Personal style and fashion

Lately on the forum, we've been talking a bit about evolving style and our goals. I guess this is natural in the early part of the year as we re-evaluate our closets and get ready for the season ahead. 

Anyway, in these various discussions, I've noticed several people say that they are interested in personal style as opposed to fashion or personal style versus trends. 

As if these are two opposite ends of a pole of some kind. 

I want to register a quiet note of protest.  :) 

First of all, for some, an authentic personal style INCLUDES the enthusiastic adoption of, or even the SETTING of trends.

Annagybe is an obvious example on the forum but there are lots of others whose personal style absolutely requires attention to trends. 

The fact that they are trendy does not mean they have no personal style. 

Plus, unless you are the type of person who sews all your own clothes from old patterns, fashion inevitably informs personal style. And that's true even if you are a modern classic dresser who chooses to restrict yourself to a kind of uniform or signature style. Or even if you're an avant garde dresser.

I understand the desire for a signature style or even a uniform; to some extent I share it (more on that in another post, LOL). The idea is to find those silhouettes, colours, lines, patterns that most fully express your inner essence and to say no to all others. Of course, this can be interpreted more or less restrictively, but the general idea is to focus. And it makes a lot of sense. 

I just want to ensure that those who exuberantly embrace capital F FASHION as part of their own personal style don't feel dismissed by the tone of some of these conversations. And I also want to suggest that the dichotomy itself is a false one. 

Then again -- maybe I'm completely out to lunch. Mr. Suz accused me of being in a bad mood today and he might be right. 


This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Dimity replied 5 years ago

    No one can ignore fashion, as it surrounds us everywhere; it's part of culture. We might choose not to be driven by it deliberately, but we can't help be influenced by it. So, I agree. Unless you live in a cave in a remote forest somewhere. That's a different story.

  • K.M. replied 5 years ago

    I completely agree with everything, Suz. The two inform each other, to different extents depending on the person. Especially now with so many different fashion trends being current at once (including fashion subcultures), there are so many opportunities for dialogue and overlap.

    I've found that my sense of style was shaped strongly by the fashions of the era when I came of age--my 20s in the 1990s--and I've also found that sometimes, as trends changed and I didn't at first like them, I also at the same time felt shaken in my sense of style. Not because of any anxiety about looking different, but because my sense of style is informed by the world around me, the magazines, stores, catalogues, streetwear...

    Plus, style, like fashion, is dynamic.

  • Staysfit replied 5 years ago

    I'm following right along with you Suz. Maybe Mr. Suz is the one who's grumpy today?

  • Meredith replied 5 years ago

    I agree it's a false dichotomy for the most part. It takes as much thought and creativity to include "trendy" pieces in an outfit as it does vintage or classic pieces. I've actually realized I want to be more fashion forward in my dressing this year. I find it very fun to think about how to incorporate what is " now" into my wardrobe, even if it's only in my mind and not in practice.

  • replied 5 years ago

    I understand the possible difference to indicate an interest in developing your look, or whatever you want to call it, in the bigger sense. In other words, I would want to develop this persona/look independent of what is happening at retail.  Ideally. Of course one fuels the other, but I think that particular  camp indicates less interest maybe in having one's look deemed trendy or fashion-conscious.  I don't read any more into it than that.  Perhaps this is too deep a conversation for me on a Sunday afternoon :)  You looking for a fight?   :)  

  • Desmo April replied 5 years ago

    Basically, there is no single way to be fashionable. Just as there is no single way to be stylish or trendy. Sometimes that makes navigating the interchange between, fashion, style, commerce and identity quite tricky.

  • Meredith replied 5 years ago

    I do think if someone says they are only interested in personal style that the comment can come across as dismissive (depending on context) to those of us interested in trends.

  • Peri replied 5 years ago

    Yes, I think you are right. The two things are different, but they are the same. In one person fashion and style can be opposites and in another person go hand in hand. It is all very connected either way...and confusing to some of us!

    I think K.M. has a good point...the underlying worry involved. Just the last few days I have been frustrated all over again by fashion. I feel as if, no matter what, I am just always wrong for fashion. I rejoiced at fuller leg pants trending, because I needed them for so long and couldn't get them. That rejoicing was allowed to last approximately two months before the powers apparently decided that fuller legs had to be done with high, visible waists, cropped tops or tucking in, and very often cropped lengths. Yay, I'm right back out again, wanting to hang on to the flowing, longer tops I have come to love, and the full length pants that distract attention from my shoes. 

    I console myself...I don't have to do "fashion", I can follow my own "style". It is all part of the universal self judgment we all go through. Am I good enough? Am I okay? Will I be accepted or rejected. It is very emotionally loaded. Style seems both easier and harder than fashion. 

    And some people think it is just clothes. 

  • AM replied 5 years ago

    Such a great post. As I'm in this "reflective phase", it has been my first goal to understand my style in order to make better choices about how I spend money. And hopefully to increase the happiness factor with dressing. Assembling outfits is a significant challenge for me. Or should I say, I just didn't realize the amount of time that it takes to create something really pleasing.

    So to make it easier -- I wanted to first understand my personal style.

