Fashion or Style? Clothes or Costume?
I wear clothes. Everyone wears clothes. As Linda Grant says in her wonderful book, The Thoughtful Dresser, “. . . no one is ever totally naked. Mother Teresa said she could manage with a bucket and two saris. But not without any saris.”
Ok, we all agree on that. But then it gets complicated. When do our clothes become our style? Or should I ask, when does our style become our clothes? Do we need to be fashionable to have style? Is taste the same thing as style? Is expensive the same thing as taste? Is it frivolous to go shopping? I could go on and on . . .
Ironically, considering how shopping is denigrated in the 21st century, in the 19th century it was attacked because it was emancipating of women. Stores were places that husbands and fathers did not organize or control. Well, they owned them, of course. But, they were women’s public spaces.
At the same time, women’s clothes were like prisons, almost instruments of torture. The road to real emancipation would require a straight and forthright rejection of clothing that preventing women from moving and doing.
Ok, enough of clothes.
Fashion, unlike clothes, is liminal. That’s a fancy word I learned from my friend Jay for “in between, transitional”, dare I say “ephemeral.” Fashion is not intended to be stable; I think style is.
I think of style as more “stable” than fashion because it is about being able to see yourself for who you fundamentally are. It comes from within; fashion comes from without. And frankly, I think that takes some years, some experience, some challenges in life to know who you are and thus have a style. Certainly, I can see my 20 year old self in the almost 70 year old self I am now. I may have been more “fashionable” in my 20’s with my mini skirts and flowered dresses, but I didn’t always feel comfortable in my own skin. Now I do and not surprisingly, I feel like I have my own style.
There’s a lot to say about this. But enough for now, let’s go to the
videotape, I mean photos. What you see below is what I believe are stylish clothing. Not necessarily fashionable, although they are actually from fashion magazines, but interesting, appealing, maybe even exciting, and definitely, my style.