There are certain questions in life that are so complex, so mind blowing, so awesome that we may never know the answers. Why are we here? What is the purpose of life? Just how big is space? What is the difference between fashion and style?
Erm…OK, so maybe the latter is not a question that we all ask but it’s certainly a query worth exploring. Having worked within the fashion industry for many years I can tell you that finding the answer to this question is the equivalent of finding the Holy Grail for many.
It takes time (and a lot of mistakes) to find your style. At 32 I am finally happy when I open my wardrobe!
Over the years I have seen fashion trends come and go and this can be confusing, expensive and time consuming to keep up with. I have worshiped at the altar of fast fashion and trust me my prayers to look just like the models in the latest trends were not answered! I have tried all the ‘trendy’ looks and let me tell you it has not always been pretty. In the mid 90’s there were the classic Buffalo trainers worn by the Spice Girls, a great look for them but not so great on a 12 year old girl at her school disco. Fast forward a few years to 2001 when I could often be seen sporting a pair of jeans that I had cut the waist band off trying to emulate Beyoncé (and not doing a great job). There was my Juicy Couture tracksuit inspired by the ‘IT’ girls of that time, the plaid mini kilt worn with a shirt and tie and not to forget my rather fetching all denim gown, Brittney style!!
At the time I thought I was the bees knees in all of my super fashionable outfits, however within a few weeks I would always realise, in a rather toe curling way, that perhaps my outfit choices had not been perfect (to put it kindly).
L-R: Britney Spears rocking her denim gown. Buffalo Trainers made famous by the Spice Girls. Waist band less Jeans a la Beyoncé
It was when I went to university to study fashion that I began to differentiate between style and fashion and what that meant in both the industry and personally. Forecasting and studying upcoming trends made me realise how easily the fashion industry can inspire and sometimes manipulate people into buying those ‘must-have’ items. Similar to buying a fast pass at a theme park that allows you to skip the queues, the designers and stores know that if a trend is marketed well it feels like a fast pass to looking ‘in vogue’.
Unfortunately fashion comes and goes so even when you nail a particular look it soon becomes unfashionable and you are left feeling as though your wardrobe and your bank balance are a little worse for wear.
Style, however, is personal and objective so it doesn’t work to the same rules as fashion. Take for example Audrey Hepburn, you could put on any number of her iconic outfits more than 40 years later and still look incredibly stylish. Could the same be said for those waist band-less jeans…I think not. Ms. Hepburn remains a style icon for that very reason.
A style icon…Audrey Hepburn
Another great example are the four lead characters from Sex and the City, in particular Carrie Bradshaw. She was beyond fabulous with her outlandish outfits but fast forward 15 years and her closet is still the envy of most women. The reason for this longevity is simply that what they wore wasn’t fashionable or of that time it was clothing that was chosen to fit their style so therefore it never dates.
A style icon for my generation and many more to come…Carrie Bradshaw
Having said all of that you may now be wondering what your style is. The simple way to answer that is to look inside your wardrobe and you will instantly recognise the clothes you wear the most. Those items make up your style and I would hazard a guess that whatever those key items are you have at least 2 of them hanging there. When you know what your style is it becomes very easy to shop for yourself, you can buy what you know you will wear and feel confident in, which is money and time well spent. Of course that doesn’t mean that you should shy away from experimenting with new looks or having fun with fashion (after all that is what it’s all about). You can simply inject a splash of a current trend and make it work with your style.
Gingham is a key trend this season but rather than wearing it head to toe (and channelling your inner picnic blanket), simply choose items that are the shape, style and cut that you would normally choose but feature this trend. It is about adding a trend to your own personal style rather than losing yourself to it.
Ultimately the most important thing about what you wear is that you feel confident and happy in yourself. It may be a cliché but looking good on the outside really does begin with feeling good on the inside…Even if you are styling out a denim gown (what was I thinking?).
A Guest Blog Post from Charlotte Lamb
Charlotte Lamb is the creator of Styling out the School Run, a blog and Instagram which focuses on all things fashion & style.
Charlotte graduated with a BA (Hons) in Fashion and went onto work for a number of large brands such as Ted Baker, Oasis and Debenhams as a Creative Manager. Charlotte and her Husband currently live in Lincolnshire with their two young children, Daisy and Charlie.