Most people mix fashion and style together with little thought as to their differences. In my opinion fashion is a form of social bonding based on trends and memes.
Fashion is about what’s out there. It is primarily copied and therefore repetitive with an eye to popular approval. Don’t mistake me, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with fashion, but I question the deeper (and generally unanalyzed) social strategies imbedded in it i.e. conformity and its evil stepchild, group think. It’s not just about hemlines.
The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself~ Rita Mae Brown
Inasmuch as conformity is a wise decision if you are a wildebeest, if safety is your primary motivator when dressing you will certainly ‘fit in” as the third girl from the left but interesting or memorable you will never be, and forever a nameless girl in a herd of satin or taffeta.
Groupthink is even more insidious. Collective opinion stifles originality and independence. It is its own kind of internal police force perennially reinforcing “predictability” and the knowing of one’s place. Ah yes, that old shibboleth of the social necessity of women knowing their place. Yawn. Fashion will keep you there.
Style is a different conversation altogether. Style is a form of self-knowledge. A woman who knows herself is a potent force and style is her fond co-conspirator. Discerning your personal style is about honesty with yourself. And this honesty isn’t about self criticism.
Seeing ourselves through the lens of disapproval is a ghostly echo of the “not good enough” narrative that has been crushing women since Eve got hungry in Eden. Everybody has flaws. The girl with the best boobs in town may have bad ankles. Its about taking a serious look at your self (freckles and all) and discovering your strengths. Then you learn how to dress them.
Style is sharp. Not in a cutting kind of way. More in an incisive (def. accurate and sharply focussed) kind of way. When you pull it together, something clicks. A neckline, a glove, a texture, a fragrance, all emerge as a ‘look’. A look that is accurate (about you) and sharply focussed (on you). You, the unique formula of experience and wisdom that can announce itself in multiple ways.
So I invite you to do some detective work. Find out what colours, fabrics and textures, what lines (I’m a sucker for an asymmetrical cut) call to you. Play with it, make it fun. Find out what thrills you (for some women it’s purses, for some it’s shoes) what speaks to you and what doesn’t, and then most importantly, what works for you.
“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” Coco Chanel.
It’s about being distinctive and original. And memorable. No longer choosing to be the invisible woman.
Article by: Cultural Historia, Sorcha McEwan