You will often find that fashion bloggers and editors use phrases like: “what look are you going for?” and “what does this thing say about you?” And a lot of the time, the answer is nothing. But, what these phrases are getting at is the root word in all fashion: Style.
Style is one of those terms that is so can’t be taught, but can be learned. But, the biggest question that rings true when thinking about style is:
“What is it?”
It’s easy for someone to negotiate with someone what constitutes as appropriate dress and style, but realistically, it is radically subjective and can only be defined by each individual person. Therefore, I want to help you define it. I want to help you find that aesthetic that reflects what you are about and what you want to say.
When I was defining my style, I felt a bit of pressure because I was in an environment where I felt everyone always dressed better than me. So, I found myself often confused why I couldn’t pull off anything similar to what my friends were wearing. But, then I started to understand why I liked certain things and why my friends liked other things. I experimented and started to find what made me feel the best.
Culture and Times
Sometimes, style is reactionary or a product of the times. It’s something that emerges from trend, which is usually short lived. And other times, it manifests overtime without warning or signal, and you won’t see it change until one day you look at your closet and think, “Where the heck did get that?”
Fashion is and always will be influenced by the culture that surrounds it.
The perfect way to see this is looking back at the generations. The 1960’s, for example, captures the emergence of the counterculture movement. Tie dye, long hair, loud colours etc. This reflected the times because this generation was one about rebellion and questioning authority and rejected cookie-cutter cultural norms.
Fashion is a form of historical documentation. Looking at the fashion archives unlocks so much information about the times and the people. So, use trend and pop culture to inform your look, or rebel and go against trend and pop culture. Either way, style reflects the times.
Iconography (what the heck is that?)
Iconography bridges the gap between utility and fashion. Utility means that your clothes do nothing but serve a function, whereas fashion can merge both style and utility to create the concept of iconography. But what it all boils down to is expressing individual identity and being proud of who you are.
Instead of thinking about fashion as a chore, constantly worried about “doing it right”, use it as an opportunity to be self-reflective and wear things that mean something to you. Style is special because it is so personal. It can be powerful and make you feel something. Now, I’m not saying every item of clothing you wear has to make you cry…because that will never happen unless you plan on going wedding dress shopping.
Style can use iconography as a way to recall memory and experience. Let’s say you loved a certain character from a film, or TV show as a kid. This could have a huge influence on you and what speaks to you because of the positive associations you may have. And vice versa. So style is one of those things that no one can take away from you and no one else can define but you. Isn’t that exciting?
Why Do Men Make Bad Style Choices
Mens fashion in present day is in an interesting place. The idea of dressing well and using fashion as an expression is becoming more acceptable. The stigma associated with mens fashion continues to be minimized the more and more men are starting to care about looking better on a day-to-day basis.
The problem with this though, is that now, there is a new obsession about not looking like any other person and having a unique style, which can sometimes lead to some very questionable choices. Many of the fashion mishaps occur because the man wants to stand out, and he wants to do so by being bold and taking risks. And worst of all, he wants to show the world that he is “into style.”
But, I totally understand why men do this. Deep down, a lot of us want to be the one that people look at and compliment. So, fashion can get competitive, but when you start to try to be competitive, it can get ugly really fast. So, try to show individuality, but remember that there is nothing wrong with not standing out because of your style.
Coco Chanel once said:
“Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off”
This is something I try to implement when editing my clothes. Say what you want to say, say it how you want to say it…but do it well.
You have a voice in fashion, you just need to use it. Do you have any style nightmares from your past? I would love to hear about them in the comment section below.