“As viewers, we bear no witness to outfit experimentation…because everyone today is hell-bent on the final product. And that product, of course, is increasingly the same: a rotation of the same buzzy brands on a similar canvas, one with no-makeup makeup and an enviable case of “bedhead” that really takes hours to come to life.”
– The Death of Personal Style , whowhatwear.com
I discovered an article posted on whowhatwear.com, “The Death of Personal Style”, which had ideas written in words I was only pondering – until now. This article evoked a reflection and discussion – I felt necessary – to write here on the blog. As we all know, the fashion industry is constantly shifting. What increasingly catalyzes the way society consumes content every day, is Instagram. On the platform, a style can be “trendy” for six months or as little as three days. As we scroll, those photos drive demand, which have drastically altered consumer behavior. Capitalizing on this buying behavior, brands are now manipulating the demand in their favor, by collaborating with influencers for single posts or even full partnerships.
Influencers’ posts fuel the considerable reach and wildfire of certain styles, and dictate what is truly on trend – not so much the runway anymore. It is all about Instagram. The more a trend or outfit is seen on influential celebrities, models, and Instagram It girls, the more likely consumers are going to want to buy it. Brands have leveraged celebrity endorsements for years to grow their reach and gain a wider audience. Within the fashion industry, this has been evident, for example, since Audrey Hepburn’s time or Michael Jordan’s partnership with Nike (which originated in the ‘80s).
Celebrity endorsements continue to be strategically utilized, but are evolving in this new era of influencers. To broaden their reach, retailers and labels are collaborating with influencers who possess an impeccable, organic following. Consumers are heavily influenced by what they see posted on their feeds, as the platform is undoubtedly the one-stop-shop (literally) for all things fashion consumption and inspiration. Although, at what point does this behavior result in losing sight of our own personal style? We are now living in a time when diversity is celebrated and individuality is encouraged, yet more commonly so, our personal style does not follow suit.
What does personal style mean to you? Is true personal style definable? Personal style is obviously just as the term implies – personal, and is a reflection of who one is. Personal style and individuality diversify the world and keeps life interesting, yet, if you scroll through your feed, the “likes” say otherwise. The essence of Instagram is to share snapshots of your life: whether through the lens of a married life with kids, traveling the world, your dining experience from last night, your outfit of the day, and much more. It is meant to showcase life highlights, your creativity, or a happy intermix of both.
Within the Instagram fashion space, creativity is revealed through design, photography, and styling. Every detail is done on purpose to create a unique, artistic photo. For many, this includes showcasing personal style. Many fashionistas have cultivated a following, organically, by sharing their day-to-day style and other fashion related content. They have become their own creative directors. Their individual way of styling has established a recognizable, personal brand overtime. Although, the style of a few influencers is quickly saturating the platform, with either recreated or exact photo replicas.
Inspiration can be sought from countless forms: a place, a movie, or even another person’s content, and is a catalyst to unlock your mind and explore the depths of your own creativity. Inspiration is to be interpreted and used as motivation for your own work. Taking fashion inspiration from others is a way to explore what styles you like, and don’t like, and can help you discover your true personal style. influencers’ accounts can be a destination for this. Although, this pressure social media has created to look a certain way, or theoretically get the most “likes”, has resulted in an underwhelming scrolling experience.
Personal style is valuable because it’s part of what defines you. You’re not bound by one standard of beauty or fashion-sense that is seen across social media. Wear what you feel most comfortable and confident in – this is the framework to your personal style. At the end of the day, you want a curated closet with clothes that make you feel stellar, and not with pieces you purchased because you felt like you had to. If it also happens to be something an influencer wore – excellent; only as long as it makes you feel good!
Personal style is not definable. For those subject to the societal pressure Instagram fuels, don’t let it. In the real world, the industry has recognized the significance of diversity; the runway and advertising are a reflection of this. The 2010s were a major turning point for this. The world of social media needs this same acceptance, and it starts with distinguishing your singularity. Of course, I am here to remind you of this as well: own your style and own who you are, because it’s simply enough.
I will leave you with these quotes from fashion icons who didn’t become icons by conforming to everyone else, but rather standing out and staying true to who they knew they were:
“Personal style comes from within. It’s when the woman, her individuality and spirit, comes through. She uses clothes to express who she is and how she feels.” – Donna Karran
“Style is very personal. It has nothing to do with fashion. Fashion is over quickly. Style is forever.” – Ralph Lauren
“When you look like you stepped out of a catalog, that’s never good. People shouldn’t succumb to trend, they should interpret trend.” – Rachel Zoe
“Create your own individual style. I’m not interested in the girl who walks into my office in a head-to-toe label look that’s straight off the runway. I’m interested in a girl who puts herself together in an original independent way.” – Anna Wintour
“When you don’t dress like everyone else you don’t have to think like everyone else.” – Iris Apfel