I’ve become fairly antagonistic about fashion. I used to be slightly right of neutral on the topic, for years and years, but in recent times, my feelings about fashion have become more intense.
Fashion is futile. Let me tell you what I mean and why I say that…
1. Fashion is not style.
And I draw a very clear distinction between the two. Sometimes, many times, those terms are used interchangeably. Which is a shame, because there’s the Grand Canyon separating them.
Just because you have an interest in, or engage heavily in the pursuit of fashion doesn’t mean you have style. You may have style, too – but it doesn’t immediately follow.
Style is an entirely different beast to fashion.
2. Fashion is the relationship to the external.
It is concerned with “what’s out there” – fashion items, available for purchase in the stores (online or in the real world). A focus on fashion is a matching process between what’s out there (fashion’s primary interest) to what I’m wearing.
The key question of fashion is: Is what I’m wearing a ‘match’ for what’s ‘out there’, to what’s been deemed ‘in fashion’?
Whereas style is the relationship to the internal. It’s about “what’s in here” (my sense of self, my identity, and my perception of who I am). The matching process is between what’s in here and how that is reflected and expressed in what I’m wearing.
The key question of style is: Does my clothing ‘match’ my sense of who I am, at least for today?
3. Fashion can be purchased.
Anyone, even those on very tight budgets now that fast and cheap fashion is so readily available, can be in on the fashion treadmill. There are dozens of fast fashion clothing chains, offering cheap items (often of dubious or obviously poor quality) that will give you a fashion fix, if that’s what you’re after.
On the other hand, style can’t be purchased in a store. You can buy individual items that contribute to your overall style, sure. But you cannot go into a store and ask for “style” – not authentic personal style. It isn’t available for sale.
Because style is more than the items you wear. Style is an attitude, it’s about self-expression, and it’s a unique hybrid kaleidoscope that only you can bring to life.
4. A focus on fashion is a focus on the immediate.
Many of the fast fashion chains pride themselves, and use as key marketing messages, the quickness and frequency new items are brought into their stores (some boast new items in store twice a week). If you want your fast fashion fix, you can get it multiple times a week, if you want.
Style on the other hand, is slow. You can’t go out in a single shopping expedition and purchase a stylish wardrobe. It just can’t be done because style – authentic personal style, as an expression of self – takes time. Style must be cultivated, collected, created, and curated.
A simple way of thinking of all this is: Fast Fashion vs. Slow Style.
5. Fashion takes our attention away from ourselves.
When your focus is on fashion, the emphasis is on the clothing, the items deemed to be fashionable.
Style brings our attention directly to ourselves. When your interest is in style, the emphasis is on the person.
Fashion can be away to distance yourself from yourself (which may be considered a desirable thing for some people at some points in time – sometimes distraction vs connection is what you seek).
Style is a way to make closer your relationship to yourself, as its focus and orientation is on the self and how it’s informed and expressed by clothing choices.