EVER WONDER WHY…TRENDS PASS AND STYLE REMAINS?
Our style carries psychological and personal significance. It reflects our shifting notion of self, evolving as we become clearer on who we are and our core identity. Style is a sounding board for the person we are and the person we wish to become. Each of us desires to be appreciated for the differences that make us unique. At the same time, we don’t want to be defined by these differences.
Growing up, we cultivate our style, forming the foundation of our style-consciousness.
Over the years, we revisit our wardrobe, editing our look to match the profound shift in our thinking. We tear down the exterior self and rebuild it once more with a dramatic makeover or haircut. In this sense, style is one of the most powerful tools we have available, helping control and refine our narrative.
As time passes, we grow tired of following fashion trends, swiping through the latest style edits, and watching celebrities. It’s at this critical moment in our lives that we often find ourselves with a pile of clothes at the end of our bed. We stare at our reflection, trying to understand the person in front of us. The mountain of clothing represents a literal and metaphorical impasse. It symbolizes a collection of identities of fading trends and selves. We realize with a mixture of disbelief and bewilderment that we still don’t know what to wear!
Each of us has experienced this crucial moment. With some quiet reflection, we start the slow, but deliberate process of clearing out our closet. We give away the clothing that no longer serves us. As we discard the old and save only what brings us joy, our style becomes clearer. Our core self emerges. We feel confident buying garments that make us feel comfortable. We understand our intrinsic value, refusing to seek validation or approval from the group or our peers. Clothing becomes a tool to communicate our unique position in the world. We shun fashion trends, growing wiser and more educated about fabrics and production methods. We prefer quality over trend. We buy less and better.
In the past, a woman’s clothing was often dictated by her religious and cultural environment. Fashion reflects the evolution of the individual and the collective. An individual’s style is often linked to an important and revolutionary social movement. It’s no coincidence women’s fashion became more daring as women gained rights and status. From corsets to flapper dresses and mini skirts in the swinging 60s, we can see a gradual societal shift in women’s clothing and roles. Recently, we’ve seen a rise in genderless clothing collections, where the emphasis is less on form and more on function. This represents the wealth of interchangeable roles men and women can occupy today.
Style is as personal as it is perpetual. It’s based on something profound and strong, anchored to our spirit, values, and lifestyle. Examples of strong style personalities are Princess Diana and Carolyne Bessette-Kennedy. These women are still remembered and loved for their character. Looking at their pictures their personalities emerge.
Diana famously didn’t wear gloves, because she wanted to hold people’s hands. She never wore hats to children’s hospitals, because it would be difficult to hug children with a hat. She wore velvet when visiting hospitals for the blind because it was a warm and tactile fabric. Diana used clothing to shape her public image, regularly removing her gloves to hold patients’ hands, reinforcing her place as “The People’s Princess.”
Similarly, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy cultivated an effortlessly elegant look, which was simple and approachable. One of the most memorable aspects of her look was red lipstick, a rich hue applied with her ring finger to achieve a blotted or bled look. This kept her appearance fresh without looking overly groomed.
To be style-conscious is to be aware of one’s intrinsic style. When we are style-conscious we want to wear clothes and accessories that express our true selves. This differs from being fashion-conscious. Although the terms might easily be used interchangeably, style is internal, while fashion is often trend-based. When we opt to buy one coat and wear it over and over, we are cultivating a signature style versus following fashion trends.