    Second, I wanted to make less mistakes. I wanted to get smarter about when to adopt a trend or let it pass -- based on a deeper understanding of what is truly ME. Loving a piece for a long time to me means, I didn't make a mistake last season, or better yet, I must really love it because it is a staple year after year. 

    Where I net out (for someone at the very beginning of a style journey): You have to have a deep understanding of your style before 1) you adopt or pass trends and 2) begin to take more risk. And this 2 is big for me. Some trends really push forward and I want to know MY edge vs. that trend -- and chose wisely. This is money out of my pocket.

    For those of you who take risk. I think this is not only about your personal style but your personality. And that personality comes shining through in wonderful ways.

    Again, great post. Thank you.

  • AM replied 5 years ago

    I should add, I'm the guilty party who said she was interested in personal style vs. trend. I'm a newbie and I'm already saying the wrong things. Ugh.

  • replied 5 years ago

    I think this is a great discussion. I have always been interested in fashion, and when I was younger I followed trends a lot more closely than I do now. These days, I try to make less buying mistakes and zero in on what suits both body and soul. I want to be happy in my clothes, and I want my look to be stylish and updated. When I say stylish and updated, I do not mean trendy and what's fashionable at the moment. There is a difference. I'm learning I can incorporate some of my beloved now vintage styles into my wardrobe and create outfits that more closely express who I am. Like others, I try to figure out which trends to adopt and which to ignore.

  • Gaylene replied 5 years ago

    Hear, hear! Of course you are right that personal style and attention to what is current goes hand in hand. I think where conversations get off the rails is our natural tendancy to think of extremes and absolutes when we talk about ideas instead of continumns and variations on a theme. And it all gets complicated further when we assume that our definitions and interpretations are the same as another person's.

    For example, exactly what does "fashion forward" and "trendy" mean? Or Fashion with a capital (F) for that matter? Some designers introduce us to the wild and wacky, while others offer a much more sedate items that attract us with gorgeous fabrics and beautiful lines. My personal peeve is when the term Capital F Fashionable is only applied to those who follow the work of designers who are currently the darlings of the media. Shock and awe make for great copy, but I'd like to think being "trendy" and "fashion forward" isn't limited to just those two aspects of the fashion world.

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    AM -- you are ABSOLUTELY not saying anything wrong. My apologies if I came across that way. 

    As I said, to a large extent I share this desire for a signature style and naturally I understand the difficulties to our pocketbook that reckless adoption of trends can cause! 

    I wasn't thinking of you in particular; a lot of us (including me, I suspect) have made comments like this in the last few weeks. And all of a sudden today I started wondering about that. 

  • Astrid replied 5 years ago

    I wouldn't put personal style and fashion on different ends of the spectrum, but to me they can have a different importance. To me fashion is becoming less important and I prefer to think about what I like to wear myself, irrespective of trends. Of course my style is influenced by fashion, it has to be the moment I'm buying clothes that were made keeping what's current in mind. So if I'm not deliberately shopping vintage or keep wearing my super old clothes my style always is somewhat influenced by fashion. But to me there's a big difference in the way you look at style depending on the angle you're coming from. You are going to pay much more attention to trends and how you can incorporate them if fashion is important to you. At the other end it's more of an afterthought, it's "nice to have". And of course what we define as "personal style" here on the forum is moving in rather narrow boundaries, if we're honest. There are people out there who have a very distinctive personal style, but who are not in the least fashionable.

  • deb replied 5 years ago

    Suz, I agree with you. But, I also think that as we age and find ourselves fashion plays a less important roll in our choice of clothing. At least for the majority of folks. Those working in the fashion industry or in retail will naturally try more trends because they come into contact with the 'new' more often. What we see in the media and on blogs has broadened the exposure of fashion more than ever before. We also have avenues such as this blog to discuss issues such as this. Before, at least for me, the classroom was where most discussions took place because we all had the same interest.

  • AM replied 5 years ago

    No apology needed. Perhaps I was a little too focused on myself and in my own little world vs. taking more time to carefully use these loaded terms (style, fashion, trend, etc.) to ensure none were offensive.

  • Isabel replied 5 years ago

    WOW, what a great assessment , Suz.  I have to agree.  Thanks !   

  • unfrumped replied 5 years ago

    Great musings, Suz!
    I think " personal style" is the goal but as you satmy, it includes tmrather than excludes fashion and trends and as noted, it's a spectrum.
    I think the problems does arise when someone assumes that trends or experiments are somehow limited to hapless lemmings rather than being very deliberate part of ones Personal Style.
    Perhaps PS is shorthand for being comfortable with one's own choices. And somehow Trend or Trendy can
    still be seen as the dirty word, only meaning superficial or silly.

  • carter replied 5 years ago

    Interesting discussion. I hope E will chime in. She so totally owns her style, and irregardless of what's in or out, she always manages to look so perfectly "E".

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    I think what I'm really trying to get at is a question I can't properly articulate. Something about WHY we tend to do this -- put these terms on opposite ends of a pole? I mean, I understand the human need to see things in extremes, as Gaylene says -- it simplifies, and heaven knows we all need a bit of that these days! But I wonder where, historically, this might come from. Are there actual schools of thought on this? I'm sure there must be, but like you, AM, I'm a bit of a neophyte in fashion or style theory. 

