Fashion versus Style

There tends to be some confusion between fashion and style, so I would like to make the distinction as clear as I can:

Fashion is an external concept that is introduced to you through advertising or other means of promotion. In most cases the promoter of a fashion has a vested financial interest in the adoption of the fashion, but not always.

The concept of fashion is that wearing (or using) a particular item will make you smarter, younger, more attractive, more successful, part of the “in” crowd, have more fun, and so on. That is why in most advertising the ad shows attractive, successful young people having fun with their “in” crowd.

Fashion also tends to be a bit of an overstatement from the norm; pointer, more square, narrower, wider, more colorful (tie-dye), less colorful (monochrome), and other design aspects that are more extreme than is typical at that time. This is mostly done to distinguish one season’s fashion from another.

Another aspect of fashion is short time periods; Spring fashion, Fall fashion, last year’s fashion, in fashion, and out of fashion. The short time aspect of fashion really has two driving forces: 1)Turn over for renewed revenue (buying the new fashion for this season/year, so you are not wearing last year’s fashions), and 2)Bordom of an overstatement, and in some cases statements that have become a cliche.

The core of fashion is the inherent adoption of a look to fit in with what is popular. This, however, is not always driven by designers looking for additional revenue. As an example take the look that was popular for a while of wearing sneakers with a suit. Movie stars were doing it, pop musicians were doing it, so if you wanted to be really cool when accepting an award for best trinket in your company/industry/ect…
you wore sneakers with your suit.

Another fashion, related to shoes, that seems to come and go is toe length. In this case the extreme seems to go between long and pointy to short and square.

In fashion at one point in time:

This is not to say that something that is in fashion can’t also be stylish, there are simply different motivator and definers between the two.

Style is internally driven. Style is about who you are as an individual, and how you want to present that to the world.

The reason there is some confusion between fashion and style is because if a person does not have a good sense of style, it is easy to adopt fashion in place of style since fashion purports to present what most people would like to have as their own style. Unfortunatly fashion typically does not fufill its promise, at least not for very long, and it is not a real expression of who you truly are as an individual.

Style is so useful in defining who you are that it plays a large role in TV and movies, and much more subtle than you might think. My favorite of all time was the TV series “Friends”. Each character is consistently dressed in attire that promotes who their character is (both refined and not so refined) and what motivates them.

The first rule of Style is that you must feel comfortable in what you are wearing, both physically and psychologically. What you are wearing must also be relativly appropriate to the environment and situation you are in, in other words; no wearing board shorts to the boardroom unless you own the company or sell surf boards on the beach.

While cutting your hair in a mohawk and dying it purple may be a personal expression of style (look at me I’m anti-establishment, but I don’t know why), real style comes from expressing the depth of your character, as well as your understanding and appreciation of the quality things in life. Because of this it takes time to develop your own style, and your style will change over time as you grow as a person.

Because style is not driven by external seasonal whims of fashion, designers, and forced deviations from the norm, and because style is based on quality,
things of style are much longer lasting than things of fashion.

A quality cap toe shoe is always stylish:

Style cannot exist without confidence in one’s self. You have to own what you wear by investing more of yourself than just money. You can buy fashion, but you have to own style.