Y ou know an icon of style when you see her: Madonna, Marilyn, Fann Woon Fong. There’s a girl in my neighbourhood who wears her hair in pink dreadlocks and graces the sidewalks in Chuck Taylors with lacey anklet socks.
She’d never be featured in Vogue, but she’s got as much style as CoCo Chanel ever did, and then some.
Every Summer gets me thinking about the difference between style and fashion – probably because of all the advertising campaigns that start. “Fall’s Fashion is Fabulous!” the ads scream, or “Come see the season’s hottest colours! Get your wardrobe’s must-haves!”
If the department stores had their way, we’d be racing to reinvent ourselves each season. And that’s what bothers me. Clothes are wonderfully, gloriously about identity.
They’re a chance for us to name ourselves out loud, in vibrant colour. I’m all for being playful with identity (today I’m a school girl, tomorrow I’m a temptress!), but why should we change who we appear to be on the fashion industry’s schedule?
From personal experience I can tell you that if you dye your hair too often, old friends won’t recognise you – so it’s best to pick something and stick with it.
Worse, these days we’re drowning under the influence of mass-produced clothing (GAP, Beneton, GAP, Banana Republic, GAP) and mass-distributed media (“You’ve simply got to have the new chinos from Calvin Klien!”). So when the shops start encouraging us to buy, they’re also encouraging us to buy alike. They’re tempting us to destroy our own personal style in pursuit of mass-marketed fashion. And that’s not okay.
Style vs. Fashion
Fashion is a teasing, unfaithful lover. It seduces you with promises of novelty and pleasure, drains your bank account, and just when you think you’ve won it over, Fashion has darted off to the Next Big Thing. While Fashion is riding around with a new friend on a customised Vespa scooter, you’re stuck wearing last season’s power beads.
Ah… but Style, Style will treat you right.
Style will let you wear combat boots with your prom dress, or a Power Puff T-shirt with your power suit. It nurtures your own tastes and individuality, teaches you to trust your judgment, and rejoices in being your life-long companion.
Discover it, and you’ll be your own icon of style, instantly recognisable with your own particular brand of je nes c’est quoi, (rather than a walking billboard for the latest whims of the fashion industry). The trick? Simply this: You’ll have to make a commitment to be honest (about who you are), brave (to occasionally fly in the face of Fashion), and disciplined (resist the trendy).