  • Deborah replied 5 years ago

    Great post Suz.   And great responses.  I am not sure what to add:)  Angie has often commented that we are in a time when anything goes and not one particular style or look is the only option if you want to be current, fashionable and on trend.  I suspect that any woman interested in how she dresses would be influenced somewhat by what is in fashion.  I don't think a person has to be wearing current, on trend clothing to look stylish,or have a defined personal style, however someone who chooses to wear trendy items also can look stylish.  And let's face it, it is what is deemed fashionable that is available in stores. To some extend we are all buying what is deemed fashionable.

    One of the things I like about the Forum is how it constantly challenges me to keep an open mind re style and fashion. Because I can really only speak from my own perspective, I would say that my desire is to develop a strong signature style that works for me.  I am not overly drawn to trend, however I most definitely read blogs and magazines to keep up with what is out there.   I don't shun things because they are 'trendy' or too 'fashiony',  The fact is that "fashion" facilitates the development of my personal style

    And I am going to single out CocoLion who I believe has a strong signature style that involves a strong commitment to trend. 

    Apologies if rambling... trying to get my head around this.

    And Suz, I cannot imagine you in a bad mood:) 

  • Isabel replied 5 years ago

    I think that some of it is just one's need to separate one's self from "the crowd".   I know that many of the women I know see "trends" as youthful, fast fashion, and ubiquitous.  Many have commented how trends can be seen in every store and they don't like that. They associate that with being "told" or "manipulated" to wear by the industry instead of having a uniqueness.  

    My daughter, who is 11, WANTS to look like every other girl in her school.  My adult friends don't.  But Angie once made a point about classic not being boring.....which to me is the other end of trendy not always being impersonal.  Does that make any sense ?  

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Deborah, thank you. I need to quote you to Mr. Suz. :) But he will tell the truth. I only show my bad moods to the people I live with. A very nasty personal HABIT that I want to break. 

    I was actually thinking of CocoLion when I wrote this. I agree with you completely. 

    And Carter, absolutely -- E. has her style completely nailed and it has nothing to do with trends. 

    Note, I'm not saying you can't have a distinctive personal style if you don't adopt specific trends. On the contrary!  

  • Isabel replied 5 years ago

    Suz - "adopting" certain trends may be the key here.  Taking them on as your own.  Or adding a little every season as Angie suggests.  I think that dressing in trends head to toe every time the wind blows is different. 

  • AM replied 5 years ago

    When to be classic lemming or a trendy lemming...are we all following someone, something, because nothing is new? Maybe we all have some pride in our decisions and never want to think of ourselves as lemmings at any level?

    I'd be very interested in understanding potential schools of thought and if I could remember art history perhaps I would have something smarter to say about the way art transitions and the friction it causes within a community of "experts."

  • Deborah replied 5 years ago

    AM I was thinking a long similar lines.  I would love to kid myself that my style stands apart from the masses, I am not a lemming and as Isobel said I "Stand out from the crowd", but truth be told I think we are all conforming to something.

    Think back to the Punk movement.  A group of like minded anti conformists, all actually conforming:) Speaking stylewise of course.

  • Karie replied 5 years ago

    Ah, an interesting discussion for a Sunday evening! Personal style vs. Fashion and trends. To me, Fashion is the big picture. It can be fun, wacky, gorgeous; it's the designer's interpretation of wearable art. Trends are a bit more specific: Pointy toed shoes, BF jeans, what's trendy now. Personal style is how we put all that together, or don't put it all together, and make it personal. It's the everyday of how we dress. Do you allow fashion and trends to dictate how you dress, and if so, to what extent? If the answer is yes, then your personal style is affected by fashion and trends. If no, then it is not. 

    I am very interested in personal style because I want to make clothing work for me, my figure, and my lifestyle. I also love big F Fashion as I see it as art. This art will trickle down to the stores by way of trends and if it fits my personal style, I'll buy it!

    At any rate, I'm rambling again so I'll stop now. I apologize if I'm saying the same thing over and over, or saying nothing coherent at all :)

