Style Isn’t Shallow

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”
― Gore Vidal

What do we talk about when we talk about style?

I deliberately chose the theme of “Style” for this month over fashion or beauty because, even though the terms are often used interchangeably, I don’t believe they are perfectly synonymous. When I talk about style, and this is the framework I want to use in discussing it this month, I am talking about the series of choices we make everyday in how we choose to physically present ourselves in public. The manifestations of these choices are what we wear and buy. Sometimes these choices are informed by trends, sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes these choices are intentional, sometimes they are reflexive. But whether you look like you just stepped out of the pages of Vogue, or have built your wardrobe entirely thanks to Goodwill, style is fundamentally personal and individual.

In a very real way, whether we are conscious about it or not (and goodness knows I haven’t always been), the myriad of day to day decisions about what we choose to put on our faces and bodies or in our homes are markers of how we are choosing to spend our resources, attention, and time. Not only that, our physical personal presentations encompass a lot of broad notions, including gender identity, political and social values, and consumerism in general with all its attendant issues.

I think that people who turn their noses up at style and fashion often betray a reverse snobbery that’s dismissive of the very real concerns and issues of consumer culture, an ignorance of how deeply impactful fashion and style are in almost everyone’s day to day lives (regardless of race, income, or any number of factors), and often a casual misogyny against seemingly “shallow” women or prejudice against gender nonconforming men.

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Style–the everyday choices we make–is not shallow. It’s the physical manifestation of both unique identity, and an awful lot of human realities. Hopefully, by framing it in this active way, we’ll find some interesting aspects of style to talk about this month. I’m opening up my closet and bathroom shelf for scrutiny, and hoping to gain a bit of insight into my own choices and habits, as well as learning more about yours in the comments.

 

Your turn, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this month’s topic and on this post. Let me know what the term “style” means to you, and if you agree with my definition or not. Who meets your definition of a stylish person, and how you define your own sense of style?

3 thoughts on “Style Isn’t Shallow”

  1. As you know, I’m a big fan of style — which to me, personally, connotes wit, elegance and quality.

    NOT Big Designer Labels, per se, but adding a great patterned sock (on men) or a bright pocket square and a perfectly polished, freshly-heeled shoe. It’s very much about the total look, which includes care/maintenance/grooming. No point having $$$$$ shoes or handbag if your nail polish is chipped or your clothes fit poorly or your hair needs a fresh cut or look.

    The best examples of style for me (however cliche) are French men and women, and Italians — color, texture, wit and attention to detail. New York is cartoonish, with all the wealthy women wearing the same Big Names and the same $1500 Goyard bag or $10,000 Birkin or gumball-sized pearls. Zzzzzzz. So NOT stylish.

    Style means having the confidence to not look like everyone else all the time, but look terrific nonetheless.

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