Our relationship with clothing is more than what’s noticeable on the surface – clothing and other appearance related items (like hair styles and make-up) impact our identity and self esteem, how we think and feel about ourselves.
I’m not much interested in fashion. What I am interested in is style. I am fascinated by what a woman chooses to wear to express her personal style, her sense of identity and who she is – even if it’s just for today.
Developing and expressing your personal style reminds me of that quote by the great stylista (he’s mostly known as a writer, director and producer from the 1930s and 40s but the man had an undeniable eye for style), Orson Welles: “Create your own visual style. Let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable to others.”
There’s something exciting and liberating about creating a signature style that expresses something meaningful about you, that makes you feel good every time you get dressed in that style, and that others recognise as being your style.
Personal style isn’t purchased in a store – you can’t buy it. Sure you can buy individual pieces that contribute to your personal style, but the style itself is not for sale.
Personal style is something you create for yourself and it comes from within you. It is an expression of who you are, so the genesis of true personal style is an interior journey.
Personal style isn’t cultivated in a single season, or even a year. Real style takes time – style is a reflection of who you are, and who you are is dynamic and changing. I’m in my 40s now and I feel like I’m only just coming to grips with my personal style. My personal style involves animal print (which some love and some loathe, but it rings my bell). There’s something about those wild, exotic and yet natural and earthy prints that call to me.
I’m inspired by women of Advanced Style who say they only started to truly understand and express their own style well into their 60s. True style is a road we linger and luxuriate on – it can’t be rushed.
In Fashion: A Philosophy, Professor Lars Svendson says that “Fashion always contains two opposing elements … allowing individuals to show themselves as themselves, but at the same time always showing them as members of a group”. Clothing helps us to conform and fit in and clothing helps us express something unique about us as individuals.
Clothing and personal style helps us know who we are, and who or what we belong to. Clothing and personal style also help us to understand who we are not and who or what we don’t belong to.
My clothing can say things I might never dare use words for. My clothing is a personal style beacon that signals an attitude, a tone, a belief in myself and who I am in the world that I can sometimes lose conscious contact with.
Developing your personal style is a dynamic experience, it shifts and changes with you.
Developing your personal style is an individual journey and your journey will be like no other woman’s personal style journey.