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FASHION Vs STYLE
Let me begin by explaining what I consider the difference to be between these two words. Style is a timeless idea, and one which I think everyone, regardless of age, gender or lifestyle, aspires to. We all know the benefits of a well put together outfit, something which accentuates our positives and helps us present a polished image to the world. This, in my opinion, is never a bad thing. There is a difference between someone who is stylish and cares about their appearance, and someone who is a sad follower of trends regardless of whether they suit them or indeed, whether they even really like them all that much.
This brings me to my definition of 'fashion'. Fashion and style are different because 'fashion' dictates that you wear what is 'in' at any given season regardless of whether or not it suits you, your lifestyle, your age. Of course, the stylish among us can seamlessly incorporate the aspects of the trends that sut them without becoming a mother of five doing the school run in a leopard print poncho because Vogue told them it was in.
Of course that brings another argument - does fashion depend on age? Is fashion purely for the young? Part of me wants to say yes, some of the more outrageous designs are best left to teenagers. However, to me this is a compliment, not an insult, to older people. They have reached an age where they know what they look good in, and have less of a need to define themselves and gain validation through the latest item. Younger people very often just don't know any better and will look back on that time they went out rocking the underwear-as-outerwear look and think gosh, what WAS I wearing?
So where would I say I fall? Currently, more into the 'trend driven' I'm afraid. Yes, after all that, I am still one of those who can decide that double denim or velvet aren't so bad after all, hey, they're IN. I would however like to think I'm not a sheep. I don't want to wear this season's aviator jackets. I think they're ugly. A few years ago I couldn't wait for 'boho' to end so I could finally get some nice trousers rather than the hideous tie dye gypsy skirts fashion expected me to wear.
I'm also a student, and I think this has had a serious bearing on my views on fashion. Not in the way you might expect, though. Gone are the days where students wandered around in their hoodies and Oxfam finds. Students and even school age kids have ridiculous amounts of money these days compared to days gone by, and this has created, from an even earlier age, what I'm mostly going to focus on in my personal experiences of fashion:
LIFE AS A FASHION SHOW
I work part time in a local shop and lately have noticed something odd about the sixth formers who come in to buy drinks at lunchtime. No, its not just that they all pay with £20 notes every day when I used to get £2 a day dinner money. The girls, who have no set uniform but are told to dress 'appropriately' meaning neutral colours, smart clothes, etc, well, they are all wearing Topshop body con skirts, waist belts, shoe boots, and carrying Chloe bags. Now when i went to college, I threw on the first thing that came out of my cupboard that day, but these girls give me an uneasy impression of them participating in a game of one upmanship when it comes to clothes, spending their mornings deciding what to wear to school to look fashionable when I think school should be a welcome rest from such things. Uniforms were a great excuse not to have to care.
When I got to uni things were'nt much different. Dragging myself out of bed in the morning and crawling to lectures in my sweatpants, I couldn't help but notice that half of the other girls had obviously gotten up a lot earlier than I did to coiff and groom and perfect their outfits and accessorising. Everything, down to the carefully selected Paperchase stationery, was planned.
The problem was that they had all planned the exact same look. Which brings me to my next point:
FASHION AND THE ATTACK OF THE CLONES
Cliques are nothing new. There have always been groups who defined themselves by their individual style, and the irony of their all dressing identically has long been pointed out. What fashion has done, however, has recruited EVERYONE into one of these cliques of dressing. I am myself guilty of this, as I said before. Even if you consider yourself an individual, we all shop in the same stores, all with the same general items, we all conform to a certain ideal of what looks good, and hence all end up looking the same.
Take the art girls. At my university, they are generally regarded as the most unique, fashionable and aspirational girls. You can spot one a mile off. They're the ones wearing several long necklaces, cowboy boots with a lacey vintage looking dress and a cardigan, wrists full of bangles, and their hair is backcombed into a birds nest with various flowers and beads pinned into it. This is what I hate most about fashion, and that is how aspiring to individuality leads us all to the exact same look, thanks to mass production and saturation of fashionable images in magazines which tell us how we should be wearing our clothes.
Depressing as it is, there is no way to avoid it. You can have all the best intentions in the world, and say 'I don't want to be a follower of the trends, I want to wear what I like, screw fashion!' but even in saying that, you become a cliche. Anti-fashion is fashion.
I love clothes, I love shopping, I love the feeling when you wear a great outfit and love getting compliments on an item. Fashion definitely has its fun side and clothes can, and should, be enjoyable. I just wish it came without the pressure to define yourself by your clothes, and the drive towards putting together a fashionable outfit before you go out for a pint of milk. Slob out on occasion people, you might just enjoy it.
I really enjoyed reading this and totally agree with all the points you made. Also, fashion trends now change soo quickly, you have to be mega rich to even try and keep up with it! Mugs game : ) Its an E from me x x