  • gryffin replied 5 years ago

    Suz - I am obviously one of those people who is trying to find my own personal style and I am trying to figure out how to express who I am through my wardrobe.  As much as I always want to appear respectful, appropriate, elegant and refined - I want to find my own way to do this.  I feel like Denholm Elliot's character Mr. Emerson in "Room with a View" when he exclaimed, clutching his dinner knife for emphasis as he pointed to his heart, "I don't care what I see outside. My vision is within! Here is where the birds sing! Here is where the sky is blue!"  I don't feel there is a right or wrong way to dress or be stylish.  I believe everyone has a unique perspecitve - and that is what makes each and everyone's wardrobe so individual and wonderful.  When any of us talk about our preferences - well that's just what they are - our preferences.  That, imho, does not imply judgement - any more than if I say I love dogs, I'm a vegan, I adore brussel sprouts - that I am making a statement that anyone who hates sprouts, isn't vegan, or likes cats (I love all the furries btw) is lesser - it's just a statement of what "I" like but it does not imply judgement or negativity and I guess I'm perplexed that anyone would think it would.  It would be hard for anyone who is interested enough to be part of this forum to think they were not influenced by fashion or trends.  Climate, weather, culture, country of residence, home life, religion, family, friends....everything by definition that creates our own world influences us.  I don't consider myself mainstream because I don't tend to embrace many of the things that are featured on the forum - the current colors, silhouettes, patterns or trends, within my personal wardrobe - but that's not a value judgement.  For the record - I pretty much love all colors in some shade, patterns (huge plaid fan), juxtaposition of pattern, texture or silhouettes and I think  all these various current looks are marvelous  even if I choose not to wear them.   I applaud creativity, authenticity, and just plain well done fun.  Everyone is entitled to like what they like - whether it's current fashion, a trend, something vintage or outright arcane - that's the marvel of individual style.  Personal choice is simply what makes our heart's sing, what moves us, what validates us within ourselves.  I don't take negative comments about what I love - black, long jackets, leggings, skirted leggings, short skirts etc, etc, etc - and there have been rather a number of passionate negative comments to that effect, as a personal criticism.  It's a statement of fact, by others, about what they do or do not like - I know it's not meant to be hurtful or imply negativity to my choice.  Nor do I feel that because I do not embrace many current trends that that implies any type of negative judgement on those who do.  We are wonderous creatures, we are star stuff, we are limited only by our own mind forged manacles.  Blake said "Every thing possible to be believ'd is an image of truth" It's all about personal truth - within ourselves, within our style, within our world.  Surely there's room for everything, everyone, and everyone's personal vision - the universe is, after all, a big place!

  • Sterling replied 5 years ago

    You made some very interesting points.  I don't think that developing a personal style means you are not interested in fashion and following fashion trends.  But being interested in fashion and following fashion trends does not mean you have to be a fashion victim.  You avoid being a fashion victim by knowing yourself and your likes/dislikes.  You set parameters for yourself based on self-knowledge and don't give into every single trend that comes along.  

    I see far too many people who try to incorporate multiple trends into an outfit.  I also see people that have not updated their wardrobe since high school.  I consider both categories of people to be fashion victims but for obviously different reasons.  

    I'm wondering if you might have misunderstood the point people were trying to make when they said they were focusing on developing a personal style.  I felt they were developing that personal style through self-knowledge (Into Mind has some wonderful pieces on defining personal signature styles).  I took it as a very positive thing (and in a way, a very exciting thing).  They were making the decision to avoid being a blade of grass blown by whatever prevailing wind happened to come along.  

    I hope I didn't misunderstand your original post.  I have been traveling and perhaps I am too tired to read carefully.  

  • replied 5 years ago

    We have more choices than ever before, and it's great! My challenge has mostly been figuring out where to find the items I want. Middle aged women are for the most part being force fed a certain style that is tauted as being age appropriate. You have to get past the local mall and department stores, and go to boutiques and other places if you want anything else. Sorry for the rant. I just had to get this off my chest.

  • shedev replied 5 years ago

    Gryffin, very well said.

    Suz, I think you may have caught my canktankerousness from the polish thread. I think most of us, whether modern classic, UWP, or others, cherry pick the trends we want to adopt. Some adopt more than others. Even alternative styles do evolve somewhat, so they too have trends. I think of trends as the item and style as more how we put it into an outfit. Like how we take a lemming item and each make it our own.

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Sterling, I did understand (I think) what people were saying; I'm one of those people saying it, in fact! :) At any rate, I definitely fall into the camp of those who would like to develop a focused personal style. (I don't consider myself "there" yet -- but maybe I'll never be; I'm a bit of a work in progress, and also, I think the flux is part of what it's all about!) 

    But you might be onto something. A grumpy mood will leave one unduly sensitive!!   

    Gryffin, so true -- just because we have preferences does not necessarily imply a negative judgement about others. I can love a look on someone else that I would never try for myself -- not because I lack daring (or whatever quality might be needed to try that look) but simply because it wouldn't be "me" in some deep way. 

    On the topic of being "mainstream" -- I don't consider this forum mainstream! What's popular on the forum is (typically) virtually unknown and often unavailable where I live. At minimum, unusual. Okay, we do have skinny jeans here. And booties. And lots and lots of black puffer coats. But I don't often see people in white jeans (forum staple) or in all black with rich textural interest (forum staple) or in daytime sparkle (forum staple) or cool draped avant garde pieces (forum staple) or even in commonly available pencil skirts!! Mona and I have sighed many a sigh about "our little town."  :)  OTOH, I'm not sure where "mainstream" is, any more. I don't know if any of us knows! I think the forum is a sort of little world unto itself -- our standards are formed by communing with one another together with all the outside influences each of us brings -- and it's a highly nutritious salad!  :) 

    Karie, you add another layer to this discussion that might be helpful. Fashion, personal style PLUS trend. Hmmm. 

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Shedev, that's a really great way to put it. It's similar to what Karie is trying to say. Or, in other words, style is all in the styling, Annagybe might say. 

    And, yes....maybe I need to get a mood adjustment.  :) 

    Bettycrocker, I'm curious about the style you feel is foisted on women our age range in the malls? I ask in all sincerity as someone who hardly ever gets to the mall (and whose mall is pretty well bereft of stores apart from those intended for teens.) 

