What is Fashion, Anyway?


This post contains a fleshing out of ideas that were set in motion after attending Teen Vogue Fashion University, that only recently became coherent thoughts. While there, I noticed everyone was certainly fashionable–that is, they were wearing the latest trends. Asymmetrical, or mullet skirts, fur, top knots, maxi dresses, pastels and lace abounded. However, what seemed to be a bit less represented was personal style.

The internet and social media have played a fantastic role in shaping today’s world of fashion. Websites such as Pinterest, as well as personal style blogs, have allowed consumers to have greater access to trends in fashion. And because of the instant-update nature of these websites (as well as their popularity), it has allowed trends to reach a greater audience in a much shorter period of time.

Consumers that normally wouldn’t have had access to the runways can now go online an live stream the shows, and often Pin their favorite looks (as well as shop, thanks to Moda Operandi) straight from the runway. We no longer have to wait until next season for trends that appeared on the runway to appear in stores; in just a few short weeks, those trends will be available for purchase in fast fashion houses such as Zara and H&M.

All of this has, in a good sense, led to the democratization of fashion. Gone are the days when fashion editors are the only ones able to participate in the trends. However, at the other end of the spectrum, it has also led to a lack of diversity.

Because trends are so readily available for the viewing, consumers are constantly told what is in this season, and what is out. This leaves much less wiggle room, if you will, to experiment. We know what is fashionable and what looks good together because we are bombarded with images of it everywhere we click on the internet. And I’m guilty of it as well–a search of my closet will reveal plenty of mullet skirts and jackets with leather sleeves. It’s hard to ignore trends when they’re all we see, and even harder when they’re the only thing we can shop for in stores.

Although a part of me may die every time someone wears them, we do need people wearing Crocs and Uggs (or, shudder, the ubiquitous Uggs and shorts look) for the sake of diversity. Because, without technically unfashionable people, fashionable wouldn’t be able to exist. I would go so far as to argue that there is no such thing as fashionable today–rather, there are only different types of personal style. If you know what looks good on you, wear it and own it, and if maxi dresses aren’t your thing, don’t worry. There are plenty of other styles out there ready to be worn.

So, the takeaway? As difficult as it may be to go against the fashion grain, cultivate your own individual style. This may mean focusing less on what’s trendy, or it may mean wearing only trends. Find what works for you and wear it, because everyone has the ability to have their own voice in fashion today. It is a democracy, after all.


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