Whether or not you realize it, your fashion choices can have an impact on various aspects of your life. From work to dating to leisure time to special events, your fashion style may affect how others perceive you as you navigate through these daily and occasional activities.
Even more importantly, the style options you choose to embrace can also affect how you see yourself in the world. Unless you’re an image consultant, you may need to brush up on the nuances of style. Whether you are a man in your 20s or a woman in your 60s, it’s important to at least be aware of the fact that the looks you select matter on some levels.
Read on for an overview of fashion and determining a style approach that works for you.
History of Modern Fashion
Let’s take a look at the history of fashion in modern times. The industry as we know it today has its origins in the mid-19th century. The first designer to have his labels sewn into the pieces he designed was Charles Frederick Worth.
This helped to distinguish between easily accessible, ready-to-wear items and haute couture; which involves custom-fitting garments for the individual customer. Essentially, haute couture is exclusive high fashion, while the term ”ready-to-wear” indicates factory-made clothing for the masses.
Turn of the 20th Century
About the beginning of the 20th century, fashion magazines began to have more influence on consumers than previously. They added photographs to their format, which served to further the public appetite for haute couture.
During the 1920s, women replaced past clothing styles with more revealing pinafores that exposed the knees. They stopped wearing corsets and elaborate hairstyles in favor of more boyish clothing and hair.
Before the Second World War, Paris had been the primary center of the fashion world. During the Occupation, however, several Parisian fashion houses were forced to close their doors. In the post-war fashion world, Western sensibilities began to narrow the gap between the working class and high society.
In America and Europe, ready-to-wear clothing became the preference for many people. Three female designers, Anne Klein, Bonnie Cashin, and Claire McCardell, created what would later be known as sportswear in America, which led to the renewed appreciation of ready-to-wear fashion.
The mid 20th century found clothing designers making a return to the haute couture trends of pre-WWII Paris. Parisian couturiers transformed clothing styles once again. Some of these designers would be legendary for many years to come, such as Pierre Balmain, Hubert de Givenchy, and Cristobal Balenciaga. Coco Chanel was among the designers who made a comeback after the war.
The 1960s and 1970s were a time of much social and political upheaval, and the fashion trends of the time reflected that. Mini-skirts, the bikini, tie-dye, and paisley prints all served as the clothing of the psychedelic and hippie movements. Then, disco had its impact on clothing styles, and the leisure suit became a fashion staple for men.
From the 1980s through today, fashion styles have significantly fluctuated, with a new influx of designers making their mark. From Gucci to Prada to Calvin Klein to Louis Vuitton, modern fashion houses and designers have simultaneously reflected and affected pop culture.
Is Fashion the Same as Style?
In an age when countless consumers are choosing sustainable clothing options over “fast fashion,” narrowing down your style may be more critical than ever. By determining the types of looks that work well for you, you could contribute to the prevention of excessive consumption due to a lack of clearly defined fashion preferences. Regardless of whether mass consumerism and its effect on the environment is a major concern for you now, it is still incredibly useful to develop a sense of the fashion style that appeals to you.
Before you begin to think about defining your personal fashion style, it’s important to examine the difference between fashion and style. First and foremost, while fashion is primarily about the external, style has to do with the internal self. As the famous fashion designer, Yves Saint Laurent, once said, “Fashion fades, but style is eternal.”
Fashion is like art; in fact, many people may well consider it to be a form of art. This means that trends come and go, but your own sense of style is a very individual concept. Your style may change over the years, but those changes are a reflection of shifts within yourself that result from the circumstances of your life. Trends in fashion have more to do with outward shifts, such as the evolving landscape of politics, social issues, and even the seasons.
Do the Clothes I Wear Affect My Personal Image?
If you are not an avid follower of fashion trends, you may wonder how essential any of this actually is. Do you really need to devote time to developing your individual fashion style? Does anyone really care about what you wear? Do you really care if they do? The truth is, the clothes and accessories you choose do have an impact on your personal image. This is true for both men and women from all socio-economic backgrounds.
You may already be aware that your fashion style affects the way others see you.