  • Caro in Oz replied 5 years ago

    IMO someone who has personal style is a person who is a superb sailor in the sea of fashion. They navigate the treacherous currents & they don't get be-calmed & bored. How they do this is different for each & everyone of them. They all belong to the Seafarers Union while sailing their own ships :)
    They also have a great appreciation of anyone who braves the stormy fashion waters year after year. 

  • Staysfit replied 5 years ago

    Suz, Maybe the word you're looking for can be borrowed from my world. How does dialectic work? It's not a fashion term but it does connote two ends of a spectrum. Like good and bad, or black and white. I don't think they have to be opposites but there should be some sort of tension between them. People naturally gravitate towards dialectics and often fail to consider what comes between. The most common being black and white thinking and failing to see shades of grey that fall in the middle.

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Argggh!!! Runs screaming from the room....I did a paper on Kant's "Dialectical Imperative" as an undergrad....   :) 

    Oh boy. I think I need to go lie down in the snow. 

    (Just teasing, Staysfit!) 

    Caro, you nailed it, as usual. We are all stalwart sailors, each with a different rope to coil and jib to hoist! 

    Seriously, you've all given me much to ponder, not least the wisdom of Mr. Suz when he cautioned me about my crummy mood! :) 

  • Marley replied 5 years ago

    Here Here Suz!  Thanks for the shout-out to those of us who enjoy trying out and/or adopting the trends!
    I've noticed in some of the comments on this thread that some people are making a distinction between current and trendy - I'm wondering what the difference is between the two?
    Also, I personally think that every single person has  a personal style - regardless of whether it is intentional or not.  I've gotten the impression on the forum over the last couple of weeks that those who are working on developing a personal style are actually just trying to identify  and stay true to it - putting thought and intention into what they buy and what they wear.  But even if they did not do that - they'd still have a personal style, wouldn't they?

  • CocoLion replied 5 years ago

    Sterling, you say "fashion victim" like it's a bad thing!?

  • CocoLion replied 5 years ago

    Oh and Deborah and Suz -- thanks for identifying my personal style as trend-driven.  I'll take it as a compliment! I think experimenting with trends is fun.  Period.  And although I am not confident in all matters, I have never worried too much if people judged me for "trying too hard" when it comes to style.

  • Deborah replied 5 years ago

    Denise, it was most definitely expressed as a compliment :)

  • replied 5 years ago

    Suz, the mall offerings (at least where I live, which has a lot more stores than most towns) has shapeless clothes that my DDs call frumpy and that I call matronly. They'd be fine for an 80-year-old, I suppose, but not for me. I see a lot of women my age wearing that stuff, but it's not for me. The worst part is that you see the same stuff in store after store after store ad nauseum. It's like all the buyers go to the same source. If I wore only what I could find in town, I wouldn't have most of what's in my closet right now, and I wouldn't be happy.

    Still, look at it another way. Teens have the same problem. If they don't want to wear what's offered at the local stores, they also have to look elsewhere.

    Like I said, middle aged women are expected to look a certain way. Whenever I go to the mall, which I hardly ever do anymore except when shopping with my youngest DD, all I see is a sea of sameness. The same merchandise in every store. There's no variety. Nothing to distinguish Belks from J.C. Penneys from Macy's. They're all the same.

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Absolutely a compliment, Denise! And Marley, too. 

    Marley, you raise two really great points. I am not sure what is meant by the distinction between "current" and "trendy" either. To me they are the same -- but I think sometimes people use "trendy" as a pejorative, and that's what I was trying to call into question a little bit. 

    Also, you're right -- even if people don't try consciously to define their style, they have some kind of style. But if is is diffuse or unfocused it might not feel like much of a style. That's true for me, anyway. Before I joined YLF and for a long time afterwards I was convinced I had no style at all, and even now I wonder....

  • replied 5 years ago

    caro's analogy (extended metaphor?) is pure poetry. Mine's a lot more crass: maybe fashion is just an all-you-can-eat buffet.

    Some people (usually young and skinny) can sample everything and enjoy it. Some people eat too much (overbuy, hoard, shop for a fantasy life) and feel guilty. Some people are gluten-intolerant (sized out of what they'd like) and some are watching their carbs (budget). Some used to eat everything but can't as they get older. Some are vegetarians, some kosher, some bring their own food to the party ... (Okay, I'll stop.)

    With fashion, most of us have "dietary restrictions" in terms of what looks good on us, what we can afford, what we feel comfortable facing the world in. Some restrictions might be self-imposed (no dessert), and maybe we can relax them now and then. (This analogy is breaking down the longer I drag it out ...)

    My personal problem with the fashion buffet is that -- even with all the choices out there -- I usually can't find just what I'm hungry for

    I think this ties in with Kibbe in that, he would argue, we just have to declare certain sections of the table off limits (for me, anything delicate) and enjoy the variety of what we can have. 

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    I think I get it, Bettycrocker -- thanks for elaborating. 

