People who know how to dress and look fabulous any time, any occasion know their own style. They understand that fashion is subservient to style. Many words have been written on the subject of style versus fashion. The challenge for those of us who seek to express the difference is comparing the tangible with the intangible. Fashion is obvious but style is ephemeral. There are numerous expressions offered by many people in an attempt to encapsulate the difference between style and fashion. Perhaps the most succinct of these is attributed to Yves St.Laurent; “Fashion fades, style is eternal”.
A person of style leaves an enduring and positive impression. They are surrounded by an aura of confidence and credibility. They are at ease with themselves and they have the gift of putting others at ease. True style lacks pretension and contrivance. The external persona is a genuine reflection of the inner personality. George Clooney and Helen Mirren are wonderful examples of this. Yes, they are fashionable and good looking but they also exude a sense of style that sets them apart from others. They have created a visual image that reflects their own personal identity so that their elegance and glamour appears effortless and comfortable.
Fashion fits in, style stands out.
Perhaps the true difference between style and fashion is maturity and self knowledge. A genuinely stylish person knows how to dress not only because they understand what suits them but also because they like themselves. They are clear in their own mind who they are and what they represent. This self knowledge and self confidence gives them the courage to be noticed and to be different.
It’s not by accident that young people in the turmoil of adolescence are the most slavish adherents to fashion. They adopt the current look because they are not yet ready to stand alone as individuals. They need their social networks to validate themselves, to provide their identity and bolster their fragile sense of self. They are still in the process of becoming and so in the meantime they seek conformity with their peers.
Fashion is conformity, style is individuality.
Though most people emerge from their adolescent years with some semblance of personal identity, many continue to live with high levels of self doubt. This insecurity is reflected in their visual image. They choose to wear understated and toned down garments devoid of statement or self expression. They live in neutrals and shy away from colour. They often say that they don’t know how to dress which is why they choose the safe options. They admire the temerity of others who wear striking designs and creative combinations but recoil from attracting attention to themselves in a similar way. They admire style in others but lack the confidence to create a purposeful style for themselves.
The majority of people want others to perceive them positively, (most people want to be liked) but they have neglected to recognise and articulate to themselves how they wish to be perceived. Thereby, they run the risk of being incorrectly interpreted through their visual image because they haven’t purposefully considered it. Their positive attributes may go unrecognised or misconstrued. It is only when we are clear about the perception we wish others to have of us that we will truly know how to dress to express our own unique and intentional style.
By Michele Gillett