Due to the fact that I plan to post, in the near future, descriptions of various styles, I thought about starting with a few words about how I see the difference between style and fashion.
STYLE: it is the most difficult to define and/or explain, especially since our language is poor in words when it comes to fashion. Many of us confuse style with the lines of a clothing item, with its cut. Others place an equal sign between style and tendency. The worst part is when I am asked: “What style would suit me?”. As I see things, the style is more an extension of one’s own person. It’s about attitude, personality, instinct, and tastes.
The style is not a material thing, but a form of expression, a declaration you make to the world, it’s about the choices you make. In very many cases, besides the previously mentioned factors (personality, tastes, education, etc.), a good contribution is brought in by our lifestyle as well. The clothes we wear are just one of our style’s expression – because the reflection of our style can also be seen in the way we decorate our apartment, in how much we take care of ourselves, in the sports we practice (or not!), in the music we listen, and so on.
If your daily uniform means a pair of jeans and a white T-shirt or if, on the contrary, your wardrobe contains only clothes with cuts in the trends, all these things say something about yourself. Not clothes themselves are the style, but the message they transmit about yourself. The style evolves, grows up, and changes in time. It would be tragic, isn’t it so, to dress in our 30s the same way we did when we were just 17.
Besides lifestyle and personality, your style can be influenced by age, culture, geography, emotions, experiences, or interests you suddenly discover. A trip to Morocco and all the accessories you buy from there can make you, in time, to change your appearance so that you manage to keep alive the memories you got from that vacation: you outline your eyes with Kohl, you wear long and colorful skirts, or you dress in white linen clothes only, you make your hair wavy, or you wear a thin silver bracelet around your ankle, with tiny bells attached to it. For a summer or two, you want to be a sort of Scheherazade and your style becomes ethnic, bohemian, artistic.
So I won’t make irrelevant remarks, the main idea is that most people prefer expressing themselves through clothes, while some choose to hide behind them. That says something as well, doesn’t it? The style, just like anything else in our lives, is all about making choices. You choose to show something about yourself to the world, through the clothes you wear and style you display. But, at the same time, you can deceive people – and yourself, at the same time – dressing in a style that doesn’t represent you. For you, the result will be a continuous state of discomfort.
FASHION: when it comes to fashion, I must agree with Stella Blum, who said: “Fashion is a social contract, the result of a consensus reached by a mass of people”. In brief, at least this is how I think everything started.
To trivialise things, let’s take a simple example. Let’s assume someone sees a worker on a building yard, dressed in denim overall, and thinks: “Hm, I could also wear an overall like that, with a white tank top, and look cool in it”. This person dresses like this and, a bit later, a friend notices the attire, likes it, identifies with that particular style, and copies it (or finds a different way to wear the denim overall). And the same thing is done by 10 other people, and then another 100 people, and so on until that combination becomes “common ground”.
Somewhere in the middle, shops and clothes manufacturers notice that not just building yard workers wear denim overalls, but also bubs, and so they begin making various versions of the same clothing item: in various denim colors, various cuts, with one single strap, with studs, etc. As these overalls are being bought, new models emerge, then they are marketed, maybe even associated with a celebrity. In a very short while, a new trend appears: the consensus of a large group of people about how cool it is to wear denim overall. And this is how fashion is born.
Today, there are designers that create trends on their own. Some try to guess the things that will make people fall in love, others follow the evolution of some preferences, of some ideas and try to translate them in fashion (for instance, the importance increase of the eco-friendly behaviour led to the creation of bio cosmetics and clothes). Well, the style is each person’s method of selecting from fashion what represents him or her and fits their personality, lifestyle, tastes, age. Otherwise, fashion would dictate everything and we would all wear identical overalls.
It is a praiseworthy desire to know everything about fashion, what are the latest trends, what’s in fashion and what is out of fashion because this is the only way you can identify yourself with the fashion elements that fit you and enjoy wearing. Be your own muse and don’t copy the style of anyone else.
I am curious to see how you see things. What do you understand about style and fashion?