I often wonder why people choose certain garments and outfits. Like it or not, clothing is a display. It says something about the wearer, and has everything to do with image and attraction.
Stores like The Gap, for example, base ad campaigns and merchandise around this concept of one outfit or item that will suit everyone. One year they have a candy-colored striped sweater, a wool pea coat another, with the ubiquitous white, button-down oxford shirt used to fill any seasonal lulls, like a rerun shown during a rained-out baseball game. It’s strange how alluring the idea is, even to me. The fantasy of a magical garment that will bring out the best in everyone. A very stylish, sexy, and well-designed uniform for the modern human.
How often do we seek to express conformity though our clothes? More often than I would like to admit. Some is unavoidable, because fashion itself is subject to popular opinion and the taste of the masses. But what about niche styles that don’t wind up in Vogue? Take the ‘Soccer Mom’ for example: ribbed mock-turtleneck shirts, functional outerwear, modestly cut jeans never too light or too dark, sensible shoes, shoulder-length bobs just long enough to pull back when needed. The look is as iconic as any Chanel suit, and yet Karl Lagerfeld wouldn’t be caught dead sending it down a runway. Karl probably uses the thought of seeing himself in stonewashed jeans and a fleece vest gracing the front page of the New York Post as motivation not to break down and hit the Taco Bell drive through.
Snobbery aside, the ‘Soccer Mom’ points out a very real phenomenon: women dressing like each other. When done in moderation, finding style inspiration in another woman’s look is fantastic, flattering, and overall a good strategy to forming your own style. In excess, however, the result is the absolute worst of all offenses: bland. Blandness is the mortal enemy of fabulous style. Why dress to fit in when you can dress to stand out?
There are specific cases when choosing garments that won’t grab attention is appropriate and necessary. A funeral is not the place to try out teased hair if you wear it straight, for example. Your daughter’s wedding is not the time to splurge on a fire engine red Alexander McQueen gown made of feathers. But during the regular week, there is plenty of time to have fun with your look. Why not try a new style or bold accessory?
At Fashremash, I do not care if something in a store is “you” or not. Do you love it? Do you like the idea of owning it, regardless of it’s practical purpose? Does it make you feel good just to look at the garment, the handbag, or the bold earrings?
Buy it and wear it. That is the essence of all personal style: wear what you love. Screw the rest.