Posted on July 21 2016
Have you ever noticed that there’s a big gap between fashion and clothing, and between style and “the way I like to dress”?
Fashion, (in the purest sense), was originally centered in Paris, with a limited number of designers creating clothes for wealthy clients. As the world has changed, this model no longer holds strictly true, but thanks to the Internet, the ‘idea’ of fashion, and of being fashionable has tentacles that reach all around the world. One of those tentacles is reaching right into your brain at this very moment, even if you don’t happen to notice. It probably has something to do with ‘always judging’ – but that’s a conversation for another time.
Meanwhile, one of the biggest decisions women and men make about their identity – in the First World, at least – is whether they will pursue being chic, or strive to “do no fashion harm”.
Being stylish, chic, au courant, on trend – however that looks for you - requires effort, money and panache. All in all, a lot of work. You may win the admiration of your peers, you may win thousands of Instagram followers for your ‘look of the day’ (seriously, check out #LOTD, it’s a thing), and you may even make a living as a fashion blogger. You may achieve fashion nirvana simply by fitting perfectly into your peer group, which is no small thing in high school, in a sorority, or in your town. Every pond has a biggest fish, after all, and many other fish have her hairstyle, jeans and purse. Watch ‘Mean Girls’ again, and acknowledge the power of fashion to bring an outlier into the fold.
But, you sputter, there are many people wearing clothes, and so few who can claim to be chic! What the heck are all these other people doing? Well, the rest of us are usually trying to ‘do no fashion harm’. We choose staples that look good on us, we wear mostly black – especially if we’re from New York – and we are likely far more liberal in our politics than we would ever dream of being with our clothes. Some of us will carry exuberant handbags, wear daring shoes, or turn our hair a color we’d never wear as a dress, but we keep telling ourselves we have simple tastes in clothing. Do we really have simple tastes, or are we just afraid of making a mess?
As we get older, we get braver with color, as evidenced by the member of the Red Hat Society. These ladies regularly meet for tea in cities around the country wearing red hats and purple garments. These women are flaunting their embrace of bold colors and their age – the group is for women over 50 only. Does maturity give them confidence, or just an IDGAF attitude? Personally, I don’t think red and purple ‘go together’, but I also think denim on denim is a fashion crime, and the entire state of New Jersey disagrees with me on the latter.
Patterns and prints are the final fashion frontier for most of us. If you’re lucky enough to be wearing couture, you know how to wear patterns because your personal stylist told you what to buy and how to wear it. If you’re shopping on your own at Macy’s, Kohl’s or H&M, you are ultimately responsible for what you pair with what, and patterns and prints feel like a ‘shoot the moon’ gamble. You either win big, or you give everyone around you a migraine – there’s no middle ground. Except, that’s your inner Joan Rivers talking – women just like you wear prints all the time, and they don’t go viral on the internet as a fashion faux pas.
In addition, wearing brightly colored prints may enhance your mood. Karen Pine, a professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire determined that there is a strong link between clothing and emotional state. Perhaps a departure from sweats is just the thing to cheer everyone up.
What can wearing prints do for you? When you wear a print with self-assurance, you show that you’re a confident, stylish person who isn’t afraid to try something new. I think that message is one that we would all like to send, in the workplace, in relationships, in life. So be bold, be original, and be confident!