Photo Credit: Chyder 5 Photography. Collage by Ayodotun
So, I’ve been holding back on the subject of Fashion and Style because I thought I wasn’t qualified to discuss them. But then, I remembered that today, everyone is a brand expert, a consultant or a speaker so I decided to suck it…and share my angle.
Whether you know it or not, whether you like it or not, you have got a personal style. Whether that style is good or not, is a different matter. You don’t have to be fashion savvy, a shopaholic or wear designer labels to have a style, you just have an unwitting, default style – one that comes naturally to you. Your style happens to be a significant part of your life daily; at every point in time, you are wearing something. Think about it; at work, at play, in bed, at home, at an event, your personal style shines through. It reflects in the type of shoes you wear, the way you wear your hair, the kind of wristwatch you don or even the type of hands free blue tooth device you use. Style apathy does not exempt you from having a style of your own simply put.
Like many writers before me, I will attempt an explanation of the difference between Fashion and Style. Fashion is simply a general set of trends that have evolved with time while Style is more personal as it’s an expression of individuality using fashion as a tool. To break it down, Fashion is basically what’s ‘’in’’ out there in popular culture while Style is unique to each of us. At any rate, Fashion and Style come right down to clothing and accessories and how each of us interact with them.
According to Gino Perrotte, we wear clothing for a number of reasons (I’ve pondered on this one for years):
1 Protection: The first, most basic need for clothing is Functionality. We need to conceal parts of our body we consider private and also protect yourself from the elements i.e heat, cold. As we are aware, each person has his own interpretation of this one. And, there are a thousand suppliers i.e. designer labels catering to all possible interpretations in meeting this need.
- Decoration: At other times, clothes are ornamental in nature, this is pivotal to the context of fashion. We want to look good for a wedding, a birthday party, a costume party, Halloween and so on. In other words, we are part of the ‘’props’’ at an event or occasion depending on its theme.
- Attraction: This is a no-brainer, for many of us, our style choices are solely based on this one. We want to make a good impression at that interview, we want to be attractive to the opposite sex, we want to be accepted in the right crowd and so we look for styles, colours, shapes and textures that make us ‘’pop’’.
- Identification. This can range from the famous Nigerian ‘’Aso ebi’’ to International football jersey designs. Groups need to be identified one way or another and clothing is always a good place to start. How else would you be able to tell who’s a policeman or who’s a soldier? Of course, we need to tell which school is which?
- Social Status: This is the most fun part and is right up the alley of Designer labels, Fendi, Gucci, Burberry, Stella McCartney, Deola Sagoe, Bridget Awosika etc. Of course, there’s Zara, Banana Republic, H&M, Primark and so much more. Your selected designer communicates your status, just find your level or you can have fun by mixing and matching. Brand Association is everything especially when it comes to Fashion.
- Gender differentiation: While today, the lines are becoming a little blurry, dressing helps each express their gender to their world. From colour orientation to cut to textures, males, females and everything in between can express themselves with clothing.
From the above, it’s evident, that clothing/style/fashion, or whatever you choose to call it, is a fundamental aspect of everyday life, it’s a tool for communication, social/business interaction, for coping with daily activity and for progress, if you allow it. Fashion tells the world who you are in, this is why there is an apt phenomenon called the Fashion statement. In seconds, you can state your business when you step into a room without uttering a word.
You know I gotta talk about Michelle Obama right,? She simply demystified the White House for us. Her Style choices have been nothing but refreshing and accessible to many women, not just in America but around the world. It’s just like she’s saying: ‘If I can be ‘’FLOTUS’’, so can you! There’s no communication and inspiring more effective than that.
You see, a while back, someone pointed out something not so obvious: how people see you, how you see yourself and how you think people see you can, unfortunately, can be very different things.So, what is your personal style saying or amplifying about you?
The above is not all, there are so many worldwide issues arising in the 21st century which border on Fashion. Obvious ramifications include the fact that The Industry employs millions of people around the world, from designers to stylists, to cotton growers to the factory line workers in Asia and other parts of the world to the Publicists, Magazine Editors , Writers Media Execs and Bloggers . The list is endless. Such issues as Trashion, Green earth, Child labour are topical issues you may have come across in the news.
As so aptly put by Gino Perrotte :
‘’We each play multiple roles every day, each with their own expectations. For example, on any given day, I switch between being a son, brother, uncle, friend, teacher, employee, and athlete. And as I switch among roles for the day, I usually also switch clothing to fit and reflect each role. Our culture recognizes this in that we often refer to switching among multiple roles as “wearing many hats” where a person puts on a new hat as he/she ends one role and begins another’’.
My submission therefore:
- Define your style and own it: Are you Bohemian Bose, Chic Chibuzor, Zesty Zainab or Divalicious Diane, Just Jide or even Straight up Seun? Own it,its okay.
- Be Creative with it: Even conservatives can spice things up; you don’t need people falling asleep just by glancing at you!
- Elevate your style: Be the best (not necessarily the most expensive) version of yourself,whoever you are. Can’t believe all the fabulous versions of “Iro and Buba” today. There’s more than one way to style a blazer. And you can glam up those old jeans if they are that comfy.Just ask JaneMichael Ekanem.
- Find your level: Don’t break the bank or, it will break you. For every fad you fancy, there are designers from all walks of life with their respective versions and price tags, just align with your level and own it. People will not, always, know the difference.
- Dress for the part you want to play: I’ve always said life is a stage, so if you want to be the best, where’s your power suit? You want to be comfortable while getting work done on a particular day, must you wear those killer heels? There’s a reason why we have something called “sensible shoes”. Your clothes say much more than you give them credit for, be sure they are saying the right things every time.
- Hot doesn’t always have to be trashy and trashy doesn’t always mean hot: Ladies, get in here! You can look alluring all covered up or with minimal skin exposed.
- Finally, don’t stick up your nose at Fashion or Style, you are a major contributor, whether you like it or not.
So, I ask again, what’s your personal style saying about you?