When I used to hear the word ‘fashion’, I would find myself feeling burrowed existential dread and shivering at the thought of my personal style (if you could call it that) not coinciding with what I had been sold the concept of ‘fashion’ was, for example, Regina George from Mean Girls or Cher Horowitz from Clueless. I thought that if I didn’t wear pink on Wednesdays my life as I knew it would crumble at my feet and I would suffer lifelong, damaging verbal abuse as a direct result. Needless to say, I was quite wrong. It turns out mid-1990’s and early 2000’s style isn’t for almost everyone on the planet and the concept of ‘fashion’ is merely correlational with self-expression.
There is no good or bad – only what is trendy at the current moment and wearing said trends or not wearing them does not diminish your style in any way.
The media has taught us that fashion works in complex ways. Whilst allowing us to embrace any aspect of clothing that may visually appeal to us, it has simultaneously negatively impacted the way we view different styles, enforcing stereotypes and stylistic boundaries. It is, in my opinion, a way of telling people exactly who they should be and how they should dress.
Whilst there is undoubtedly a greater acceptance of the variety of stylistic personalities, the media teaches us to attach labels to the people who express them. For example, thanks to TV such as ‘The Big Lebowski’ and ‘That 70’s Show’, we have inadvertently created a stereotype that anyone who dresses like the characters in the TV show or movie (baggy jeans and jumpers), should mirror the ‘stoner’ personality we are shown. Similarly, characters such as Negasonic Teenage Warhead from Deadpool 2, Allison Reynolds from ‘The Breakfast Club’ or Wednesday Addams from ‘The Addams Family’ enforce the stereotype that all moody and emotionally damaged teenagers should dress in black attire from head to foot. These are not healthy stereotypes to be advertising in the fashion world when we consider that people may wear black because it’s slimming or complements their skin tone or may wear baggy clothes because they’re comfortable and hide insecurities.
Whilst it is important to showcase a variety of different fashion statements within the media, thus opening our eyes to the realms of style and its creative possibilities, it is also just as important to challenge these stereotypes in order to prove a point that fashion is fluid and should not be simply associated with a
few personality traits.
With such a gigantic range of choice in the fashion world, style is a highly variable idea and people shouldn’t feel as though they have to stick to a certain ‘genre’, as it were. On the other hand, some people feel safe knowing they can place their style in a certain category, potentially giving much-needed order amongst the everyday chaos of life. People should be given the choice between sticking to a certain type of fashion or disregarding it all completely and wearing anything they please. Both are just as valid, and luckily, we are moving towards a society that doesn’t place so much emphasis on the boundaries of fashion itself.
With such an increasing amount of information being gained about the detrimental impact of fast fashion on the environment, it doesn’t feel right to be writing an article about personal style without mentioning environmentally conscious means of purchasing clothing. Personally, about 2/3 of my wardrobe was bought second hand. I spend a lot of time on websites such as Depop and eBay, as well as in charity shops in my local area. Purchasing items second hand diminishes some of the guilt I feel when buying something from Primark or H&M, and whilst the companies themselves are supposedly changing the environmental impact of their products, and not to mention the unethical human cost, it is nonetheless hugely, hugely damaging, and not enough is being done. I’d encourage buying things second hand to lessen your footprint or buying items that are high in quality and will last.
‘Fashion’ as a creative concept no longer scares me. As I’ve grown up, I’ve learnt to wear whatever I think I should wear that day and to care less about what others may think. Clothing is an incredible facet of self-expression but also doesn’t need to be thought about too deeply. The message here is just to wear whatever you want.