Inspired By: Stylish Thoughts…

Inspired By: Stylish Thoughts…

I’ve been thinking about style a lot of lately, possibly because I have been shopping excessively and going out at just as much – requiring the styling of many new ensembles for many different events, locations and situations. When I studied fashion two years ago I was lucky enough to truly discover exactly what it is exactly that beguiles me about fashion. Beyond the delight I find in dressing and dressing up, what I am so curious about and so deeply intrigued by is simple…it’s style. STYLE! That simple one syllable word that has such a weighty significance in terms of self expression. We all know the famous fashion quote ‘Fashion fades, style is eternal…’ But do we truly know how to define it? We know it when we see it -‘That’s stylish, she’s stylish, he’s got style etc.’

We all generally tend to have a universal understanding of who and what is stylish, hence why the world covets and henceforth creates style icons. And style icons vary from classic and sharp Victoria Beckham, to masters of the glam rock chic Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, preened to perfection and always neat Olivia Palermo  or forever casual and cool in a leather jacket, skinny jeans and boots combo Kate Moss.

But asides from using the word to identify a form of dressing, Classic, Casual, Trendy, Sporty etc, what constitutes as style and how can we identify what it looks like?

I like to define style as fashion’s cousin, her much cooler cousin and a trend is fashion’s sister, possibly even twin sister. Without going too deeply into semiology and linguistics, fashion is the object – the signified and the trend is formed by the signifiers, in this case the consumers (us), who with our consumption of said object  eventually make the object fashionable or/ and trendy.

Style, I refer to as fashion’s cooler cousin because it’s more expressive and offers more of a personal communication. If we could all afford to wear runway looks straight off the catwalk of the season’s most coveted look, regardless of how fashionable and on trend it might be, we’d all look like clones, or the alternative terminology, fashion victims. Style is not the possession of, or the monetary strength to, own and dress in fashionable items.  Style is the dance between conforming and rejecting, between being predictable, ironic and unexpected.

We can all wear a runway look and be fashionable, but  we’d have no credit to take for our ability to dress, because the look has already been packaged and parceled by another stylist. In fact, the only thing we might express dressed head to toe in a runway look is our undying love for fashion and our ability to keep up with its capricious nature. Ask Anna Dello Russo, Fashion Editor and Creative Director at Vogue Japan, who’ll tell you ‘I don’t want to be cool, I want to be fashion’. I have never seen a woman wear so many runway looks, in fact so fashionable is the passionate fashionista that she has been described by Helmut Newton as a ‘Fashion maniac’.  Anna might be considered ironically cool, like wearing nineties patterned  Moschino in the twenty first century or a black woman wearing a t-shirt that reads ‘Blondes have more fun,’ but too much irony or too much of one thing is never good.

So, back to this dance of conforming and rejecting. Style is a personal interpretation of the signified object – the fashion item, it’s the way in which we  choose to hangout with fashion’s sister, the signifiers, the masses that form the trends and its how we choose to reject it, by refusing to wear it, altering it or manipulate it. A white shirt might be fashionable, neatly buttoned down and tucked into a pair of jeans, we conform to the trend by wearing the white shirt, but we reject it by tucking only the front of the shirt into our jeans and leaving the back out, wearing the first three buttons undone or placing a statement necklace around the collar and so on and so forth.

In my humble opinion, ‘styling’ is the way in which we manipulate fashion. The most stylish of people in my belief are those that always have their eye on fashion but have the ability to manipulate, to innovate, to be unexpected but respectable, ironic and predictable and know exactly when to conform and when to reject.  Style is formed once we develop a particular method towards the way in which we approach dress, over a period of time this will form a motif which eventually becomes our own unique style.

Here’s to some of my personal style icons at the moment…

Carrie Bradshaw Sex and the City
Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City movie wearing pink cut out dress and black studded belt.
Carrie Bradshaw
Carrie Bradshaw – Sex and the City
Victoria Beckham wearing DVB Jeans
Victoria Beckham wearing DVB Jeans
Victoria Beckham
Victoria Beckham dressed in grey
Rihanna dressed in pink and orange
Rihanna dressed in pink and orange
Olivia Palermo in pink
Olivia Palermo wearing pink lace at the Valentino Couture at Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild
Olivia Palermo in black and navy blue
Olivia Palermo in black leather peplum top and navy blue shorts with pointed wedges
Kourtney Kardashian casual in flats
Kourtney Kardashian casual in flats
Kourtney Kardashian
Kourtney Kardashian dressed in blue patterned dress
Kim Kardashian wearing black and grey
Kim Kardashian wearing staple skinny jeans, heels and waterfall jacket. Dressed in black and grey.
Kim Kardashian dressed in leggings and longline blazer
Kim Kardashian dressed in leggings and longline blazer with statement necklace
Kourtney Kardashian dressed casually in flats
Kourtney Kardashian dressed casually in flats and brown hat