    Now here is something. Our very own Transcona Shannon is (IMO) an absolute genius because she can turn even the most unlikely items from the most unlikely mall store into pure gold in her closet. There's a mall store known as Cleo up here. It is not *bad* I guess, and they do have some nice looking items (although it is very difficult to tell that judging from their online presence). Be that as it may, they also offer a lot of items that to me, at any rate, look like pure duds. Frumpalicious!!

    But I have seen Shannon take some of those pieces and incorporate them into her wardrobe and make them look unbelievably great. She shops there partly because it's available and it's one of the few petites options around up here -- and by leaving no retail stone unturned, she truly makes it work! 

    Having said that, I don't have similar luck. But I guess my point is, with fabulous styling abilities like Shannon's, it's amazing what you can do with mall dross. 

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Gauche, I actually LOVE that analogy!! So much truth in that. Hmmm. 

    For years, I was some kind of fashion anorexic, never even going to the table at all. 

  • replied 5 years ago

    I like the vast online buffet a lot more than the extremely limited mall buffet.

  • deb replied 5 years ago

    Continuing with the food analogy, I am a very picky eater. Just like with food, it is not always good for my health, or in this case, the closet.

  • shevia replied 5 years ago

    Suz, how could you create such an interesting thread for me to read while my first coffee is still only half drunk? Ok, I know Angie has said many times that there is no style without fashion and I totally agree with her.

    I will amplify that to say that a big part of the fun of style for me is fashion. Fashion week starts soon and I can't wait! No I do not purchase designer clothes from the new season (I would but that is not in my budget). But I love having my eye informed and trained by what is new and then apply it to what I see in all sorts of stores and my closet. Fashion is what makes style a dynamic process and not just another goal to tick off. I feel like I often say style is knowing what we want to copy - I will add fashion is a lot of what we are copying.

  • replied 5 years ago

    What a great thread! Karie said something that kind of struck a chord with me...Fashion is kind of the big picture and trends and personal style are part of it.  I feel that personal style and trends (btw, I think current and trends are the same animal too Marley) are the two things that can be mixed together either in equal parts or more of one than the other along a continuum. However, to Debs point that there will probably always be a bit of trend in our PS if we are buying from all the big stores as they all buy stock from what is current.

  • torontogirl replied 5 years ago

    Suz, this is a great point to raise, as what a shame if anyone feels judged in these type of discussions. As gryffin mentions, I think generally people are commenting on their own personal preferences, not making judgments. Personally, I think it's the diversity on the forum that makes it interesting - I would not be interested in a forum of "me" - what a bore!

    For me, personal style is what we use to filter fashion - we all deal in fashion as we are all buying clothes to some extent. Similarly, we all deal in style because none of us buys EVERYTHING; we have to make choices. Some of us have a style that filters more (e.g. could be a more conservative, classic style), or less (e.g. could be more edgy, trendy, or fashion-forward style). To borrow a thought from The Devil Wears Prada, some of us prefer to buy virtually off the runway, others wait to see what trickles down to Banana Republic (and all points in between). And a very few of us, like E., seem to transcend the whole thing, but I think she is quite a rarity indeed!

    Personally I am very grateful for all these types on the forum, and so glad this thread came about!

  • approprio replied 5 years ago

    Great thread Suz! Loads of great comments and insight :)

    I'm reminded of this article from Vanity Fair, speculating that fashion is all but over:

    I don't agree with his thesis entirely, but he has a point. Being "trendy" now means something altogether different from what it meant 20 years ago. There's so much diversity out there that what you choose to wear has become much more about personal choice rather than this or that fashion. And as many people have already pointed out, trends vary with location and subculture. 

    So I'm not at all sure I know what "being trendy" means any more. There are certainly changes to what's in the shops but there are also many normalised solutions that have been around for years (skinny jeans  and parkas). And there's more scope than ever to create a personally authentic look that sidesteps any of those.

    I don't think I've ever been bothered about being particularly trendy in the sense of wearing the same styles as everyone else, or wearing the latest new thing from the catwalk just for the sake of it. I quite enjoy being ahead of the curve, but I also know I'll find a way to wear wide legged pants every year whether they're fashionable or not.

    I love looking at fashion. I take influence from what I see around me and wear what feels personally relevant that season. I apply my own aesthetic values to my shopping choices and work with the results.  Does that make me trendy? Probably not.

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Aproprio, that's a really interesting article. Thank you! 

    I would count you as one who has unique personal style informed by trends. I.e. fashion is not irrelevant to you and you don't pretend it is; nonetheless, you do not look like everyone else at any given time. 

    Maybe that's what we all strive for.

  • Beth Ann replied 5 years ago

    What a gigantic, fascinating thread!

    If Caro's right, then I'm like that line from the hymn ....."For those in peril on the Sea!" I have beached myself in a Sunfish more than once -- literally and metaphorically!  I love Caro's analogy, and to Gauche's point (which I'm partial to because, well, I'm left handed):

    I think limitations are a form of freedom.  They help us filter what is increasingly umlimited choice  through our values and needs.  I chafe against the limitations (size 14, please, in B/M stores, and on sale), but I think I would definitely be "adrift" at the dessert table without them.

