The statement often goes: “Oh, he / she is so stylish …” or “He / she is very fashionable …” How many times have we interchanged the word “style” with the word “fashion”? I know I have – at least in the past – but, over time, I learned that “style” and “fashion” don’t have the same meaning.
In spite of the “popular” notion that fashion is bad, while style is good, that’s not actually the case. Sure, fashion is a force for good. Yes, it can be capricious and short-lived and fraught with peril, but it is also the reason we’re not all dressed up like our ancestors from three generations ago.
Fashion empowers us to adapt and refresh, to evolve and move on. It has an impact on everything: from the proportions and the patterns of our clothes to their cuts and construction. If we choose to embrace a particular designer’s latest vision of how someone ought to look right now – if we risk to appear fashionable, like the models photographed on the “fashion” pages of a portfolio – we stand to lose only if we lose our sense of self.
Switching over to style, that is a blend of flavor and tradition that is timeless and authentic and wholly unique to each individual. However, too much of anything can be bad, rule that applies when it comes to style, too.
It can leave us inflexible and petrified of change. It can deceive us to stick to the past, maintaining too wide collars and too baggy trousers, so convinced of our own sense of righteousness that we might just miss the wrongness of what we’re wearing. For style to prevail – for it to flourish through the singularity of its combinations and the superiority of its own craftsmanship – it needs to belong to the present, to be up to date. It certainly needs a little help from fashion!
A simple analogy that helped me understand this was the example of a pair of shoes. A pair of shoes is same in every aspect (or at least it should be), such as color, design, cut and comfort. They go as a pair, as a couple, complementing the other. But each of them has its individual fitting cut out for the respective foot – right and left. If we interchange them, perhaps we could wear them (depending on the shape and the cut of the shoe) but it would be extremely weird looking, quite uncomfortable and they just wouldn’t “fit” right.
And just like a pair of shoes, fashion without style can be reckless, while style without fashion can be irrelevant. For someone to dress well, for an individual to look his / her very best, he / she needs to embrace not one or the other, but both.