Often ignored: style and fashion are not the same thing. Fashion refers to the clothes, the industry, and the endless trends. Style is personal. It’s not so much the clothes, but the attitudes, the feelings the clothes evoke, and the story they tell. Somewhere in the intersection of fashion and style comes the idea of being fashionable; having one’s personal style match what designers are showing. “Fashionable” is the sweet spot, and is the area that modern day influencers capitalize upon. But is it really worth it to be wearing all of the trends at all of the right times?
I think there’s a shift in the industry towards answering no. Street style has gone from dressing in head to toe flashy, to more discreet, personal looks. Project 333, the 5 piece French wardrobe, and, to a degree, the idea of Marie Kondo-ing one’s wardrobe all point towards consumers wanting less, wanting more personal pieces, and valuing style over fashion.
So how do you cultivate this mysterious, wonderful style?
Catwalk to Walking the Cats
Designers often show pieces in their runway collections that they have absolutely no intention of mass producing and selling. Truly. These pieces are meant to generate press buzz, round out the collection, and make a statement without losing the designer money. Clearly, not everything consumers are shown should be taken at face value. If you have an interest in fashion, you may have noticed that every season, there’s a list of must-have items. These lists are compilations of runway trends, predicted trends, or products that advertisers are paying to have featured.
The beauty of style is that you can interpret those lists in any way you wish. Combine trends! Put your own spin on other people’s ideas! When you’re looking at fashion blogs, glossy magazines, somebody’s private Pinterest board, or runway images, take everything with a pinch of salt. Remember that what’s being shown is presented to inspire, but not necessarily for direct copycating.
You don’t have to embrace every trend to be fashionable. I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable wearing cold shoulder shirts. It’s just not for me. So I don’t buy it, even though I’ve practically been force fed cold shoulder shirts for the past year. Don’t feel that you have to fill your wardrobe with trends. Choose pieces and styles that you absolutely love. If you don’t want to take it off when you sleep, it’s meant to be.
When you’re young, it’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else is wearing. That’s why I wore a pair of dark denim, ripped knee flare jeans from Abercrombie and Fitch all through seventh grade. As you get older, you’ll probably realize that some things suit you, and some don’t. Case in point: those jeans are long gone. Wearing clothes that you personally like on you will actually, thanks to enclothed cognition, make you feel more confident. Seriously. Don’t wear clothes that don’t suit your individual taste just because they’re en vogue. In a perfect world, every single thing in your closet should excite you, or at least feel like an old friend.
Broaden Your Horizons
I just moved from New Hampshire to New York. And beyond the obvious changes of 12 people versus 8.58 million people, one of the most different things has been the availability to shop. I just went to my 24 hour bodega and bought pears. Pears! It’s 10:05 pm, and I bought pears! Everything is available.
The internet makes pears available to even New Hampshirites. When it comes to clothing, regardless of your physical location, explore. I tend to still do a lot of online window shopping; everything is online. City Chic tops. Vintage fashion boutiques. Somebody’s ebay that is advertising vintage Dior dresses. Changing the way you shop can open you up to a much wider range of options and help you source unique items that will help build a truly personal style.
Try Before You Buy
Fitting rooms are basically a free gift. I know; sometimes you don’t have time, or there’s a line, or the fitting rooms are the scary tiny Zara ones. But trying things on truly is invaluable. The key word there is try. Not sure if you can pull of velvet pants? Try them. If you’re feeling too much pressure from other people, try shopping alone so that you can truly look at all of your opinions. Be open-minded and take any item that turns your head into the fitting room. You never know what something is going to look like until you try it.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help from people who work at a store. Even strangers can help you to develop your style.
Alright guys, that’s all I’ve got. What has been the most helpful for you in developing your personal style?