    As for the interaction on the forum:  I find it most helpful to exegete (borrowing a useful word from my DH's world) comments by interpreting within the immediate context.  DH calls this "coming to terms with the writer."  I'm trying to discern what Forum Member X intends to convey when referring to "fashion" versus "personal style," or "trendy" versus "stylish."  I also realize that we all reveal bits of insecurities in posts that can also be scene as vague, low-level critiques of others.  I, for one, am reticent to ever call myself fashionable or stylish.  Curiously, the better I feel about myself on a given day, the more beauty and style I see in others.  The forum has helped me grow in this area as much as it has assisted me in building my wardrobe, and I'm so grateful!

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Beth Ann, that's a lovely insight; thank you. 

    And yes. I am sure my grumpy mood may have made me a poorer "reader" at least for a moment. Even a poorer reader of myself (since I was including myself in this mini- caution/ critique.) 

    Mea culpa, all. 

  • Karie replied 5 years ago

    Personal style. One of my favorite quotes about being personal comes from the movie "You've Got Mail:" 

    It wasn't personal.
    What's that supposed to mean? All that means is it wasn't personal to you, but it was personal to me. What's so wrong with being personal anyway?

    Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.

    Style is personal. Style begins by being personal. Fashion by itself isn't personal, in its broadness it's used to describe all that's in the stores and on the runways. When we bring it into our homes and incorporate it into our style, that's when it becomes personal style

    I like blazers, my friend Wendy likes cardigans. Both are current/trendy (pretty much the same thing, but a slight difference I think). My personal style includes plenty of blazers, hers doesn't. But here's where it gets fuzzy: My lifestyle is dressier than hers; she inspects parachutes in a factory, I teach in a school. So how much of our personal style is influenced / dictated by our lifestyle? Ah, more food for thought!

  • Lisa replied 5 years ago

    Funny I'm not sure what is trendy anymore.  It often feels like everything is trendy now-a-days because everything is available in the stores.  Blazers, check.  Cardigans, check.  Pullovers, check.  I recall when it would be very hard to purchase these pieces at one time, and one would have to wait a season or two (or more) until more options came out.  But now I feel like one can find these pieces year round.  Now COLORS, that I feel still is rather trendy and they float in and out of the stores fast.  I was in a store this weekend, and it was all greys.  But a month or two back, it was all blues.  

  • Greyscale replied 5 years ago

    I love Caro's metaphor! Maybe it'll make it into Angie's blog some day.

  • Transcona Shannon replied 5 years ago

    Finally having a chance to reply to this thread - and what a fascinating topic and read Suz. Thank you so much for starting the discussion :)

    IMHO you cannot have style (and totally agree with Karie that anyone's style is their personal style) without taking part in the trends - at least to a degree. But this has left me wondering if a person can have personal style without being stylish?

    For example, say wearing a suit is part of someone's personal style - they have a collection of suits and wear them often, like a uniform. But if those same suits are several years old and the lapels aren't a current size and the button stance is dated, is that person stylish?

    And if you do not buy trendy items, can you still make an ensemble look current in the way you combine those items? I guess that relates to my Cleo the way, thank you for your incredibly generous compliment :) Cleo is many things but trendy really isn't one of them. And yes I shop there because they are located here and carry petite items which fit me well. But oh my goodness, they can veer into frumpy and "old lady"! But if I take that floral dress and pair it with a denim jacket and ankle booties (for example) does that now make the outfit trendy?

    In the end, we all shop and wear what feels right for us and makes us happy - or at least we're supposed to right?  :)

  • unfrumped replied 5 years ago

    You know it is always risky to try to generalize and to try to imagine what  someone else is thinking.

    But, I'll dive in to say, let's flip the concept on its head.

    If the question is asked of say, most everyone on the forum,   "Are you trying to develop your personal style", what would likely be the answer? Is it likely to be yes, or, heck no, I'm trying to develop style for someone else, or, I'm trying to develop impersonal style or, I aspire to be a huge fashion victim.

    Feel free to shoot me down on this because there are actually other choices that are not even related such as, I just want to find some comfortable shoes.

    Just lookin' at the dialectic from a different angle.

  • Style Fan replied 5 years ago

    This is a very fascinating thread and I am totally confused.  I do agree with Betty Crocker that women of a "certain age" get offered certain attire in the malls just like teens do.  I seek out treasures.  Feel like an explorer.

    I agree that personal style needs fashion and trends.  How much a person takes in the trends and how they interpret them is part of their creativity.  I will wear cropped wide legged pants and will probably embrace that trend because it speaks to me.  It also suits my pear/hourglass body.  I reject (for myself) certain trends because they don't work for me.  Trends are tools to express oneself.

    Okay I am still confused.

  • CocoLion replied 5 years ago

    I think what's happened is that to be a follower of trends has somehow become a sign of weakness.  It's as if, you don't have the backbone or creativity to have your own style.

    A few years ago I was looking at a lifestyle site, I think it was Refinery 29.  There was a piece on a British blogger, with photographs.  The lovely woman was wearing brightly colored floral print skinny jeans, but the caption read, "I don't follow trends, I wear what I like" or something to that effect.  I thought this was so disingenuous!  

    Sustainability aside, what is so wrong with admitting you enjoy playing with the latest trends?

