A few weeks ago, a younger cousin of mine asked me a few questions about the fashion industry – mostly regarding how the design process works from concept to completion. General inquiries aside, there was one question that stumped me a bit: Do you need to spend lots of money to be considered stylish? Being the impressionable pre-teen that she is, I knew I had to impart some sort of great wisdom that can influence and positively shape her fashion sense as well as her self confidence. Well, that was my end goal anyway.
With thousands of blogs out there, the stream of inspiration is never ending. Fashion is no longer reserved for a select group of people. The predominance of high/low mixing has broken the notion of only wearing designer or only wearing fast fashion. Eight hundred dollar Louboutins with fifty dollar Zara finds? No longer considered taboo. The latest Alexander Wang ‘it’ bags or shoes mixed with one of a kind vintage pieces? Why not? Even entire outfits consisting of TJMaxx or Marshall’s merchandise can look deceptively expensive. It all boils down to knowing how to put things together. Think of it this way: you can have the best designer furniture around but if it is haphazardly clumped together, it’s a waste then, isn’t it? Wearing only designer doesn’t guarantee style (“Money doesn’t always buy taste” or so the saying goes). If real estate is all about “location, location, location”, style is most certainly about presentation, presentation, presentation.
This concept also applies when buying the same items as everyone else and wearing it the exact, same way. It isn’t uncommon to come across bloggers who all happen to have the same jacket/bag/pants/etc. Rather than simply copy-and-pasting onto yourself, think about how you can interpret that particular piece and make it your own. What’s your take? Break out of that sea of sameness. Personal style is, after all, personal. Inspirational style icons don’t become style icons by imitating someone else. Just take a look at Chictopia’s featured Style Icons – there’s a reason why they’ve reached such a status.
Personal style is a reflection of not just your personality but your lifestyle too. All walks of life— to be exact, all price points including the lower, middle, and upper classes— build their wardrobe based on what their funds can allow (or what sponsorships they get). Someone who lives on a budget can’t use all their financial resources on fashion. While there’s a number of Style Icons who have a wardrobe full of designer pieces, that’s not to say that all those with great personal style spend hundreds of dollars on expensive brands. Fashion blogger favorites like Jessica of Vintage Virgin, Madeline of Jean Greige, or Sam of Style Nomad all wear a mixture of pieces that are on a budget— mixing high quality clothing with budget friendly brands like Romwe or vintage items. These three are just a few of personal style bloggers who emanate personal style on a smart budget.
“Personality begins where comparison ends.” Food for thought from Karl Lagerfeld as well as a personal motto of mine. That simple statement is surprisingly relatable to a lot of things, if not everything. I believe this certainly holds true when it comes to style. Going on an impulse or panic buying spree just to have the latest and the trendiest is neither good for your self confidence nor for your bank account. Keeping up the with Joneses – or perhaps in this case, the Rumi Neelys/BryanBoys/Chiara Ferragnis/Blair Eadies of the world – takes away from experimenting and developing your own personal style. It takes the fun out of getting dressed and thinking of creative ways of wearing things.
If fashion and style is an extension of how you express yourself, then whether or not your entire wardrobe is worth $500 or $50,000 shouldn’t be a factor – it really shouldn’t even matter.