Thursday, January 14, 2010

Style versus Fashion

Style and Fashion are not interchangeable words, as is the missperception.  In fact there is a stark difference between style and fashion. John Fairchild is quoted as saying: "Style is an expression of individualism mixed with charisma. Fashion is something that comes after style." I have always seen Fashion as an ever changing ebb and flow of clothes, cuts and colors driven by high paid designers with a new jacket, shirt, shoe, fabric or color to push onto consumers each and every season. Fashion is the devil popularizes a style turning it mainstream, profitable and a caricature of its origin.

Style, when done properly, is timeless, genuine and borderless, essentially the polar opposite of Fashion. Style is often a personal expression of clothes, accessories and demeanor. It can not be emphasized enough, style is deeper than just the clothes, it embodies one's personality, attitude and characteristics. Style is about how a man wears his clothes, letting his inner self define the clothes rather than the clothes define the man.

Fashion is about wearing a new trend, a hot designer or a popular outfit because the people around will see you in a certain way. A perception that by wearing the same Gucci designer jacket that is all the rage, the world will think you're cool, smart and hip.

Style on the other hand is about owning and personalizing the clothes. It is about how you feel in the clothes find a personal voice and expressing it with the overall look. Style is more than just one trendy outfit or popular pair of jeans, but instead the overall look, day in and day out. A personal style is expressed in the moments of casual relaxation as well as the formal attire.

This concept is crucial to understanding style and defining your own personal style. Style is as much about how you wear your jeans as it is about how you wear your suit, or don't wear your suit. Style is an expression of self.

Think of Steve McQueen, a man that exudes style, he had his own look that was timeless and classic, yet quite personal.  He wore a suit with the best of them, classically fitted and tailored, but with his own twists, like a pocket watch with the vest and blue tinted sunglasses. Not everyman can own these choices with the confidence that McQueen does, because for him, they are genuine choices. When McQueen is seen riding his motorcycle it is often with khakis and a sweatshirt, not your typical bikers wardrobe. Yet, at no point does it look incongruous, because it fit his style, his personality and his demeanor.

To look at the other end of the spectrum, Kurt Cobain was the leader of plaid wearing teens. Kurt Cobain exuded style while being as far from fashion as possible. Cobain didn't set out to create the grunge movement and the fashionable assault that followed, he was instead just expressing his personality, wearing what he felt comfortable with. Due to his genuine and immense charisma, style and attitude others emulated him with considerably less aptitude.  Sticking with his personal style Cobain never wore a suit, a tuxedo or anything nearly that formal. It was not him and doing so would have compromised who he was. His style would not allow for it.

Learn from the best: Be stylish, not fashionable.

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