  • E replied 5 years ago

    I love the philosophical discussions! :D And Caro's metaphor is brilliant: I'm knitting a nautical-esque pair of socks right now & they make me want to dive into some of my favourite seafaring novels (everything from The Long Ships to Pirates! to Valente's Book of the Sea in the first of The Orphan's Tales to good old Horatio Hornblower...and perhaps this is the year I'll finally connect with Patrick O'Brian...). I'm actually in the middle of Andrea Barrett's The Voyage of the Narwhal too, which is living up to that wonderful title.

    But back to clothes. ;) I had a wonderful time reading this thread (and thank you to Carter & TG for the shout outs!), and I completely agree that personal style & fashion are intertwined for everyone, to a greater or lesser degree (as over the years I've been unable to find 'dream items' to add to my personal style, due to their lack of trendiness!). I wonder if people's knee-jerk reaction to distance themselves from trendiness also has something to do with the fear of trying too hard (as always, Angie has wonderful thoughts on that)?

    That being said, I do think being 'trendy' and 'stylish' have different connotations, and that the difference is useful, as Astrid described. Not as opposites or in a hierarchal sense though. Perhaps we need a Venn diagram option? :D I liked these Google graphs, illustrating how frequently the two words have been historically used. I suspect trendy is a child of the mass media & television age, as style can move at a much quicker rate and clothes are significantly more affordable than at any other point in history.

    My own style is strongly influenced by outside sources (e.g. Phryne Fisher has me wanting to play with drapier looks and coveting silk florals), they just don't tend to be fashion magazines or other trend arbiters. They can definitely be fashion-related, though, and I get a huge enjoyment out of reading books and blogs/websites focused on dressing (I finally got to read Women in Clothes over the holidays & loved it) or watching television and movies that have a definitely aesthetic. I wouldn't describe my style as trendy, but it's certainly sarotorially aware; I don't think anyone would look at me and assume I'm not interested in clothes (so I guess I'm the opposite of norm core! hehe).

    Having to rely primarily on secondhand clothing sources for my 20s, which is when I really began developing my style, has a lot to do with my style not being closely tied to trends: in thrift stores, there's so much variety, that it's easier to figure out what pleases you and fits your body well, even if its not what the fashion industry is promoting. That, and I don't need to impress anyone in my day-to-day life: by dressing in a more quaint way, I'm not giving up any necessary power. Having a purchasing power significantly below most of the forum members insulates me from the microtrends of YLF too. ;) But I certainly don't think my (primarily-trend-oblivious) way is better, it's just what works best for me! And I still enjoy reading Angie's lists of upcoming seasonal trends, because I imagine it'll show up in the secondhand market in a year or two.

    My trendiest item is probably skinnies; I latched on to these early (2005, when they only came with no stretch) and have been happily wearing them in body con cuts for years but have lately been finding myself reaching more often for more fluid trousers, sometimes tapered, sometimes not. Now, I would trace that change to 1) living in my wide wool trousers this winter, 2) watching too much of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries and 1930s/1940s period pieces, 3) having higher expectations of comfort, & 4) finding a few with very high rises that hit my natural waist, which makes styling them w tops much easier. But, I doubt it's a coincidence that more voluminous trousers are currently a trendy option!

  • Caro in Oz replied 5 years ago

    E  - O'Brian's Aubrey–Maturin books are fantastic, well worth a read imo.

  • E replied 5 years ago

    Caro, I've tried Master & Commander twice in the past & wasn't able to get into it either time. But third time's the charm right? :)

    I thought of a related question!

    If your priority is personal style, what happens when one of your signature style pieces becomes trendy? 

    Do you keep wearing it, even though now it will be 'read' differently? Or do you find something new to wear?

    Being trendy isn't one of my goals, but when one of my style loves becomes trendy (like peplums or longer full skirts or high rise trousers), I keep wearing it, and just hope I won't look too 'out of it' in another couple of years. ;) So I'm not trend averse either, I suppose.

  • replied 5 years ago

    I'm not trend averse, either. On the contrary, I do try to keep track of what's trending so I can see which things I want to try. I absolutely don't mind wearing what's in style as long as it suits me. I just don't want to slavishly follow every trend that comes along and end up losing myself and my style in the process. Does that make sense? And nowadays there are usually enough trends that at least one will tickle my fancy--even if it's just a color, for example. Right now, I'm really enjoying the navy trend.

  • Thistle replied 5 years ago

    Been away for a bit, so I missed these conversations.

    I wholeheartedly agree with you. I regularly wish I had more F in my uniform l :)

  • annagybe replied 5 years ago

    Eh, Angie once crowned me Queen Trendiest of them All.
    My outfit for the Super Bowl, created entirely of my own volition, using items over a year old or even older, one of the items was close to five years old. Anyways it was photographed by three separate Barneys sales associates. Only my shoes were from there. One posted it on intsagram and it was liked by the Official Rodarte instagram account. I did wear a jersey by them, but I'm I didn't style in any way similar to their runway look with a fringed skirt.
    I do find however interesting that the semantics of style on the forum generate more interest or discussion than current reality or even history of fashion. 

    ETA I did notice the change in Suz's example from her original text.

You need to be logged in to comment