Women today have lost the art of dress. And I’m not even talking those who boldly leave the house in pajama pants and bedroom slippers. It’s hard not to be succumbed by the mostly homogenized, mainstream way we dress in 2018. Especially so as busy, ambitious, millennial women. Who has time to cultivate a wardrobe when you can just grab something cheaply at H&M? Unlike women of past generations, we give how we dress such little thought and effort.

But why is this?

After all, clothing is a huge nonverbal cue. It’s how we say who we are to the world, without saying a word. And inevitably, is a part of our daily lives. So why are we seemingly allowing how we dress to fade into an extinct art form?

In defense of women, it’s neither intentional nor our faults.

As a society, we have devalued and lost our conceptual understanding of fashion, and of style. We’ve been misguided towards a shift in the wrong direction; largely by big fashion brands (I won’t get too deep here, but def check out the resources I’ll list below). We often innocently throw “fashion” and “style” around interchangeably. However, although cut from the same cloth, fashion and style actually completely different. And it is the pursuit of one, rather than the other, that is leading to the lost of art of dress.

What is fashion?

Imagine you walk into Zara, and spot a bomb dot com (do people still say this), Rihanna (or whoever) inspired blazer in the display window. It’s the “it” jacket all the hottest IG models are rocking. Don’t be surprised, however, when you return next week to find it has been replaced with another. Your blazer, is already old news. Trying to keep up with the latest and greatest is the “fashionable” trap; intentionally ever-changing and well designed to keep you unfulfilled.

This my friend, is the sad state of fashion today.

What is style?

Style vs fashion on the other hand, (the more down to earth cousin of fashion who won’t leave you stranded at the bar when some hot guy comes along), is the authentic representation of how you choose to creatively express yourself in dress. Style uses elements of fashion and your unique taste. Style develops and evolves with you over a lifetime. It is approached with care, intention, and much thought.

Remember, that Zara jacket? A woman with cultivated style would be unphased if it didn’t fit her values, so to speak, if it didn’t fit her style. And the hot guy at the bar; to leave her girlfriend for some random guy, well, not her style. She knows exactly what items of clothing fit her desired aesthetic and what does not. She is loyal to the message she communicates through her attire, regardless of what is hot at the moment, and will have nothing else. 

Simply put, style is timeless, as opposed to fast (fashion). Style is classic, as opposed to trendy. Style says only me, as opposed to me too.

Style tends to be a characteristic of a particular type of woman; of a certain maturity, sophistication, and/or pedigree. When you see a woman with style, and opposed to a simply fashionable one, you just know.

Fashion vs Style

In a Paste Magazine article, the writer brilliantly likens fashion vs style, to food, pointing out that we eat food every day, just as we wear clothes. And similarly, we call connoisseurs of food, foodies, and connoisseurs of fashion, fashionistas.

Well, imagine that just as there is fast food, there is “fast fashion”. And just as there are gourmet dishes; there are high fashions. Levels. But there’s something neither fast, or high fashion can even compare. Mom’s home cooking.

While not particularly “fashionable”, mom’s home cooking has character and meaning. It’s unique. It has a certain je ne sais quoi. It has style.  

The key to cultivating the art of dress, looking your best, and standing apart from the masses, is to turn a blind eye to every other bomb dot come blazer in the Zara window. I encourage and challenge you to embark on a journey of cultivating your own unique, true, and personal – style. 

Resources

The True Cost 

A movie featured on Netflix about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world.

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

“Cheap fashion has fundamentally changed the way most Americans dress.” In Overdressed, Elizabeth Cline sets out to uncover the true nature of the cheap fashion juggernaut, tracing the rise of budget clothing chains, the death of middle-market and independent retail­ers, and the roots of our obsession with deals and steals.

Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster

The book examines the corporate consolidation of small family-run luxury businesses into luxury goods companies and their process of “democratizing” luxury by making it available for sale to the masses in the forms of handbags, clothing, and accessories

The End of Fashion: The Mass Marketing of the Clothing Business Forever

A Wall Street Journal, reporter Teri Agins astutely explores this seminal change, laying bare all aspects of the fashion industry from manufacturing, retailing, and licensing to image making and financing. Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris

Forever Chic: French Women’s Secrets for Timeless Beauty, Style, and Substance

American-born journalist and blogger Tish Jett has lived among the French for years and has studied them and stalked them to learn their secrets. Exploring how their wardrobe, beauty, diet, and hair rituals evolve with time and how some aspects of their signature styles never change, Jett shows how Frenchwomen know their strengths, hide their weaknesses, and never talk about their fears, failures, or flaws.

Feature Photo by Icons8

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