However, did you know that your clothing choices actually affect the image you have of yourself? According to two Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University professors, who performed research on the topic, the subjects of their study experienced longer periods of sustaining their own attention when wearing doctors’ lab coats, as opposed to wearing either painters’ coats or no coats at all.
This means that you could conceivably improve your performance at work, at school, or in other vital areas of your life simply by changing the way that you dress. Just ask anyone who has ever worked from home. Although a person with a home office is free to wear whatever he or she wants much of the time, “dressing for the part” could make all the difference in terms of productivity. Instead of wearing yoga pants or an old sweatshirt, donning business-casual attire could put a homeworker in the proper mindset for conducting business.
The areas of your life impacted by your fashion style aren’t limited to a professional or scholastic setting. The way that you dress affects a wide variety of scenarios and relationships. Imagine meeting a first date who is dressed in shabby garb. Negative first impressions can have lasting ramifications. Conversely, dressing appropriately for certain situations could lead to numerous opportunities that might otherwise not have been realized.
7 Tips for Determining Fashion Style
Now that you understand a little more about how your style choices may affect others, as well as your own sense of self, how do you decide what your personal fashion style is? You don’t need to be a fashionista to display a style that fits your life, your aesthetic, and your personality. Use the following tips to explore and discover your fashion style:
1. Observe Others
Think of other people with fashion styles you find appealing. These people might be actors, models, or other celebrities. However, such a person could also be a coworker, a friend, or someone you see on the elevator every day. Once you have identified a few top choices, look for a common theme among them. Do they all wear three-piece suits? Do they tend to wear brightly-hued materials? Make note of the similarities you identify.
2. Make Note of Your Own Selections
After you compile a list of a few other people who wear styles that resonate with you, start observing the options that you seem to gravitate toward the most consistently. Does your little red dress make you feel like a superstar? Do you find yourself buying the same kind of jeans every time you shop for clothes?
3. Find the Connections
See if you can make some connections between the items you choose and those you admire on others. If possible, try to find other people who have a similar body type as yours, or at least, who have some body features in common with you. This makes it easier to wear pieces that attract you but are also flattering to your body shape.
4. Get Inspired from Photos
If you love the fashion style of a favorite celebrity, search online or in magazines for pictures of that individual. You should also take photos of yourself in the clothes that make you feel your best. These images help you to narrow down the similar aspects of the fashions you like.
5. Explore the Reasons for Your Tastes
When you start identifying similar pieces that draw your attention, ask yourself why that is. Do you like the way they feel on your skin? Do they offer a pop of color that just makes you happy? Keep a list of these pieces and use it when you go shopping.
6. Get Descriptive
Once you have listed the fashion items that feel right to you, see if you can find a theme to describe them. Are they casual, sexy, or dramatic? Do you like a romantic look? Do you prefer clothes with a modern, urban feel? When you wear creative styles, do you immediately feel better about yourself, or do you feel most comfortable in more traditional attire? Use as many descriptive words as you can to describe the looks that attract you. This helps you to form an image in your mind of the styles that reflect your preferences.
7. Declutter & Replace
You may have several items in your closet that you haven’t worn in years. Get rid of them! If you haven’t worn something in over a year or two, it’s probably because it doesn’t really fit your true fashion style (or it doesn’t fit you anymore, period). By decluttering your wardrobe and eliminating the things you just don’t wear, you can make room for new pieces that match your newfound image of yourself. Then, you may begin to replace outdated and unworn garments with clothing that makes sense for you. You might want to start by shopping in thrift stores, consignment boutiques or relatively inexpensive, fast-fashion clothing stores.
Later, when you have established a sense of the styles that you know you will wear repeatedly, you might invest in some high-quality pieces that will last for years.
The way you dress can affect how others view you, and it may also impact your perception of yourself and your life. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a fashion guru to develop a strong sense of your personal fashion style. Embrace the looks that make you feel good about yourself, as well as the fashion pieces that complement your body features. When your fashion style accurately reflects your lifestyle and who you are as an individual, you may soon experience more joy in getting dressed every day!