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Friday, March 9, 2012

Cruising Fashion for Style

'For me, clothes are kind of character; I don't follow fashion or understand trends.' ~ Meryl Streep

It could be said that fashion is now like fine art; not really a part of the mundane, every-day world. Never in it's history has 'high' fashion (by that I mean $$$$) been intended for the 'average' woman, but now much of what sashays down the runway is for all intents and purposes, unwearable.  Fascinating to look at, but not what you'd wear to run to the corner store to grab a quart of milk. And if you showed up to work in it you'd be laughed out of the office. It used to be the case that fashion, when it was designed for more functional use, dictated very specific 'rules' each season- hems were exactly here this season, shoulder pads were in/out this season, such and such was THE color for the season, and so on.  If your hemlines were wrong, you stood out like a sore thumb. Now the runway show is about showcasing and establishing the artistic vision of the designer.  For the rest of us there are fads - they come and go within a season, and are quite often just plain silly- and trends, which are more subtle, and stick around for a while, and of course the classics, which never go out of fashion and are sometimes influenced by trends. 

Aside from freeing up the designer to more fully express themselves artistically, these changes are also good because it means what you and I will find for retail sale is more driven by what the consumer will pay for, not by the 'dictates' of this seasons fashions. That means we have more opportunity to find what we need to build a wardrobe that reflects our own personal style.

Technically speaking, to follow fashion or imitate someone's 'look' is not 'style' in the truest sense of the word.  Style is having the courage to do what pleases you rather than following said fashion or person.  It means not 'following' anything but what rings your bells. It's when your priority is on what makes you happy rather than what others will think of you.  In other words, it takes confidence to express your style. And yes, everyone has style, but not everyone is conscious of their style.

I will say that there are those who's personal style is to follow fashion. This approach is a style in and of itself because it is different than the person who slavishly follows fashion because they're afraid not to, or has simply never even thought of developing their own stye.  This person has the same level of confidence as the one who is totally immersed in their own style; they just choose to play with fashion. This is a person who simply cannot resist fashion and enjoys the thrill of the newest and latest and the fun of making it work on them- because they also know what does and doesn't work on them. One has to be willing to keep up on the latest to play this game, and have a budget that can sustain it. 

If you don't already have a clearly defined style of your own and you read my blog 'Style Freak,' 2/24, you might be on the path to developing your style; if so here is one way to look at what's out there for sale.  When something comes into 'fashion,' be it a fad or a trend, and you like it and it likes you back, in other words the design lines are flattering and it works with your style, decide if it would fit into your wardrobe, how important it is to your wardrobe, and how much of a part of your wardrobe you want it to be.  If it really works for you, now's the time to SHOP.  A word of caution- make sure this thing that's now being sold everywhere is not too 'fad-ish-' make sure it has enough 'classic' or 'on trend' elements to it that it will still look good when it goes 'out.' If it's more of a 'trend' item than a 'fad' item you're on safer ground. Or search for more 'classic' versions of the fad/trend- they'll usually be out there. It gets a bit tricky here, because it ends up being a judgment call.  An example…

A few years ago kitten heels were in style.  I hate kitten heels.  No, that's not strong enough- I LOATH kitten heels.  They look AWFUL on me. They make me look…..matronly.  They're just downright dumpy on me.  And they don't reflect my style at all.  But it seemed like that was all that was out there for quite a while.  Ugh. Needless to say, I didn't buy shoes during that period.  Then a few years ago- joy! Oh, heaven!! Platform stilettos came back…with a vengeance.  I didn't know how long it would last, so I bought up every pair that made sense for me.   (I now have to be very creative as to shoe storage.  Am considering a shelf in a tiny area above my closet, or a '1 in/1 out' rule. I love shoes, so I'm thinking the shelf will win.)  But I was careful to stay within my 'style' and go for a either a more timeless 'vintage' or 'classic' style rather than 'faddish' version- because I know my legs and my proportions look better with a higher heel and a platform I knew I'd wear them until I wore them out.   And it's true- I wear my platform stilettos every single day. Except on my motorcycle.  That's a modest 2" non-stiletto/non-platform heel. Sometimes a girl just needs to be practical.  ;-)

The moral of this little story is to pay attention to fads and trends; see how they might work for you, and shop while the shopping is good.  When what you hate is 'in,' save your money for better times.

Happy Dressing!