Now. Please don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t love looking at the new fashions. By September 1st (or sometimes even by the end of August) there is ALWAYS a well-thumbed copy of September Vogue to be found on my desk or coffee table. I love this time of year, which has far more of a ‘new year, new leaf’ feeling than the gloom of January 1st. There is something truly wonderful about the beginning of autumn: a mist in the air, apple crumble on the near horizon, new pencil case, new notebook, new boots, hat and coat, etc. BUT, and it’s a really big BUT even though I love, love, love looking at all the new designs and thinking about shiny boots and cashmere for winter, and despite all the drooling over the latest ‘it’ bag, I’m starting to believe I’m just not a particularly fashionable person. Every year I do not rush out and buy one hundred new things, just because they happen to be fashionable.
Coming from an image consultant (who does a lot of shopping) you might find this impossible to believe. But, ever since I started working in this job – a large part of which involves identifying and discussing ‘personal style’ with my clients – I have been aware that there is a massive, widespread misinterpretation of the terms ‘fashion’ and ‘style’. In my mind it is clear cut; I know which is most important for me and the women that I work with. But I often wonder how others feel.
So what do you think? Would you rather be described as fashionable or stylish?
Fashion is exciting and frivolous. It changes often and the clothes are designed and showcased on girls with unrealistic bodies, which is why they look so darn amazing.
For most of us, the reality of wearing fashion is, of course, in the purchasing of a pared-down version of what we have seen on the catwalk, as interpreted by the high-street. This dumbing down is inevitable as retailers have a much greater need to make a profit from selling their actual clothes than the couture houses, who really make all their money from perfume and handbags. Fast production of such complex garments in high volume would be impossible for the Zaras and Karen Millens of the world. And this is just as well, because daily life wouldn’t be easy wearing some of the more outrageous fashion designs that appear on the catwalks each season (where even the well-rehearsed, waif-like models fall off their shoes).
So, if I’m not fashionable, what am I? Well, the way I see it, style is the way forward and being stylish is what I aim for. When you look stylish, you are wearing clothes that flatter you. The colours light up your skin tone and the shape works well for your body type. Being stylish means your clothes are right for you, your personality and your lifestyle. The great thing about being stylish is that, in the main, your clothes work a lot harder because they are not extremely ‘in-fashion’ one year and then extremely ‘out-of-fashion’ the following season. This is a shame for Oxfam, but it is great for your bank balance.
I advise each of my clients to stick to clothes that sit, by and large, within their personal style comfort zone, and try to mostly ignore the ins and outs of fashion. This is particularly vital if it involves a midi-skirt on anyone with less than perfect calves. However, if a specific fashion does happen to work well with your style rules then go for it – no holds barred – hoover- up the high-street.
You might just find that wearing the clothes that ‘love you back’ is going to make you look and feel better than ones that are simply ‘in fashion’.
To what extent do you like to follow fashion? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave me a comment above.