Personal style: Dita von Teese was so shy she thought people would only talk to her if she wore an outrageous hat. Freemasons Grand Master Jean Cocteau said ‘Style is a simple way of saying complicated things.’ Should we fear it?
Fashion is one of the most lucrative and forward-thinking industries in the world and we can see the wheels of the machine working everywhere. Whether it is in the high street selling this season’s latest look or magazine advertisements telling us that this perfume can make us as glamorous as the model selling it, or publications spilling industry secrets within hundreds of biblical glossy pages, there is always something new to be seen in. But if you don’t have that new thing, does this mean you don’t have style?
Style has become essential to our everyday lives; a lavish way to express ourselves and be admired. But it is something quite different to fashion. When Yves Saint Laurent said, ‘Fashion fades, style is eternal’, perhaps he meant that the clothes we buy today may not be the ones we wear tomorrow but the way we wear them most will most certainly count. There is no shame in looking stylish, and no reason to feel guilty about looking attractive every day.
“I always felt like a very ordinary looking girl, and I found that dressing in a unique way made me feel less ordinary and more glamorous,” said Dita Von Teese recently in an interview. “I also used clothes as a way to counteract my extreme shyness when I was younger. I wore a lot of extravagant vintage hats. I think people will only approach if they have something very, very interesting to say to the girl in the outrageous hat!”
Style is the carefully arranged way that we choose to display ourselves to the world. It can come down to our level of confidence, even to mask our moods and trying to portray a sociably acceptable version of our personality through colours, shapes and fabric. If you open yourself up to dressing without limitations, and travel beyond the assumption that fashion and style are one, you can open up the exciting layers of diversity in both. You can discover a stunning new world.
Take when we have a crisis in our life, is it a coincidence that we completely change our style or try out a new look? I have a friend who would radically change her hairstyle every time she came out of a relationship. It even became a running joke between our group of friends. Style isn’t just about the way we look, it reveals the truth about how we feel, giving away our secrets through the seams of our clothing, even though we may try our best to conceal it.
The curvaceous women of the 50s exuded glamour, perfection and sophistication and became icons of style today. Wardrobes are no longer full of clothing from one specific present decade – instead, they are influenced by everything, by a pot pourri of periods and desires. My wardrobe has become influenced by icons like Mary Quant and the way her personality translated through her quirky clothing and the swinging London history she created. Equally, inspiration comes from a range of different people: From Chanel for elegance, Monroe for her confidence with curves, and designers such as Doucette Duvall and Katharine Hamnett for the morals of eco style mixed with an affordable tasteful element.
When the inevitable monthly retail craving is being treated with a timely injection of cash, perhaps a part of our problem with style is that we are encouraged to train ourselves to shop for a fast solution and not for our wardrobe’s needs. Wardrobes are crammed with clothing bursting out of the doors, but if we have so many clothes then why do we religiously live in certain items, and hysterically scream that we have nothing to wear? We need to become more shopping savvy. Instead of ‘that will do’, our approach to our wardrobe’s contents needs to be ‘I adore every piece’. Women need to own a wardrobe that exudes our individual personalities and enhances the confidence that we already have.
I had my own self realisation over personal style when I became aware that the tall slim model in the advertisements would never look like me – no matter which way I stood or whether I held my breath in the mirror, I just couldn’t carry ‘it’ off with precisely the same clothing. After experimenting with several styles and types of attire, I found myself most flattered by my assets in the form of fitted blouses, high waist skirts and colour. I knew then that style is personal and can be very feminine, quaint and beautiful. I was just looking in the wrong era for inspiration!
Style is a search through the history of fashion, thrown together in a well thought-out procedure of collaboration. Shopping should not be limited to the high street. When looking for the next piece to add to my bulging collection, I search everywhere – through thrift shops, boot fairs and online auction sites – just to find something that’s unique and can reflect my personality. In our current economic climate I have also found a new love with my sewing machine, reworking old once-loved dresses into fabulous sleek new numbers, a perfect way to rework a wardrobe that is constantly changing.
Style is a journey of growth and confidence that allows our frivolousness and also our individual depths to be seen in traits of our daily outfit choices. Women are in a constant pursuit for style. Every season, look after look, is paraded on the catwalk -he new colour, the new shape, the new theme – but although we may not look like the perfect media image, and the new season’s looks, we do still have individual style. Style to me is a growth process, from our initial purchase on our first pay day to when we feel in our style prime. In style there is no fashion faux pax, only laughable memories and photographs to remind yourself of how you felt, loved and enjoyed that moment in your life.
That wonderful artist, esoterist and alleged Grand Master of the Freemasons, Jean Cocteau, once said: ‘Style is a simple way of saying complicated things.’
Do not be ashamed of considering your sense of style to be a valid pursuit. Even artist and thinker Jean Cocteau had something to say about personal style.
By doing things her way, Chanel paved the way for others.
Dita von Teese was so lacking in confidence she felt people would only approach her if she wore a charmingly outrageous hat. It worked for her.