Fashion and style are not the same thing.
As most teen girls are, I discovered a love for fashion. However, my love became a slight obsession and I ended up pursuing it as a career when I was 16 years old. Despite my five year study into the industry, I was confused by the difference that is fashion and style. I failed to understand that they weren’t the same things.
What I came to realise is the important difference between the two. As a result, this completely changed how I approached my personal style. Fashion is a beautiful art from and when we confuse this for style, we strip fashion of its incredible power by forcing it to be commonplace. Contrariwise, confusing style for fashion, results in diminishing the deeply personal process of expressing the internal through the sartorial. Above all, when we confuse both, we are lost.
Many of us use the words “fashion” and “style” interchangeably. Yet, it is important to be able to differentiate between the two, so that you can express your individual worth and dignity.
Here are the stark differences between fashion and style and why you need to know the dissimilarity.
What is Fashion?
Fashion is best viewed as an art form. This is because when we view it as something to be worn, we are essentially taking away its beauty. If you find yourself giggling at the catwalk during London Fashion Week it’s probably because you are looking at the clothes as something to be worn over a piece of art. Alexander McQueen, Elie Saab and even my personal favourite Paolo Sebastian, are all artists; pushing the boundaries on what is considered fashion and creating breathtaking pieces. The canvas is simply a model instead. Of course, designer’s ready to wear collections are something different as these are usually toned down pieces that are made to be worn. This is where the lines get quite fuzzy but there is one distinct difference.
Wearable high fashion from the catwalk is regurgitated and watered down into something that is deemed to be more wearable for the average person. However, it is also controlled by fashion experts from the likes of Vogue telling us what we can and cannot wear. This here lies the issue. Trends are fashion not style. When we shop for fashion, we are not shopping for ourselves but rather for someone else. We are told what is complimentary according to our complexions and body types. It is also notoriously difficult to keep up with because trends change seasonally. Not only does this cause insecurities because someone is saying that “unless you have the next ‘It bag’ then you’re not good enough”. This also causes devastation to our planet through the increasing amount of waste fast fashion is causing.
Fashion causes us to feel bad about ourselves and makes us an avid contributor of the distruction of our planet. Fashion is out of control. It is a superficial monster that is unlikely to make you happy.
What is Style?
In its simplest form style is an expression of the self.
Style is completely personal and therefore does not abide to a set standard of rules. Whilst fashion follows geography, style breaks all geographical boundaries. There is no right or wrong way to approach style. Moreover, personal style is about how you want to show up in the world. It goes way beyond just the clothes.
Style lacks the technical that is fashion. It is about connecting the external with the internal. You are in touch with your most authentic self. Not only is it the true representation of yourself but the only way one can achieve ultimate timelessness.
Whilst fashion will have you looking back at a picture of yourself cringing and asking yourself “What was I thinking!” Style will have you looking at that same picture and thinking, “I loved that dress; I should find another one like it!”
It is also worth noting that shopping at the high end fashion stores such as Gucci or Louis Vuitton, doesn’t guarantee you will instantly look more stylish. Particularly in regards to someone on a lower budget. Style is not a display of wealth but an expression of imagination.
How to break free from fashion
The only way to break free from the shackles of fashion is to develop a personal style… Don’t worry. You already have one.
Personal style is equal parts taste and function, and you’ve surely developed taste over time. If you can name a few favourite movies, bands, and foods, you have a taste. It is simply about defining your personal preferences and implementing this into your wardrobe choices.
To start, I highly recommend for you to stop reading those intimidating fashion magazines and look at style blogs, that you find inspiring, instead. Although it may seem a little contradictory, stealing the ideas of someone else and making it work for you is a brilliant way to cultivate your own look.
It may be a good idea to get to the root of why following fashion may be so appealing. Does this give you a sense of belonging by ‘fitting in’? Do you have a poor body image and need to build your self confidence? Is there a fear of standing out and being judged for who you are or who you want to be?
Yves Saint Laurent said it best himself; “fashions fade, style is eternal.” If you desire to become a true classic, or finally embrace who you are, then it is time to replace the word ‘fashion’ with ‘style’.
Fashion is universal and evokes connectivity. Style is individual and evokes uniqueness.