A few months ago I read an article penned by one of my personal idols, Leandra Medine. It was titled Is Personal Style Thoughtful Anymore? After immersing herself in re-watching Sex and the City, Leandra came to the conclusion that Carrie Bradshaw’s sense of style was ‘thoughtful’, something that, for Leandra, is a rarity that almost transcends the notion of style itself.
She also came to the conclusion that the women who’s personal style she most admired weren’t those who’s dress sense she wanted to emulate but were rather women who use what they wear to truly express themselves regardless of the opinion of others. Women like this can certainly be few and far between and are often the ones who have achieved iconic status, Sophie Loren, Jane Birkin, Kate Moss.
Having recently been to a string of events before reading this article, thoughts of personal style were already fresh in my mind. A red carpet event, or any sort of event really, is the perfect excuse to dress up and perhaps push the limits of our style. We tend to put much more thought and preparation into choosing an outfit for a special event, often using such an occasion to share something of ourselves through our clothes.
However, at recent events I have attended, rather than seeing a sea of unique and distinctly dressed men and women, I have noticed more a homogenisation of style. It seems everyone is starting to look like a subtle variation of one another. And while this is happening in real life, nowhere is homogenisation more prevalent than through social media.
The number of people we are now able to reach with each snapshot into our lives that we share is enormous. And while this creates an incredible opportunity to connect with vast numbers of people, it also presents not only our friends and family but also acquaintances and strangers with an opportunity to commentate on our choices, sartorial or otherwise.
Our clothing choices have always provided us with a way to identify with one another but today our online presence not only allows us to blend with the fashionable ‘in’ crowd, but provides a platform to seek validation from our faceless peers, or even one-up each other by snapping and sharing ourselves in the latest on-trend piece of whatever. Like Leandra, I think that personal style is becoming less thoughtful; I think that dressing has become less a mechanism of self-expression and more a calculated stab at acceptance.
At one particular fashion event I attended last year, I overheard a group of women commenting on what many of the other women were wearing. Let’s just say they weren’t sharing any positives. While these sorts of remarks have become normalised within the fashion industry (you don’t have to look hard to find a string of best and worst dressed lists after any major red carpet event) this sort of commentary isn’t productive.
All that dissecting each other’s sartorial choices in this manner does is contribute to the homogenisation of style. People are much more likely to play it safe with so many ‘fashion experts’ and commentators out there ready to tear them down for daring to be different, not being different in the right way, or not being different enough.
While the rise of social media and the live streaming of fashion shows has gone some way to democratising the world of fashion, it can still be quite an exclusive club that majority of us don’t fit into. The constant rise and fall of trends, labels becoming so hot you are nothing if you haven’t got a piece of them, super limited edition runs and exclusive collabs on constant rollout, its hard work just keeping on top of what you are supposed to look like or be wearing.
Our other option is to quite simply not give a fuck about any of it and instead march to the beat of our own drum. Or as Leandra would say, dress ‘thoughtfully’. Fashion should be a celebration of creativity; it should be joyous, fun and personal. Most importantly, getting dressed should make you feel happy and confident regardless if it means looking different to everyone else on Instagram. We should pick and choose the pieces we like and wear them in whatever combination we choose, be dammed if a select group of women somewhere tell you they are on trend.
Let’s strive to be more thoughtful in choosing what we wear and to use style to share a little piece of our soul.