Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Osmosis Style

A while ago I saw an interview with a fashion editor who said she believed that Americans are now more stylish than we have ever been in the past. She credited this to widespread media: TV, magazines, and a more connected world through the internet. She also pointed out that with the popping up of more and more chain stores, most Americans have access to “fashion-forward” clothing.

Photo credit: Arianna Belle The Blog
It is true that we see fashionable clothing more frequently now than in past decades. In the not so distant past, it took a few years for styles to travel across our vast country, often starting on one or the other coast and traveling East or West toward the middle. And as far back as the American colonial era, when clothing here was influenced quite directly by English fashions, our clothing styles lagged by several years behind England because our news simply was slower, and fashion news didn't reach our shores as quickly as news about events. Now, when a celebrity or model wears something to an award show or down a runway, not only do we see it live, but there are cheaper copies of the dresses made within hours.

Being animals that prefer to mimic one another to a certain degree so as to not be socially outcast, this constant bombardment of fashion images is bound to influence the choices we make for our own styles. Whether conscience or not, we are more likely to purchase items we see regularly -- whether at school, around the area where we live, or on television. It is the power of suggestion: no different than seeing an advertisement over and over until we convince ourselves that we must own the product in the ad. Or, in this case, look like the styles we see over and over in magazines.

This need humans have to assimilate can be expensive when it comes to the trends that rush past us. If we are always chasing the current trend, we are inevitably also tossing money at that trend. If we instead have a solid sense of our own style, we can look for items of quality which will last a long time. Which makes me wonder: is this easy access to passing trends partly to blame for the constant decline of quality clothing? Manufacturers wouldn’t make poor quality clothing if we refused to buy it, but many of us have been less conscience about our long-term clothing needs than our short-term goals of looking “right.”

It took me a long time to solidify my style, but now that I have, I find it easier to turn away from items that don’t fit in. Instead of chasing the latest trend, I know that what I’m buying will last me a long time as long as it is made well. In fact, one of the things I consider is whether a potential purchase will look foolish on me in five or ten years. As I still wear some clothing from my pre-teen years, this is not an unrealistic question to consider, and helps me avoid making purchases that will prematurely age me by looking too “young” for me.

What do you think? Have you consciously moved away from looking trendy to embrace your own style? Or do you prefer the current culture of inexpensive options that are similar to high-fashion styles?

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