. Whitney 01/04/2011 at 2:26 am #

    I saw a comment on “supporting her obesity”, and while I might agree with not doing that, the point is- she didn’t ask my opinion on her weight, and I don’t have the right to intrude on her autonomy- the right for her to make her own choices in this life, so I’m going to just stick to the things that actually apply to me, like how her music makes me feel. And her dancing, when I see her getting down, I don’t think “ewh stop”. I think, “you go girl- get your heart rate up!” Everyone has the right to enjoy themselves as much as they can for as long as they can. [okay- I’ll step off my soapbox for the day 😉

  58. Neon Threads Clothing 01/13/2011 at 4:36 am #

    She’s got amazing style!

  59. Todd 07/03/2011 at 12:53 pm #

    Wow, these are some of the meanest posts I have read on a blog recently. Too bad the internet encourages people to say things they would never say to a person’s face. Would you really walk right up to Beth Ditto and say your are “disgusting”? I for one would try to get to know her first. My mother is overweight like Beth and much of it has to do with her personal choices, but she doesn’t disgust me. I happen to love her and thankfully she loves me regardless of the mistakes I’ve made. I do understand many of you are beyond reproach and I applaud your excellence! Thankfully this world has a place for you as well…

    Now I happen to love her style; particularly her makeup choices. Thank god for musicians and artists!

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