Be charmed, stay inspired! x

The Fashion Paradox:Fashion Cycle

The Fashion Paradox:Fashion Cycle

A major part of going out for a night on the town is the dressing up and being appreciated for our adornment – that’s exactly why we do it. There’s no gratitude in dressing up without an appreciative eye to witness our efforts. It’s like wearing an Azzedine Alaia dress where nobody even knows who he is, let alone recognises one of his designs. Vain and self important? Most definitely so; dressing up is part of a process, a self fulfilling prophecy that requires us, once taken pride in decorating ourselves, the need to be seen and appreciated in order to complete the full circle of ‘enjoying’ dressing up. When women meet with friends on nights out, don’t we spend at least the first fifteen minutes together discussing what we are wearing? And new purchases or garments our friends haven’t seen us in before tend to be appreciated more, no matter how much they loved the last cocktail dress we wore. Let’s be honest, without a doubt we feel great in something new, after all, fashion works on a cycle that won’t promise the two thousand pound Stella McCartney thigh high boots you invested in last season will be on the catwalk winter 2010/11, but will assure you change and newness will absolutely be a key trend. So, because we love dressing up and the feeling of wearing a new dress being so addictive and ironically priceless, the dresses bought last year that we adored, spend most of their time in the wardrobe and our money spends most of its time flying out of our purses, trying to catch up with fashion. It’s almost as stupid as a dog chasing its tail. And like that bad boyfriend, we never stop chasing; the capricious and fickle nature makes it exhilarating and indulgently satisfying – for a moment.

The Fashion Paradox: Pretentiousness & Expression

The Fashion Paradox: Pretentiousness & Expression

Fashion has the ability to break down or build up barriers, communicate social class, status and taste – if we discussed our social class or our own fancied position in society, no doubt this would be considered tawdry and uncomfortable for the listener, so we rely on fashion to do the talking for us. But sometimes this can be just as crass.

Ashamedly I hung around Somerset House during London Fashion Week, I say ashamedly as I had no admittance to any shows and literally loitered about the outskirts…sucking up the culture? I wasn’t quite sure what I had expected, but most certainly did not predict the bad taste in my mouth that became apparent moments after arriving.  I am not sure whether it was the men who came attired in outfits that looked like they belong in a costume shop or a circus ring that irritated me or their deafening cries for attention. I had put it down to the fact that they just looked completely and utterly ridiculous, regardless of their purpose for dressing in such a way. But the whole thing worsened when the fashion show ended, the doors opened and the spectators began to exit, it was like a sea of pretentiousness flooding Covent Garden. They lingered around the pathway anticipating having their photo taken and then began acting coy when a camera pointed in their direction. If I had a sick bucket, I most certainly would have been. I left the courtyard of Somerset House that day feeling somewhat stirred by the whole thing. It reminded me of a feeling I had when I was somewhat younger, queuing to get into Funky Buddha with some friends and being refused entry because two of the guys from the group had slits in their eyebrows, I have no doubt them being two black non celebrity males didn’t help either. As we vacated the queue and walked passed those waiting admission I was without a doubt angry, my ego had definitely taken a knocking and I was embarrassed. It’s paradoxical, of course I wanted to get into the club, I’ve enjoyed myself there before and knew I would have a great time, but on the other hand the fact that I wanted to be part of something so unbelievably superficial makes me cringe beyond belief.

The Fashion Paradox: Power and Symbolism

The Fashion Paradox: Power and Symbolism

 

The power of fashion and dress is undeniably a vigorous one – it’s a wonder how something so undeniably forceful can be considered purely as superficial, particularly when it has the muscle to influence and define, conceal or reveal social groups and social perception.

 The 1960s saw the surge of the afro amongst black people, the rush derived from America during the African-American Civil Rights Act and The Black is Beautiful Movement. Black American’s fought for racial equality and rejected conformity to European standards of beauty, which influenced both black men and women to relax or hot comb their hair till it appeared as straight as possible, imitating their very own oppressor. The afro was indeed a political fashion symbol which articulated the black American’s pride in their African American identity and empowered them at a crucial moment in American History. This is an example of fashion demonstrating it’s ability to justify itself as an important social and cultural component. For this element, it actually makes me feel proud that I love it so dearly.

 

 The next article in ‘The Fashion Paradox’: Egotism and Pretentiousness…