“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 recently read an article on whowhatwear.com, “The Death of Personal Style” that had ideas written in words I was only pondering – until now. For many reasons, this article evoked a reflection and discussion I felt necessary to write here on the blog. Entering into 2019, now more than ever are the world and its industries constantly evolving – including the fashion industry. Primary factors, which greatly influence these industries today, were nonexistent even ten years ago. Among these, is the dominating presence of social media. You know the major ones: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Within the fashion industry, social media has incrementally changed the content people are consuming day to day and therefore, has drastically impacted consumer behavior as a whole.
What is in demand and considered “trendy” is now driven by the extensive reach and presence of styles which gain traction from being posted by brands, influencers and other fashionistas alike. The more a certain style or outfit is seen worn on influential celebrities, models and other popular Instagram it-girls, the more likely consumers are going to want to own the same items themselves. This concept has been seen for years of brands leveraging celebrities, and their popularity, to grow their reach and gain a wider audience. Within the fashion industry, this has been evident ever since Audrey Hepburn’s time and Michael Jordan’s partnership with Nike starting back in the ‘80s.
Celebrity endorsement is still strategically utilized across multiple industries and brands today, but is evolving with this new era of social media. Retailers and fashion labels are leveraging those with a large, organic social media following, commonly given the title “influencers”, to broaden their consumer reach. Consumers are heavily influenced by what they see posted on their Instagram feeds, as Instagram is a major hub and one-stop-shop (literally) for all things fashion inspiration and consumption. Although at what point does this behavior become unhealthy to where we start looking like clones and lose sight of our own personal style? We are now living in a time where diversity is celebrated and individuality is encouraged, yet more commonly so, our personal style does not follow suit. I have recognized this pattern more often now on these social platforms and what I feel is a topic worth acknowledging and discussing among the fashion community.
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 diversifies the world and keeps life interesting yet if you scroll through your Instagram feed, the ‘likes’ say otherwise. As we all know, Instagram is a platform to share snapshots of your life – whether that is 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 or depending on what you utilize the tool for, your creativity.
In 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. There are many fashionistas – men and women – on the platform that have cultivated a following by sharing their day-to-day style and other fashion-related content. Their individual way of styling, posing, creative direction, and lifestyle has established a recognizable, personal brand overtime. Although, the style of a few influencers is quickly becoming the style of many with either recreated or exact photo replicas that are starting to saturate the platforms.
Inspiration can be found from countless forms – a place, a movie or even another person’s content, and is a catalyst to open up your own 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. Instagram and fashion 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 escalated into a saturated feed of cloned looks that are becoming far too underwhelming.
Personal style is valuable because it’s a part of what defines you. You’re not defined by one standard of beauty or fashion-sense that is seen all over social media. You should wear what you feel the 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 like a boss and not just full of pieces you felt pressured to wear to “fit in” or because an influencer wore it on her Instagram. You deserve to feel like the best version of yourself and what you wear has a huge impact on that.
Personal style isn’t definable and social media should not hold that power over you to tell you otherwise. The majority of the fashion industry has finally uncovered the significance of diversity; 2018 was a major turning point to capitalize on it. The world of social media needs this same acceptance and it starts with you recognizing that your own singularity is enough – it’s wanted. Of course, I am here to remind you of this as well: own your style, 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