Notes on Style and Fashion

On Style

Posted on: August 8, 2007

Style. Trend. There tends to be confusion about the two words. While style is what you make of it, trends are what the masses follow at the same point in time. Style broadcasts what the individual prefers. However, if many individuals broadcast the same style, then a trend has occurred. Style can be a little hard to spot. Trends, on the other hand, are easy to spot – in magazines, on television, while walking down the street. Something as simple as a woman wearing black from head-to-toe – black heels, a black pencil skirt and a black cardigan – may, at first glance, seem boring or bland. However, paired with the all-black look may be a funky pair of green dangling earrings or perhaps the hairstyle doesn’t quite “match” the look. Perhaps the woman is a brunette and has her hair streaked with red, platinum, and jet-black highlights. That, in my opinion, is style. She has taken a conventional look and spun it on its head, putting her own idea on the look. If by the following week more and more women are walking down the street wearing head-to-toe black paired with bright, funky earrings or streaked hair, then we are looking at a trend.

In keeping with the previous example – the all-black look – one can see how a particular style turns into a trend. When looking at pictures of The Ramones, one sees that they were unconventional not only in their music, but in the way they dressed. They had bowl hair cuts and wore black leather jackets with slim fitting jeans shredded at the knees, which they paired with Chuck Taylors. They bucked the trends of their time to come up with something that they enjoyed and were stylish without intending to be. Now, decades later many people emulate their look and their music. Aside from bands like The Clash, who were also inspired by The Ramones in their look and their sound, bands like Green Day owe their success and their appearance to the influence of The Ramones. Without intending for them to become trendy, The Ramones turned their music and their own stylish look into a trend.

I was a devoted Sex & the City fan when it was on HBO. Sex & the City has been dubbed a stylish show. I would have to agree. I would also say that it was a stylish show that sparked many trends. During the six-season run, the show’s costume designers, Pat and Rebecca Fields, were always observing their surrounding and people on the street; they were watching for the looks that stood out and were different, making plans to incorporate them in the show.

In many urban cities across the country, a trend had developed where a lot of young teen girls and women wore gold necklaces with their names dangling from the chain. Pat and Rebecca Fields took this idea – this trend – and had one of the characters appropriate it. Because the look – gold necklace with the person’s named hanging from the chain – was not one that many people had seen on a thirty-something white woman, it was different. It was stylish. Of course, when other women – from white teens to thirty-somethings – began sporting the look, it became a trend.

The line between style and trend can be blurry. My opinion is that style is what one makes of it. It displays one’s preference for something, and that preference is not always conventional. However, when many people begin to copy that particular preference and it becomes mass-produced, then a trend emerges. The word “trendy” oftentimes has a negative connotation. A person who is trendy apparently lacks originality because she is only doing what the masses do. The distinction is quite valid. On the other hand, it is also very rare that one finds someone who is not trendy in some shape, way or form. We all see things that we like and decide to appropriate them into our own lives, and it is a lot easier once we accept that we do rather than say that we don’t follow trends.

With that said, it is always interesting to see (or try to figure out) what influences style because style is more abstract, and thus more difficult to put one’s finger on. I maintain that a person thinking creatively and attempting to try something that may go against the status quo is indicative of style. Rather than seeing the world in one particular way, she tries to find what is unique about it and broadcasts it. What is also interesting is how style is perceived. There are moments when those in the mainstream – people who one would find doing whatever they thought others were doing – do not comprehend a particular style because it is not what they are used to do. For example, designers who are labeled “avant-garde” because their creations go against what is considered normal and traditional. Although some would call his designs outrageous, London-born designer Alexander McQueen has garnered attention for many years due to his ability to create clothing that is original and innovative.

Rather than appreciate the notion of novelty, the unique is shunned because it is much easier to follow the trend than it is to applaud the different.

And with that said, I begin my fashion blog.

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1 Response to "On Style"

Great article. I am black and have a gold chain with my name on it. But I do think it is rather unique when a white person wears a “black look.” And it’s the same as when a black person wears something that is white or asian. It always looks better on someone who usually does not wear it.

Think about Bo Derek. She wore here hair in corn rows and was a “10.” And when she took out the braids, she was never a 10 again.

Here’s our new website: http://www.africanamericanchild.com and we will have a blog soon so let’s blogroll! 🙂

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la fashionista has had an interest in fashion and style since childhood when she first saw her mother dress in the various fashion of the 80s. Her mother was also a great seamstress, which was a definite influence on la fashionista's foray into fashion. Sadly, her mother's sewing talent did not get passed on to la fashionista.

But that doesn't mean that she doesn't still love talking about fashion. Because she does!

Please send all fashion correspondence and inquiries to:

notesonstyleandfashion [at]gmail[dot]com

notesonstyle

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